Thursday, 19 February 2009

Thursday 19/02/09

Today’s blog is a tribute to a good friend of mine – a friend I have never met personally, but with whom I share a number of backgrounds; we went to the same school (albeit 7 or so years apart) and both spent a significant period of our lives at sea.

Richard, with whom I first came into contact through a Yahoo e-Group I set up in 2001 for my old school’s Old Boys, occasionally posts on my Blog under the nom-de-guerre of The Irascible Fairy. He has just been told by his oncologist that he is unlikely to celebrate Christmas this year.

Richard was diagnosed with liver cancer in mid 2006. At the time he was scraping a living as a humble ship’s Master on oil rig support vessels in the North Sea; most of us Conway Old Boys ended up with a seagoing career, as defrocked ministers of religion or as habitual criminals. Occasionally one or two would become a World Cup winning England rugby team manager, or an MP (the latter occupation fitting into the habitual criminal category). Ships’ Masters are considered only slightly higher in the social scale than prostitutes and pimps when it comes to the international courts, where they are regularly tried for deliberately dumping oil into the oceans, barging into and destroying obstacles (such as bridges and jetties) or smuggling illicit substances under the noses of the excise men.

Richard understandably decided to retire on medical grounds and make the best of the time remaining to him. He started to live life in the fast lane, partaking of past-times such as high-impact flower arranging, competitive dog walking, combat cake decorating, investigative genealogy, etc. to while away his remaining time. He entered into a civil partnership with his long-term partner, Gavin, and has been subjecting himself to chemo and various other hideous therapies in an effort to squeeze a bit more life from his tortured body. A firm believer in the simple, yet classic bald look favoured by gay men and Eastern European thugs, the chemo had no effect whatsoever on his hairstyle.

When Richard joined the e-Group I had set up, no-one among the 300 odd members (none of which are under 50), was aware he was ‘that way inclined’, as it were, so to speak, to coin a phrase, not to beat about the bush. He eventually ‘came out’ on the e-Group (having already been out for a long time in real life) and managed to get 300 odd bigoted old farts to reassess the way they viewed homosexuality. He basically achieved it by being himself - which led to respect and friendship - so that once he announced his sexuality, anyone who had a problem with it had to also question the respect and friendship that had been built up – which is very hard for anyone to do as you have to question your own judgement. What he showed the homophobes was that gay people are not outrageous caricatures or perverted monsters, but ordinary people like you and I. He then engaged people in debate about homosexuality – not in an in-your-face crusading way, but politely rebutting misconceptions when they arose.

He didn’t succeed in enlightening all of them, but a goodly number now have a more reasoned outlook on personal sexuality thanks to Richard’s efforts at re-educating them. Those few who still remain bigoted at least have a healthy respect for Richard, even if they can now justify their bigotry only through religious dogma and not rational, logical argument.

Some produced the ridiculous clap-trap fallacy you invariably hear being farted from the arses of the religiously blind, namely ‘loving the sinner but hating the sin’. That’s like saying I love you as a person, but hate you for being black, female, or blue-eyed - as if being gay is something you choose after seeing all the available alternatives and not something that’s inherently part of your make-up. I dare say that a small number of the more right-wing suspected that Richard’s cancer was a punishment from God. Richard, needless to say, is atheist – at least he’s holding out and keeping the faith for the present. I keep telling him he should write a blog about his experience of cancer, but he declines.

Here’s to you Richard - let’s hope you see the New Year in, and some beyond!

Richard sent me this link yesterday, which is well worth a read.

So, if you were told tomorrow that you had terminal cancer and had a couple of years left, what would you like to achieve in that time?


  1. It's typical, isn't it? The 'I like gays, blacks, red-heads' whatever mentality, but I hope they don't move into the house next door...
    You just hope it's ignorance.

  2. But would you wish to live next door to a politician?

  3. Thank you - I feel overwhelmed


  4. And of course I would live next door to a politician. All those smart young uniformed Policemen guarding my house. Much cheaper than burglar alarms


  5. Richard - it might only be her week-day digs and not the constituency house she's claiming £160k for on expenses.

  6. I would need the policemen there FULL-TIME to compensate for living next door to such a one!


  7. I wonder if you could somehow combine the policeman, the MP and the combat cake decorating?

  8. Tim,

    That's simply perverse!

    I somehow think my God would forbid it.


  9. I don't think that all politicians are corrupt. Since I'm in the US, I don't know the particular politician you are referring to, but I know that we have plenty corrupt politicians here. I think that many of them didn't start out corrupt, but ended up that way due to the need for money for elections.

    However, that being said, I aspire to be one. Not to get rich, (I could get much richer doing personal injury law), but to try to make the country a better place (I know that's cliche).

    Here, the only profession less liked than lawyers are politicians. I'm so close to the bottom, I figure what the hell!

  10. I love reading anything The Irascible Fairy writes on your blog, Bill, and keep clicking on Richard's profile in the hope he has started to blog in his own write!

    Richard, do take a look at Cake Wrecks for cake decorating in the extreme - Some fantastic, some merely horrifying, (particularly the redneck kind), but always funny!

    It is a pleasure to know you, Richard, albeit through the very odd medium of a grumpy, misogynist half-Dutchman!

    Sending you love and hugs - Just imagine I'm one of those ever-young Policemen... - That might be more palatable than the reality of a forty-something, neurotic Woman Of No Importance! xox

  11. Round these parts you can live next door to a politician/actor.

    Arnold Scharzenegger is the govenor of my state. The thing is that he cannot even prounounce the word "California" correctly.

    California is about to declare bankruptcy. The Department of Vehicles is now closed on Fridays. I will get an IOU in place of my tax refund.

    Politicans...corrupt or incompetent need to be confronted.

  12. I email the white house all the time. hee hee.

    Now there is a funny clicking sound on my phone.

    I told Obama to lay off half the senate, force the members to do the job of two people and become more efficient which is what is happening to the rest of Americans.

  13. Gezzz guys.. brought a tear to my eye, well for half a second... LOL

    When you have a motto like " Quit Ye Like Men, Be strong" shoved up your nose for a number of years, then go off to the "good life" at sea and live the hardships of the yesteryears of seafaring there is no wonder that you have people like Richard who live life to the full and love every moment of it.
    Good luck Mate, you know we are all rooting for you and some of us know better than others all the trails and tribulations your going through.

    To Charmaine.. Leave the cuddly bear in CA alone.... move a million or so out of work Mexicans back to their side of the border and maybe... maybe the state wouldnt be broke.. We have enjoyed Chula Vista for the last 12 months but we are looking forward to our drive back to Florida next week....

  14. Hi Phil N,

    I'll get the info on the ease of transferring the F77 to our account ASAP. I don't think there should be any hassle and it shouldn't require buggering about with the terminal itself.

    Hope you have a good journey back to Fla.

  15. //Arnold Scharzenegger is the govenor of my state. The thing is that he cannot even prounounce the word "California" correctly. //

    Charmaine - is it a pre-requisite that Herr Schwarzenegger should be able to speak without an accent in order to lead the state?

    If I remember correctly, Herr Kissinger was an excellent Secretary of State and had a more pronounced accent than Herr Schwarzenegger.

  16. as a one time aspiring cake decorator, i was intrigued to seek out the blog mentioned by Fhina - here is a link in case you want it:

    and Richard, you are an inspiration for us all....and I will sit down and think about what i would do, were I in your shoes...though shouldn't we all live as if today was our last??

  17. SSP - I was talking to a lady yesterday and pointed out that is what we all should do - I at least have a measure of my mortality - she could be hit by a bus at any moment!

    Richard x x