After the last few days trying to get used to the idea that he is now longer around, I wanted to write another post about Neil Trafford so here it is.
Despite a little bit of time passing, you still don’t get use to it and it’s there at the back of your mind all of the time even when you are trying to concentrate on something else. What is worse is that even the most unlikely things are reminding me of him. During a meal with friends tonight we were talking about shops charging for carrier bags, and then I remembered that the last time I had this conversation was at Marks and Spencer Simply Food in Crewe during the by-election there. Neil was the agent and would sometimes joins us when we popped out to get our lunch there.
Perhaps this sounds strange, but I also feel slightly guilty for being so upset by Neil’s death. Compared to a lot of my friends in the Liberal Democrats we hardly knew each other. We didn’t ring each other for a chat, we weren’t confidants, we didn’t work together very often and we didn’t have that many nights out together. So why do I feel the way I do? Perhaps it is a testament to his personality. Neil was outgoing and fun, and seemed to like having people around that he could work with professionally as well as get on well with socially. So when you got to know Neil a bit you quickly felt as though you were good mates – something other people have said to me over the last few days as well. I even found myself going to his Facebook page, as although it was upsetting, it was also a real reminder of Neil the person.
The last few days has seen a host of calls, texts, emails and Facebook messages about Neil. It’s a shame that something so tragic has been the prompt, but it’s really reminded me how many people in the Liberal Democrats I love and yet I hardly ever speak to them most of the time. It has brought us all together. Most of the phone conversations I’ve had have been really stilted as no one quite knows what to say, you are just glad to have someone at the other end of the phone. What I end up doing is resorting to a load of banal cliches, which having re-read it, I fear I also used in my previous post about Neil as well. Despite this it has been easier to write stuff down than it has been to voice it. How do you sum up in a conversation something that is still so much of a shock.
One thing I remembered yesterday was that actually the last time I saw him wasn’t at conference, but a Northern Staff Day in Bradford at the end of last month. Neil was one of the trainers and lumbered me with doing an EARS training session at about an hour’s notice. However as a result of it and me saying I wanted to do more training he asked me to help at a North West training day in the New Year. It made me feel good that he recognised my skills and wanted me to do more – I had been meaning to ring him to ask him for the date so I could put it in my diary.
One reason I know I am upset though is very clear to me. I am not sure whether it is appropriate to write this, but I want to get it off my chest. Neil is also one of the most beautiful people I know and I have had a bit of a crush on him for a long time (that makes me sounds so much like a teenager). A few years ago I finally admitted it to him and I am now very glad that I did.
When you read other people’s comments so many people have used words like fun, outgoing, personable, brilliant campaigner and so on. But it is all true. It isn’t until something like this happens, that you remember that whilst the politics is important, all the friendships that you make are even more important.
Finally, I now see that the Manchester Evening News have a story about Neil’s death. It is of course written in a typically blunt news style, so it is a little hard to read but it does tell you a bit more about what happened. The first thing you see though is his photo, so if you are going to read it take a deep breath before clicking on the link.
My previous post is here.