MR. D. BLEINES
The following tribute by David's sister Catherine was read by Humanist Celebrant Mike Ashbridge at David's funeral 7th March 2014 following his death on 27th February.
David was born 14th March 1949, the much loved son of Norman and the late Helen, and older brother of Catherine and the late Eleanor, in Walmer House in Tenby, the town where he spent most of his life, gaining in the process an intimate grasp of its surrounding coastline, countryside and wildlife.
From a very early age he strived for an understanding of life, the universe and everything and this quest remained a driving force throughout his life. At primary school his advanced and eclectic reading, his inquiring mind and his refusal to accept platitudes led to a nickname of The Prof by his teachers, one of whom also described him as a cynic. The word cynic was unfamiliar to the eight-year-old and he needed a pointer to look it up in the dictionary under c y but he read the definition with a satisfied sense of self-recognition.
He also investigated his world in a more hands-on way, scrambling over rocks and marshland, worrying his mother by coming home late and impressing and motivating his younger sisters with his skill at catching lizards, slow-worms and suchlike. He later developed an interest in diving and sailing, crewing in local regattas, providing Sailing Club reports for the Tenby Observer under the pseudonym Redwing and sailing around various parts of Britain and Ireland on larger vessels. He considered these times at sea to be among the high points of his life. He also took delight in foraging for fruit, fungi and shellfish and over the years he became a familiar figure meandering around the local pools, prawning net at the ready during the summer low tides: he gained a similar atavistic pleasure from stalking supermarket shelves in search of sell-by date bargains.
David was much excited by technological advances, and one of his few extravagances was the purchase of electronic gadgets with cutting edge features. Friends and, truth to tell, miscellaneous passers-by were well used to being held in thrall Ancient Mariner style as he shared his stunning camera footage of kestrels catching lizards, otters at Bosherston and close-ups of insect life.
David loved to keep abreast of discoveries in many fields including astronomy, geology and natural history as well as trying to get to grips with the nuances involved in the evolution of conscious decision making and apparent free will in humans and perhaps other species. He was always happy to explore interesting ideas among friends both in his locality and various vibrant internet communities where he was known as David B. Links to some of his online input can be found by googling the discussion board Secular Cafe which he helped to found and administrate.
David was not motivated by desire for a prestigious career and spent several years studying philosophy at Aberystwyth and later Transcendental Meditation in Germany and Switzerland before deciding that these did not provide the answers he was seeking though he retained many happy memories of these times. After gaining a degree at Trent Polytechnic and teaching qualifications he soon realised that Secondary School Maths teaching in the classroom did not suit him, but he subsequently tutored several students who still speak warmly of his ability to help them quickly get to grips with a subject they had long found baffling.
David enjoyed a few years working at Tenby Museum before finding a niche as a highly skilled carer of people with a variety of physical and mental disabilities where his ability to tune into his clients' perspectives as much as possible proved a valuable asset.
I shall now quote extracts from a message received with delight by David five days before his death from an online friend which will strike a chord with many who knew him in all kinds of settings:-
I just wanted you to know how much you changed my thinking (which you probably know) and in a good way.
But it wasn't just by telling me to read [the philosopher and cognitive scientist] Dennett - it was the fact that you really listened to what I was saying, and could see where I was coming from. It's such a rare gift, to be able to see the problem someone is having, and not just tell them the answer, but how to go about finding it. And I've seen you doing that for other people too. It's like you just completely cut through any intervening crap in the way, and just articulate the issue clearly and simply, without rancour or ego.
And it's completely transformed my attitude to both life and death, and even identity. So I wanted to say, there's a tiny bit of seeing-the-world-as-David
. that is now in my trajectory, and surely in that of many others. And that's made it a hugely richer world for me.
And here is an extract from a card received from a good friend:-
. there were exceptional qualities in David that I both admired and loved even the quirky ones. His knowledge was vast, his humour sharp, his manner gentle, his love of simple pleasures deep. He seemed to have the right balance in life, he worked just enough to get by and allowed himself time to appreciate those things that caught his attention or gave him great pleasure.
David faced his final illness with great fortitude, continuing to take pleasure in the company of friends and family when fit enough and taking an active interest in the recent wild weather.
He also enjoyed making plans for beyond his death, and willingly gave time in his final weeks to facilitate a fund to promote financial support and recognition of a cause dear to his heart which gives valuable support to apostates from Islam, both in Britain and in the world at large. The Council gives much-needed support to apostates from Islam, both in Britain and in the world at large. Donations in his memory may therefore be made if wished to the David Bleines Tribute Fund for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain online or through the funeral directors, Rossiter & Sons.
Further to the above tribute here is an entry made by David at http://www.secularcafe.org/showthread.p ... post511977
a fortnight after receiving a terminal diagnosis, two days after his return home from hospital and two months before his death.
And for starters I wanted to say what an interesting time I've had to spend my 64 years and counting. I'd have loved another 5 years to see what happens next, but realistically - well I haven't asked for any sort of time frame, but it will clearly be a lot less than that unless I'm in a very fortunate position on a long tail.
I could cover this topic in just three words, but will go for a few more superfluous ones anyway, after letting people have a guess at the three little words.
Hubble Deep Field
I may have mentioned elsewhere that I was waxing lyrical to Cath recently about my toys.
My smartphone, from which, with a good signal and a litttle editing using the phone screen I can post with as well as I can with wifi and keyboard.
The internet generally, and the way the computer has moved on since I used to play Elite on my friend's BBC micro.
And the nature documentaries with all the tools from mini-cams on birds through time lapse, ultra high speed photography, tiny cameras going into termite mounds.....
What a lot we know that we didn't in my youth! What sights seen, using advanced tools as well as our eyes.
I could talk about the downside of what is happening to nature, and at some point probably will mention some misgivings, but for now, I just want to revel in what has been so cool in bringing, in so many ways, massive technological improvements to the man in the street.
Again - what a time to have lived in.