I was going to write about the golden light of autumn this weekend, about a friend’s new baby and about some quite funny stuff that happened last week…but a man was killed on Saturday night and his death changed everything.
This man was about 6 foot but taller with the huge matted dreadlocks that he had been growing since he was in his 20’s. They were showing a little grey but not so you’d notice. He was what he would call, with his explosive laugh, a ‘goffle’ a coloured man, mixed race with roots in Scotland and Zambia. He had been born in Ndola a mining town in Zambia but I am not sure what his Dad did there. I know he was a bright kid and a charmer even back then. I know he always dreamt of ‘the big time’ but wasn’t sure what that really meant for him. He was an excellent actor even as a youth and a self taught artist. He ran his own graphic design business but he still dreamt of something bigger. He could have been a film star- he had the charisma. In fact it was charisma, this huge bear like personality that made this man a central hub of my community. He was a self professed bullshit artist, he was a barfly, he was a womaniser and he was occasionally a bully but he was huge hearted and warm. Strangers and old friends flocked around him. He was the life and soul of every bar he commandeered.
He always told the story of meeting his first great love C. He says I introduced them..but I think he actually came over to our table to rescue us from being hassled by some ridiculously inarticulate Boers (I mean Boers, not bores..although they often do mean the same…) Their relationship, always stormy sometimes to the point of typhoon, resulted in the beautiful I, now 4 years old and smart, speaking a mixture of Danish, English and Nyanja.
In the last couple of years he had met another beautiful Scandinavian, P, and they had just had a little girl…I think she must be 3 or 4 months now.
He was my friend. He was my brother in arms. He drove me to distraction with his boozing and irresponsibility; he suffered from bouts of depression that made him withdrawn and cruel but always I knew, we all knew, that if we needed help, company when we were in our darkest times, we could just call him and he would drop everything and come over. I know he loved me. I know he loved all of us, his friends, his family unconditionally. It was his true gift this great, almost childlike love of us, of good times, of Zambia. His death, a car crash on Saturday night, leaves a hole that will never be filled. Everything changes.
My heart goes out to all of those in Zambia preparing his funeral for Thursday. I know that their hearts will hurt as much and more then mine. There is so much more to write about my friend, about his kindness to me, the times he got me through, the times we fought, the times we screamed with laughter but right now I just want to say how much I will miss you. You crazy Rasta. I hope that wherever you are they have Mosi on tap and sunshine, so much sunshine, my dearest old friend.