RIP Pat Edlin, my friend
29 November, 2019
• IT is with deep sadness that I mark the death of Pat Edlin, (Labour stalwart dies suddenly, November 22).
Pat was a larger-than-life character, at once charming, cantankerous, ebullient and very, very giving.
I’ve sat with him outside one of Islington’s cafés on many occasions, him holding forth on a range of subjects, often three or more at the same time, when he’d hail some passer-by that he knew and enquire after their health, their family, their political thoughts, or Arsenal’s latest game. Then carry on where he’d left off, or maybe somewhere else entirely.
Despite his exterior bluff and hearty bonhomie he was a complex man, often sensitive, more emotional than he’d like to let on and carrying several ailments that would have knocked the stuffing out of most of us.
Yes they affected him but he wasn’t to make a meal of them or let on. Life was to be lived and he wasn’t going to let something as silly as illness get in the way of that.
Many people in Islington will know him for his letters in the Tribune and the letters page will be the poorer for his passing.
He wrote with passion and a life-long commitment to a fairer and a more just society. Politics dominated his “public life” not because he was ambitious but because he thought people’s life could be better and he’d do his darnedest to help make it so.
He wasn’t always measured in his views or his writing but how can a passionate man be measured and still be worth his salt? I shall measure him by his kindness, his hospitality, his story-telling and his enthusiasms.
I know he fell out with some but that’s sometimes the way with passionate people. I know he could be opinionated, even rude, but he wished no one harm.
Like many parents he didn’t always see eye-to-eye with his children but he loved them from the very bottom of his heart. He was enormously proud of them and their achievements, never more so than when he became a grandparent. He absolutely adored the little grandsons, who shone with all the brightness of toddlers.
So, yes, he may have been cantankerous and argumentative but he was also kindly and loving. Life isn’t always the smooth path we’d like and I’m sure Pat ruffled plenty of feathers on the way.
But, as they say, life is to be lived and Pat, for better, for worse, lived life fully. In the end life had to be wrenched out of him. Our world has got a bit smaller with his passing, and certainly quieter, but a lot less fun.
For all his foibles, I shall miss him enormously and remember him with great affection. Farewell old friend.