Monday, June 15, 2015


St Mary the Virgin, Mainwell, Northamptonshire

We all know the Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard that begins: 

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
         The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
         And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

   To me, this poem is the perfect elegy for my brother. Chris was quiet, unassuming, loved to contemplate the countryside or the sea. But is too long to quote here in its entirety although the following lines are perfect.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
         The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen,
         And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

    So I shall pause a while and remember his sweetness and end with the poem's closing epitaph.

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
       A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
       And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
       Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,
       He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
       Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose)
       The bosom of his Father and his God.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Christopher Seymour Roff (May 1947-June 2015)

My beloved brother died in his sleep on Sunday Morning - cause as yet unknown. Born in the days when mentally handicapped' was the only name given for someone like him. This became 'special needs' and later 'learning difficulties.' Autism was not heard of at all. Not so long ago, I contacted The National Autistic Society as I believed he was a classic 'savant' although he was always too vulnerable and naive to be left alone. They said they could do nothing without a diagnosis. However, it was deemed too late for that. He had gone to 'special' schools and received what education that could be provided - which was very poor asnd inadeqate. (The family story is that I taught him to read and write by playing 'schools' with him.) The family alone knew to be patent, kind and never to shout or reprimand him in any way. And never did.

He was living recently with the best carers he's ever had: Bob and Brenda. They, too, are totally devastated. Ever heard of a beefy bricklayer? I have. I salute them. If I can I will recommend them both for an award.

Chris was a saint: always polite and uncomplaining, never ever angry, jealous or demanding.  He loved his TV - not satellite - as he never leaned to cope with the digital age. Best of all, he was forever tuned to one of 3 radio stations - BBC Radios 2 and 3 and Classic FM. He loved all music, especially classical. He was an encyclopaedia of information. Every birthday and Christmas, he asked for an LP - then CD - of classical music. From Strauss waltzes and Bizet operas to Beethoven quartets. He knew them all. He never missed a 'Prom' on the radio and, when we lived in Herefordshire, he attended one at the Albert Hall. He would have been thrilled to attend a first or last night but could not haver coped with being a 'promenader'. We always bought him a programme, year after year. There's probably still a collection in a cupboard somewhere. He never threw anything away.

He was also the family encyclopaedia. He knew the date in detail of every family member's birthday. His memory was phenomenal. He could give you chapter and verse of every childhood holiday we ever had.

For the past twenty years or so he was cared for through Northampton Council. Five days a week, he attended centres that provided exercise, gardening, painting craft-work and social skills of all kind. They all loved Chris and he was very very happy there.

Finally, I promise look at every tweet or Facebook message or blog comment I can. I regent, however,  I will not be able to reply. As my mum is very elderly, she is even more devastated that I am and needs my support. that is where I am devoting my time and attention. I apologise.


As you've probably realised, my blog has been dormant for far too long - well, it's been a long winter.  Although this blog has b...