In Remembrance of David Morley
At 5pm on Tuesday April the 23rd Anthony David Morley died peacefully at his home in Moscow. David is survived by his beloved wife Olga and sons Michael, Nick and Stepan. Here are several texts written by a few of his friends and family, written in remembrance, and celebration of this remarkable man’s life.
Michael and Nick Morley
David Morley – Husband, Father, Grandfather & Brother
David was a storyteller. He had a great gift of telling tales of his adventures, experiences, encounters and life events. While recounting these tales (with great enthusiasm) people would happily just listen to him and be amazed as well as amused by all the weird things David got up to. He told these stories with humour and amazing details, which made his tales so coherent in the sequences of event that occurred and how they unfolded. His stories almost seemed made up as they were so far-fetched, but no one who knew him well would ever doubt their veracity. Certainly, people who knew him knew that these odd and peculiar events just happened to him. I guess he was an adventurer of some kind, but adventures came to him rather than him seeking them out as such.
Most notable events:
Getting arrested by the military at the port of Mombasa (with two kids under 13)!!
Arriving in Franco’s Spain with ‘contraband’ and evading Police by boarding a boat to Majorca.
Hitchhiking across Europe in his teens.
Charting a yacht in Greece and Turkey and sailing around the Mediterranean sea. By sailing I mean sailing badly, although he would not admit that. Nick has proof of that, as he sailed into Nick (or over Nick, not sure what the correct term is when hitting someone by boat).
David had a knack for getting on with people, which meant everyone always liked him. This made David, not by choice, the centre of attention at parties, get togethers or social events. When we went on holidays with him, he always managed to befriend strangers. Before we knew it, we would be sitting in a restaurant or bar eating and drinking with strangers. He got on so well with these strangers and managed to make them comfortable that one would think that David was with long lost friends. This always amazed us, and it made being around David a fun and sociable experience. He was a people magnet.
David loved music. He is a great guitar player and loved taking his guitar out and jamming at parties while he still could. Before his fingers gave him problems (arthritis). The talent for music and guitar playing passed on to his son Stepan.
I first met David around 2004, when I came back from some European assignments. He was working with Don at the time. David was a man with an entire library of stories and experiences, only latterly of Russia and his life in Moscow. I firmly believe that he actually became more than just a Russian resident. His great affinity with Russian culture and people, his willingness to integrate and involve himself in a very local family life and lifestyle contrasted with his deep involvement in the British Business Club. Back then, this was an almost exclusively ex-pat drinking club with a business problem.
David’s interests were hugely varied – he was prominent in agriculture and all manner of farming, he was a proud graduate of the University of Lancaster (which I used to rib him about, being Lancastrian myself).
I think my dearest memories of David were evenings spent talking of guitars, guitarists, music and whatever else came to our minds. We shared common interests on many different things but guitar talk going late into the night over several beers too many is a very cherished memory for me. I perhaps need to apologise to Olga and the family – on at least one occasion I have been responsible for David arriving home carrying one of my guitars and smelling heavily of beer.
David was a friend of the late great Yuri Stikhanov, a soviet rock musician and hugely talented man. There is an example of his talent on this Pink Floyd track – “Shine on you crazy diamond” – If anyone were to ask me what do you think David would like to hear, I’d pick that for him.
When Yuri passed away in September 2017, David sadly posted this track by Yuri entitled “I miss you”
David, a Yorkshireman to his core and yet Russian in his heart – I miss him too.
Remember and celebrate the life that David Morley enjoyed. Enjoyment that came from his family, friends and from his own creative and charismatic personality.
David had spirit. Firstly, the religious kind that was his Russian Orthodox following, Secondly, the spirit that says try, try and try again. Finally, the alcoholic kind. David had all three.
I cannot recall my first meeting with David, we both came to be permanent residents in Russia in 1993 and no doubt we met soon after that. For me, he was a friend, probably the best sort as we had no common business interests.
The surprise for me was that we only realized a few years ago that our paths closely intermingled nearly fifty years ago. In June 2011, I quizzed David about his university life and friends. At Lancaster University in 1970 John was his flat mate and Kay was one of the student group. On July 4th 1970, John married Kay whose unmarried surname was unusual but the same as mine. She was my sister. David’s flat mate became my brother-in-law.
Apart from drinking together, David and family visited my wife and I many times at my dacha which is now my house. More often than not it would be Russian New Year and many years ago I established a tradition of cooking Christmas dinner on 2nd January – who wants to wake up on the first and start cooking? With Don Scott we started early in the summer kitchen which was not much more than a shed some distance from the warm house. With snow and minus twenty something outside we set about preparing a full menu. The cold shed was soon warm from the oven which was going at full blast and the inner cold defused by copious amounts of whisky. As the time approached for serving, we were truly busy. Don prepared the gravy and I was attended to the final cooking of the vegetables. David reviewed the situation, even the traditional Christmas Pudding was ready. “What about brandy butter for the Pud?” he said. Without further ado, David took on the task, but time was short. He became angry and grumpy when he realised the preparation was “too hot and runnie”. Without further ado, Don & I opened the door and shoved David outside with his hot saucepan. Only a minute later did he come crashing back in but was now even more grumpy. “Now what?” we asked. “Now I’m cold to the bone but even worse – my brandy butter is frozen solid”. That was David’s sense of humour.
Another time, also Russian Christmas, he took on the role of Ded Morose (Father Christmas) and I escorted him along a frozen track to a house with a young Russian boy waiting for a visit. Again, David was in a grumpy mood, complaining of the cold as we got to the gate. I disappeared into the nearby pitch-black undergrowth and David walked the garden path to the house and performed the duties under my instruction not to enter the house. “Why?” he asked. “Because you will be invited to drink vodka and I will be here getting cold”. David did the business using his mastery of the Russian language. When he got back to the gate, he couldn’t see me, so now with serious swear words, in a loud voice and in English he reported he had lost his sledge and reindeer. I reacted with the torch, but David took some time to close in on me. “Why so long from the gate to me?” I asked. “When I called out to you with the swear words, I turned to find the little boy hanging on to my robes. I switched to Russian vocabulary and the lad ran back to the house – oops”. The next day, a report reached us that the lad had understood that Santa had lost his sledge and reindeer (English language) but did not understand the other words – phew.
David energetically fought his battle with illness but sadly the war was lost. For David, that battle was less than one percent of his lifetime. Let’s remember the seventy plus years that he enjoyed and recall, as I do, the happy lifetime that he had.
A spirited and gifted man, a great musician, a friend. May you rest in peace.
Prelude to a memoir of David Morley, d. April 23, 2019
Blessed is he who visits the world
At his appointed hour.
Well, yes, your appointed hour for me
began nearly sixty years ago
in a school common room,
two saplings scaled
from different trees,
uneasy at first
with my Pacific longing,
too far from home
for your Yorkshire heath,
but then it became clear
these weren’t exclusive,
the biting depths
of deep-water coves
on Vancouver Island
the sifting streams
of Pennine Moors, and did.
In a letter to a Georgian friend
Pasternak understood what then:
“To become attached to places
and to certain times of day,
to trees, to people, to the history
of souls ….”, over time and back
through pine forest beyond birch,
or, for you and me, in Deia,
amidst the olives grafted
across terraces where a poet
whispered to his Goddess:
stay silent until the moon
stands down, the mystery
of souls mustn’t face a full sun.
Too obscure when in a tiny theatre
in Lancaster we drank vodka
at the end of your performances
as Roland in MacNeice’s The Dark Tower,
cometh the man, cometh the hour,
as the trumpet sounded across
Morecambe Bay, your university
a building site a dead distance away.
Later in Prague with Ladislav Smocek,
the playwright’s words brokered
your skills as an intuitive linguist,
so much said in the words
of the dangerously read
in a flat in the rooftops
to which whisperers,
for a while Havel, had fled.
So much yet to come, Berne,
London, Moscow, Oxford,
typographies of hope
not lost today when news
of your death rings through
this night, Holy Week soon
in the different calendars
of your life wings Amen
to our eldest, your godson
to whom you gifted an icon
for Pasternak’s streaming of souls,
a better reckoning for the sake
of counting the remembered,
voices willed with ease
through the still points of all we
knew and know, too abstract this
for you and your family and for me
in the channels of first dreaming,
back at school in dormitories
too public for deep thought,
learning to lie well the best
thing we taught ourselves, ‘Semper
ad Coelestia’ … always to the heavens
our motto, a good guide for all reasons as
we marched across the road from the Duke
of Portland’s place, about face.
Still too obscure when the concrete is real,
in chapel a semblance of proof fleeting
for sure, every moment now a movement
My own memories of David stretch back roughly 10 years, when I got to know him in the many BBC events that were being held in Moscow. David always showed respect for other people’s differing points of views. The depth of his understanding of what was happening internationally, in fact about everything anywhere quite honestly impressed me greatly.
Quite apart from all of his social skills he was an excellent writer, and his contributions to the magazine: ‘Moscow expat Life’, published by his close friend Kim Waddoup displayed his many diverse interests (see his interview with Yuri ((George)) Stikhanovhttp://www.moscowexpatlife.ru/2016/03/soviet-rock-story-contrasting-worlds/) for example.
Perhaps my fondest memory of David was when he gave a speech at ‘English language Evenings’ at the Chekhov library in Moscow, in November 2017. He taught us summat, er, well, Yorkshire. Flippin ‘eck and if ivver tha does owt fer nowt – Allus do it fer thissen. He had us all speaking Yorkshire before the night was out. We all miss you David. Rest in peace.