My brother, Graham Bell, died on Fireworks Night – very sad but explosively appropriate.

Graham Bell (1947-2011)

My elder brother, Graham, died at his home in Sussex two days ago with all of us, his family, around him. He was a big personality – my main childhood companion and the source of much laughter, entertainment and adventure in our adult lives. He was an insurance broker mostly at Lloyds in the city of London, a profession which he loved because it was the perfect vehicle for his, the sharpest of brains that liked nothing better than making a good deal except maybe indulging in rollicking good fun and camaraderie that went along with life, especially at lunchtime, in the City. He was, of course, much more than that. Ultimately he was the family man personified and all of us who were lucky enough to be part of that privileged circle were never allowed to forget that we were of central importance to his life. He had the wildest of natures – always prepared to take that extra step whether it was one of the many outrageous pranks when we were children or, really still unchanged, when we survived one of the many “sessions” when we were supposed to have “grown up” long ago. Anyone who has ever accused me of being loud or extrovert hadn’t met my brother.  His wildness was married to a hidden sensitivity and a giant capacity for love, it also gave him true courage and sheer guts when it came to life and, much too early, when he had to face the brutal and unrelenting disease that led to a cruel death from the unkindest of cancers. It was typical of him that in his final months, he decided to do something that he had always wanted to do – ride a motorbike – so he bought one, had a course of lessons and rode it around town even though his body was already showing those dreadful signs of cancer.  Life was always full of life as far as he was concerned.

It was great that such a loving person was surrounded by love when he was dying and totally appropriate that such a big person should pass on that noisiest and most explosive of days – the Fifth of November, here in England, fireworks night. We were able to mark his passing not only with much sadness but with a lot of whiskey before we all lit fireworks, the noisiest and brightest ones we could find, and sent them soaring into space. We will all miss him for sure but then no one who knew him will ever forget him.

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