... continued

Far more effective in evening up the odds was to offer to save Neil a few quid on taxis when it was his turn to drive………..I stuck to water, Neil didn’t.

We spent over 300 hours opposite each other in the Pembie but barely spoke such was the concentration on the game. On the odd occasions when we did get onto private issues rather than the developments at his company, I found him to be a sympathetic listener, thoughtful as only Neil could ever be. There were matters that concerned him too and he cared a great deal about the girls and their success as individuals, not just academically. Problem solving extended to the way he approached the differences between Dan and Freddie so that each would reach success in their own different ways.

He was a private individual and he seldom troubled anyone with his own problems. He never spoke about his relationship with Niki…and he didn’t need to as they seemed to have harmony. He was very wise, would reserve judgment but would listen to every detail of your own issues. I cannot remember him as anything but selfless.

Going back to his enjoyment of Real Ale, one Tuesday morning Niki furiously complained to me at work that Neil was so absolutely hammered when I delivered him back to Sunshine Avenue after chess the night before that he could barely string a sentence together………..I didn’t think it appropriate to tell her that she should be proud of her achievement as he hadn’t even attempted speech in 4 hours with me…………….. couldn’t believe he still beat me at chess tho!

Neil was a fabulous companion, dependable, reliable and he valued you for yourself. You didn’t need to try to be someone with Neil and he didn’t try to be anyone other than himself with you. I really don’t think he was unduly fussed what other people thought of him and he was philosophical about the way he related to others. He tried his best and if it wasn’t good enough for anyone then it wasn’t his problem.

He had an idiosyncratic character all of his own. I know of no one similar. We all remember him for one particular Neil trait and that was his own style of pregnant pause. In work or in play, asking him a question required an extraordinary degree of patience as the answer would take sometime coming, time enough to go and make a cup of tea. Some found this infuriating, others amusing. In one extreme case he sneaked over and said ‘DDE Link’ or something to a mutual and most flappable colleague, Sandra, who yelled back at him ‘I just hate it when you do that, that was 2 weeks ago, now tell me what the question was…..!’

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