I have a Facebook page; not really sure why, but it is a nice way to keep in touch with some friends old and new and even past acquaintances see what they are up to and possibly reconnect. Recently I, like a lot of the rest of the Facebook population have become a little too obsessed with my farm. Farmville. Yeah, I have no idea why I keep going with this thing but I just can’t seem to stop. Yesterday in amongst the photo’s of a friend’s dog, news that another mate got their seats to see Beauty and the Beast upgraded free of charge, and the very sad news that an adoption fell through and the chosen adoptive parents were coming home to wait for a new match, I noticed a friend had joined a group. The name in the title jumped out at me at once because, believe it or not, this guy had been in a dream of mine a few days before Christmas and like you do when someone shows up in your consciousness that you haven’t thought about since leaving the school doors far behind you, I found myself wondering what this dude was up to, hoping it was something exciting just like he had always told me it would be.
DA – An amazing life. He passed away on December 22nd somewhere on Pulau Pangkor Island in Malaysia. Stunned. Like I said, I hadn’t thought about him in years but here I am finding out he’s no longer with us.
We weren’t close. I can’t really say I was close to any of the guys I wasn’t close to anyone, much save for two very good friends for many reasons some of which were my fault. I was very much on the sidelines at school – the wall flower is an understatement. Bullied, unhappy, I guess somewhat odd and well painfully insecure in a way only a teenager can be. DA and I did not move in the same circles, but he was a very perceptive bloke who really noticed people, always full of conversation and opinions on almost any topic. Several times throughout my time there it seemed to me he had the ability to know when somebody really needed a boost. I’m not talking about thrown away compliments; I’m talking about an honest to God effort to reach out to a person when they need it.
Lower Sixth Form year we were all dressed up to the nines for the customary St Andrews Night Ball. Being the year’s “ugly chick”, I was already on edge and expecting something to embarrass me to death. Sat in the candle light of a formal dinner rather awkwardly trying to make conversation with those around me, when the guy opposite me who shall remain nameless and who had also been heavily drinking some hidden form of boarding school contraband started to sway and before I knew what was happening he violently threw up all over the table in front of me, covering my half eaten starter. Mortified I was still stupidly holding onto the teaspoon, unable to believe what I just felt landing on my cheek and steeling my determination that I will NOT cry, a battle I was losing I might add. DA rounded the table coming to my side he hugged me giving me a light kiss on the back of my hand in a subtle, yet flamboyant, gesture that only he could pull off and quietly asked if I was ok? I was. Surprised that someone had bothered about me… but ok.
Whether it was that night, the time he took me aside after some awful school play rehearsal to tell me I really was quite a talented actress, the memories of being up till late included in the process of writing the Christmas sketch show that was also traditional for the school leavers to perform, or the controversial piece he wrote for this show depicting one of the housemistresses as a sadistic axe murderer, the way he begged our drama teacher to allow him to perform the main part in drag. Or the way he coached me when he finally had to accept the teacher’s decision that I would replace him in the role. “make it meaner… more bitchy… go on, be a bitch. THAT’S fantastic!”
I’d always hoped that I would see his name show up some day on some fantastic edgy provocative screen play that I know he was capable of writing…
From what I can make out he was in Cornwall for a time before embarking on a big trip around the world earlier in the year. He passed away in a far off land. Now many people are mourning the loss of this free spirit, a description that usually has me turning up my nose… but with him, it fits. He broke all the right rules to be uniquely him.
An amazing man- one of the good guys.
Rest in peace David