The following is an adaptation of the Eulogy given at the Funeral Mass on Tuesday 20 December 2016 at St Thomas More RC Chuch, West Malling.
Christopher John Law, Chris, where do you start?
Not many bankers have a copy of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropist on their living room table, not many devotees of Strictly and Daisy Lowe have the latest Foreign Affairs in their wet room, not many people are equally comfortable drinking a pint in a back street bar as sipping a cocktail in a five star hotel. Chris was an eclectic mix of the down to earth and the Bon vivant, a good companion, who always made you feel comfortable with a kind word, – made you think with a little wisdom and made you laugh with a pithy remark.
In the limited time we have here, it is impossible to give justice to Chris. Unfortunately Chris did not experience the seven ages of man, so we are going to give you the seven ages of Chris – little glimpses of him at seven, fourteen and so on up to the age of forty-nine, the age at which he died.
The Jesuits say ‘give us a boy at seven and I’ll show you the man’. At seven Chris was rake thin and possessed a full head of hair, – so in Chris’s case, they got this slightly wrong.
Fortunately for Chris, Anne and Tony Law were his parents. In the mid nineteen sixties this newly married, loving young couple, moved from Croydon to Larkfield. Chris was born on the 18th April 1967 at Fant Lane Hospital, Maidstone, was christened at Frog Lane and subsequently was in the first intake at More Park. At the age of seven, Chris had been joined by five year old fun loving Catherine, and three year old mischievous Sarah and the newly born, marathon boy Anthony. They were later joined by baby brother Nick. Chris loved with a passion his parents and his brothers and sisters and was always so proud of them and in turn they loved him, appreciating the support, kindness and consideration he gave them throughout his life.
At fourteen Chris was attending sea cadets and in class 3M at Simon Stock school. His school report shows him being 2nd in his year in Maths, 9th in English, and having a surprising aptitude for modern languages, which we’re not sure he demonstrated in adult life. At school he made several long lasting friendships.
At twenty-one Chris was studying architecture in Brighton. Away from home Chris started to appreciate fully how lucky he was to have such supportive and loving parents as Anne and Tony. In Brighton he lived in a chaotic household that did a passable impression of the set of The Young Ones. Here he and his housemates fought off a group of drunken youths who were attempting to enter the house in ‘the battle of Viaduct Road,’ sensibly Chris was not getting punched in the hallway, but downstairs in the basement phoning the police.
Now one of Chris’s closest friends Pat Golding, will say what it was like to have Chris as a friend.
For those who don’t know me ‘I am the Pat’ of ‘Pat and Bella’ ( as we were always referred to by Chris) and these words are from the both of us. Our mutual friend Sarah introduced us to Chris over 23 years ago when he was living in Lenham. We immediately became good friends and spent many fun evenings participating in Chris and Andy’s double act.
Our friendship with Chris became a close one and as our family grew Chris was there with us all along the way. He was one of the very first people to the hospital when our first daughter Mia was born, and when our second daughter Stella was born we asked Chris if he would be her Godfather as we could think of no finer man for the role.
Over the decades we enjoyed countless dinners, Christmas drinks, bonfire nights and birthday celebrations with Chris and we never needed a reason to phone up and come round and we never needed a reason to invite him.
Chris was a master of wrapping a concern or worry in a joke – one of our last conversations involved a discussion about me going to Blackburn for a job interview and Chris, knowing me as a snappy dresser, stating ‘be careful what suit you choose to wear to Blackburn, you can’t turn up to the interview looking like a southern dandy – they’ve only just stopped wearing wooden shoes up there!’ Chris possessed a genuine and easy charm which was twinned with a breadth of interests worthy of a renaissance man and a ‘common touch’ that would have been the envy of any politician seeking election. Chris’s sense of humour endowed him with a canny barometer for deploying the perfect comment with pinpoint timing for maximum impact – often making you laugh with the rudest of remarks.
We, like most of his friends never quite got to the bottom of what Chris did at Barclays; obviously we were aware that he was responsible, single handed for the running and success of the bank, but even when pressed he never gave us a complete answer and we used to joke with him that he himself did not actually know what his job was.
Chris was a true friend, someone we always knew that we could call on at any time of the day or night in any kind of emergency and that he would be there regardless. He was insightful, generous and kind and always good company.
We can’t believe that our great friend won’t be around for a G and T any more chatting over music at diner and sitting down to watch a film with us again. It doesn’t seem real that this important and dependable constant in our lives has gone.
Our experience of having Chris as a friend will chime with many of you who were also fortunate enough to enjoy having Chris as a vital constant in your lives.
Thanks for being in our lives Chris. You have no idea how much you enriched them and changed them for he better.
At twenty-eight Chris was studying for his accountancy exams and embarking on his career in finance. He was showing an interest in fine art, questionable music, European film and British theatre, which he kept up all his life. Perhaps his one personal contribution to the art world was his unmade bed – a fair approximation of Tracy Emin’s most celebrated work.
At thirty-five, on the day Fatboy Slim gave his infamous rave on Brighton Seafront, Chris attended his Dad’s 60th birthday celebration – Chris was always willing to make sacrifices for his family. This was a time of many family celebrations, the marriages of his sisters Catherine and Sarah to Daniel and Simon and his brother Anthony to Sally (the probationary member of the family). These three unions produced nine children and gave Chris a new role, that of ‘Uncle Chris.’ It is obvious from their input today [at the church ceremony] the deep affection his nephews and nieces had for Chris, and his love for them was no less great. If you go to his house, prominently displayed on the mantelpiece of his living room is a group photograph of the nine of them, in no particular order, Joe, Ellie, Jack, Joshie, Anna, Tom, Aoife, and the cheeky girls Rebecca and Emily. Chris was proud of every one of them and they brought him much joy and happiness. Chris introduced ten year old Tom to The Matrix,- maybe this was a little remiss, – but a terrified ten year old Chris once saw Jaws munch its way through a screaming Robert Shaw– Mea Culpa.
At 42 Chris was firmly ensconced on the upper floors at Barclays, 1 Churchill Place. Despite what he might have said, Chris loved working there. Many of his colleagues and friends from Barclays are here today and John Leith, has kindly agreed to give a flavour of what it was like working with Chris (and perhaps later explain to his Father what he exactly did at Barclays).
Good afternoon, my name is John, one of a number of people here today who worked with Chris at Barclays.
We are here because Chris was many things to many people; colleague, workmate, trusted advisor, confidante, mentor, work husband and friend and we want to pay our respects.
His people network within the company has both surprised and not surprised us. We have been contacted by colleagues from New York, across Europe, India, Singapore and New Zealand, all expressing their shock and sadness. Chris was a true giver, always willing to give his time and advice. He connected people to people, always knowing the right people to address problems, and was always there to help find solutions.
You knew that if you were going to have a meeting with Chris, it would start with either a conversation about his family, a conversation about your family or someone you both know – sometimes he’d cover all three before we got down to business. He put people at their ease and he did it very well.
Chris truly excelled at getting on with people and influencing them – I have been in countless meetings with Chris and very senior people in the bank where they were hanging on his every word and subsequently followed his advice to the letter. He had a true talent in understanding others, and what they needed, which we will sorely miss every day.
Nothing seemed to ruffle Chris’s feathers. He once called me from a plane and said ‘John you like planes don’t you?’ – he knew I was a plane geek – ‘well the one next to us is on fire.’ I tactfully suggested he might want to think about getting off, to which he replied ‘ nah! That’ll make me late home’.
Chris, however, did not suffer fools gladly. For sensitivity, I will substitute the word ‘peanuts’ for what he actually said. Any time that Chris fundamentally disagreed with what was being said, regardless of who was saying it – he would lean back slightly, look directly at the person and say ‘ that’s peanuts, that is.’
We would all listen because he really did know what he was talking about, he had so much knowledge of the bank and, in particular, Finance. That knowledge is a huge loss, but nothing in comparison to the loss of our mate and I think I speak for us all when I say we all think what has happened is ‘peanuts.’
So here we are at 49 – the final age of Chris.
The three things Chris most valued were; his work, his friends, and most importantly his family. So what was Chris doing in his 49th year?
In early September Chris spent a weekend in Austria at the wedding of his brother Nick to Claudia , surrounded by all his family, including his new niece, one year old Heidi.
Late September Chris was chuffed to hear that he had been benchmarked for director grade posts at Barclays.
In October Chris enjoyed a week on the beautiful Amalfi Coast with some of his family and spent the last weekend of his life, visiting good friends in Barcelona.
Although Chris enjoyed working in Europe for Barclays, visiting friends in Spain and Italy, staying with his beloved sister Catherine and her family in Westport, and Nick in Gosau, the place he most valued was home- Maidstone – When asked why he lived here, the reason he gave was, ‘that is where my mother and father, my sister Sarah and brother Anthony live’. He didn’t want to live anywhere else.
Thank you Tony and Anne for your wonderful son, brother, uncle, friend, colleague and nephew.
On the bookcase in Chris’s dining room is a DVD of the film, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. If you haven’t seen it, it will be on somewhere over Christmas, and even if you have, watch it again. It’s about someone who really ‘made a difference’, and Chris made a difference.
No matter how sad you are, remember through you all, Chris truly had ‘a Wonderful Life’.
What a man!
There were times we could have screamed at him (and sometimes did). But from the day he was born we have been so proud of him and he has been so loved by us that his loss would have been unbearable without the wonderful support of our family, friends and colleagues.
Many will know that he has helped others through organ donation, – and although cut short, we are comforted that his life continues on in the lives of so many people he has helped.