The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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January 2011

Peter Lund

Two addresses at the funeral of Peter Lund on 15th December

from David Wilberforce:
The 14th of December – yesterday – was the 457th anniversary of the birth of Henry of Navarre 1553.  It is relevant for I had it from all the members of the Lund family that they were in fact descendants of Henry of Navarre.  Family pride and loyalty is a great thing and so much of what Peter and David achieved and demonstrated in their lives had its origins within the family.  With the death of Peter their particular family line comes to an end.

The quality of that family life bears a moment of recognition.  Ernest and Evelyn, Peter and David’s parents, created a happy, caring and loving environment – so much so that Peter and David never left home.  To understand why one only had to sample their hospitality – especially Evelyn’s chocolate cakc.  Their home was always welcoming.  In South Shields, Newcastle and Hampstead there was always ‘music’ – for Ernest and Evelyn were also proficient pianists.    Their kindness and generosity were evident and were never given for personal advantage.  There was always humour and laughter, but it was never brash or insensitive.

Their response to kindness shown to them was never more clearly demonstrated than in the case of Emmie – a Geordie with a heart of gold and no family of her own.  In the early years of the 2nd World War she went with Evelyn and the boys to the relative safety of Barmingham, a small village in Teesdale as a companion to Evelyn while Ernest was serving in the army.   She soon became home help, cook, nanny and virtually a dear member of the family.  She never left them.  They gave her a home and a family in South Shields, Newcastle and eventually in Hampstead for the next 30 years. 

Life was not always kind to the Lunds.  The loss of a disabled child, who incidentally apparently had a beautiful singing voice, was a source of great grief to them, but they bore it with stoicism and great dignity.  Here was a family that touched the lives of many, who took on responsibility and made a difference to the community in which they lived; a family who cultivated friendship and who in adversity never relinquished their firm Christian faith.

I first met David and Peter in 1951 at school.  The first gift I ever received from David was for my birthday the following year:  it was a box of Harrogate toffee.  Little did he know that 30 years later I would make my home in Harrogate.

The last gift I received was from Peter on November 4th, six weeks ago on the night of David’s memorial concert.  In his considerable pain and discomfort he had thought of me and in a voice already fading he said “I’ve brought you a present”.  It was the CD of Peter and David performing their “Satirical Songs”.  How perfectly a gift rounded off a precious friendship with a wonderful family.

Their lives were examples of good living in every sense.  Their talents and achievements were an inspiration, and we were privileged to share them.  Their memory will remain a lasting benediction.

Mercifully Peter did not live to have a Christmas without a family.  They are together again.  Thanks be to God.
David Wilberforce

From The Vicar
Though I saw Peter from time to time our conversations were almost always about David, and so through Peter I came to know a lot more about David than I feel I know about Peter.  So it came as something of a surprise to me to listen in this last week to a CD of the two of them performing cabaret songs.  There was Peter singing in a gently suave voice with a subtle range of accents, and telling Lionel Bart that it was a disgrace that no-one had written a song about Birmingham; asking ‘Why don’t all foreigners speak English?’, wryly commenting that ‘John Osborne isn’t angry any more,’ proclaiming that it’s great to be a traffic warden because the customer’s always wrong, and insouciantly rhyming ‘rather swell’ with ‘Winifred Atwell’, ‘Americana’, with Erol Garner’, and ‘tried to swallow’ with Fatz Waller.’  This was a side to Peter that I’m sad I never knew – the side of Peter that made him a partner with David in writing at one time for ten different radio and television comedy shows, that made him together with David a wonderful and witty host.

One of those songs is about an ordinary guy and perhaps to an outsider Peter created that impression about himself.   Yet there is something just a little odd about someone who wrote scripts for Dave Allen also being a food quality inspector, presumably in white hat and coat, traveling all over Britain, inspecting store rooms and kitchens for Trust House Forte.  When he had to visit an old lady who had complained about finding a chip of glass in some food from his company did she know that he  wrote scripts for ‘I’m sorry I’ll read that again’?  Peter had brought the glass chip with him and with the eye of a latter day Sherlock Holmes rapidly noticed that it fitted a chip in a glass standing on the sideboard, though I’m sure he pointed it out kindly.

It’s quite a jump from that old lady to a group of lads from Camden chanting, ‘Enoch, Enoch’ in the Moreland Hall just after Enoch Powell had made his famous ‘Rivers of blood’ speech.   And yet Peter was there too with David and our curate Richard Harries running the Friday Club, which they had set up, even though it was a constant struggle to stave of the complaints made by the trustees of the hall about the havoc that could be caused there.   The Sunday Club, which they also ran, was I think rather more sedate, as perhaps were the Friends of the Music which Peter helped to set up and of which he was for a time chairman.   And of course the white coat and hat wasn’t the only uniform Peter wore as for many years he was also a cub scout leader and then Press Officer for the 5th Hampstead Group, circulating scouting news to the local papers.   And this involvement with the scouts also of course provided another outlet for his musical comedy and dramatic skills, writing and directing musicals involving hundreds of young people in the UCS theatre.

None of this sadly did I experience – the first time I met him was I think emblematic of the last twelve years; he was coming down Church Row with David on his arm taking him for a walk on the Heath, something he did daily just as daily he was to visit David in Magnolia Court when he was too ill to be cared for at home, difficult as it was for Peter to come to terms with that.

Most of you will have known Peter better than I did, you will have many and more accurate memories of him than I have been able to give.  But all of us are united in knowing this one tremendous thing about him, his extraordinary tender, patient and devoted care for David – a care which extended beyond David’s death and into the arrangements for the memorial concert at UCS.   After that the life went out of him, or rather he let go of the will to live for David’s sake which perhaps somehow kept his illness at bay towards the end.

These last twelve years were an example of that ‘no greater love’ of the gospel, for in a way which came so naturally to him that it just seemed the thing he had to do, Peter gave up his life for his brother, though he of course would have regarded our saying that as an embarrassing exaggeration.

However, it would be wrong I think to focus just on those final years with David for the fact that Peter cared for him as he did, didn’t just come out of the blue.   Though people around him may not quite have been aware of the process going on, that kind of virtue can only be prepared for beforehand. The way Peter grew up and led his life, the quiet steady faith that brought him not just to this church but also to Southwark Cathedral and Westminster Abbey where apparently lots of people knew him by sight but now that he is being prayed for there have discovered his name – this faith and steadiness in doing good brought him through to the place in which he could, it seemed without ever grumbling and always with amazing good cheer, care for his brother with this greater love.   And now he is at peace caught up into that greatest love of all, a small part of which his life has enabled us to understand.  Amen.

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