I met Seymour just before I moved to Guildford to join MSSL’s Remote Sensing Group in 1992 as software engineer working on ERS-1 data ingestion (I think I’d been their cheapest applicant). My ‘boss’ Rob Scott pointed my in Seymour’s direction as his then new home on Agraria Road, Guildford was _the_ place for MSC students looking for out-of-London accommodation but he was already full.
However a year later there was a spare room I moved into the box-room for what was anticipated to be a temporary stay, much as I’d expected my stint at MSSL to be. I stayed at MSSL for 5 years but continued to burden Seymour with my rent money, preference for tidying (I know this annoyed him) and tagging along with at least the Thursday night trips to the pub until 1999, when I left for California and Seymour, if I recall correctly, finally let the whole place out to the students and moved back to London in 1999.
Living at Seymour’s (or Rigsby as I referred to him) was unique and has doubtlessly left me with traits I’m still not aware of, I grin as I write this because it’s hard not to. Maybe because I was the RSG computer sysadmin he thought it best to follow the approach of keep your friends close and your sysadmin closer even still. I’m not a physicist, so I didn’t understand half of what he did but I could tell how passionate and enthused he was, sometimes it seemed every waking minute he’d be not too far from one of his beloved Apple PowerBooks and I still have a vison of _that_ arctic gravity field on his Powerbook 140C. And at the office his beloved isbjorn SparcStation 2. Everyone had great names for the workstations in the RSG, but isbjorn was just so appropriate for Seymour’s.
Other fond memories include Desert Ship - the D? Reg beige Ford Sierra (I think he inherited it from his Dad), I had the pleasure of driving it once. Then there was DS2 - the replacement to DS, a K Reg blue Ford Mondeo ex-demonstrator I recall the planning was in place to buy an ex-demo from the first day he went for a test-drive at the Guildford Spectrum car-park. When not working or down the pub you might find us both watching X-Files in the front room of Agraria Road, with no lights on (just like the song) and the theme music blasting out of those enormous loudspeakers. There would be the occasional post-pub ritual of playing Human League’s Facist Groove Thing at full blast through those same enormous speakers; I missed this track much I bought my own physical copy a few years back.
Trips to the pub were all fine and dandy, but I’m 5’8” and Seymour just walked so fast. Agraria Road was halfway up one of the hills on either-side of Guildford town-centre. All the pubs were down-hill from us, which meant he had extra momentum going to the pub but it seemed like he was just as fast coming home too. I often thought it would be easier for me to just run along side him.
Seymour had a preference to using his beloved outside privy of an evening; there was never a queue for the loo during commercial breaks. Next to the outside privy the old coal shed was often packed sideways with black bin-liners of crushed beer cans from the half broken can crusher that was all new to me in the 1990’s. For a long period the cans always seem to have started out in 24-can slabs of VB bought on special offer from OddBins.
Being something of a new-comer to the South East, I remember the trips Seymour and Fiona kindly took me along on such as sedate climbing at Harrison’s, not so sedate climbing on the cliffs at Swanage and to Fiona’s parents cabin in Wales. Then there was the detailed instructions on how to reach his parents place in Drios, Paros and meeting his Mum & Dad, for some reason we also delivered a small inkjet printer too. Seymour’s Dad took me & my friend Paul on a hike up into the hills walking and although we probably weren’t supposed to tell Veronica, stopped off on the way back for a beer or two.
Sadly I hadn’t seen Seymour in many years, although I kept up with him through Facebook and Twitter and was bursting with pride to see him on the news and hear him on Today (umms and urrs included). I really regret not making the effort to meet up with him for a beer, I have an idea how packed Fiona and Seymour lived their lives, never a free moment and now that I have become a father myself I understand how busy and precious family time is too.
I raised a rare glass of whiskey to you last night Seymour. Cheers.