Beware the Ides of March

My dad (right) with his colleague David Brown on the set of the 1982–1983 IEE Faraday Lecture

“Beware the Ides of March!” So, Shakespeare’s soothsayer warns Julius Caesar in his play. It is a phrase now etched into the history of my family.

Today marks the 39th anniversary of my late father, Keith John Saunders, collapsing with what turned out to be the first of three brain haemorrages, on Tuesday 15 March 1983.

He was at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham to present the penultimate 1982–1983 IEE Faraday Lecture, The Photon Connection, on behalf of STC.

Brochure about the making of the Photon Connection

Dad was born in Nottingham, and for a few days we worried that he might also die in Nottingham.

My recollection is that he had finished presenting the lecture and was giving an interview to a local BBC TV team when he said that he felt incredibly sick, excused himself, turned away from the camera had a sudden blinding headache, vomited and collapsed on the floor.

When he came round, he was being rushed to hospital in Nottingham, but needed to be moved to nearby Derby Royal Infirmary a few days later because the brain scan machine at Nottingham was broken. It was there that he had a subsequent two haemorrhages, both of which my late Mum (and former nursing sister) attributed to staff neglegance.

I was only eleven years old at the time, in primary 7. I remember being called to the headmaster’s office and being surprised to find my mum, my younger sister (P6) and my brother (P3) also there. That was when Mum told us the news that Dad had had an accident in Nottingham and she was going down to England to be with him.

I remember as an eleven year old wishing that I hadn’t had to learn how to spell the word ‘haemorrhage’.

Dad survived for another fifteen years and died in January 1998.

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 50 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

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