Geoffrey Bennun – The Final Farewell

Even though it is getting close to one year ago when Geoffrey died, I am amazed at how many people each week still visit this blog to read some of the posts that were shared by a lot of people.  I don’t think that Geoffrey had any idea of the ripple effect he caused through a lot of people’s lives.

This week, by coincidence, I had dinner at a restaurant where Geoffrey and I ate last year and then 2 days later  was in the restaurant where we celebrated his 60th birthday. So he has been in mind all week.  At the restaurant where I had dinner, I saw the young waitress that Geoffrey really gave shit to because she didn’t clear away his plate fast enough.  The fact that it was a casual Dutch restaurant where they get to these things in their own time was irrelevant.  This was followed by a 15 minute conversation during which he found out that if he had tried to make it an issue she would have told him to “Fuck Off” (very female Dutch), found out how much a week she made in tips and also enquired that if he had a Rolls Royce at the door a 5 grams of coke in his pocket, would he stand any chance of seeing her naked – with a huge grin she told him that nothing in life is impossible.  So I had the opportunity to talk to her and as soon as I pointed to the table and mentioned the conversation she immediately remembered.  She was shocked to hear what had happened and we had a really nice conversation.  I think she summed it up very nicely, she described Geoffrey as having a “unique charisma”. 

All of this prompted me to finally email Geoffrey’s best friend – Doug and ask if I could post his last email on Geoffrey’s final farewell to the world, which he willing agreed and is below.  For those of you who don’t know in Geoffrey’s will he asked to have his ashes spread at 5 different locations around the world.  Each of those locations meant something special to Geoffrey.  At each location friends of Geoffrey’s gathered for ‘Dinner with Geoffrey’, where there was great food, great wine and many stories and tears shared.  Following the evening Doug would then spread some of Geoffrey’s ashes in the requested location.  Doug has now completed those 5 trips, the 5 dinners have been held and everyone has said goodbye.  I thought for those of you who have not seen Doug’s last email, you would enjoy reading the final farewell.  Thank you Doug for allowing this to be posted.

Dear all,

This is way overdue.

I have started and stopped and started this email a few times.

This is the last email on the last stop of Geoffrey’s places he wanted to be a part of.

Of all the places he wanted to be remembered, this was his most intense request. To have his ashes connected in the same place as his sister Yogesha. “Douglas” he would say.. (he never called me Doug my whole life) “Douglas, you have to make sure it’s the same beach as my sister!” “Gypsy and Jai will know the one but promise me. Ok!?”

He would go on and on about it like he did most things. That’s how we all know the same stories when it comes to Geoff…he told them over and over right!

After a very long hard fun night before at the Empress Dinner with Geoff, it was time to head to Salt Spring. Sunday Nov 6/10

It was a glorious day. Absolutely beautiful which is really amazing because it rains in the Pacific Northwest from October to March. It was raining the night before.

The Empress hotel sits on the Inner Harbor in Victoria. And that morning there was a rainbow over the Harbor that had the most intense clear colors you have ever seen. Not the faded slightly washed out version …crystal clear and vibrant on a cloudless sky. Incredible.

May have mentioned in previous e-mails that this type of thing just happens…don’t believe in “signs” and a higher spiritual calling, but that’s a hell of a coincidence a rainbow like that on this special day don’t you think?

And so we got in the cars and vans and headed to the Ferry to Salt Spring Island. Its a stunning part of the world. We all followed Jai so we wouldn’t get lost finding his home from the Ferry terminal. We would have for sure because we were all so fuzzy from the night before that no one remembered to bring a map of how to get there. Everyone thought someone else had a map.

We arrived at the family home. So warm and comfortable. Got together glasses and champagne to take to the beach for our farewell toast.

And down to the beach we all went. There were children playing, a dog barking.. a deer went by.

Hard to describe the emotions of the group. Very intense. Great sadness and grief blended with contentment that we were doing the right thing. Happy we were together I believe. The anger that was so overwhelming when first hearing how Geoff died came back to me briefly. Then closure.

We said our last words remembering Geoff. We cried. We held hands in a circle and observed silence in his honor.

And into the cold waters.

Well Geoffrey, we got the right beach.

And all your friends from around the world came and had a good laugh and drank some wine and told stories about you, just like you wanted. Everyone agrees you were a real character! One of a kind for sure.

Good Bye Geoffrey.

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Buy Apple, it just works! – Total Bullshit

I have colleagues at work as well as friends who are rabid Apple fans.  They consistently tell me that I must be mad not joining the club because Apple products “Just work”.  Well I can tell you from personal experience that this statement is pure, unadulterated bullshit.

Personally, I have been using a PC for years but I did succumb and buy an iPhone 2 years ago.  I need to say that the phone itself is great and so are the apps.  However, let me share a dose of reality.

For the past 12 months, iTunes has refused to complete the o/s updates on the iPhone.  The process begins and after 3 or 4 minutes it alerts me that the update has failed.  This is despite updating iTunes itself.  Essentially it hasn’t mattered because all the applications and the phone itself continued to work well.  Anyway, last week there were 20 app updates waiting and I had put this off for a while and then decided I may as well.  After updating all the apps I tried to use a few of them and each one failed.  It opened for a fraction of a second and then closed immediately.  I realised that it was probably because the phone o/s was an early 3 series and the latest o/s was 4.2.  So I tried to update the o/s once again via iTunes, but it still refused to update the o/s.

So, I realised that the only way to possibly do this was to try using my partners MacBook Pro.  Of course in doing so it warned me that all apps, music, photos etc would be deleted.  So it did a back up and then replaced the o/s, which went smoothly.  Then I restored the back up that I had just done and then the fun began.  Most of the apps were missing and core apps like ‘Notes’ all my notes had been erased except for 3 of them and typically they were 3 that wouldn’t have mattered if they had been erased.  All other data contained in the other remaining apps, such as ‘To Do’ lists were gone.

So I came back to iTunes on my own computer to reinstall a previous back up from there, but they had all gone.  Then I noticed that the links between the songs in iTunes and where they were stored on the external hard drive were gone.  I have 3500 tracks and I was not about to individually link them back to the file on the drive (as the forum’s suggested).  So I thought the easiest way is to delete all the song titles from the main library and build it again, which I did.  However, this also removed all information about the tracks that I had legitimately purchased from the Apple store, and they were nowhere to be found in iTunes, nor could I remember them because there is a reasonable list.

It has taken 3 fucking days to get this whole shitty mess resolved.  The only thing that saved my sorry arse was that I could retrieve library file data from and external back up, which then gave me back my playlists and purchased track data.  On top of this, when I went to synch the phone to get the rest of the apps back on as well as the music library, that piece of software shit known as itunes decided that the iphone was now an ipod and tried to erase what was currently on the iPhone.  This has now taken me another 5 hours this evening and it would seem that everything is back, I think.

To help explain that it just doesn’t happen to me, my partners friend who lives near by rang for help after she updated her iTunes program to the very latest version and her entire music library has gone – completely.  Not just from iTunes but from her computer.  After frustrating calls to Apple the guy actually admitted “Yeah, this happens quite a lot”.

So the next time some deluded Apple fan tells me, buy Apple because it ‘just works’, it will give me perverse pleasure to tell them to fuck off.

An insight to my alien life

Prompted by something that I recently read, I thought about my complete reluctance to learn the language of the country where I currently live, which is The Netherlands.  Some would say – to my shame I have been living here for 11 years and I know only a small amount more of the Dutch language than when I arrived.  Fortunately (for me) living in Amsterdam which is truly a multi-cultural city, you can use English to achieve pretty much everything.

However, I have realised something very important this week.  By being a foreigner and not speaking the language you are essentially free.  Let me explain.  When you understand the language where you live, you are constantly immersed in ‘noise’.  You listen (unintentionally) to conversations all around you, being in the workplace, on the street, out to dinner, shopping – wherever.  You tend to flick through the local newspapers that are delivered, unrequested, through your mailbox.  You ‘listen’ to radio and you will sometimes be drawn into something on TV.  You are constantly immersed in others ‘noise’, where there is no escape.  This impacts everyone and not necessarily in the right way.  I listen to the comments and observations our friends who are Dutch.   A reasonable amount of their thoughts are devoted to ‘what is wrong’ or ‘what is going wrong’ around them and I have realised that in many ways, they have little choice.

I am free of all of this.  I don’t read the local newspapers, I don’t watch TV at all, I have absolutely zero interest in politics and ‘status’ is irrelevant.  I have no interest whatsoever about a Dutch persons ‘perceived’ status in the Dutch scheme of things and they certainly have no interest in mine, because to them I am irrelevant.  I cannot help them increase their ‘status’ in any way and correspondingly they cannot help me.  This is important because most societies people’s relevant status is important to themselves and those around them.  People inadvertently show reverence to those they perceive are above them and indifference to those they think are below them.  A lot of unconscious time is given to reference checking where you are within your culture, which is always reinforced in so many subtle ways via the media.  You can see this with the amount of air time and hype given to Dutch ‘celebrities’ who are mostly a media creation because they have little real talent and are only relevant to the domestic Dutch.  However, if you are not part of the cultural it is irrelevant.  Another important benefit of this is that it allows you to not be too concerned about being seen to do “the right thing”, whatever that may be, because you are largely forgiven everything because you are the “foreigner who doesn’t understand”.

So last Friday evening, I was sitting in bed on the 7th floor of our building, looking out over the lights of Amsterdam, realising that I am completely free from all of this.  I am allowed to live my life in the way that I want to, I don’t have to “care” about the constant nuanced messages of Dutch society and I personally feel both privileged and lucky, because to be free of the external ‘noise’  in your mind is a gift that most do not have the luxury of experiencing.