// July 21st, 2008 // 5 Comments » // Uncategorized
This is a eulogy of sorts, to a man who meant a lot to me…it will never be read to him, but I feel it needs to be read by someone. Please forgive me if I’m over sentimental, but we all are at times and for me, this is one of those times.
I’m not really too sure where to begin this. I lost someone on Friday. Someone who has played an important part in my life for some time now. His name was Ian Duke.
It’s been three days since he died and this is the first time I’ve been able to cry. And now of course, I can’t stop so I can’t see the damn keyboard properly.
Ian was 56 years old, had a crooked grin, a crooked nose and a permanent twinkle in his too-blue eyes. He had a mop of white-grey hair which I totally fucked up once trying to give him a haircut while we were both pissed. He was pretty overweight and constantly switching from beer to wine shandy to lose weight as opposed to say, exercising. He died of heart and liver failure from too much of everything really – he never took care of himself as he should, and too much medication for a mucked up hip finally got the better of him.
I first met Ian in a bar in observatory in 2004. We were both drunk and consequently got into a huge fight about the fruitiness of my language, which became instantly fruitier. About a year later and the happy end of yet another failed relationship, Ian and I spent a new year’s eve alone together, combing the dark depths of our lives, getting sorrowfully wasted and then laughing at how fucking pathetic we were. After that we were fast friends – he’s the only other person I’ve ever met who was content to sit at the bar and do nothing but read – we’d often sit side by side doing just that, exchanging paragraphs and swapping books at times.
Not many people loved Ian…he seemed to possess a talent for pissing people off, but he didn’t care – they were all wankers anyway. He was actually presented with his own licence plate, which he hung in the bar – it said “Ian: complete and utter bastard”. I loved Ian despite his shortcomings, and he loved me, despite mine. Viewed in the right light, he had one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen.
Ian came over here from London for the first time about 5 years ago I think. He loved the place so much, he decided to stay – he couldn’t very well stay in England and stay out of jail too, having taken his credit card companies for all they had and dodged the law on a GBH charge and possession of an illegal weapon (pepper spray). Ian lived a tough life then, driving and owning taxis. He would often regale us with the stories of the celebs who lived around the countryside where he operated…the likes of Sting and Keith Richards who got poured into his taxi of a late evening having lost their way home
“That Mrs. Sting, she’s a right looker, nice bird too,” he told us.
Ian liked to call himself a ‘rufty tufty biker’ and from the stories he brought back from England he lived a pretty colourful life there, but he came here to leave that behind (for the most part). He was rough when he had to be, and sometimes when he didn’t. He’s the only man who would buy a bar simply so he could decide who he drank with and kick out the people he didn’t like that week. But really, he had the softest heart and was a complete sucker for a damsel in distress. When he decided on something, that was the way it was and nothing would change his mind.
After I’d known him as a bar companion only 6 months or so, Ian moved in with me in the new house I’d just bought. It was here I got to know him pretty well, and I was privileged to see a side of him that very few people did. It was here my most unforgettable memories of him were formed. After all, who can forget a portly 110kg Brit walking around the house in his skimpy knickers? Two burglars were given the fright of their lives one night while mucking around on my porch when said Brit charged out into the dark wearing nothing more than the abovementioned unmentionables.
Trudy moved in with us for about four months or so. We took care of each other like only three lost souls can. Truds and I snuck into Ian’s room early on the morning of his birthday that year and covered his bed head to toe in sweets and chocolates – he had a serious weakness and could always be bribed into cooking us breakfast- for- supper – there’s nothing quite like bacon eggs and baked beans at 10.30 at night.
We swapped roles, Ian and I. At times I was the nagging mother telling him to stop picking at his scabs (he had bad eczema on his arms),which he never did, making sure he ate properly when he was miserable and hugging him tight while he cried all night because he’d had a bust up with the love of his life. At others, he was my kindly uncle, living teddy bear and shoulder to cry on when things were tough. He saw me through a horrific date rape, he kept my secrets and was always on my side, loyal to the end and always willing to leap to my defence even when I was wrong.
Not that it was all smooth sailing – we fought like cat and dog at times, retreated in to proud hurt silence for days, weeks and sometimes months, but we always made up in the end – we were too alike to hate each other for long.
Ian’s two favourite sayings were “hello little girl, would you like a sweetie?” (Don’t get the wrong idea, it was only ever addressed to women above the age of 20 – usually to women above the age of 40!) The other was “Come and get me… I’m full of babies”
He was also a complete goldmine of random musical trivia – you could ask him anything about a band, song or album (preferably pre 1990) and he’d know it. If he didn’t know it, he’d sit thinking about it until he did. More than once after a flash of inspiration, he burst into my bedroom at 2am yelling “OI…wake up..i just remembered…it was bloody cliff Richard!” or “Jethro Tull…wake up tart…OI…it was Jethro Tull at the Albert hall in 1977”.
I hadn’t seen Ian much in the last 6 months, having made a decision to change my lifestyle and stay away from alcohol, bars and losers in that order, and he, being a purveyor of the first, an owner of the second and landlord to more than a few of the third, was one of the people I was sad to leave behind.
I guess, selfishly, it’s been easier for me to deal with his sudden death for this very reason. The inevitable guilt is there…I was so damn busy getting to my feet, I never had the chance to thank the old bastard for everything he’d given me for all he’d done for me and to tell him how much he’d really meant to me over the last few years – aren’t these always the thoughts we have on the passing of a loved one? I see it in films all the time. Now I know how it feels.
Someone the other day used the term “fearless super-geezer” and I almost peed myself I was laughing so hard. The first person I thought of was Ian.
So here’s to you, you old tart…I’d raise my glass, but you know I can’t. I hope you’re in a place where the beer flows freely, where your hip don’t give you gip no more, where your skin is as clear as a baby’s bottom, where the vending machine is always full of chocolate that don’t cost a penny, where you’re free to roar around on the bike you always dreamed you’d have, and most importantly, where the angels don’t wear chastity belts (or even underwear in your case)!