Updated: Mar 8
Revealing a dear friend's age without consent would be in bad taste. suffice to say, Richard Polley - born Hammersmith (London, UK) 19XX - has, as of February 27, 2021, achieved a new, landmark decade. This should be celebrated in person, but alas circumstances preclude such celebrations.
When describing someone widely liked and deeply respected, there is usually some lead category; intelligent, kind, fun, compassionate, well read, worldly, good, giving, clever, cultured, and even enlightened.
It would be so hard to pick just one principle redeeming quality, let's just throw all of those into a suitcase and take a journey with this brilliant man.
So many people have been touched by Richard, this is but one minor contribution. But as this is my website, I get to share!
I first met Richard in 1996. I was a brand new, young, nervous and ridiculously energetic guide stating off on my very first tours. Richard didn't 'take me under his wing,' rather he treated me as an equal and gave me the confidence to carry on when I felt was out of my depth. That is a nice start to a friendship.
Then (for a short time) he became my boss! Richard has a gift to empower everyone around him without it becoming competitive. Later in life we have discovered a shared political outlook (common among us in the travelling world), but from my first encounters with Richard as a colleague and employer, it became clear the only limit to Richard's tolerance, ...is simple intolerance. This seems a good starting point.
- Let me offer an example. Richard is proud of his deep London roots (and he will prove an outstanding Blue Badge Guide), but this pride has never been anti-anyone, nor does it diminish anyone else's home or identity. Every conversation is rich and informed.
If we fast forward (perhaps a couple of decades), Richard has maintained a gentle brilliance (it was already developed), a certain joie de vivre that comes only from a modest sense of self that is earned through education, compassion and real competence.
We have travelled together often. When my son and I flew to London for a cheeky week of fun, friends and food, Richard basically dropped everything to play tour guide and discover. Oh, and he is ridiculously generous - a quality also grounded in a deep sense of equality and kindness.
It would be easy to go on and on and on, but for now this is the time to celebrate Richard Polley and look forward to decades more of friendship, excellent conversation and adventure.
Happy birthday buddy.