The Aardvark Blog
An incredible 3 years
An incredible 3 years
Within the next 48 hours we will reach a sad milestone - three years since the death of my friend and business partner Edward Tobin. If I cannot be more exact it is that no-one can really know when Edward passed away. The events of the evening on which I found him are etched on my brain, but the actual event passed unremarked ( even by Edward himself). It was a gentle quiet death of which ( the medical experts say) he would have known nothing at all.
In that sense at least it was not an appropriate end to a life that was sometimes tender, but never gentle and quiet. Edward was a man who lived to bustle, for the next thing to be done, for the next place to be. He thought a lot and often deeply, but he was not a contemplative man. If what I have written seems like a contradiction, then that was Edward. A man who was often in his domestic life extremely disorganised, but who barely ever missed an appointment and would arrive hours before a flight at an airport.
By a strange coincidence of fate one of Edward's closest friends Helen McAllister came to the bookshop yesterday ( a considerable diversion on her way back to Hollyhead). It was good to spend some time talk about Edward with some-one who had known him so well.
I headed this blog with the phrase 'An incredible three years', because not the least of my sadness at Edward's passing is that he has missed so much of the pay-off for the decade of hard work we put in to establish Aardvark Books. The last few years have been the most financially successful of the bookshop's existence, and have also marked some of our greatest achievements. Superb exhibitions, record numbers at markets/brocantes, the most successful re-enactments and much more. On each one of these occasions I have found myself thinking about how much Edward would have enjoyed himself. He was a great person to celebrate with, and also a champion consoler when things went badly. He knew how to greet Kipling's two imposters, and how to keep his head when others were losing theirs.
As we enter our fourth year since his death there is no doubt that the pace of change is starting to speed up. Edward would certainly recognise Aardvark today as being very much the product of his endeavour, but as we move on things will inevitably change further and at a certain point it will become a different organisation from the one he directed. And that is as it should be. Businesses are like children in this respect at least, only if they leave their parents behind can they ever hope to fulfill their full potential. Yet however far we journey, and whoever joins us on that journey, were we to lose his spirit, then the voyage would end in failure. The first thing that I think when interviewing prospective Aardvarkeers is whether Edward would have like them.
Next Saturday is the public opening of our first exhibition of the year 'Fire and Earth'. Try and come if you can, and when you do try to imagine Edward sitting on the front desk with a small glass of white wine.
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