Tuesday, May 02, 2006

On mortality

How would you want to find out about the death of someone you knew?

Probably not several weeks after the event via a brief obituary in a music magazine.

Especially not accompanied by comments of "I thought you knew" from a partner who forgot you went to school with them.

So you can imagine how crappy I've been feeling since yesterday.

I'd spotted some passing reference to the tragically early death of former Stuffies drummer Martin Gilks on some blogs during the week before BAAS. And then gone on to talk about the tribute page with the lovely Paul W at said conference (he being another West Midlands boy). But for some reason the information fell out my brain. Hence, yesterday afternoon Neil was flicking through the new issue of Q magazine (best thing about it: Jarvis/Scott Walker piece plus a cracking CD). And he turned the page to the Obituaries. And there at the bottom was mention of Martin Gilks.

Neil went rather pale.

"Oh yeah," I said, "didn't you know? I thought I'd mentioned it?"

He shook his head. And it was then I remembered that this wasn't just some random I-lived-in-the-West-Midlands-and-saw-all-the-bands kinda knowledge of him: he'd been at the same school. Knew people from the same bands and social set.

What had been poignant enough already now became almost unbearable as rummaging through the tributes pages showed up several mutual acquaintances and former school friends. Shit. How could I be so dense? How many times had I heard him and his brother talking about Tank and Martin and Jez - the whole music-focused gang from school?

And let's face it, it's just awful hearing about people your own age dying anyway. Let alone when you know them.



David Duff said...

"[I]t's just awful hearing about people your own age dying anyway".

It's even worse at my age, you hear about people *younger* than you dying!

Paul Burgin said...

I think I can begin to understand what you are going through. Two friends of mine from Uni have died in the last five years. One from an epileptic fit, the other getting electrocuted after fainting on the London Underground (she was diabetic). In some ways I felt more pain over their deaths than those of my elderly relatives.
With regards to newspapers, I remember browsing through the Daily Telegraph last summer in a coffee shop and finding out about the murder of Brother Roger, the 90 year old founder of the Taize Community in France. I visited Taize twice and met Brother Roger on both occasions,and found him to be a very gentle and kind person, so it was all rather distressing. I just hurredly returned my coffee picked up my suitcase and dashed out of the shop