Rhubarb 2020

ST EDWARD’S r h u b a r b

bobstay carved the waves, wrestling with the jib sheets, Charles, the day you saved.” The way in which Charles was at home in the extraordinary is quite remarkable. He was without inhibition in the most important sense. Free to go, to discover, to move through the world in a way many of us find challenging. He did not question himself out of insecurity, rather with the intention of bettering the man he was becoming. Were he to identify a dearth in his knowledge, he would make every effort to remedy it. He travelled by train from London to Kazan, not just for the thrill, but in order to learn more of the incremental shifts in culture from West to East. He later ventured to Armenia and Georgia driven by the question “Where does Europe end and Asia begin?” Charles relished the arts and literature. He’d often carry around a pocket poetry book, namely Keats, and wrote poems of his own. With a hearty appetite for classical music, opera and choral, he frequented Wigmore Hall, Glyndebourne and his local church in Earl’s Court, St Cuthbert’s. Never without a book on the go, he ploughed through Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Hardy and Tolstoy (to name a few). The fictional character he related to most was Konstantin Levin, from Anna Karenina. “Levin is his own person. He follows his own vision of things, even when it is confused and foggy, rather than adopting any group’s prefabricated views.” This commentary could be written for Charles. He did not exclusively belong in any one social, political or generational set. In part, this accounts for why he had such a broad catchment of friends. No matter the company or context, Charles had the

with the ideas of Hegel, Aristotle, Kant, Locke and many more. He chose to add Russian to his degree, in part for the challenge and desire to spend a year in a truly unknown culture, yet also to appreciate the country’s art and literature in its original language. Spending his year abroad between Kazan and St Petersburg, locals took to him, babushka, in particular. Some had no idea of his English origin. As his Russian neighbour in London said: “He was a natural Slav”. To add to his first class degree, Charles achieved a distinction, the highest mark for spoken Russian in his year. Charles developed a strong affinity to the Gothic city. Its resilience and historic depths reflected his character. To him, the blackened spires and steep topography were positively evocative. Moreover, he could easily escape to the surrounding hills or remote parts of Scotland for walks and plenty of bird watching. In his final year he and a friend regularly attended St Mary’s Cathedral. Together, they grappled with ideas of faith becoming valuable members of the parish and spearheading the homeless shelter. Wildest of all, was Charles at sea. Having grown up sailing on family boats, digging dams on river beaches and swimming in chilly seas, he was never away from water for long. The last two summers he’d embarked on longer voyages on board Carlotta, our family Pilot Cutter. Unlike most, he could find a certain solace at the mercy of the wind and waves. With only the horizon glorious sunsets. Undeterred by weather, Charles climbed the mast, swung across the sails and roared back at the wind. In a poem, a dear crew mate wrote of him: “Astride the pitching bowsprit, as the to limit his sight, he would gaze unwaveringly at the

Soviet-looking Serbs celebrating a birthday. I found him with this group, drinking the strong rakija that they love and sharing their food and managing to have conversations despite not speaking their language. They had invited him in like he was one of their own. During that visit, Charles befriended my parents, an eccentric duke who served Charles and my mother a dish of goat at the top of a hill, a dear family friend Matthew (they remained in touch after he stayed with later on in his journey), and many others. That was Charles in a nutshell. Charming all those he met. Living life with such fearlessness and curiosity which opened doors and minds and hearts. This is only one of a collection of very fond memories that I feel extremely lucky to have shared with Charles Wright”. The four-month journey changed Charles, not only his physique (no trousers would fit his enormous thighs yet narrow waist) but also his sense of self in the world. He learnt to live with very little, trust that each day would provide and “to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield” (Tennyson, a favourite poet). Charles treasured his immersion in nature. From this the visit), the Princess of Yugoslavia (whose contact


Charles Wright

point on, all his adventures, on land or sea would be aimed at discovering more of its beauty. Jacob Colman (G, 2009- 2014) adds: “Charles was never one to make things easy for himself. At a Battle of the Bands, put on by Alex Tester, he didn’t join a band to play the drums – an instrument he had played from a young age. He instead came on stage to perform Bob Dylan and Chase and Status covers with a recently acquired guitar and a harmonica attached by neck brace. After leaving School, Charles didn’t follow the well-trodden gap year paths of South East Asia or Australia. He instead opted to cycle solo to Eastern Europe and back relying on the kindness of strangers for food and a place to sleep. Even at university in Edinburgh, he left a city he loved to spend a year abroad in Russia to learn their notoriously difficult language.  He constantly surprised us with plans, actions and opinions. Always opting for the more challenging but more interesting route. This wonderful trait gave Charles, and those around him, an incredible array of experience.” 2015-2019 BA Russian and Philosophy at Edinburgh University: Edinburgh was the fruition of Charles the scholar. Already a philosophical mind, he began to battle

Charles Wright


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