Paul chamberlain died in August of this year. Paul was my friend. It was a slightly odd friendship that probably wouldn't have existed if our paths had not crossed in our professional lives. Paul and I were different beasts. We thought differently, behaved differently and lived our lives differently. But, despite all that difference, we were great friends.
The friendship took some time to develop. Back in the day I suffered from a bad habit of being constantly suspicious of people and their motives. I was, for a very long time, suspicious of Paul. He had the irritating knack of always landing right side up and I decided that was because he was always up to something. I was suspicious.
I was wrong and time showed me that and I spent my friendship with him smiling about how wrong I had been. I worked with Paul as the school of community and performing arts at the university of Winchester was born. It was not an easy birth as strong personalities clashed on a very regular basis. It took some time for me to figure out that Paul didn't clash with anyone. There were the usual odd comments behind his back from fellow suspicious beings but to his face people got on with him. That began to win through as the school began to grow and Paul took a larger role in that growth.
I was in a management meeting once listening to Paul speaking about his latest idea and it struck me. In that moment I realised my mistake. Paul's passion for the school was shining right out of him and I had been too blind to see it. He believed in what we were trying to do and he believed in our students and everything else came after that.
Paul's best friend was the boss. Paul and Steve got each other and depended on each other and never let each other down. I loved that friendship. One day it occurred to me that they had let me join that friendship and I felt privileged. The three of us then shared the passion for the school and worked silly hours to turn dreams into realities. It is true to say that many of those dreams were conceived in the pub after work but no matter. The dreams did turn into reality and the school became everything it was capable of becoming and the students shone.
I also worked with Paul in various productions he was directing and he somehow always persuaded me to be the choreographer. I was a very busy person back in the day so I am not at all sure how he persuaded me to take on these additional roles. He then drove me bonkers. I have worked with many directors over the years and they all drove me bonkers but Paul was a whole new level. Paul had a vision for the piece and would translate that like a well considered dot to dot. It was then our job to join up the dots. Somehow the dots did join and the production was a success and I said I would never work with him again but I did time and time again.
To understand Paul you had to understand his complete and immovable passion for the theatre. The theatre was his world and to be also teaching in that environment meant he has found his natural home.
When the boss took a sabbatical Paul was appointed to take his place for the duration. He got the job over me and I was angry. The anger last about as long as it took me to finish my first glass of wine as Paul is telling me 'we can do this....' We did, indeed, do it and held the reins safely while Steve was away. In that time we grew much closer and the trust blossomed into one of the most trusting relationships I have ever had.
Eventually, I left the university to seek new experiences. Steve had stepped down and Paul had stepped out to new ventures within the university and it was never to be the same. That time I am quite sure I would have got the Boss's job but I didn't want it then.
Paul, Steve and I remained close and met up as often as possible. In recent years I would send Paul some of my writing and he would critique it as if I was a student and I loved that. He would encourage me to keep writing as he believed in me and what I had to say. He once told me that there was a place for me and my writing. A place where honesty and authenticity captured the story in readiness for sharing. I loved that too.
When Paul died after a very short illness I was shocked. The shock took over my soul as I struggled to accept that he was gone. I fretted for Steve and Steve fretted for me and that will continue. The bond that the three of us shared was capable of soaring high above the clouds and it is a bond I will never know again. I wrote a piece on egos recently and when I had finished it I sat back to reflect on where that I come from. I had absolutely no clue but as I closed my iPad I thought I saw notes in the margins. Paul had critiqued it, of course he had.
So, with a new found energy I attend his memorial but I sense that my presence will be a shell. This is my memorial to Paul. Don't for one minute, Paul, think you can critique this....xxxx
Until tomorrow. Xx