The Life of Brian

“Two years ago, my dad died; it was on my toes to both write and read the Eulogy for him, as everyone else was too cut-up about it.

This is my way of fondly remembering both my dad and a friend.

We’re all here today, not to be sad, but to celebrate the life, love, and laughter of one of life’s true characters.

Our Brian, Scouse Brian, Dad, Grandad Fleck, Jonesy, Roy?, or simply Brian; he was all of these, to all of us, but was also something special in the people-stakes.

He was the eternal optimist, or humanist; no-matter who it was, he treated everybody with equal respect. No matter what the person’s background, habits, or lifestyle, he only ever saw the good in people.

My first memories of him, involved the ceiling hurtling towards me at great speed, to the sound of laughter – he always caught me.

By the age of four, I was spending most Saturdays on one of his two stalls at Paddy’s Market, in Liverpool. Two stalls at Paddy’s Market? Brian was a hard worker, well-liked, and well-connected. We were never rich, but we never went without anything; what he couldn’t get, we didn’t need.

He slipped effortlessly from altar boy, to Teddy Boy in his youth; his Toxteth Gypsy up-bringing made him both resourceful, and generous.

We who have a little, they who have a lot, and those who don’t have anything at all.

Each year, he’d take a little of the little we had, and give it to those who had nothing at all. Coming from a big family, kids always held a special place in his heart.

At Christmas, he’d arrive at Strawberry Fields orphanage, with whatever he’d managed to get-hold-of, for the kids.

One year, in a rush, he forgot his wellies … he went to get changed, and appeared a few minutes later all in red, in a pair of winklepickers.

One of the kids said “Hey, Father Christmas, why are you wearing Brian’s shoes?”

The reply came quick as a flash “My boots fell-off the sledge, so Brian lent me his shoes”. The kids believed him – they knew that Brian would lend his shoes to anyone, especially Father Christmas, so it HAD to be Father Christmas; I mean, who else could get Easter Eggs at Christmas!

He out-grew the mohair suits and winklepickers, opting for the height of fashion; 70’s 6” platforms, with 60’s 11” drainpipes – “They’ll take ages to wear-out these shoes” was his simple explanation.

I was curious about what he was like as a kid, and asked my nana what she reckoned. “Of all my children, Brian was always the gentlest, sometimes to the point of being daft”.

He always put others first, and would share whatever he had, rather than sit-by and watch others go without.

A ‘soft touch’ in the eyes of some, but he knew what he was doing.

I lost count of the times I’d drop-in unannounced, to find complete strangers living in his spare room for weeks on end… “this is ‘yerman’, and he’s just staying til he gets sorted…”. ‘Course they weren’t strangers to him, they were friends who needed help.

His charity work took him to Eaton Hall, where the Duke of Westminster won a charity raffle. On handing him his prize, Brian said “Here’y’are Gerry lad”.

“Do you know, I’ve not been called that since school!” was the excited reply.

A short while later, a chaffeur-driven Jag pulled-up outside the Bouverie.

The passenger got-out, went in to the bar, and ordered a tray of drinks, then headed towards the door. Brian looked-up, clocked who it was, and shouted “Nice one Gerry lad!”. He was liked by all.

Six years ago last August, Brian actually died, but was brought back with a de-fib shock.

Not wanting to worry me, he said to me later “I’m alright now lad; they gave me a jump-start”.

He wasn’t always handsome, and in his younger days had a terrible thick black curly mop of hair on his head.

Thankfully, the wind came out and blew it in again, and he grew into the Brian we all knew and loved.

As he was proud to be his father’s son, I am proud to be Brian’s son, and carry his name.

My last memories are of his peaceful Journey Home.

I know that he would prefer for there to be tears of laughter; he even mentioned us playing ‘The Laughing Policeman’ at one point.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thankyou all for coming, Brian has left the building; while he’s out, let’s all go and swap stories.”