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'Vin Garbutt: Colossus with a Heart of Gold' by Keith Hancock

Vin Garbutt: The hardest obituary I have ever had to write

Colossus with a Heart of Gold

I’ve penned a few one-liners, I wrote a few good songs, I’ve met a few good people and some that did me wrong But once-a-while there comes a smile that holds you in its grasp, That shakes you to your boots and forces you to ask

If you are lucky, once in life, you’ll meet this kind of man The type of guy that made me ask exactly who I am I met that man so long ago, when we were young and daft We laughed and laughed oh how we laughed, we laughed and laughed and laughed

Some beliefs were miles apart and yet we never fought Just recognised our differences in answers that we sought But values bound and stayed with us; will be forgotten never Like family and love of life and songs we’ll sing forever

That voice, those words, that cutting wit, the messages prevail The fun, absurd, the joy of it, the devil in the detail The stumblings and the mumblings, as big as any song, Even tuning his guitar would pull the audience along

So generous of spirit, an open hearted guy and when I met his family I instantly knew why He shared his house his home his food, his everything, his kin but before I stayed the night I had to put the windows in*

Farewell my friend I’m broken now, but heal I must, and will Forget you, Vin I never could, and though your heart lies still It beats within the ones you’ve touched, and they are not a few But thousands all around the world; they’re better because of you.

*This line needs a little explaning

I stayed with Vin, Pat and family along with my then wife Janet and our two sons, when we played the Redcar Festival together. Vin, in his inimitable manner, had been pondering the fact that there was no ventilation in the spare bedroom. He’d had sash windows made and decided that the perfect day to fit them was the day we arrived. He had been “working” for hours getting it ready when we turned

up. Drinks in the back garden were taken and the stories began. Vin was completely forgetting the time and Pat constantly reminding him that there was no window in the spare room. He resumed his task and after a further hour or so had managed to glaze two of the sixteen panels in the sashes. In the end I finished the job for him and we went upstairs and fitted them, together. I ribbed him for years about the fact that I had to finish the bedroom before we could go to bed. As always, we laughed and laughed and . . .  Keith Hancock is a folk singer, travel writer and was a close friend of Vin's. You can read his full obituary on his blog here


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