My son, Joss Perry, who has died suddenly aged 35, was a socialist and Labour party member, and his last job was an administrative one in the NHS. However, his real talent, evident from the number of people who attended his memorial event, was to make friends.
Joss was born in Leicester, went to school there and was about to complete a part-time history course at LeicesterUniversity. As an adult, he retained an appealing, childlike innocence, reflected in his love of steam trains.
All his friends had stories of his many accidents and close shaves, including one in which a late-night visit to A&E ended with Joss forgetfully walking off wearing his friend’s jacket, including the wallet he needed to get him home. He could also be a clown. In one childhood incident, he mimicked a matador in the aisle of a crowded Spanish commuter train, to the great amusement of the other passengers.
It was in Nicaragua, where I am based, that his ability to make friends came to the fore, when he stayed with me for more than a year in 2004 and met his wife, Xochilt, whom he married in 2006. He loved being in the town of Masaya, bumping into people, exchanging greetings in the street and using his pidgin Spanish. When challenged on his poor language skills he would use the Basil Fawlty defence: “I learned classical Spanish, not that strange dialect you seem to have picked up.”
More seriously, and typically, he found a volunteer job working in a school for disabled children, where he was immensely popular.
We last saw each other on the night that his football team, LeicesterCity, appeared to squander their promotion chances. That they almost recovered them would have delighted him.
Many of those who loved him arrived in Leicester, where he lived, to meet up within hours of his death. In Nicaragua it would have been a vela (wake). And it happened spontaneously, and out of doors, just as it would have done in Masaya.
He is survived by Xochilt, me, his mother, Janet, and his sisters, Fran and Rachel.
Original post: The Guardian