A TRIBUTE TO SHAUN NOE - by Martin Hannant
Killerton is certainly a wonderful place. I was here from 1971 to 1974 and I am not just talking about the wonderful house and the magnificent gardens. It was slightly offputting when I was told I would be living eight miles away from Exeter. However as my little A35 turned into the drive you see what a wonderful sight was in front of me.
The atmosphere and ethos of Killerton was supporting each other. There was great camaraderie and team spirit. We had to be independent as we were so far from Exeter. We had our own football team, bar, rugby team, cricket team oh and the bar and I have so many happy memories of both being here and the people I was privileged to share with. I met up with some colleagues two years ago and the memories came flooding back even after 32 years – and all were good.
One great friend was Shaun Noe. He was certainly one of life’s great characters. I got to know well over the two years we were here together and also because he joined me in the Operatic Society Shows. Quite a strong voice although not always as harmonious as it could have been. Shaun’s great love, as every body knew, was poetry. Now he has had his first book published and it is sad that he never lived to see it. What else were Shaun’s passions? Well he enjoyed a bet every now and again. He also used to smoke–often he could be seen with fag packet in hand and a pen or pencil. You never knew whether he was composing his latest poem or thinking about a winner in the 4-30pm.
When we have met for recent reunions Shaun’s name invariably crops up and it is always with great affection. The story is told of the time he was on his bike coming down from Richmond to Exeter. He saw a light in the other side of the road saw it was a pub and went over. As he came out a while later he got on his bike and continued the way he had just come for quite a way before he realised. Is it true? Well if it is the only way it could have been told was by Shaun himself – he did have a great sense of humour and was quite capable of taking the mickey out of himself.
Shaun wasn’t the greatest sportsman to turn out for Killerton. He was a very fast runner but without his glasses his eyesight was limited. There was that wonderful occasion, and I should know because I was there, when he was playing on the wing. He got the ball on the 22, over the half way line – keep going Shaun – over their 22 line – the problem was he didn’t know when to stop and we were shouting at him like mad to put the ball down before he went over the dead ball line. Thankfully he did but it was very reminiscent of a scene that appeared later in the film Forrest Gump.
Shaun had a wonderful speaking and reading voice with very resonant tones. One thing that didn’t ever get finished was our intended production of The Importance of Being Earnest. He decided that we would put together an all male cast of this. He of course would play Lady Bracknell – even to this day I can hear his voice saying “A handbag”.
We never did finish rehearsing that so it never did get performed.
Happy memories of Shaun – he was certainly a character capable of keeping people amused. I hadn’t seen him since leaving college and I was saddened to hear of his death. I have recently enjoyed reading his wonderful book of poems – read it and you are back with Shaun, fag packet in hand, composing, writing, enjoying and laughing.
Flabbergasting Foibles and Other Flippancies: A Collection of Poems and Short Stories (Paperback)
About the Author
Shaun 'Duffy' Noe was born in London in 1950 to a Dutch naval officer father and a Child Psychologist mother. (He acquired his nickname from a boxer who was famous at the time). The family lived in Curacao until he was two, when they moved back to England. After his schooling at St Benedicts in Ealing and St Edmunds in Hertfordshire, he did his teacher training at St Lukes, Exeter. Teaching English as a foreign language in places as diverse as Oman and Japan enabled him to indulge in his love of travel and photography. He was eventually forced to give up teaching at the Japanese school in Acton when he was diagnosed with throat cancer in his late forties. However he continued to travel until, sadly, he was found to have lung cancer; he passed away in the Summer of 2007. Over the last year of his life he had worked extremely hard to put these poems and stories into order, and they are a fitting memorial to his talent.