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.