Brian was back in England for one of his short yearly visits. I spoke to him on Saturday on the telephone. He said he would drop by on Tuesday morning: he wanted me to scan some glossy prints into the computer (that computer in the picture, my computer, the one I'm still writing at), and he had a few things for me from India, and "we'll rap, Mike". He spoke like this, well-spoken, literate, laced with sixties slang that I know mainly from William Burroughs books.
If you lived in London, you would have seen the Tuesday Evening Standard headlines screaming "Man beheaded in North London street".
I didn't read the story. Dr Otter told me it in his own words. Dr Otter and me, we share a deep black streak in our humour and we were laughing about it. What was funny? The way the murderer turned to calmly tell horrified onlookers: "It's personal" before turning back to hacking.
Brian didn't show up on Tuesday. I don't even know how to tell this story. You can guess what it is. "Oh my God, you must be the only person who hasn't heard," said his son in a strained-sounding voice when I phoned just now. Immediately, it clicked into place.
Compare the sympathetic story the Mirror wrote ("Tributes for dad killed by axe maniac") with the salacious near-gloating (or is that just me seeing that?) write-up in The Scum. Like they are really relishing being able to throw in "he was openly homosexual", "the hippy resort of Goa", being able to use the disapproving euphemism "lived an alternative life-style".
Why am I writing now? I haven't seen the Standard. It's a big media story now. They will be looking for anything juicy and scandalous to add to the story. I can guess they will be saying all sorts of things about him. His son phoned me later to tell me not to believe anything they were writing. Speaking evil of the dead. My friend, I've worked for newspapers, I know how they (or some of them) fucking work. I am happy bloggers are destroying their monopoly on "the public sphere".
It's a live media story. Do I write anything here that IF, IF some stinking journo stumbles across it he will have some other fucking sensational fucking angle to fucking follow up? Hahaa! Well, look, I'm media, too, here on realgem. So was he "openly homosexual"? (You've just summed up someone up with one label - concise and fucking punchy, you sewer-dwelling cunt.)
No, he was everything. He had women when I knew him and he was 67. He had fucking LIVED, you fuckers, and done fucking everything. But that's all the information you get, until you've moved on to the next story. Here, look, it's the quote the Mirror chose to use: "He was a traveller at heart. He was free spirited, but came back to see his family."
Why am I writing this all, now, here? Idle rhetorical question? Or am I addressing your "what is he doing running first thing to blogger when his friend has died?" No. It's because without Brian, I would never have begun thinking of myself as a writer.
Now he is never to finish editing his never-ending book. I know I'm a character in it. I don't know if I'll ever be able to read it.
"Something worse could have happened," said la gitana when I talked to her on the phone. It sounded absurd at first but it's true. "He could have got cancer or something and taken years to die." So it couldn't have been any other way: a suitably colourful end to a colourful life.
NARDAC writes about dreams. The nights just past I slept easy enough; no, I fell asleep easily enough. Which is something to be grateful for, any high-wire insomniac or manic will tell you. And woke strangely unrested, with nebulous memories of disturbing bleak dreams of India. B_rian loved India and lived there.
I have notebooks full of the dreams I've had over years. When I dream of India, they are good dreams; strange, colourful, mystical; not with that strange feeling of desolation, ruin, and a harsh light that hits the ground at the wrong angle.