RIP Arthur Adlen, 1949 -2018
Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight
3rd October 2018
Tribute by John Owen
A beautiful glorious sunny day greeted us outside the hall as hundreds of us gathered, friends, family, colleagues of all persuasions, some good some bad, even the likes of me, gave Arthur a send-off in true writer’s style.
A reading of his works by some, personal tributes by others, family members’ recollections recalling his devastating wit and raucous laughter. His lifelong commitment to people and struggle for a better world.
Arthur lived a life full and enjoyed it too, not just existing as peoples’ testimony bore out.
He was involved in every aspect of society, from trade unions as a shop steward and pipe-fitter to cooperatives, helping set up food co-ops in Skelmersdale, to animal protection, environmental activism, anti-fracking and veganism, that was his passion. Then come his hobbies, literature, writers groups, PIPs debating society – ordinary working people asking big questions of philosophy.
Oh yes, then his singing and song-writing, adapting early socialists tunes from the Wobblies song-writer Joe Hill and folk legend Woody Guthrie too! To help inspire and enliven many a protest in Liverpool.
He grew up in a street in Everton, Blythe Street, back to back terraces, from there to Speke and Skem, and finally Port Sunlight to be near his grandchild, forgoing a house and cosy retirement in France.
Special praise to MC Andrew Deighton who read Portrait of the artist as an older man and opened the salutations, followed by Sue Hunter who read Pat’s farewell to Arthur written by Pat (his wife).
Catherine wrote a message to her dad also read by Sue H, very moving, followed by A Man of Many Parts read by Tony Forshaw and written by John Adlen.
Niamh’s Letter to her Grandad by herself was followed by a musical interlude, a favourite of Arthur’s This land is Your Land performed by Ritchie Hunter and Maria McCann, followed by Magic Moments by Lorna Adlen and These Days by Sue Adlen.
Liverpool, its Arts and Farces by Peter Adlen, recounting his death at the book launch, perfect timing comic wise. Then a song by Bravid Crossing the Bar, Alfred Lord Tennyson inspired. His boyhood friend, Paul Doran read Learning to Live, written by Arthur and given special poignancy in the circumstances.
Comrades read by Roger O’Hara, revealed lifelong commitment to communism both in and outside the Communist Party. Arthur claiming he was a better one outside the CP.
Little House read by Stevie Doran and written by Arthur about growing up in the cramped home.
Whimsical piece entitled Writing, Music and Chips by Ritchie H. and lastly After a Child’s Question on Death by Arthur Adlen and read by Andy the MC. We then heard The Big Bang Theory theme tune by Barenaked Ladies and then Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. The service was over all too soon.
Following all this emotional farewell came food and some traditional vegan buffet, more readings less formal as people swapped memories, joked, laughed and cried and dried their eyes and gave solidarity back to Arthur’s family. Big thank you for their dignity and resilience at such a time, they’re made of stronger stuff.
A decision announced that monies donated would be used to set up a memorial writing trust in Arthur’s name to encourage young working class writers. To be held every year. Amen to that.
Read Joe Coventry’s review of Arthur’s poetry book here