Teesside Snog Monster (jiggery_pokery) wrote,
Teesside Snog Monster

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RIP Dr. Ashok Kumar MP

About 20 minutes ago, as I type, the Northern Echo reported that Dr. Ashok Kumar, the Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, was found dead at his home this morning.

He became the MP for the Langbaurgh constituency, as was, at a 1991 by-election, but lost the seat to the Conservative candidate in the 1992 election. Following re-organisation, he won his present constituency at the 1997 election. Before (and between) his periods of election, he worked in British Steel's Teesside Technical Centre as a research scientist, and an accomplished one. He took great pride in being an Indian-born MP representing a mainly white area and a Labour representative of a constituency with some history, in its various forms, of being a relative Conservative stronghold in the Labour-oriented North. His political interests reflected his expertise and passions, rather than a self-serving desire for power.

I worked at the same institution for a year, after finishing school in the summer of 1992 and before going to university in the autumn of 1993. (And two summers afterwards, as well.) For some of the time, I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Kumar, who was doing his day job in between his two periods of office. I was involved with modelling fluid flow dynamics. Dr. Kumar understood the science behind the fluid mechanics; to me, it was a fancy computer programme on a mainframe computer (running VMS), the like of which I would never get to play with (and that's how it felt, though we were all quite serious about it) again. I was quite tickled to read that, in internal transactions, the computer time I used in a year was valued in six figures.

A highlight was going to present at a conference for users of the fluid flow software in question; I went, as presenter, along with my boss, Dr. Kumar and one of Dr. Kumar's associates who understood the mathematics. I have happy memories of us all going out for an Indian meal in Harrogate afterwards. I had a thali, and my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

My memories of working alongside Dr. Kumar are entirely positive; the phrases "young man" and "cool jazz" in his accent spring quickly to mind. I never saw him again after leaving British Steel, though I had no reason to - and any reason to re-establish contact and try to make some capital of our previous working relationship would have been a selfish one. His conduct is a large part of the reason why I have such time for the political process in general: evidently there are some noble, honourably inclined MPs out there. 53 is far too young for one of the good ones to go.

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