January 3rd 2013

Bob Dinsmore RIP

From Neil Pittaway this morning:-

 Elizabeth, Bob’s sister has let us know that Bob died peacefully in the early hours.

He had recently moved to a nursing home in Bristol close to his sister and Jeremy (Brown) and Jeff (Baker) have visited in the last few days.


1 Comment to January 3rd 2013

  1. Elizabeth Whitehouse says:

    This is the text of Bob’s sister’s address at his Thanksgiving Service on 31 January 2013:

    Robert was always the first to notice and point out insistently that it was going to rain, or worse, hence his nickname in more than one family of “Eeyore”, but he was also quick to be intrigued and to notice beauty. He saw it in watches, in seascape and countryside, in lawnmowers, in lettering, in vacuum cleaners, in jewellery, in books and bindings, washing machines (of which he has mended many) and cameras and binoculars, to mention a few. In fact almost everything fascinated him and as he couldn’t bear to waste anything, his many collections reached formidable dimensions. In tackling the collections we now appreciate that if we find one of something, we will find at least six more and possibly more than sixty.

    If your iron broke, or your mixer needed a new bowl, he might have offered to supply you with what you needed “from stock”. That might imply that he had the heart of a shopkeeper, but not at all. If he gave you a replacement “from stock”, it was often antique and carefully mended, and he would expect you to return it if you had no further use for it. Not a shopkeeper but a collector willing to share.

    Of his collections, perhaps his watches became his principal focus. He would be wearing a different one each time he appeared. He didn’t draw attention to them, so it was worth noticing if it was, for example, a Longines, a Jaeger Le Coultre or a Jaquet-Droz. He took some time to choose the one to wear when he was admitted to hospital in December (he did everything slowly) with his sister urging him to take one that was not too valuable, while the paramedics hovered in the doorway. He heeded her, for once, and chose a Timex Expedition with a leather strap.

    Robert was born in London, the elder of twins. For some of the war he and his brother Michael lived with their mother in Somerset, only about 8 miles from here, while their father was in the RAF in India. The family returned to London after the war, by now joined by sister Elizabeth, to live in Wandsworth and then Putney, and Robert went to Emmanuel School and afterwards followed his father to Kings College London. After graduating in engineering he started work at the BBC in Tele Cine at Lime Grove, beginning a relationship with Auntie which was to last for 33 years. He moved to the Television Centre to be involved with the early days of videotape and stayed with videotape for the rest of his BBC career, as the machines evolved downwards from room sized and editing progressed upwards from needing scissors. One of his colleagues from those days writes that there was a unique camaraderie on his shift, and Bob was one of the reasons the shift worked so well. “He and I felt we had the best jobs in the world”.

    Robert was well known for driving furiously, Minis, Mini-Coopers and eventually a Cooper ‘S’ . That was followed by an Audi Quattro and assorted other fast cars. He had a classic Lanchester in the garage for some time which he was allegedly restoring, but he didn’t finish the project. Instead, he saw a Lancia Fulvia at a motor show in the 60s, marvelled at its engineering and resolved that this was the car he must have. He loved his red Fulvia as only an enthusiast can. It isn’t going to leave the family because one of his heirs will keep it and love it as he did.

    He delighted in and was pretty knowledgable about music, particularly opera. He first got hooked on opera when the BBC was filming at the old Glyndebourne and seats in front of cameras were available for BBC personnel on condition that they didn’t stand up to block the camera’s view. Considering he couldn’t sing in tune, but growled along in a sort of bass baritone, his rendering of the Queen of the Night’s famous soprano aria was a hysterical party piece. He had a catholic taste in music with a huge collection of vinyl, much of it classical, but including plenty of contemporary things. For example it was he who brought the musical “Hair”, and much more, to the surprised and amused attention of his classic- focussed sister.

    He loved water, preferably moving water, so the sea, streams and finally the river Teme beside which he spent his last years in Ludlow, were all important to him. He was a fly fisherman and a sailor. His years as a member of the BBC yacht club were happy ones, for the companionship and the extensive and exhilarating journeys in Ariel, Ocean Venture and Sceptre among others.

    He was a fixture on family holidays, to France in the early days when he shared the ownership with us of a cottage in the Charente, and later on narrow boats on the English canals. Then there were all the Scottish holidays, when he doggedly walked and cycled round Colonsay in pursuit of several children who expected him to keep up, and he did. He was a dedicated photographer, guaranteed to produce many photographs of holidays and events. He standard advice was to take as many photographs as you could – ‘you need only keep the one or two really good ones’. Not that he followed the second part of his own advice. And of course he collected cameras of every kind.

    He was very happy in Scotland and on journeys to Islay, Jura and the small isles, the latter from Kilmalieu, where he stayed in the fisherman’s cottage on the beach of Loch Linnhe every September for the last 25 years or so, and he walked in wild places all over this country with many of his friends. But Northumberland was where his heart was. He loved it from his earliest days when Aunt Anne made his father, Eric, drive her and the family all round by St Mary’s Loch as a nice day out from Cullercoats, in the Morris Minor half-timbered estate car; to the lonely beautiful coast at Embleton and Dunstanburgh, to Cheviot and the moors on one of which, near Alnwick, he wants his ashes to be scattered.

    He came late to bookbinding and calligraphy, after the BBC retired him. He was an artist, anyway, and not really an engineer, but his years of engineering training and practice led his drawing teacher on the degree course at Roehampton to complain that he drew as if he were doing technical drawing, with a ruler and 4H pencil. But of course he did! And his calligraphy had that same attention to perfection. He has left some beautiful book bindings. He did a lot of letter cutting in wood and slate. Projects that involved cutting into large or immovable objects, such as a commission to cut some words in the ancient lintel of a fireplace, caused him deep worry as he contemplated the unnerving possibility of failure. Recently he executed the name-plate for a friend’s house twice, on both sides of a piece of Welsh slate, either in a different design, neither finished to his exacting standards so he didn’t hand it over. The friends who commissioned it can have it now and will be able to choose which (imperfect) side to display.

    Every year but his last, he made unique and carefully crafted Christmas cards. If you were very favoured, you might have received one of his unique and carefully crafted letters. He didn’t write letters lightly, and they were always drafted first, on neatly trimmed pieces of paper, perhaps the back of an envelope, and a complete draft would take up the top inch so that the rest of the paper was available for other projects. He wrote in a tiny hand in black ink with a nib like a darning needle, making marks like a neat spider. When he was satisfied with the draft, the letter was copied out onto best paper. The draft was, of course, kept.

    He loved animals but couldn’t keep one because he was allergic to them – they made him sneeze, as did pollen. He described this affliction as his “country nose”. So he was devoted to his friends’ cats and dogs instead. His own pets were his garden birds, for whom he bought food by the sackful, and the feeders outside his kitchen window were visited by a wonderful number and variety of birds, all quite relaxed about coming so close to his window to feed. He grew nettles for the goldfinches and fed the badgers in his garden.

    He had numberless interests but it was his friends and family who sustained him. He visited his friends all over the country, still driving furiously, until his last months. And whilst everyone speaking for him today is male, with the joyful exception of Louise Ordish whose poem you will hear shortly, Robert loved women and had many women friends whom he visited often over the decades. Although a glancing reference to his stubbornness should not be omitted, he was a devoted and faithful friend, always kind and thoughtful and good company. Friends have referred to his gentle, whimsical, witty, compassionate presence, his smile and his rueful sense of humour. One friend even says that he guided her and was like a father to her.

    As you entered the church today you will have seen the same view over the Bristol Channel to Wales, with Avonmouth Docks in the foreground, that Robert watched during the final days of his life. He charmed his carers in the nursing home as he had done so many others throughout his life. He will be missed by many.

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