In memory of John Hamlin/my great friend, Thank you
by Norman E Martinesz
John suffered from the effects of MS through many years after leaving the Royal Navy, where we served together. He hailed from Liverpool and had the inherent charm of straight talk, always seeing the funny side of life and the ability to be scathing with sarcasm. No one seemed to understand how we were friends as our natures differed so much. But I loved John as a friend and colleague and understood his need to be expressive of his feelings. As his MS worsened, the incidents that triggered his wit and sarcasm blossomed. This is one such story that has left a lasting impression on me and also made me very much aware that our perception of others and their behaviour can be very far from the truth.
John and his daughter had gone to a restaurant for a meal, to celebrate a special event in her life. The two had chosen to share a bottle of wine with the meal. John loved his wine, but in his latter years his thirst waned and on this occasion, he drank just a very small, symbolic quaff, to toast the event. The venue was ideal, the meal was relished, and whole evening was all they had both hoped for.
Supported by his daughter and walking stick in hand, they left the restaurant but on so doing he lost his balance and fell at the door step.
But as he was being helped up by his daughter and a member of the staff, the folks who had been dining at the next table were also leaving and were heard to say, “If they cannot take the drink why do they drink so much that they get so drunk?’.
Quick as a flash and very audibly, John responded: “Or they could be suffering with MS”.
Needless to say, he had made his point and the other diners retreated shamefaced into their shells.
This was John Hamlin, my Royal Naval friend to the end. A lesson in perception I hold dear to my heart.
By Norman E Martinesz