Sunday, 17 August 2014

Francis Henry Connolley

My uncle died last night. He'd been in a nursing home for about three years and was clearly on the way down.

He was a private person - I'll elaborate on that in a while - and I find I don't really know much about him. He was my father's younger brother. My father served in the army "of King George", as he always put it, and came to England sometime after WWII; Henry was more intellectual, stayed in Jamaica until it became unsafe, and ended up working for Tate and Lyle, eventually as a consultant.

Update: Rob wrote an obituary at the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists.

Before I say any more, here's a short story he wrote. I believe it to be substantially accurate and clearly autobiographical; it probably says more about him than I can.

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There is so much compressed into that tiny piece: nostalgia for the old days. Remembering childhood. The White Man in Jamaica, which is no longer white-man's-land, and perhaps never was, even when we ruled it. Perhaps a longing for a more vibrant vision of humanity.

This isn't a hagiography, so I'll pick up that last thread: I called Henry "private" before but more accurately he might be called uninterested in other people and indeed the world in general. Or so he always seemed to me, and to my family. Perhaps he was otherwise with other people. When we visited, he would never ask after us, or the children, or respond to talk about them; that rather made for awkward conversation, particularly in the last years, when he wasn't doing anything himself. In earlier years he'd done a lot of travelling: while working to various sugar plantations particularly in Brazil; after retirement he returned to South America, and went to New Zealand, and was keen to show off his photo albums. But it was always a rather one-way process. Writing it down like this makes me sound whingey and complaining, which wasn't my intent. The reason I wrote it down was as a record for myself, and perhaps my children, and as something of a warning: if you're not interested in communicating with other people, you end up short of resource.

Other Dox

THIS POST ISNT FINISHED, or at least so I hope. I intend to add some more. All I can remember, perhaps.

See Also

* William Peter Connolley
Henry's flat
Henry and Joan
* Scattering Ashes

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