Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Memoriam

Still down here. Aga's not gone out yet; a fact about which I am inordinately proud.

Went to the pictures on Saturday. I wanted to see The Queen but for some outlandish reason the management of Cineworld Ashford don't deem this to be Saturday evening entertainment so relegate its weekend outings to matinee performances only. Tsk tsk...One of the most critically acclaimed films for years yet I can't make an evening of it and have to cull something from the reels of desperate Hollywood shite instead. Shame on you. We saw "Click", an enjoyable yet fairly standard time-slip film with Adam Sandler (who has to be in everything, doesn't he?), "The Hoff" (who thankfully doesn't) and Christopher Walken playing the only character he's ever played (have James Woods and Christopher Walken ever been in the same film?). Despite being pretty inoffensive and enjoyable in many parts, it contained the single most obvious and over-worked time-slip cliché of all time (which I won't divulge but anyone with an eight-year old, go and read some of their fantasy stories and I bet you'll come across it). It is signalled fairly early on as well and I was very disappointed by that. They did try and redeem it at the end but it had been spoiled for me by then. Kate Beckinsale's bare legs and shorts (pretty much ever-present while she's in shot) did try hard very hard to make up for the lack of substance. Also, Cineworld Ashford, when we've just paid in excess of £7 each to see a film, we want to wait until the last credit rolls off the screen, just in case, and not be subtly hassled out by a kid in a suit standing by the door looking at us.

Sunday we went out for drive. Sharon lived in Eastbourne for a few months several years ago so we thought we'd head over there. On the way we stopped off in Appledore. 23 years ago, Paddy, one of my best school friends and a phenomenally good guitarist for his age, went to Tenterden on his motorbike to pick up some groceries for his Mum. When he got back he realised he'd forgotten the sausages so headed back to fetch them. He never made it home as he was hit on a bend by a woman driving too fast and on the wrong side of the road. A few years previously Paddy and two other lads from school, Mark and Mick, formed a three piece doing rock standards but also many original songs. I always wanted to play rhythm guitar with them and I would have done had a lack of equipment not prevented me from doing so. I was content with being the roadie/MC/lights and sound. We were very popular around the villages, especially amongst the biker gangs and that was quite an achievement for an out and out rock band back at the height of punk and Two-Tone. Later I heard that Paddy used to do acoustic sets at local pubs and had got quite a name for himself. Sadly, at the time of his death, I hadn't seen him for close on three years as life, as it nearly always does, had taken us along different roads. Paddy took an immense amount of joy from life and especially from music and it was that which rubbed off on anyone who encountered him. He wasn't a "David Watts" kind of hero; he was crap at sports (an inability that caused as much mirth as frustration; ten minutes to serve a squash ball once had myself and Woody in fits) and he'd never be head boy because he looked like Ian Hunter out of Mott the 'oople. He was just Patrick.

A couple of times before I'd tried to find his grave in the churchyard but usually it had been pouring with rain so I'd given up looking. I knew it was there somewhere as I'd been told it was by friends who'd seen it and been to the funeral. On Sunday I spotted a path in the corner of the churchyard and followed it to another graveyard of which I was unaware and there, in the middle, was Pad's stone. It's a simple one bearing name and dates and an inscription from Robert Louis Stevenson that is particularly apt:

"Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing,

Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased to smile."

I knew the accident had been in October but I was very surprised to see that it was actually yesterday that was the anniversary. I decided that I would go back and pay proper respect and take some flowers from the garden and with that, we left.

We continued with our drive about. Went along to Hastings, on to the beach at Pett Level, studiously avoiding the nuddy beach at Fairlight Cove in case there were any hardy vitamin D seekers taking the last of the rays and then doubled back towards Eastbourne up to Beachy Head. Feeling lucky, we drove to the village at East Dean, where another old friend of mine lives, another with whom I've once again lost touch (also a Patrick. Don't make friends with me if you're called Patrick. It won't last). I couldn't remember his address and there was nobody walking about that looked like him so we headed back home via fish and chips in Hastings. On the way back I remember saying that I couldn't remember Paddy's brother's name. Maybe I'd run into somebody tomorrow being as it was the anniversary.

Yesterday was an astoundingly beautiful day for mid-October so I went out and culled a small selection of flowers from what was left in the garden, fashioned them into some kind of portable vase with a cardboard tube, some soaked kitchen roll and a bit of cling-film, attached a note to it and went back to the churchyard. As I had a bag with me I thought I'd dead-head some of the other plants while I was there and as I was doing that I saw a business card sticking out from a bunch of flowers. It turned out to be from Colin, Paddy's brother. The mystery over his name was now solved at least. I must admit, I'd never seen that done before and it intrigued me. When I got back I emailed him and asked if he remembered me. Almost by return I got a reply saying that he did indeed remember me and that every year, just before the anniversary, he puts his own tribute there with his business card attached. He says it's the easiest way to keep in touch as many old friends turn up on the off chance around that time, having lost addresses, not knowing that his parents have moved or whether the family is indeed still around. What a top tip. Just to cap it, Paddy's Mum called me in the evening as she'd been to the grave after me and seen my note. Dad's one of the few names left in the BT phone book so she called on the off-chance, not knowing that I'd been in contact with Colin. I'm going to pop over to see them tomorrow. Their house is full of memories. They don't live in Appledore anymore, they moved to a place they'd bought many years ago for their retirement in Bethersden and in the freezing barn of which the band used to practice. It's been an unusual coincidence-filled couple of days and it will be an interesting visit.

5 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger orange said...

Did you manage to make over $900 in total or did you secretly shop on six occasions and make over $5400?
If it such a lucrative secret then why on this earth would you go and tell people about your dirty little secret?
Have you any connection with Bush or are you still pining for the return of the Ottoman empire?
President or Aga?

9:21 am  
Anonymous Richard said...

Ossie is referring to spam. Last night was particularly bad. I'm not generally bothered but by it, which is why I don't use word verification but there were 8 identical comments on here last night, 2 within a few minutes of me posting and I'm now seriously thinking of switching it on.

9:39 am  
Blogger orange said...

I cannot abide spam, it's nasty and offensive, why add secret spices to ham?
Since the beginning of spam, 65 years ago, 6 billion cans of this nauseating toxin has been sold. This cannot be good for the environment with all that spam around, J.C.Hormel has a lot to answer for.

10:04 am  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

I'm a big believer in Fate but I think lovely things happen like that only if you take the time to care enough in the first place.

That's a really touching post, Richard x

8:59 pm  
Anonymous Richard said...

Spent a lovely three hours earlier today chatting and reminiscing. Was made to feel so welcome after over 25 years and to cap it all, the whole family turned up. Wonderful afternoon.

10:27 pm  

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