Red Wine & Salad Days

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Red Wine & Salad Days

This is dedicated to our great friend Roger Lynn who passed away on 14th August 2006. It was read out at his Celebration and Thanksgiving Service on 25th August 2006.


Roger and I have been friends since our school days. We left South Borough at 16 and joined the Fire Brigade as Junior Firemen. We went together for our first holiday abroad in 1965 when Benidorm was little more than a fishing village. We even shared the same girlfriend there, same number of dances each, her parents looking on to ensure fair play.

I saw how Mary, Roger’s family and friends stood by him at the time of his accident 36 years ago and through his years of recovery. In all that time both then and since I have never heard him once complain about his condition. In fact many is the time he has told me to stop whingeing about some trivial ache or pain I might have.

He loved life, especially his holidays and socialising but in the darker moments such as when he lost his brother Jeff, he stood tall and resilient and was a comfort to his family and in particular to his Mum.

Throughout his life Rog had a wonderful ability to laugh at his own situation and I think that is one of the ways that he dealt with his disability. He loved being politically incorrect and none of us ever felt awkward in his presence.

Six years ago Mary, Roger, Sue and I went into partnership and had a villa built in Spain. Several of you here will have been there and I know that Roger loved sharing our place with as many friends and family as possible.

We loved going there together and enjoying Roger’s cooking which always involved massive salads, which he insisted I should enjoy also. He was forever saying that he treated his body like a temple and that I should eat healthily like him. And of course he loved his red wine.

He always preferred red wine, when asked if he would like any water to drink, the answer would always be “ I’m not drinking water, fish poo in it!” and that’s the clean version!

Roger was one of the most generous people I have known, he would spare no expense in making friends welcome and happy. The dinner parties that Mary and he provided both here at home and in Spain are a testimony to that.

However, he always said that to be able to spend money you have to look after the pennies in the first place and his time involved with the villa project is a fine example of this. He particularly enjoyed spending my money which became one of his favourite pastimes in Spain.

It is with all this in mind that I have written a short poem which I hope encapsulates the fun times we had at the villa and the fond memories we hold of this wonderful friend.

Red Wine and Salad Days

You said “you don’t want to buy a place in France think of all that rain
Why don’t we go to find the sun, cheap booze – lets go to Spain”.

Now a friend with money is a friend indeed so lets go halves and build a house, with swimming pool, land and trees
So this we did and for 6 great years we’ve seen our garden grow
With olives, orange and lemons to and oleanders all in a row.

Now, not everything went well, 9 months became four years
But we still got there in the end without too many tears.
You managed to upset the agent even though she was a pain
She banned you from her office for harassment, never to go there again.

You fitted out our villa with tools, nails and screws
We could have bought them over in Spain but you worried about the money you’d lose
So you stuffed them in your hand baggage and in your spare leg as well
You even carried a submersible pump in case the hard rains ever fell.

You bought long life economy bulbs all the way from the UK, some didn’t fit the fittings, but hey look at the money you saved.

Now this so called economy trip really wasn’t that funny ‘cos when you got me over there you enjoyed spending all my money.

An underground car park was a clever idea, so was the central heating, solar panels and all, but you forgot that I’m a poor man with very little money at all.

So the time came to settle down and you enjoyed what we had achieved – a little piece of paradise with everything we need.

You loved to have your friends around and share a bottle of wine sitting by the pool, salads by the ton, and cracking nuts to pass the time.

One project we agreed upon, was a patio where you could rest, the Hemingway corner beside the house, to you it was the best.

You supervised the construction work, fetched beers for Mick and Dave, they slaved away in the baking sun but boy didn’t we have some fun.

That corner was a place you’d sit and watch the sun begin to fade
Now it has set for all of us, we are left with just the shade
No more salad days, no more red wine nights, just our glasses left to raise
To thank you Rog for all those memories no one ever can erase.