• Jo-Anne Richards and Jo-Anne Hitchens running the Art of the Memoir workshops at the Karoo Art Hotel Barrydale
    The Hotel Blog

Farewell Charl Barry

Posted on Fri March 3, 2023.

We bid farewell to Charl Barry later today. In the hall below the old Bioscope where he ran his Friday night movie club from.

I first met Charl not soon after we'd taken the defunct Karoo Art Hotel over. We were in the thick of renovations and the place was in builders chaos. But there was a banner up on the balcony inviting Barrydalers to step behind the scenes to get an idea where it was all going. One day this man with wild hair and a tweed coat over baggy shorts and a Dashund named after the band Pink Floyd came to see. We didn't exchange more than polite hello's but after he'd left our Executive Chef Derek Lowe tagged him; "That's Charl Barry, a direct descendant of the Barry's of Barrydale, same as me. He's famous for being thrown off a Rolling Stones flight because he was a bad influence on the band". To be ejected from a flight because you're a pesky fan is one thing but when you're the chief purser, the person actually running the flight, and this is the Voodoo Lounge world tour and these are the Rolling Stones ? That's next level. Weeks later having received a rare invite for a cup of tea to see  his extraordinary Rock music collection I spotted a signed photograph on the wall featuring him in full SAA uniform locked in a party wrestle with his new best friends Ron Wood and Keith Richards. The curve of the SAA Jumbo first class cabin clearly visible behind and all hell breaking loose in the foreground. It wasn't the Stones themselves who asked for him to be removed from the return charter flight it was tour  management desperate to instil some adult supervision on their wayward charges. But this is the trouble with 'tags', they're often merely a narrow slice of a life. Only later would I find out about his love for his son, his 40 years of overseas adventures compliments of his employer / in house transport company SAA. 

Joanne Hitchens  who along with Jo Ann Richards runs our Art of the Memoir workshops wrote a beautiful memoir named Death And The After Parties. Will this end up as a party, a wake, in the true Irish way ? I sense not. There wont be any booze there and overall there's a deep sense of sadness in the air. As is the way with these things it's  been billed as  a celebration of a life. That wont be hard in terms of the powerpoint because  what a fascinating life it has been. Along with so many Barrydalers I'll definitely be there and so will Sue. And because Sue is there Charlie our dog will be there too. As well as Floyd. Floyd on a chair looking down on all the dogs of Barrydale. That'll be the toughest part of all. To see Floyd without his lifelong companion at the other end of his lead.

The film makers Green Oasis shot a beautiful documentary on Charl and Floyd on the theme of 'What makes you happy ?" It opens with Charl on the subject of death; "Here roams Charl Barry and his dog Floyd. Not lay, roams. If I die first my ashes must wait for him. If he dies first his ashes must wait for me. We will spend eternity together".


On one of my 'cup of tea' visits I shot Charl talking about his incredible journey in pursuit of his singular passion Rock Music. It's a one-take-wonder,  a rough and ready piece of work compared to the beauty and refinement of Green Oasis but it's a full overview of an amazing journey by this extraordinary person. And there was Floyd.


So long Charl. It'll be tough afternoon but we'll all feel better for the fact that your and Floyd's separation wont be for long. And there's something called eternity out there. And for ever more roaming free will be Charl Barry and his dog Floyd. 


Rick Melvill