|Hugh on the bonfire|
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
I think it is that sense of wonder that will remain with me now that Hugh is no longer going to reappear in Holy T, browner and leaner than ever, after one of his expeditions. That, and the wonderfully alive man who never seemed to feel the cold or bother about the rain; who wore shorts in the summer and jeans in the winter; who willingly directed traffic in the dark for winter night concerts and vanished into the dark without ever asking for a lift.
For Hugh was one of these people who just do things. Whether it was clearing out gutters, pottering round the bottom of the building pulling weeds from the perimeter, or leaping suicidally onto my bonfire one gardening session because the rhododendron branches weren't catching (see photo), Hugh was there with his own solution to the problem. And his eyes would light up with glee at what he'd achieved.
He died, suddenly and without warning, in Australia. His last conscious act was riding his bicycle. One of the last things he did in the grounds of the church was to cut back the cherry tree that menaced the windows. Some of us thought he'd killed it - but no. This year it's burgeoning again. It's hard to think that Hugh too might not be alive and flourishing on this bright day when his ashes were buried in the churchyard.
Rest in peace, Hugh - and rise in wonder.