Friday 5 February 2021

Absent Friend

tayatha om bekandze bekandze maha bekandze radza samudgate soha

Ricardo (Richard Martin Day)
Died Wednesday 3rd February 17:45
Where does one start to remember such a man.  Perhaps the Friday he turned up to stay for the Winter at the Chapel, bringing a huge wood-stove stolen from a derelict building, and saved us from freezing. We rebuilt the chimney, made a hearth, and lit it for the first time on the Sunday morning. 
Or watching under the manhole cover as he attacked the toilet, "can you see anything?" Then a stiff dead rat floated past and after that we had flush!
Or watching him attack the salad bar - "Start with a sticky layer" - no-one could pile food up with such skill and panache.
Or him arriving at a large lunch in a pub, late as usual, only to announce "I've just shit myself"
Or him driving me home from Alford craft market, with the stock and the van and a sick man and the children, after my marriage imploded; dropping us all off then vanishing into the night to hitchhike home...
Or waking in a cold van on a scrapyard somewhere near Boston, to find him cooking egg butties naked in his caravan and handing them out over the half-door - then arranging my "new" Morris Minor engine in the back of the van and watching us drive away...
Or, him cooking in the caravan at Strawberry Fair, dressed only in an apron and old shoes, when the EHO arrived - she didn't bat an eyelid.
At Revesby, another EHO "What is this sack of potatoes doing on the ground" "Madam, that's where they grow"
Auctioning the last egg butty at some little fair in Suffolk where he was the only caterer, at 2 am, to much applause...
Surprise pea fritters
Large and Small platefuls - "can we have a large and two forks?" "We don't give two forks"
Driving off the field at Tuttington with the 32ft Pemberton caravan that was home and work, and taking both the gateposts off on the way out...
Busking, sitting on a tiny amplifier, with a Spanish guitar; making rather unexpected complex instrumental music
Painting - sadly I don't have any of his work now, but the sheer energy and gaudiness was astounding. Mostly painted with oddments of household gloss on plywood...
Weathering the storm at the end of a fair, driving hurricanes, and a small distant cry as we finished packing the van - "brandy coffee...."
I knew him for almost 40 years, through him met one of my most interesting and lovely, and sadly now also late, friends, and there is much much more that might be added to the list above. 
I had not seen him for a while - the last time was at Abi and Paul's wedding
He had been much diminished, had a stroke, was a little aphasic and absent-minded, but still full of mischief and obviously having a good time
After that I only got odd phone calls. Usually he would ramble for a while, then demand that I make him "100 teddy bears" then silence for a long time. The last time he rang he spoke to John, and I was doing something complicated, so we didn't talk. 

He was not well for the last few years, lost both legs to bad self-care, and his life got rather small, but I think, on the whole, it was, although a rather poverty-stricken and sometimes difficult life, always the one he felt worked best for him.

I'm assuming he's already back, somewhere, and working on the next life. May it be better in lots of ways, and always fun...