Saturday, 4 May 2019

Leon Clarke tribute to Chris

It’s hard to know where to start in summing up who my dad was for me.
Partly because we never really grow out of thinking
our parents do things the completely ordinary way.

In’t it completely normal to have a dad who’s a theoretical physicist,
and also deeply interested in mystical religion?

One trait which I aspire to, which I probably got from Chris is this;
whatever he got involved in, he tried to understand at a serious level,
be it religion, be it dancing, be it playing music, be it baking bread, anything.
At one point when I was growing up, I wanted a chemistry set.
So he took a look at what was available, decided they weren’t good enough
and so found a lab supplies company
who could provide all the bits he considered necessary.
What was necessary?
I think enough stuff to really let me understand what was going on,
and not just look at a few pretty effects.

And the goal seemed to be to provide opportunities to explore things, not to teach.
He let me muck around with a very early microcomputer at the university,
and when I was obviously fascinated, he eventually got one at home,
which I was obsessed with. I guess that obsession continues.

But he probably influenced me just as much or more
by growing up in a family where so many things were going on,
although I’ll never be sure how much was my dad and how much was my mum.
But this was a house where of course everyone played unusual musical instruments,
of course everyone went camping and mountain climbing,
of course everyone went to listen to almost any style of music.
Of course everyone went to religious retreats filled with silence and ancient music.
And of course all these things somehow fit together

I’m very grateful that I happened to be in Southampton on dad’s last day in the house. He was finding things difficult, and increasingly difficult throughout the day,
but apart from when in pain, he had an incredibly gracious air to him.
I’m far from sure I understand all the things he wrote in his books,
but if they lead to the peace I saw in him that day, I’ll keep trying to understand them,

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