Carolyn sent me a text message last night, informing me that Mr Gibson had died.
Mr Gibson was the elderly Scottish gentleman who lived next door to Carolyn when she and I were growing up in Alistair Drive. I didn't know him very well, but he always stopped to shout 'Hello!' when he was out walking his dog. Mr Gibson was very hard of hearing.
After we went off to our respective universities, Carolyn and I didn't see each other for a couple of years. We re-established contact at a surprise 80th birthday party that our parents threw for Mr Gibson. It was at this party that I learnt that Mr Gibson had been a prisoner of war, and had worked on the Burma Railway. He never forgave the Japanese, and mildly chastised me when I bought my second car: a Nissan.
It wasn't until three years ago that I learnt from Carolyn that Mr Gibson's name was Alistair. She just matter-of-factly slipped it into the conversation one day. Apparently, she and Mr Gibson were now on first name terms. It didn't seem right, her referring to Mr Gibson as 'Alistair'. When I told my parents, they were surprised I hadn't known his name all along, because, in a way, our road had been named after him:
In 1963, my parents, and Carolyn's parents, and Mr Gibson all put down deposits on houses that were being built in a new road that was to be named 'Alastair Drive'. But Mr Gibson took great exception to this, and went to complain to the local planning department. He explained that 'Alastair' was a damn stupid way to spell the name 'Alistair', and demanded they change it. So they did.
Mr Gibson might have lived a loud and unassuming life, but I guess he's the only person I'm ever likely to meet who lived in a road named in his honour.