Friday, 11 November 2011


I have utterly indulged myself in BBC4 music documentaries that remind of what was fifteen and twenty years ago. Hearing even the first notes of particular songs transports me back to my school leaving, art college self. And I wonder what's changed, which bits are the same?

Music so powerfully part of the young adult, that memories and emotions and identity are right there with me as I listen to a snoring dachshund in my reasonably civilised surroundings, so very far from the infinitie possibilities and exploration of those days.

I'm lucky, many of those folk still travel with me, and it's good to remember where we came from, why I love those friends. I wonder why I let go of others or how we drifted.

I had a friend called Tommy. The joker, the philosopher, the musician, the pusher of boundaries. He could be found in the middle of it all, wondering if he belonged and carrying on regardless. He had a wonderful giggle and did the things I wouldn't dare to. He was also serious sometimes, exploring the world to find his place, and irreverant. A wearer of hats, and purveyor of late night conversation who always scraped through.

I was twenty when he died.

The news came in dribs and drabs. No mobile phones then, landlines engaged, local TV reports about the climbing accident and the night he spent clinging to life at the end of a rope whilst the rescue helicopter tried to reach him, his death in hospital, phone calls coming with uncertain news, no one really sure if it were true, or just too stunned to believe it, a visit to one of his close friends with no phone to deliver the news.

We were a big, broad group of friends who'd spent our holidays and weekends together at outdoor camps. They were my alternative family, still are.

We huddled together, shaken by this unimaginable loss. Suddenly life was big, and real, and scary.

It changed us.

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