From RF: Eulogy for his mother

From: Toby Howard <toby at cs dot man dot ac dot uk>
Subject: From RF: Eulogy for his mother

Some background. A few months ago I contacted Robert Fripp to tell him about Discipline, and sent a few recent copies. RF wrote back asking me to send all the back issues for his personal archives. I did so (when I eventually found a cooperative laser printer!) and a few weeks later RF wrote back to me enclosing two submissions for Discipline. One was the text on which he based the eulogy he delivered at a service for his deceased Mother. The other was a piece about the discipline of the musician.

I must admit, I was rather surprised -- and delighted -- to receive a contribution to Discipline from RF. This set me thinking. I've been confused for a long time about exactly what the Discipline list actually _is_, and -- I have to say -- I am very touched by the kind remarks from people about the list. But what are we? Are we a fanzine, a discussion group, an information forum, or what? I'd welcome readers' thoughts on this, and how this feeds into what we should be called. There's currently 465 readers, by the way, in 23 countries, and that in itself is quite amazing.

Enough from me. Here is the eulogy piece. The other piece will follow in a later Discipline.


       Basis of Eulogy for Edie Fripp delivered by her son Robert at
          Wimborne Minster on July 30th 1993 during the service to
               celebrate her life and commemorate her death.

                           by Robert Fripp

My dear little Mother slipped gently from this life Thursday evening the
22nd of July between 9.07 and 9.10 while I was holding her hand, just three
months short of her 79th. birthday.

Twelve hours later her heart was still warm.

She was born on October 14th 1914 in Abertillery with a twin brother who
died an hour after birth. For this reason, being a twin, her temperature
was always lower than normal.

Edie spent the first 17 years of her life in Aberbeeg, a Welsh mining
village in what is now the county of Gwent. When she was 17, having never
been christened, she organised her own christening and took the name of
Edith, the name given to her by her parents. She never liked the name Edith
and often mentioned to me that if she had had more sense she would have
called herself by another name.

Her home was in a terrace of houses built by her grandfather and his eight
sons for themselves and their families. This was Greenland Terrace. One of
the sons was killed during the construction when a wall fell on him.

The centre of village life in this Welsh mining community was the chapel
where Edie's talents for singing, elocution and social interaction were
encouraged and practised. This Chapel background may also have been the
origin of her anti-clericalism. Barney Hopkinson (the officiating minister)
is the only man of the cloth for whom she ever felt affection and respect,
and who might have lead her to regular church-going. Otherwise, she said
that she felt closer to God in Poole Harbour or Bournemouth Bay while
fishing on my father's boat. Or at least, this was what she told a visiting
evangelising former vicar of Wimborne Minster when he called.

Edie's father, Joe Green, was pigeon racing champion of Wales for three
consecutive years with his blue checker pigeon "Lily of the Valley".  Joe
lost a leg in a mining accident, and in the following week as Joe hovered
between life and death my grandmother's hair turned white. He died in 1948
at the age of 59 from angina, a result of his occupation.  My mother was
very close to her father, a connection maintained throughout her life, and
always considered a visiting pigeon to be an omen of good fortune.

As I left my home to attend the service a pigeon rose from a cable and flew
above me.

Gladys Louise Green, nee Lewis, Edie's mother, remained in Wales to marry
Joe following the early death of her mother and the subsequent emigration
to Australia of all her family. Nanna Green was proud that her children
Evelyn and Edith never had to attend the soup kitchens of the Welsh mining
communities in the hard times of the 1920s. Nans died at age 95 in 1985,
outliving my father by several months. I visited her with my cousin Malcolm
a month before she died. Although her mind and memory had mostly gone, she
recounted in living detail the night on which her husband, Granky Joe
Green, had died. His last words, spoken in the morning to a friend, were
"Take care of Glad". She told this story as if she were speaking of the
previous night. In actuality the event had been 35 years before. Neither
death nor a widowhood of 35 years affected the love and loyalty which my
grandmother held for husband. Her last words, spoken to my cousin Jean,
were: "I've said my prayers and I'm ready to go".

Edie left Aberbeeg around 1930 because her only other choice was to marry a
miner. She came to Bournemouth at a time when job applications bore
notices: "No lrish, No Welsh". I never myself knew my mother to
discriminate between people whatever their background or circumstances.  At
a dance during the war, following the influx of American GIs, my mother was
reproved by a white GI for dancing with a black GI. My mother's response
was that as far as she was concerned, both were fighting to support
England. And then she went off to dance with another black GI.

During the war my mother worked in Bournemouth, initially in the Records
Office. Her earnings as a civilian were substantially more than enlisted
workers and these earnings, saved by mother, established my father in
business with the acquisition of a property in Leigh Road, then No. 75, now
No. 14. At the rear of the property was a Spiritualist Temple which in time
became a dance hall and eventually an auction room, somewhat to the disgust
of Mr. Jenner the spiritualist minister.

Then, in 1945 my sister was born and 1 year 1 month 2 days 12 1/2 hours
later, so was I. As you may have gathered, I'm the younger one. My mother
had had no wish to be a mother, but once motherhood arrived she gave her
family her life.

So, my mother was an energetic, social creature who gave herself to her
children and husband while smartly dressed in bright clothes and often
wearing large, pendulous earrings. She accepted my father's anti-social
nature, which was in marked contra-distinction to her own social
inclinations, and supported her children in whatever way was needed and
possible. This included visiting infant school plays and carol singing in
Broadstone which my father managed to avoid without difficulty.

On Christmas Eve 1957, after she had already bought all my Christmas
presents, Mother spent the day shopping with me in Bournemouth and bought
me my first guitar. Subsequently, she took me to Westbourne for guitar
lessons nearly every week for two years. My father encouraged my practising
by paying for the lessons.

My father was who he was, and I sensed his children were something of an
interruption in a life which otherwise might have been quieter. I think he
found us continually surprising and not quite part of the world which he

But my Mother learnt from her children. My sister became the person she is
because of my mother, and my mother became the person she was because of
who my sister became. Mother was also pretty zingy, and had no sense of
direction at all -- a talent practised over a period of 38 years driving in
all directions including the one which lead to where she was going. She
loved James Bond movies, particularly when Bond punched out the baddies,
and was becoming educated in high action Jean Claude van Damme movies the
week before she died.

Mother was an unrepentant smoker, although smoking undoubtedly contributed
to the cancer which killed her. The Friday before she died and upon her
return home from Wimborne Hospital she celebrated with some fierce toking
of her 100mm stogies, the packet of which bore the clearly displayed
banner: "Smoking is bad for your health". She commented to me how good it
tasted after a smokeless week in Victoria Hospital. To acknowledge this,
her last pleasure, we have put in her coffin a packet of her favourite
cigarettes contributed by Rosemary, her neighbour at Millstream Close, in
the hope that wherever Mother is now or shortly going to there will be a
smoking section. We also placed in her hand a pink rose from Reddish House.

Two years ago, following the death of my spiritual mother Mrs.  Elizabeth
Bennett, and reflecting upon the death of this my second mother, I came to
appreciate the utter necessity of death. In an obvious sense, life and
death are reverse sides of the same coin.  Without life there cannot be
death, and without death life is without imperative. Death, in this view,
is an inevitability. But death is far more than mere inevitability, and
makes a contribution to life which enables life to continue. With the
cessation of a life, something is returned to life and living things of
what has been acquired during this life well lived.

Our contemporary culture seems to be the only culture in history which
doubts that an individual consciousness, concentrated within one particular
life, is an ongoing and continuous action contained within the growing
overall human consciousness. For my part, I have no fear that my Mother's
death has ended very much at all, but perhaps provided her the opportunity
to trade in an old vehicle for a speedier model. Although given my Mother's
total lack of direction, practised to a near art-form over a lifetime of
hair-raising achievements, that might be a legitimate cause for concern.

My mother gave me her unqualified love and support, without which the
difficulties of the music industry, particularly the very hard early years
of constant travelling and pressure, would have been overwhelming for me. I
wish to acknowledge publicly and gratefully that my mother's unconditional
love has been the foundation of my life.

There is only one father in the world. There is only one mother in the
world. But there are many children.

I have not lost my mother, but I miss her company.


Following the service I rode with my Mother in the hearse, such was her
sense of direction, to Witchampton Churchyard where she was placed with my
Father in the plot which had been prepared for them both since his own
burial on April l9th. 1985. The Fripp family have been living in the
village for some 300 years and on May 16th 1986 my marriage to Toyah took
place in the church which now both my parents look down upon.

Mike Stok