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I've lost a friend: A tribute.

Eddie died last night.  Cruelly and quite suddenly.  He didn't even make 50.

Eddie is, was, the wealthy boggle-eyed wife-seeking missile of an earlier post, and one of my most loved friends.  He never got to read any of my stuff, and I never got to read any of his, although we were both heading towards a reveal.  He wasn't actually boggle-eyed, at all.  He was a handsome dude, a little barrel-chested in his forties, like a foul-mouthed but jovial London gangster: think Bob Hoskins crossed with Tom Hardy.  In his twenties and thirties he was a rock god, all leather and hair and jewellery, like Russell Brand's stylist had dressed Tom Hardy and sprinkled him with even more talent and intelligence, before being taken out and shot, just in case anyone connected Eddie with Russell Brand.  I don't think they ever met, but Eddie was styled like that while Russell was still wearing his school tie in a slightly daring fashion.  Eddie pioneered that shit.

Eddie and I met on our first day at University, but didn't spend a lot of time together until after he burst into my bedroom in the early hours of the morning.  Not in that sense, whatever you may think...

Eighty or so first year undergraduates had been bussed away to the Home Counties, ostensibly to listen to a famous author and do study groups and seminars over two or three days in a country retreat early in our first term.

I remember the author.  Chiefly because I hadn't read anything he'd written.  Still haven't. Despite his Booker Prize and long list of nominations. Shamefully I don't remember the study groups and seminars at all.  Not even a bit.

I remember evenings drinking beer and laughing and smoking, possibly around some kind of fire.

I remember the excitement of meeting a mixed group of people my age.  People who were bright-eyed and interesting and clever, who had come together to study a degree subject, but also to grow up, to become adults, to drink beer and laugh, and smoke around a fire.

We split, as I recall, into two broad but flexible groups: Those who had wanted to detain the famous author with precociously detailed questions about his motivations; and, across the divide; those with matches and a thirst.  The group flexibility was genuine though.  We were all strangers.  United by generation.  And pheromones.  Jesus.  Pheromones.  I suspect our tutors may have retired to their rooms early, unable to cope with the onslaught of teenage horn.  I'd do the same today, if I was in their shoes.  Nevertheless, at least one of the relationships lasts to this day.  Not Eddie's, obviously, although he married his love from this first term, naturally, because he was a serial monogamist with a huge heart and a future history of appalling matrimonial outcomes, but I'll get to that.

I'd also gone Through the Barricades of the group divide.  Cumbrian Abigail was petite, musical, funny, thoughtful and eyecatching like a pixie with a flapper haircut.  Clever in a way that made me sure I was an imposter in this whole higher education farrago.  We'd shared a bus seat and then a headphone each on the journey there, talking about our pasts while Anita Baker wibbled away on my Walkman.  We'd sat together through some unremembered talky academic stuff.  And by the time Abigail had packed away her extensive notes on whatever the last forgotten seminar of the first day had been about, it was clear that our destination was mutual.  We were in the last year of our teens.  Away from home.  There were single bedsheets to be rumpled.

Reader, they were rumpled.  We may have missed dinner.  We may have set records, but fortunately Norris McWhirter wasn't watching.  We may have continued until both our carcasses had been drained of all bodily fluids, had Eddie not chosen to kick my door in and fire himself into my life at some post-midnight point, like a cannonball aimed specifically to provoke coitus interruptus.

"Got any fags?"  As great openers go, it wasn't his finest.  Although plenty of those came later.

I didn't have any, although I had a half-smoked joint secreted away, and once the shock and awe of his entrance abated he stayed for a while, sitting comfortably on the end of the bed while Abigail and I huddled entwined beneath the 15 thread count polycotton duvet, simultaneously fascinated and appalled by this flashy, smelly, unkempt, interesting and interested interloper; hoping he'd both stay and entertain us, and also fuck off soon so we could do more shagging.  Which he did, and we did.  Abigail and I parted eventually, largely because unreliable prophylactics and strict Catholicism aren't a combination made in heaven, no matter how good the teenage sex.  But Eddie stuck around.  For three decades and more.

I idolised him a bit.  We liked the same music and introduced each other to bands, but he could play guitar, whereas I can't even shake a tambourine in time.  Drugs, alcohol, nightlife and performing flowed through his bloodstream, and subsequently, inevitably, mine.  He was dangerous, sometimes.  Fought the law (and the law won), pushed the envelope in all the right ways to press my youthful buttons. Informed, opinionated, articulate, almost invariably charming, but capable of ruthless viciousness when it suited him, though we never exchanged a cross word.  He attracted friends like wasps to a jam jar.  And kept them.

Eddie didn't marry every girl he fell in love with, but he came pretty close, although I know two who both feel they were the one who got away.  He remained incredibly close to the amazing woman he married first, right until the end, and would still be with his second wife had terrible, heart-rending events not ended that relationship prematurely.  Somehow he climbed back from the pits of despair to achieve his most recent and most spectacular divorce, which will stand for all time as the exemplar of why rehab may not be the best place to meet a life partner.  If he'd lived, we'd all be taking the piss out of him now, because he was happily loved up with a mutual friend, and would no doubt have been booking a venue to make it official shortly.  Wasps to a jam jar, like I said.

Throughout all this, he was one of the most loyal people I knew.  I lived some way outside London for a few years, yet he'd burble up on his motorbike on a surprise visit.  My kids adored him.  He chose not to have his own, but had more godchildren than should strictly be legal, and was kind, patient and indulgent with every rugrat that festooned our get-togethers, and there were many of these, and many rugrats too.  He could tell stories, and he was funny, so very funny.  Making him laugh was a great pleasure of mine; hearing that huge guffaw and knowing that I'd tickled him deep inside gave me the warmest of glows.  I'm going to miss that.

He also gave me the two best pieces of post break-up advice anybody ever gave me:

  1. You and your ex will always be the parents of your kids.  You're going to have to talk about them together for the rest of your lives.  So keep things as civilised as you possibly can.
  2. When my parents divorced, and I was the same age as your kids, I heard Parent 1 say some things about Parent 2 that I will never forgive them for.  Don't be that parent.
They became my touchstones throughout the worst of the aftermath of that relationship, and I thanked him often for them.  It's about the only thing I thanked him for.  I never told him he was my hero.  Never told him how much I valued him, at least, not with the feeling I would have done if I'd known he was going to die.  Actually, I did, but I'm pretty sure he couldn't hear me, and it's not how I want to remember him, so empty of vitality and colour.  And I don't want to remember him with Spandau fucking Ballet.  That was a weak joke, because I'm crying.  Again.

He liked this, and it makes me think of him:


I loved you Eddie, so very much.  You utterly magnificent bastard.  Sleep well.








Comments

  1. I was just thinking last night I don't have friends that have known me all my life, or even all adult life. I can't imagine what it must be like to lose someone you chose to have in your close circle.

    I never know what to say, I don't know you but I feel your sadness. Sorry seems wrong, condolences seems trite, just know it's ok to not be ok for a while. Remember your friend with a smile and laughter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading, and for your support. I couldn't imagine what it feels like either, until now. There's a huge hole in our lives. I can't believe he's gone.

      Delete

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