John Butcher is regarded as a lot of things by a lot of folks. An eccentric, a rock opera writer, a great speaker, a loose cannon. a bizarre chef, a pub lover, a limerick author, a politician who did his job, an encyclopedia, mountain wanderer, quintessential party host, solitary fisherman, loyal friend,  an Englishman, humanitarian, chuckler, Birmingham City Bluenose, businessman, writer, etymologist, historian, loving husband, patriot (not Nationalist – Patriot).

It’s easy to wax lyrical about someone no longer with us; that they “loved Life” in a way that made them burn out too fast. For Butch’s family the proof is in the friends we have now, how we see our world and what we do in it. This link is perhaps more discerning than I can be.

We knew him as Butch. Butch, who called contemporary Pubs “Ikea with Beer”, who categorically followed a flaming Vindaloo with Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut, even if the only place to get it was an hour down the Motorway. Butch who lost his car keys twice a day, and saved Nina Simone “for special occasions”, and took a blind man up a mountain, describing the view at every stage.

Butch who drove 2 hours at 2 am to pick up a sobbing 19 year old and race her back with the top down and the speakers up. Butch who befriended an entire pub full of seasoned Lakeland locals, and who could discuss the geology of Northern England and Spike Milligan in the same breath. Butch who was forbidden to have a pet owl, and who landed in a paraglider in the middle of a football match and learned to ski at 60.

The same Butch, who roasted horse chestnuts, ate berries off the branch, and passionately hated Magpies for their decimation of  smaller birds. Butch who walked from coast to coast, up all of the highest peaks in England and could name every hill or lake he saw. Butch who met the Queen many times, and plenty of heads of state, and Stevie Wonder. Butch who had Maggie Thatcher round for tea, and wore the same hideous swimming trunks for twenty years, until his children snipped the crotch out, and who never willingly chose a ‘relaxing’ holiday.

Butch who did a far-too convincing Michael Caine, took his family up in an airship for curiosity’s sake, made fiercely hot ‘Stews’ to burn your tastebuds and would drop everything to get to a gig. Butch who was forbidden from playing Trivial Pursuit for being a “Know-all”, and would recite the entire “Feast of Crispen” speech from Henry V, (long enough to make everyone feel awkward, then inspired). Butch who hated ‘pointless’ Yorkshire Terriers but loved a noble mongrel called Jake for 14 years. Butch who made his friends sing ‘Delilah’ in Pantomime outfits every Christmas, liked to dance with his children in the conservatory at 3am, or on Scottish monuments at 6am, and who in his ‘retirement’  enjoyed regular beer-fuelled all-nighters on mountains.

Butch who plotted uncatchable ways of destroying speed cameras, who despaired at the Political media, but delighted at the Fast Show, who instilled Motown in his children but loved anything authentic, of any type, that was good and had “no agenda”. Butch who told us to “make your mind up as you go along, according to what you learn, not what you’re told.” and that “The best investment you can make is in memories”. He did that.

Share my online toast to the original Butch, with a smile and a glint in your eye please, and celebrate a  loving and loveable light, who, like Buster Meeks, is tough to outshine, was put out too soon, but one that endures. Perhaps that’s why he loved this quote so much:

“We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” Hugh Latimer [attrib. to John Foxe]


9 Comments on “Butch.”

  1. Ginny says:

    Wow, child, can you write!!! Keep going. I want to read more. Tears on my cheeks. Smile on my face. Lump in my throat…not the sobbing kind of lump; the dammit how much fun we could all be having selfish no one is nearly as much fun kind. Love you. When you are famous, I sincerely hope that you will hire me to be your assistant.

  2. Graham says:

    Amazing Madey! I love it! I really wish I could have met the man the legend Butch. I am so lucky to be marrying his daughter and entering into his family. Look forward to creating lots of memories with you all!

  3. Dan Montague says:

    What an incredible ode to your dad. I have some of the same memories, and I’ve absolutely no doubt that the good men of Thursday night PWA have many more. I’ve sent this on to my folks so they can chuckle to themselves and remember Butch with a happy smile on their faces… As he stated himself, that is what life is all about..

  4. Kathy Sharp says:

    Following the links in the recent post, I found this wonderful tribute you wrote to your father. Such a beautiful summation of a wonderful man. One night at the Lakes house, Anne and I were missing Alf and Butch. We found them, several sheets to the wind, at the pub regaling their companions with tall tales and non-essential information. We were privileged to walk the wonderful Lakes area with Butch who loved that terrain with a passion. The first time we met Butch (and you) at Chilton’s wedding, Butch gave me the British version of Irish history and the name of a book about the Scots-Irish that was absolutely terrific. Oh, and don’t forget the karaoke at the Tennessee restaurant. I smile whenever I hear Brown-Eyed Girl.

  5. claire says:

    I just stumbled on this, was reading your Dubai post from FB. It’s so lovely Madey. And so was he. I wish I couldn’t relate to it but I can. Here’s to great men that are gone too soon. xxx

  6. I read this article completely about the difference of latest and preceding technologies, it’s remarkable article.

  7. dahlingranny says:

    What a beautiful beginning of a day and esp a day at hot hot hot Foll Beach awaiting your Mother’s arrival!
    Memories are the greatest healer for grief over the years as it keeps us happy that butch and buster were in our lives.
    We are blessed indeed remembering all the remembering of Butch in our lives!
    Sending you much love. And mama Jeane says if you come to TN then she will get you some peanuts!!!!!
    Love love Beth

  8. I’m lucky to have met him one jazz filled night and had the benefit of his wisdom that still rings in my ears from time to time. A lovely, lovely guy.

  9. […] someone who will at some point meet her children, sister and mother. Just as people meet slices of my father through my siblings, my mum, his friends or me, there are always pieces of our souls to be found, […]

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