Patrick Brendan Early (28 Nov 1936 - 30 Dec 2020)

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Funeral Service

Location
Our Ladye Star of The Sea Church Croombs Hill Greenwich SE10
Date
28th Jan 2021
Time
10.30am
Funeral Director
F.A. Albin Deptford

Cremation Details

Location
Lewisham Crematorium Verdant Lane Catford SE6 1TP
Date
28th Jan 2021
Time
12.15pm

In loving memory of Patrick Brendan Early who sadly passed away on 30th December 2020
Born 28 November 1936
Died 30 December 2020

Patrick Early OBE, who has died aged 84, was a civil servant in The British Council. His overseas career took him to Morocco, Argentina, the former Yugoslavia (twice), Spain, Egypt, Sudan and Brazil.
He is survived by his beloved wife Stephanie and his children Gabs, Lucy and Matthew. Also by his 5 grandchildren Isobel, Emily, Ronja, Axel, and Rowan.
He was born in the hill station of Shillong in northeast India to Noel Early, and Irish doctor of tropical medicine and his English wife Hilda West. He grew up in Worthing Sussex during the war years.
Patrick attended Downside school and won a scholarship to study French, Spanish and Russian at Jesus College Cambridge. He went on to obtain post graduate degrees from Leeds University, Essex University, Goldsmiths, SOAS and UCL.
His working life was dedicated to The British Council. During his overseas career, he lived with his family in a number of different countries and was exposed to daily use of Spanish, French, Serbo Croatian, Arabic and German. He and Steph would always take it upon themselves, with great enthusiasm and interest to learn to read and speak the local language as a top priority. An essential means by which they found great meaning and reward in their host cultures, meeting, socialising and working closely with local contacts, particularly in Arts and Culture.
Patrick and Stephanie's legendary social entertainment skills, obvious enthusiasm and ability to see the best in people invariably lead to lifelong friendships.
In his work, Patrick always took his duties seriously, never stinted in doing the difficult thing, to accept any challenges with great energy and optimism.
Patrick was a poet, a translator, and a writer, publishing several collections of poetry as well as reviews in a number of British ansd Irish journals. He was especially proud to publish a highly regarded translation of Antonio Machado's poetry "A Voice in Time. He was surprisingly modest about these achievements and has left us a body of beautiful writing as a consolation.
Patrick was generous hearted. He had a Latin notion of hospitality, knew the importance of chat, music and craic, sharing a bottle of wine or a glass of whiskey. We were all the better for it.
Full of energy, and suddenly blessed with time, his retirement was a whirl of activity as he traded on his his platform as former overseas director at the BC, continuing to launch many’s the career. A master of hooking people up, enchufe even, he would make things happen. Teachers, writers, academics and musicians alike would beat their way to our door, and leave incentivized, with direction. We his children were always beneficiaries of his suggestions, advice and encouragement, as well as generous financial support (with certain terms and conditions attached). An enthusiastic motorist he was always dreaming about his next epic drive crossing countries and continents, all the better if it involved sleeping in a tent or under the stars (an enthusiasm unfortunately not shared by his dear wife).
Right up to the present. His last year was not idle, nor yet untypical. Himself and Steph were involved in producing a book of lockdown poetry. He was planning another book of translations, much of which was finished before his untimely departure. Following his diagnosis he tried to beat a retreat to his beloved France, but was prevented from doing so by his illness. He hooked up a young writer with a family friend. He gave a lecture in poetry. Prevented from sleep by his cortisone treatment, he drew some great comical cartoons sending himself up for his nocturnal perambulations, and his yen for honey. He helped Matt get to China. He revisited his interest as a young man in existentialism with Lucy, the importance of being conscious of the joys of the here and now, navigating life’s journey with spirit, even within the limitations of existence. He was continuing to add to his substantial library, ordering a new biography of Jaques Derrida and the Life of St Augustin.
While he became more tired, he was still great craic, and fully engaged to the last.
We’ll miss the cocktail hour when he would crack open the whisky, the G&T or the pastis as appropriate.
We love you. We miss you. We are proud of you.
Thank you for showing us that it is not the years in your life but the life in your years that count.

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Dez Lewis posted a picture

Healing prayers to you all. Wish I had met him for he is an incredible dad, husband, man, son and friend. How fortuniate to have someone so wonderful in your lives and.. wow what a life he lead!

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Paul Murphy wrote

It’s a long way back, but fond recollections nevertheless of Patrick where the Blue meets the White Nile, and of course you Stephanie, your Concern days. Patrick was always interested in what you did and never short of a lively conversation – and was clearly enjoying the special charm Sudan sprinkles over its guests. A toast to a full life then and since.

Condolences Stephanie and Gabs.
Best, Paul Murphy (formally Concern)

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Matt Bryden wrote

Apart from the personal support he gave me as a writer, frequently involving me in his projects (which proved an education in themselves), offering feedback and enthusiasm, I was most impressed by the way Patrick lived his life. There were two moments in a writing group we both attended by the poet Mimi Khalvati which struck me. The first followed a genuinely kind, considered and eloquently presented response to one of his poems by Mimi. Pregnant pause. ‘I accept all charges!’ Patrick boomed, to the delight of all. A term or two later, in an eloquent soliloquy at the close of the evening’s session, Patrick gave his reasons for calling time on the course and relocating to his second home in France with his wife Stéphanie. It came down to the wellbeing of his dog, Rufie, or Rufus. Aside from disappointment that I wouldn’t see my poetry buddy so often, I was struck by this sensitive side to him. Only last summer, he sent me a sequence of poems about dogs which he was developing to send to his dog-loving niece. ‘I’m worried they are sentimental,’ he fretted. Of course they were sentimental – it was a sequence about dogs! There wasn’t any way to square that circle. He was a deeply kind and loving man. This endeared him to many.

During a stay at Patrick and Stephanie’s house in La Presbytère, near Toulouse, I descended the bannisterless stairs one morning to find Patrick sat on a chair on the lawn talking with a woman. Lost in conversation. The sun was brilliant though it was still early. I fixed some coffee and after half an hour or so, the woman got up to leave. She was a writer and Patrick was discussing her work with her. I knew there and then that that was the life I wanted to achieve: to be in one’s own space speaking to people at that level.

The thing with Patrick is that – like all the people I most admire – he seemed to have absolute confidence in the ripeness of time. I think it was William Blake who said ‘live in the day, write in the night.’ Patrick seems to have lived the fullest of lives – with numerous singular experiences including an encounter with the lover of Elisabeth Bishop in South America – before, under no apparent pressure of time, coming to reflect on his times and experiences in verse with an effortless impossible to emulate. Patrick and Stéphanie’s children have written above how he has gifted us these wonderful books and I intend to immerse myself in them at the next available opportunity. It will be with a generous glass of Bushmills, followed by the book of Elisabeth Bishop he gave me because he insisted I needed to read it.

Cheers old friend!

Matt

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Mary Popovic wrote

Patrick was one of those people you always hoped you might meet again. None of us will ever forget his contribution through the British Council in Belgrade during the wars of the 1990s. Times were grim, even food was scarce and sanctions forbade cultural visits. Patrick somehow managed to catch people (even a jazz group) who just “happened to be passing” and bring light into the darkness. His and Stephanie’s warmth, empathy and hospitality will be remembered by many of us. Deepest sympathy to Steph and family.

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Emily Jenkins wrote

Although I had known Patrick to say hello to during dog walks, we only became friends in the last year of his life. Warm, articulate, and with that unusual gift of having a genuine interest in those around him, we bonded over our love of theatre, stories and poetry. Our quick hellos slowly turned into much longer chats whilst our respective canines waited patiently for us to finish. In the last few months of his life, whilst the sun still shone, our unscheduled bumping into each other developed into email chats and scheduled morning meet-ups where we would sit on a bench by Deptford pond or church, and pass a pleasant hour or two in the sun or rain, chatting about anything and everything. I was always fascinated by the stories he shared of his life both here and abroad, and when speaking of his family, his love and pride in each of them was palpable.

I had been going through a difficult time and when I shared this with him, Patrick's patience and wisdom gave me great strength. He also wanted to encourage my writing, with us both exchanging our work with each other to read. When I told him I had written a TV script, Patrick was immediately keen to find a way to help me, and within a week he had put me in touch with a friend of his and asked if they would read my script. A kindness that I never expected but that meant a lot to me. Reading the comments and obituaries below, it appears this was typical Patrick behaviour. Always keen to encourage in whatever way he could.

What he shared with me of his feelings towards his diagnosis was a deep gratitude for the life that he had lived, and a passionate love for his family. For someone I only really knew for a few months, the impression he has left will last a lifetime.

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Chris Jones donated £100 in memory of Patrick
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Chris Jones wrote

It all began when Patrick whisked me off to Sarajevo and turned me and the rest of us into real teachers. It wasn’t just the lectors’ conferences and professional support: there was endless hospitality, open-ended encouragement, trust, friendship, music and all of Matty’s Tintin and Astérix stories as well. It was a good time.

Later on, in not such a good time, he facilitated the escape of our dear friend Dobrila ‘Beba’ Nastić from war-torn Bosnia.

My thanks and love to him, to Steph and to Gabs, Lucy and Matt.

He was one helluva guy.

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Susan Virsano wrote

For Patrick - In Loving Memory

You left with the ebb tide
and the moon was full.
But on the morning
of your last day
you did appear here,
most quixotically,
as a sweet violet
oddly flowering,
quite out of season,
on the hill, beneath
wild damson trees
sculptured by the wind;
looking southwards
to Mount Callan,
and in the west
a scrap of sea
glinting in Liscannor Bay.

Like the Violet
you were governed
by the planet Venus.
She amply gifted you
the art of friendship,
creativity, pleasure,
and diplomacy;
and that great ability
to bring together
both people and ideas,
and to find just cause
for feast and celebration
simply in the presence
of friend or recent stranger.

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David Espey donated in memory of Patrick

Molly and I were very saddened by the news of Patrick,
but we loved the website, photos, and memories. We’ll
also add our memories to the website.

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Keith Johnson wrote

I first met Patrick in 1971 at the University of Essex, where we were both following the MA in Applied Linguistics course. He contributed to the course, not just with his experience and knowledge about language teaching, but also with a lively social instinct which helped to bring everyone together. Our paths crossed on several occasions in later life. I particularly remember one on which I was on a British Council Specialist Tour to Belgrade and was lucky enough to have him as the person looking after me. He did his job well! He will be sadly missed by very many in the language-teaching world, and far beyond.

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PoLLo Peirotti posted a picture

<3

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PoLLo Peirotti posted a picture

<3

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Ma. Angélica Ferreira Centeno wrote

My husband, Manuel Peirotti, met Patrick when he first arrived in Córdoba, Argentina in the late 60's as director of the Cultura Británica and they became friends immediately. It wasn't until many years later that I met him and thus benefited from his friendship as well. His travels around the world and the distance between us made our encounters rare but every time we met was a very special occasion and a memory we cherish.I much valued his personal traits; his warmth and generosity, his wonderful sense of humour, his perceptive  intelligence which allowed him to get to the essence of  things. An excellent confidant, he could really understand you. And he stimulated everyone around him.His poetry is exquisite and his style irreplaceable. Patrick was an invaluable friend that enriched our lives in so many ways. His beloved memory will remain forever in our hearts.

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Janet Henderson wrote

We met Patrick and Stephanie only a few days after we moved to France. I had been wondering how we would get to know folk, but lo and behold, we had a generous invitation for apperos. Husband had strict instructions not to outstay our welcome. I nudged him at what I though was a suitable time. ‘But you’re not going yet! Let me pour you another drink. There’s food on its way’. We didn’t see them nearly enough, but it was always a great pleasure to bump into Patrick with his beloved dog. So glad I was able to attend a reading of Patrick’s poems. So glad they could come to Robin’s wedding. Honoured to have known him. He will be missed.
Stephanie, we all hope to see you before too long. As my late husband used to say ‘ while ever we are talking about people, they live on in our hearts’.

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David Jolly wrote

Quite simply Patrick launched me on my professional career - his belief in me & his outstanding my enthusiastic professionalism were a lasting gift; in addition, he & the wonderful Stephanie showed me that married life snd family life could be possible howevey tricky bits of it might be - this has illumines my whole life - thank you thank you

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Nickie Bamber donated £100 in memory of Patrick
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Rod Bolitho wrote

Patrick was a dear friend and a mentor to me. I have so many fond memories of him. He wrote a typically upbeat message to me shortly before he died. I will always remember him fondly.

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Gordana Platisa wrote

Dear Steph and family I am so sorry that Patrick is no more. You and Patrick have been so much part of my life through difficult and wonderful times. Even the continents did not really separate us and stopped us from writing poetry. Much love , Gordana

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Ailish and Tony O'Connell wrote

Our deepest sympathy to the Early family on the death of Patrick May he rest in peace

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