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Albert George Payne

Also known as: Jack.

Picture of Albert George Payne.


When I was thinking of what to say at the service, I reflected Dad might well be tapping me on the shoulder at this service…and saying things like:
keep it simple…keep it short…I’m not that important…look after the people who’ve taken the trouble to come and see me on my way…check the catering’s up to scratch for after the service…
In many ways this sums you up: modest, humble and putting the needs of others first.

You were born at the end of the Great War and spent your early years in India where perhaps your great respect for nature first grew. You were the egg and milk wallah checker for the family - early responsibilities taken very seriously. Along with the amazing culinary aromas and tastes of Indian cookery, maybe this was the start of a trail towards becoming a lover of good food and cuisine.

Later on in your childhood you survived the challenge of being separated from your family, returning to England on your own for school in Folkestone – ‘character building’ you’d probably say.

Sometime in your early adulthood you graduated from Albert to Jack Payne, after a jazz musician of that name. Perhaps your friends and family sensed the bon viveur and sense of fun in you and felt the name was fitting.

As a young man, you had first hand experience of the Blitz in London as a beat PC and later had your first taste of flying – Harvards in Canada and Perthshire, Scotland, graduating to flying boats with Coastal Command, Imperial Airways and then BOAC (cue Dan to put me right!). Alongside all this, you settled down to family life with Pam, a fellow ‘sky surfer’, and Dan, Sal, myself and Jax appeared on the planet in due to course. On reflection, we enjoyed an unusual childhood, absorbing ‘world exploration learning’, with you letting us in to your world of adventure and travel.

From everything I’ve absorbed from your working life at your office in the sky, going to work was a joy to you and, alongside your commitment to your work, you grasped the opportunities for exploration, adventure and fun with both hands. I also absorbed over the years that you were very good at what you did without making anything of it, that you took great pride in your work and were well respected by your peers. The work ethic of doing everything to the best of your ability, however mundane, was always strong in you.
You were also always ready to go against the tide and sometimes to your cost, if you were convinced it was the right thing to do. Your moral code was solid and I feel lucky to have had that role modelling from you.

Your early interest in matters gastronomic came to the fore with the endless opportunities of gathering ingredients for sustenance from all corners of the globe, which you brought back home in all sorts of string and sacking contraptions which survived miraculously the aircraft holds and baggage control. You also had a great love of the outdoors – sport, nature and the sea in particular, something I’m grateful to have inherited from you.

Time moved on and you started a new life with Ulrike and later Johanna, settling in Cornwall, where in time you put down strong roots and found new happiness and fulfilment. In my intermittent visits to the ‘Cornish Paynes’ over the years I saw in you your passion for the outdoors and always remaining active, which I share and detect in my sons, Mat and Leon. I remember you shinning up and down ladders at Dean Terrace with bits of slate, constructing ‘Heath Robinson’ style contraptions for smoking meat and fish from old oil drums, wire, mesh and so forth and all manner of DIY activities. Recycling and improvisation was key to this and, when I think about it, you were the archetypal recycler before it came into vogue. Even when your mobility took a dip, you continued to do whatever you could and became more inventive in finding alternative ways of achieving a task.

Latterly I called you ‘the gaffer’ – when I was down visiting you would keep a ‘radar’ eye on the workmanship of the various jobs I’d be setting about, but also a kindly gaffer who would produce sustenance just at the right moment.

Your love of nature came out in your growing interest in the birdlife in the garden of your new house and I came to think of you as the birdman of Liskeard. You clearly got a lot of joy from this and worked on various feeding regime strategies to avoid avian bullies taking over from the littl’uns.

Johanna and Ulrike told me that your chosen spiritual figure, if you had to choose, would be Ra, the Egyption sun god - and that fits with the great respect I’ve always seen you show towards nature and living creatures – you’d step around an ant rather than tread on it.

It may be in the days and weeks before your death you set yourself a goal: to be at Johanna’s and Wil’s wedding, give your speech and give your daughter away. You did this and, whatever the cost, I know in my boots you wouldn’t have had it any other way. The pictures Johanna and Wil showed me of that day tell a story: yes, an elderly, frail man – more frail than he would have liked to admit, but his face showing clearly his pride and great happiness to have been there for Johanna and Wil on their day. The celebration and joy of a new life together for Johanna and Wil, alongside now, the celebration of a long life, lived honourably and to the full.

I know you’d forgive me Dad for calling you the ‘gaffer’ which came to fit you more and more as you got older. Take care gaffer. Rest peacefully. Yes, of course we’re very sad you’ve passed on from this world, but first and foremost we remember and celebrate your life. We remain with you and you with us.

Added by: Johanna Payne on 12 September 2007.

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