3 November 2021

Andy


Farewell, farewell to you who would hear
You lonely travellers all
The cold north wind will blow again
The winding road does call

I have been thinking about Andy Foster the past two days - ever since his son Matt got in touch with me. Matt told me that Andy had recently died - with lung cancer being the prime cause. He had been a lifelong smoker.

Andy was my best friend during our early years at secondary school. We played rugby together and we were rebels. We didn't quite fit in in an all boys school that was rooted in the nineteenth century. The masters wore academic gowns and boys were only known by their surnames. Later I moved on to Beverley Grammar School.

Back in 1969 when we were fifteen, we hitchhiked down to London together to see Fairport Convention at The Royal Festival Hall. We were both becoming obsessed with the music of the day. After the concert, we were meant to stay at Andy's auntie's house in Bromley, Kent but we had not thought about how to get there. We were so  naïve - after all we were only fifteen and I am afraid  we didn't get to her house until one in the morning. She was furious.

Andy was a special human being. At that young age he had real presence and did not suffer fools gladly. I met up with him a few times when we were in our twenties and later in this age of emailing we communicated each Christmas. Now of course, I wish we'd met up to rekindle our friendship every so often: I remain quite shocked and saddened by his departure.

Matt told me of a poem that I had written back in the late sixties. His mother treasures it because Andy gave it to her  as a kind of love token when they first got together. I had no idea that it was in his possession. The handwriting is my own - perhaps he asked me to copy it out for  him. Perhaps he ripped it from my rough book. Hell, it's fifty three years ago - how should I remember?

Hoping that Matt and his mum won't mind, I post it here in memory of  my younger self  but mostly in memory of the one and only Andy Foster who, long ago, was my friend. How could I forget him? Rest in Peace my old chum - Rest in Peace...

28 comments:

  1. I'm sorry for your loss. It did bring back many memories and some regrets. I'm sure most of us regret not keeping in touch with friends and colleagues.

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    1. The journey through life... we cannot hang on to everything we have loved.

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  2. Well, the poem (beautiful, by the way) was your work, and so nobody should mind you posting it here. I can‘t remember what happened 53 years ago, either - I was only just born.
    I am sorry that you lost a friend, and his loved ones lost their husband and father. Meeting up occasionally instead of just emailing would probably have been good, but you still have fond memories of him. Your secondary school really sounds like a relic of a long bygone era.

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    1. I believe that school is much changed but we hated it together. We were looking to the future but mired in the past.

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  3. I'm sorry you didn't get to rekindle that friendship and I'm sorry he left too early.
    I think you are allowed to post the poem, which is, after all, your own.

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    1. To his ex-wife it must seem that it belongs to he after all this time. Thank you Kylie.

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  4. Quite nice. Could you rewrite it better now?

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    1. I would not want to try though I am a little irked by the ending.

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  5. I am sorry to hear of the loss of your old friend. I am sure he would have had fond memories too of your times together.

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    1. We should have got together. He was living near Montrose in Scotland with his second wife.

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  6. It was so easy to become hooked on smoking in the 1960s. It was the 'in thing' to do, and so many sociable people did. I dabbled a bit but feel lucky to have escaped.
    I like the poem.

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    1. My old brother Paul was also hooked on tobacco and like Andy, it was probably the main reason he died young.

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  7. Losing a special school friend that you have lost touch with is always sad, and often a cause for feelings of guilt. I'm sure most of us have been through this YP, but often our lives take a different direction, and though we've always sworn to keep in touch, we forget and go our separate ways.
    A lovely poem, I'm so glad that you posted it.

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  8. My condolences on the loss of your longtime friend, Neil. Thank you for sharing a bit of him with us here on your blog. Sending you a virtual hug.

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    1. Your virtual hugs are so nice Jennifer but could you squeeze a little harder?

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  9. A beautiful poem in memory of a good friend and good friendship. I didn't realise you knew Bromley - that's where I hail from

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    1. That was the one and only time I ever went there ADDY.

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  10. We are at the age when old friends leave us and take with them the possibility of ever seeing them again. I think we have friends at each stage of life whom we love dearly and then our lives diverge but we still keep them in our hearts forever.

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  11. I find myself thinking about past acquaintances more often these days pondering where they are or what might have been had we stayed in touch. Someday, hopefully long in the future, someone might be doing the same about me.

    My condolences on your loss.

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  12. What an honor, to have something you've written touch a friend's life in such a significant way (as he also touched yours).

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    1. Indeed - what an honour and a sweet discovery after his departure.

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  13. There is something quite prescient in your North Sea poem, I mean in the light of what happened, how your two lives branched off in different directions.

    All the more affecting because we see your cursive hand, the lined paper from so long ago, the beat of the waves and the seabirds and that 'broken rain'.

    This is about Andy's presence as much as what you observed that day, and perhaps that is the 'Pattern' : it reminded me of Tennyson and Hallam, even though Hallam died and Andy lived on. Sea-light makes us think about what is past and what is yet to come. We all have at times the sense (or the illusion) of foreknowledge.

    John Gray ended his book Seven Types of Atheism in the style of Miguel de Unamuno:
    *Belief and unbelief are poses the mind adopts in the face of an unimaginable reality. A godless world is as mysterious as one suffused with divinity, and the difference between the two may be less than you think.*

    Departures may not be as final as they seem. Our remembered dead are in another part of quantum space. Is that what I hear in the poem's echo?
    Haggerty





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    1. I appreciate the quote from John Gray amidst your thoughtful reflections. And yes - that is what you hear.

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  14. Such a different time then. It's always a bit jarring to hear it applied to an event in your life, isn't it? But the idea of two 15 year old boys hitch hiking to a concert. I cannot imagine it when my kids were growing up, and I can't.

    I'm sorry about your friend.

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    1. Nobody hitchhikes in England any more. Strangers are monsters now, before they were possible friends.

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