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In Memory of Eric

ERIC BIRD 1946-2005 remembered by Melanie

Eric Bird - tea philosopher

Eric Bird - tea philosopher

I often think how lucky we are to have such a mix of characters at the TOP garden. Even the rhyming names make me smile. There’s Gary and Barry, Derek and Eric…

There’s Mark with his knowledge of the secret life of insects and very spicy casseroles.

There was Barry (now moved to Kent) with his ability to invent and make anything from scrap, most notably the toilet cistern irrigation system in the greenhouse, and his enthusiasm to taste any plant, leaves, flowers and all.

Then there was Eric. He was, in his own words, an eccentric and this is what people most loved about him. He was easily recognisable with his pencil in his beard. He always entertained us at TOP gatherings with his guitar and sea shanties. He had knowledge and interest in so many subjects from green living to sailing, canoeing, marine wildlife, boat building, beer making and bees.

At his funeral we were amazed to hear about other parts of his life. You only seem to know someone in the context in which you see them. For most of us this was through Friends of the Earth and the TOP garden. But he had worked hard as skipper to enable less able people to experience sailing and played his guitar with the AMP group, an organisation to help people with head injuries or similar problems, which Eric wanted to call the Head Cases!

Eric tending an early bonfire - burning brambles

Eric tending an early bonfire - burning brambles

He had been on some amazing canoe trips. One of his canoeing friends called Andy, told me that on one trip they had been canoeing around the Cornish coast for several days and stopped off to buy food supplies. Eric looked a little worse for wear, covered with 3 days of sea salt, beard and hair dishevelled, elbows sticking out of holes in his sweater.. He went into a local bakers and commented how lovely the buns looked. The lady in the shop took pity of what she thought was a waif and stray and gave him a large bag of buns and said “there you go dear, have them on me.” Eric thought this was very amusing.

He was excited that the television programme on memory loss, that he had wanted to make for so long, was finally happening. In fact Sally from Channel 5 interviewed and filmed Eric shortly before he died. (Sally hopes that the programme will still go ahead).

Barry, Derek and Mel remembering Eric

Barry, Derek and Mel remembering Eric

Eric followed his beliefs and principles, even if it wasn’t the trendy thing to do. Him and Jo lived “the good life” keeping sheep, chickens and bees, long before Felicity Kendall and Richard Briers made it popular

Eric will be missed for his sense of humour, enthusiasm for life and the way he led his daily life, always with least impact on the environment.