Others’ words

Our friend Joe Spedding M.B.E.

A true friend was Joe with never a mis-spoken word between us.

We enjoyed each other’s company.

His wisdom and his approach to life encompassed all people and ideals.

He was a friend to all unless crossed; he then was capable of presenting a formidable verbal defence of his principles.

His religion was that of nature. You take from it and put back in equal quantities. He lived from the sea, his garden and the forest. He gave back in his husbandry of his garden, the keeping of the bird sanctuary and as a lookout of the sea.

He gave to all who wanted and took great joy in the giving, often saying what good is it if you can’t give it and provide some joy.

He taught all who would take the time to listen and practice his ways.

He was a gentle loving man with many friends.

The world and Lepe is a better place because of Joe and we miss him.

Judy & John Shelley, Ontario, Canada

 

The Gift
by Rabindranath Tagore

O my love, what gift of mine
Shall I give you this dawn?
A morning song?
But morning does not last long –
The heat of the sun
Wilts it like a flower
And songs that tire
Are done.

O friend, when you come to my gate
At dusk
What is it you ask?
What shall I bring you?
A light?
A lamp from a secret corner of my silent house?
But will you want to take it with you
Down the crowded street?
Alas,
The wind will blow it out.

Whatever gifts are in my power to give you,
Be they flowers,
Be they gems for your neck,
How can they please you
If in time they must surely wither,
Crack,
Lose lustre?
All that my hands can place in yours
Will slip through your fingers
And fall forgotten to the dust
To turn into dust.

Rather,
When you have leisure,
Wander idly through my garden in spring
And let an unknown, hidden flower’s scent startle you
Into sudden wondering –
Let that displaced moment
Be my gift.
Or if, as you peer your way down a shady avenue,
Suddenly, spilled
From the thick gathered tresses of evening
A single shivering fleck of sunset-light stops you,
Turns your daydreams to gold,
Let that light be an innocent
Gift.

Truest treasure is fleeting;
It sparkles for a moment, then goes.
It does not tell its name; its tune
Stops us in our tracks, its dance disappears
At the toss of an anklet.
I know no way to it –
No hand, nor word can reach it.
Friend, whatever you take of it,
On your own,
Without asking, without knowing, let that
Be yours.
Anything I can give you is trifling –
Be it a flower, or a song.

from Lawrence Wilde

2 thoughts on “Others’ words

  1. I was just made aware of this web page and am very happy to have the chance to say a few things about my friend Joe. I first met Joe Spedding back in the winter of 1975/76, can’t remember which, but he was coming to Canada to visit his friends who lived in Belleville, a town 10 km east of my hometown, Trenton Ontario. It was explained to me that this man was once related by marriage to my Uncle John, (my Aunts husband) in England and was going to come and visit, perhaps stay with us for a few weeks. As an 11 year old boy I thought it would be interesting to meet a true British man as my mother was a true British woman and found her very interesting and looked forward to anything the two may discuss. In my minds eye I was going to meet a man in a bowler hat, waxed moustache and he walked with a walking stick in proper British fashion. Was I in for a surprise. Little did I expect the vibrant, joie de vive, extraordinary gentleman who arrived. Joe was so full of life and was absolutely thrilled with the extreme cold winter we were having that year. The ice on the Bay of Quinte where I grew up always froze in the winter solid enough for ice huts to be put out for fishing, for cars and snowmobiles to drive on it and at that time there was an annual event where motorcycles with special studded tires would race on a huge oval track. Joe would spend hours in the freezing cold taking 8mm movies with his camera of all the winter wonders he saw. I would try to stay out on the ice with him as he marvelled at the motorcycles racing at top speed, as well as at the fishermen and cars driving around on this frozen highway. I would go out there with Joe but before long I was cold and ready to go back to the car to sit with my Dad with the car heater on full blast and watch this crazy Englishman out on the ice running about like a little boy.

    Before long Joe returned to England and my parents decided they would then take a trip in the summer of 1977 to visit family and we were invited to stay at Joe’s place in Lepe. Now the tables had turned. I was the one gawking at all the wonders of Joe’s day to day life. On my first day at Joe’s I accidentally ate some very rare bird eggs. Joe, being the Keeper of the Bird Sanctuary along the beach at Lepe had some very rare tern eggs which he was keeping in the fridge for some scientific purpose other than eating. When I awoke on the first day Joe was out and about doing his rounds and my mother made me some of the best eggs ever from the egg rack in the fridge. Joe was a little beside himself but soon laughed at our mistake as he pointed out the chicken eggs were in a separate compartment of the refrigerator. Chicken eggs were never as good tasting. Those few short weeks we spent in Lepe were some of the best I have ever experienced. Every day I went fishing with Joe and his friends, some of whom I am sure were Pirates of some sort; I spent days on the water learning to sail, learning to tip over a sailboat and need rescuing, to tie knots, to fix fishing nets, to avoid the local Conservation Officers and Games Keepers. My mother was ready to shoot me when I cut open a Cuttlefish as Joe had taught me only to find you must be aware of the ink bladder. Black ink on a white wool sweater makes for angry mother. We ate fresh rabbit and pheasants from the land, perhaps not hunted in a legal manner as the game was protected on the nearby Estate of Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, but they tasted even better because of it.

    I never saw Joe again after that summer. We kept in touch through letters with my parents, post cards, photographs and the occasional phone call, but the plans to meet up again were changed along the way. When you are 11 the whole world is on the verge of change and these changes come fast. Soon you go off to school then to work then to having kids of your own and before you know it 40 years has gone by. Joe is gone now but the little boy in me will never forget the summer spent in that cottage on the shores of the Solent nor the extraordinary man who lived his life to the fullest. I hope to someday return to those shores, to sit on the bench with his name on it and to see that cottage and get one more look at the place where Joe spent his life. Joe may be gone but never will he be forgotten by a (not so young anymore) Canadian boy. Carry on Old Spud.

    • Many thanks for your kind words, Joe; what’s amazing is the number of people whose lives he touched in a similar way. I hope life’s treating you well, and I hope you can get to Lepe soon; it’s still a wonderful place. Let us know if you’re coming this way.
      Best wishes,
      Robin

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