Friday, November 15, 2013

Hugh John Simmonds, CBE: April 20, 1948 - November 15, 1988

Twenty-five years ago, Hugh Simmonds, my closest friend, my law partner, my political mentor, a rising star in the British Conservative Party, and Margaret Thatcher's favorite speechwriter, turned up dead in a woodland glade, seven miles from our hometown of Beaconsfield, in England, in mysterious circumstances.

I made a promise to investigate those mysterious circumstances. The mothers of Hugh's children became a tad concerned about where my investigations were leading (ok, they thought I was loopy). I don't blame them. So, in 2002, I handed to the children's grandfather, Hugh's father, who did believe in me, folders to be given to the children on the occasion of his death, Which occurred in 2005. Those folders set out a somewhat different scenario to the official version.

I don't know what those children think of all of this. I still care for them deeply. I believe one of them may even have surreptitiously Friended me on Facebook. What I do know is that I did what I could. Which is not as much as I would have liked. But sometimes, we can not always do all that we would wish. As my very favorite President discovered, when he decided to let the US health insurance industry design his healthcare reform package.

And those few spare words about Hugh's children camouflage an eternity of continuing personal anguish.

As for me. Well, twenty-five years ago, I was a deeply ambitious young man. Office manager of Hugh's law firm (although not in charge of the bank accounts!). About to earn six figures a year as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of a newly-formed company, which was purchasing 100 tenanted pubs from Whitbread. Senior staff member for a politician, who likely would have been a senior Cabinet member. Perhaps not a star, but maybe a rising starlet, in my own right, in the British Conservative Party. Wing-tips, braces and Filofax in my hand.

Today, I am older. Not much wiser. Violet in my hair. A confusion to my father, as I seemingly live my life backwards. Earning low five figures in my local co-op. Where I advocate, to the consternation of my management, and sometimes to the delight of my fellow workers. I don't wear a watch, nor carry a smartphone, nor own a personal organizer. If there is something which does not neatly fit into my immediately-accessible memory, then it is something which is a step back into a life of stress and anxiety, which life I left behind when I chose to become a recovering alcoholic (nineteen years, two months ago).

My current preoccupation is with exploring my creative side. And that finds its most immediate musical expression in my alter ego, Pop Vox / Geoff Gilson. I have a wealth of good friends. Many new. Some from my past, who re-discovered me earlier this year, and who have a far more generous memory of me from twenty-five and some years ago than I have. Thank you.

It has been an interesting twenty-five years. Begun with tragedy. Finding destinations that never figured in my early planning. But still welcome. There is much left to accomplish. I am fifty-seven years young. The powers that be may yet act with the good faith I have sought for Hugh's family these past twenty-five years. In the meantime, I never forget. Not Hugh. Nor his children.