Today I attended the funeral of Thamesmead stalwart Brian Barnett, scourge of
incompetent Councils and police everywhere and the sixth friend I have lost in just 15 months.
It was the saddest of those funerals not only because
his death was so unexpected but also
because the love for him shown by his family was so beautifully expressed.
Can one say a funeral was both fun and irreverent? Well it probably was and to the relief of me and Councillor Danny Hackett, no singing either.
How many ‘ordinary’ residents of a Wolvercote Road tower block could attract two Councillors and an MP to their funeral? Clearly Brian was anything but ordinary.
On the way in I suggested to Teresa Pearce that the exit song ought to be George Formby’s When I’m Cleaning Windows - and it was. Exactly right for commercial window cleaner Brian.
Brian was a man of great courage taking on anybody who did not meet his exacting standards. Whereas I have tried very hard to avoid life’s petty inconveniences like parking tickets, Brian would see them as traps for unwary traffic wardens and ensnare them into issuing penalties that he knew he could contest for technical infringements of procedure. At various times he was labelled vexatious by both Dartford and Bexley Councils, the last refuge of Councils that have run out of excuses for their inexplicable behaviour.
That hobby was reflected in the floral tributes as was his other love, photography. I knew he had three Canon digital SLR cameras but I understand his family found several more cameras in his flat.
Brian leaves his mother, two sisters, a brother, a son and a daughter plus an elderly gentleman he had ‘adopted’ and to whom he was companion, carer and chauffeur - until Brian’s car was written off in the Dartford bus crash.
Our sympathies to them all.