Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Dodderyoldfart. Goodbye, Friend.

Tonight I'm sad, I've had news that a friend has died. A friend I never met in person, a friend of the blog world, of comments and of emails. Yet a friend, nevertheless. The world is a lesser place.
A couple of days ago I was taking photographs, to send to him for his blog. Recently he sent me something for mine. I can't believe he's gone.

Doddery. As I knew him, from Dodderyoldfart, the name he adopted for his blog.
He was a roadworker, in New Zealand. Taranaki/Awakino, places I know only through his words and pictures. Simon, (for that was his name outside of the blogosphere), worked on the highways. In his blog, with great humour, he described the places, the work, the people, and so much more besides. In doing so he revealed his philosophy of life, his belief in the value of honest toil, in the values of doing the job right. He was often called out at night, or in storms, to recover vehicles, repair, cut fallen trees, clear landslips, sometimes to deal with the tragedies of the highway.
He wrote of the people on the roads. workers and travellers, gentle folk and fools.
We often pass those men in the bright high-vis jackets, and give them not a thought.
I'm a working man too. A man in dirty overalls and steel-toed boots. I'd like to think that my working garb does not define me. Doddery's certainly didn't define him. He was well read, a thinker, a philosopher of the back-hoe.
He enjoyed his work, for the most part, it seems The machines were his toys. He cared that a job was done right.
In my imagined world of the blog archipelago, the lights on a friendly island have winked out. A patch of darkness, a sense of loss. A couple of days ago he was firing off witticisms, sparking comments, now he's gone.
The only consolation is that I understand he died suddenly, without warning, of natural causes.
I hope there's a heaven. And a new entrant... frowning at the road surface... searching around for some tools. Muttering about potholes.
And I hope he's told "The tools are coming soon... But today, mate, take the day and go fishing. -and the pub's doing free beer tonight, Doddery."

I guess it won't happen. But I'd like to imagine him being carried to his last resting place in the back of his truck, and laid to rest in a neatly dug trench, properly backfilled... And topped with a gleaming, perfectly rolled, cambered, tarred seal. Maybe a white line... And a sign
Rest Area..

Addendum- This just in on the comments:

"Well, Doddery DID get carried on the back of his truck! He was taken home from the hospital by his amazing workmates on the back of his truck for an amazing funeral send off.
- posted by one of his sisters."
08 June 2007 01:13

John Donne (1572-1631) "Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions", Meditation XVII:

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated....."

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.