Thursday, October 26, 2006

James

I found out today that James has died. Found out in a very matter of fact kind of a way from Martin Hassett. “Do you remember James Graham? He died. Stomach cancer I think. Funeral was last Tuesday. Shame.”

I never did get to see James at the end of my last trip. Didn’t make it for that one last drink. Too many things happening on the day and I couldn’t make it. Work, family, dying friend. The dying friend lost out. Or I did. Bad choice. Nothing would be different now though. Still dead. Only one more drink to have been had. I think I knew that he was dying. He had that same joie de vivre I had seen in John Bigham in his days of terminal cancer. A man past the stage of denial and depression and in some form of acceptance. Enjoying the moment and the company of others. But very thin. The telltale sign of unhealth.

I’m back in England now. I arrived a few days ago and it’s been bleak. A reminder of a life that I used to have and am just hanging on to. It’s feeling pretty tired now. London has been grey and rainy and bleak and depressing. It took me more than two hours to get home today to the hotel. I’m so glad I don’t live here anymore. There’s something that feels so much more refreshing and nourishing about Melbourne. Australia in general. The naïve child. Not the crusty old dilapidated wise but weary London. It’s as if the backdrop for a sad poem.

I saw an adaptation of Metamorphosis for the stage last night with music by Nick Cave. Fantastic in every respect. A bleak storey for a bleak time. So moving in its tragedy. Brilliantly produced. A double story set with the lower floor being the family dining room and the upper floor being an aerial view of Gregor’s bedroom. The visual perspective matching the surreality of the play. Gregor clambering acrobatically around the walls like the insect he had become. Shunned by his family and starved to death due to neglect. I forgot his name was Gregor.

I feel so sad for Sally it makes me want to cry. And the boys. So much of their lives to go to be spent without James. I have to call Sally. I didn’t today. I feel somewhat apologetic. I knew James was dying. I didn’t call. I didn’t write. I don’t think I knew what to say or do. So I sort of procrastinated until it was too late to do anything. Not that I could have done a whole lot from thousands of miles away. It’s just all so sad. Sally knew when I last saw her that James was dying. She didn’t tell me, but I could see that she knew. She was optimistically asking me if James looked alright, looking for some kind of reality shift that would mean that it wasn’t so. But she knew. I hope I have the courage to call her and that she wants to see me over the coming days. Death in the family. Nothing hits home quite like that.

I saw The Departed tonight. The new Scorsese good guys and bad guys film. So many people blown away for our pure enjoyment. It felt like a good piece of light entertainment – a bit like the self inflicted adrenaline rush of the roller coaster. Some guy shot through the head with blood spraying everywhere. Another guy hurtling off the roof and being splattered on the pavement. All the characters that we’d spent three hours being built up to associate with coming to a gruesome end. All good enjoyment. Such an interesting phenomenon this death thing. So easy to take in some respects and so difficult in others.

Today was also the day of celebration for 10 years of the SettleNET project. They showed the SettleNET The Movie video we made, coincidentally enough, for the dying John Bigham. It brought a lot of laughs to the assembled crowd and actually stood up pretty well with the passing of a few years. It was a reminder of how vibrant the project was when we were all based in Brighton and how these days it’s in its death throes. It’s all just going through the motions now. Even the turnout was disappointing with several people not bothering to show up. Not something that ever would have happened in the Brighton heyday. Today everybody drove off around 4:30. Formerly people would have been requested by bar staff to stagger out at closing time, and would have then been looking for another venue.

And the food was shit. Well perhaps some things never do change.

I’m sitting here getting pissed in the vibrant noisy bar at the K-West. It’s 1.30am on the Thursday morning and everyone here is in a comfortable stage of drunkenness. I’m having a drink for you James and thinking of the many different bars we ran around in together. Champagne in London city bars. Beers at the Fortune of War. Guinness in Soho. Whatever was going at the Catfish Club. Strange unidentifiable cocktails at Bigwood Avenue. You’d love this place. Cheers my friend.

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