Newcastle activist and satirical singer-songwriter Nicholas Barrington Wood died last December at home after a short illness. He faced death with the same courage with which he lived his life, true to himself to the end.
His life was a journey that began in Manchester, England. It was his journey though: not to any destination, but to understand life.
He spent years in Arabic, African and Asian countries, teaching and learning languages, playing and composing music, falling in love and having children.
I first met Nick at a Green Left Weekly fundraising dinner in Newcastle about 10 years ago. He was a member of the Greens, the Newcastle NoWar Collective, and a founding member of Newcastle Action for Refugee Rights (NARR).
I came to know him as a friend and colleague when we worked together on refugee rights campaigns back in about 2002, and later in NARR’s current version, the Refugee Action Network Newcastle.
He was not just a group player though. He would often surprise people with snap small-scale actions that people would find out about afterwards. He got himself and a colleague tossed out of a Newcastle shopping mall for conducting a Boycott Divestment and Sanctions action against Israel.
Only two months ago, despite his ill health, he started a campaign to prevent a residential street being turned into an industrial traffic thoroughfare.
He had a wicked sense of humour, expressed in his satirical songs. Just before he died we had a great laugh at the irony of a board game called “Life” in which the aim was to race to the end as fast as possible. Aside from his politics and his wit, the few glimpses I saw of his personal life revealed him to be someone with a patient and kind way of living.
He chose his life wisely, and when death came, he was ready. But those of us who knew him will miss him dearly.