Knightrose - RIP

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experimentalis's picture
Joined: 29-12-09
Jul 5 2011 08:50

Bob i first met in the aftermath of the Brixton Riots – where else? in Brixton, of course, where he had made his home then. Our common friend and comrade Spikey Mike had given me his address, and i passed a few days with him en route from Manchester to Greece. He kept just one room in a flat, and he habitually provoked the ire of his more conventional flatmates with his generous hospitality. I arrived, carrying a huge suitcase and accompanied by a total stranger who had recounted to me the riots while walking all the way from the Brixton tube station, in the small hours of the morning; Bob did not bat an eyelid. His goodwill bridged our differing cultural codes, and he showed particular tolerance to my lax sense of responsibility. In the next few years we talked a lot –about anarchism and situationism, about his love to Sally, about the secrets of british cuisine. And he taught me the intricacies of The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to which he listened every morning in the radio. He was perhaps the first to instill in me a sense of history –my teenager anarchism was closer to a religion rather than to the nuanced sense of the possibilities offered by history, that Bob by then combined with his strong moral strain. Of course, we were lucky to grow up in the seventies. The earth, we knew, was to be ours; huge political and cultural movements attacked capitalism in the West and state capitalism in the East, and world revolution would come at any moment. This feeling gave us strength; Wordsworth describes it well, talking about the generation who lived the French Revolution.

On the other hand, the belief in an easy victory did not aid our critical understanding of the world. Bob was different though. He was still in his twenties, but not so naive, not at all. Just a few years older than me, he proved much more mature in his thought and personality. As i understand it now, his mind was sharpened by his constant effort to integrate and balance his various theoretical inspirations. He taught me, among many other things, that Marx’s insights could be reconciled with the anarchist insistence on liberty; that revolutionaries must learn history before they try to create it; and that feeling must never be divorced from analysis. Mike, the first to give me Edward Thompson to read, helped too. But then, i could only see that their thought was much more complex than mine, and i tried hard to understand what they were talking about. In the end, spurred by them, i became a historian myself.

In the meantime, Bob had come with Sally to teach english in a town near mine, in northern Greece. We lost contact, and the fault was mine, after their return to England. Last year, thanks to Libcom, i contacted again Mike, and he gave me Bob’s email. I found it entirely natural that Bob would still be in the struggle, and i was more than happy to learn he was doing well. But i postponed again and again writing to him and Sally, and to Mike for that matter. I wanted to send a lengthy letter to them all, about old times and new, and these things that changed in me since we were close and those that stayed the same, and the hopes and disappointments of these last thirty years, from the polish Solidarity movement, whose birth we witnessed together, to the Zapatista uprising. I never found the time and concentration to send it.

Bob gave selflessly, and he gave to me a lot, even when he was not nearby. His playful, direct eyes and his warm and wise speech have stayed alive in my memory for more than a quarter of a century, and will stay till the end. His more recent literary tastes might or might not include Romanticism -his chosen name Knightrose obviously alludes to it- but the historical figure he brings to my mind is Percy Shelley. The Bob i so vividly remember was intelligent and good-hearted, decent and sensitive, tender and tenacious, understanding and sincere like the revolutionary poet, full of enthusiasm and free of malice; focussing on the important things, he dedicated his life to labour and love. He forged a life worthy of his goodness and kindness and courage; this is obvious from the way family, comrades and friends mourn him. Bob was a messenger from a better world, a future world of human humans, to thatcherite England and our neoliberal Europe. We should have him around now, that this horrible era of ours closes; he might enjoy the spectacle of its fall, to which he dedicated his life. He is not here any more, but we can prove ourselves, in the coming struggles, worthy of him.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Joined: 14-01-04
Jul 5 2011 11:06

Thanks for that post, Experimentalis. It says so much about Bob and the effect he had on so many of us.

JimN's picture
Joined: 5-06-09
Jul 21 2011 09:55

My condolences and sympathy goes to all Bob's family, friends and comrades.

Steven.'s picture
Joined: 27-06-06
Jul 21 2011 11:17

Obituary here:

Ellar's picture
Joined: 1-11-09
Jul 21 2011 15:25

Sounds like quite the revolutionary, wish I could of met him.

My deepest sympathy for his family, friends and close comrades

Joined: 27-02-06
Jul 21 2011 16:11

It's interesting you should mention Shelley. Shortly before he died I sent him these lines from Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, which Sally said that he appreciated. It bears witness to his revolutionary steadfastness
To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory

sabot's picture
Joined: 21-06-08
Jul 21 2011 21:53

sad Sad news indeed. Farewell comrade red n black star

Joined: 8-01-11
Oct 9 2012 18:33

Was this Bob speaking? rip x

Steven.'s picture
Joined: 27-06-06
Oct 9 2012 18:51
wojtek wrote:
Was this Bob speaking? Aip x

yes it was

Refused's picture
Joined: 28-09-04
Nov 4 2012 23:32

What a great man, I'm so happy I knew him.

Joined: 28-01-13
Jan 28 2013 15:35

I will say upfront that I do not share the political views of members of this forum. However, I went to school with Bob (in those days we nicknamed him as Aussie as he and his sister plus parents had just returned from an unsuccessful attempt to emigrate to Australia). In about the 3rd form his political views shifted far to the left and they stayed that way. This is what I admired about him - his political/idealogical commitments never wavered over 40 plus years. I also understand that he was a committed and very effective teacher who undoubtedly would have made a huge difference to the lives and prospects of many of those he taught. Apologies for the late posting but I only found out about Bob's death today.

Joined: 6-01-07
Jan 30 2013 17:36

It's not so suprising to me that Bob had such a wide and positive influence on many people over his lifetime - cut short though it was - and your post JohnD comming in even at this late stage is testament to that. We are all more than our politics of course important though that is to many of us here.

I knew Bob almost continuously since his teens as a close friend and comrade and still miss him so much.