“For me, to remember friendship is to recall those conversations that it seemed a sin to break off: the ones that made the sacrifice of the following day a trivial one.”
― Christopher Hitchens, Mortality
David was a great conversationalist and certainly in the fashion of Hitchens could regale us with anecdote and cultural quotation late into a beverage soaked night. There will be no more of these nights and I saw his face for the last time this afternoon.
We met in high school where I was a boarder and his uncle, the deceased David Jones, was my housemaster. In a later year David’s dad Jeremy was also a master.
During school a combination of bands led by Brian Buggy, trips to the 6.30 series and most of all David taught me my current love of classical music. There were hours spent in music rooms with David and Ian (Cooper – violin) exchanging riffs. David played piano, viola, and the infamous faggot (bassoon). We had Yusuke for recorder and I started clarinet then oboe. Julius was on French horn. A small band of brothers that also included Stephen Wrench, our musical thespian, and Robbie Gates our maths genius. When David and I later lived together we would spend hours, in the pre-Spotify days, changing CDs and drinking……I ingested French requiems, Benjamin Britten, Shostakovich and also popular song, popular culture and much more.
The famous drinking sessions started at school and moved onto University. Of course initially it was standard teenage stuff but it did merge with the D&Ms and the serious discussions.
After living together for a while and then completing Uni David moved to the UK for a while. Since then our contact has been for want of a better description regularly sporadic – regularly irregular as medicos like to say of atrial fibrillation. When we did meet there was that natural bond of old friends and so I think even if contact was infrequent the friendship remained. Of course in the last decade the internet and social media made vicarious contact the standard.
A decade and a half ago on New Year I had a call from Ellen Bentley nee Smuk. At that stage both of us were separated. David had put her in touch with me and we had a date at my place on New Year’s Eve. We’ve been together since then and David was the best man at our wedding. So he match made but also got Ellen tipsy enough to actually say “I do” at the alter. We joke about Ellen and David dating before he came out, they would sit at cafes and check out the same guys….she finally turned him.
I know that David struggled with depression over the years and this year last year gone by didn’t help. With a series of medical mishaps felling him for 2-3 months we visited him regularly in hospital. Ynez my youngest daughter made him a red and white Loom Band bracelet in honour of his beloved Swans. Tarquin showed him games. It is a long time since David first brought my first daughter, Mia, a Paddington Bear – now a movie my younger kids watch.
At the National Medicines Symposium 2014 I used, with his consent, his medical story as an example of everything wrong with the health system. I know now that this story was underestimating the problems and in just a few months the spiral would converge.
Between Christmas and New Year Ellen and I noticed David missing from Facebook and Twitter. His small data wasn’t accumulating. We contacted him and he reassured us he was OK but everybody I’ve spoken too has been worried about him. I think his death was accidental and if not, natural, but we worried about him a lot. As did all of the others that loved him. And as you can see on social media there were hundreds that loved him for the same reasons as Ellen and I.
We will miss and still love the man from Wankie Rhodesia.
Our regards to your parents, extended family, the dogs and the car.
I raise my martini glass one more time….miss you David
P.S apologies for typos and grammatical errors