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Fran

Author: joe

Monday, 05 November, 2012 - 12:42

My friend Fran Biley died on Saturday: his son posted a message on Facebook to say that he was at home surrounded by his family. Fran was a really lovely man, and the number of people posting messages to his family and sharing their memories of him on Facebook shows how many people's lives were touched by his kindness, humour, gentleness, intelligence and care.

I met Fran through the wellbeing and qualitative research groups at Bournemouth Uni, and found his combination of frankness and gentleness both reassuring and provocative. He once gave a short talk on on research methods which was both deeply epistemologically subversive and extremely cool; it made me feel as though I could do it too. I read his papers avidly and hoped I'd be able to write like that myself some day.

He encouraged me when I started doing crazy things like building haunted chests of drawers, and we talked about haunting a dressing table with the spirit of the nurse who had owned it, or doing strange photography projects with his frankly terrifying collection of obsolete medical equipment. I'm sad we never managed to find enough time to do it.

He was wonderful, gentle, amusing company, when we went on field days to Trill Farm, or wandered through the antique and junk shops of Boscombe looking at the trinkets and knick-knacks, or when he invited me to his home to share a meal with his family. I'll miss him very much, and my thoughts are with his wife and his two boys, of whom he spoke with such pride.

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