On Monday 14th January 2013, I published a post about someone I once knew. (Click here for details if you're interested.) Little did I know at the time (only having found out on Sunday just gone) that a Facebook comment on Sunday 13th January 2013 - the day before the post - had expressed sadness at news of his demise sometime the previous week. Well, what a shocker! (Thing is, if he's dead, who subsequently amended some of the things on his Facebook page that I alluded to in my 'piece'? But that's for pondering on another day, perhaps.)
When I recently did a 'Google Search' to again find his FB page, among the selections offered (though only when I used one particular browser out of several available to me) there were some photos and comments that aren't on his site, but apparently in the comments section on someone else's FB page. (That's how I discovered the comment about his passing, though I was only able to access that link twice - it seems to have now disappeared.) The photos show a ravaged man who looks far older than the 52 or 53 years he was at the time, likely as a result of him being an alcoholic, something he admitted when he visited our home town sometime in the late '90s or thereabouts (he'd lived 'down south' since late 1977) to a woman he called 'Auntie Margaret'.
In case you're wondering how I know this, the woman herself told me when I ran into her around 1999 or 2000 and she mentioned that he'd been up for a visit a year or two before. She'd attended the same church as him, his sister and parents (as in the same denomination, though maybe a different congregation) and was therefore a friend of the family, but he regarded her as an 'aunt-type' figure so that's how he referred to her. Whether she minded or not (or was actually flattered) is something I'm not privy to, not that it's important.
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the news of his passing (if information that's ten years old can accurately be described as 'news' - though it was certainly news to me) as I now wouldn't have crossed the road to pee on him if he were on fire (as I said somewhere before). However, this guy was once one of my best friends (if not my very best friend - when I was young enough to subscribe to such a notion), so for the sake of our childhood friendship I felt a little sad on learning he'd passed away. (I'd met him on my first day at my second primary school, on Wednesday 10th November 1965.) Strange, now, to think that while I'd subconsciously assumed he was yet gadding about somewhere, he'd embarked on the 'long sleep' more than ten years ago.
Sadly, he was a compulsive liar and inveterate fantasist who never seemed to realise that the 'tall tales' he told were so completely unlikely that many people who knew him as an adult regarded and dismissed him as a pathetic object of silent ridicule. Who knows what made him like that - a need for attention, perhaps? So the person whose death I'm sad about is the 6 (going on 7) to 21/22 year-old I once knew and liked, not the person he later became (or perhaps always was, but I just never noticed at the time). Undoubtedly, a large part of my small sadness is related to the reminder of my own mortality that his passing begets, but it's also to do with a life he wasted and a potential he never fulfilled.
In previous posts I've referred to him as Billy Liar, which is probably more apt than Walter Mitty as there was an element of pathos to Billy Liar's predicament, whereas Walter Mitty's was more humorous, being played for laughs more than anything else. I also called him 'Adam Cowie' on my blog, but his real name was Alan Bowie, which, long after I jettisoned him he amended to Alan Bowie-McDonald - though don't ask me why. When we were teenagers he lamented the fact that he didn't have a 'middle' name, so I suggested Adam and he became for a good long while Alan Adam Bowie. (Or A.A.B. when he was writing it on lampposts and walls with a broad-tipped ink marker pen.)
Anyway, unless reports of his death are 'greatly exaggerated' (and if they are, he'll probably be behind it) that's him gone from this softly-spinning green and blue globe which hangs upon nothing, and I'll never see him again this side of doomsday. Except in memories and old photographs of course, when I still held his friendship in some regard before his slow-but-seemingly-certain slide into decadency and despair.
So here's to the memory of Alan Bowie - though not the Alan he became, but rather the Alan I believed him to be before the scales finally fell from my eyes and I saw him for what he was. However, the end of our friendship was as a result of his unacceptable attitude and bewildering behaviour, not that of mine.
Ah, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
|The 10 year-old Facebook comment about his death, which I only saw this Sunday (17th)|
|A.A.B. in the back garden of his bedsit in St. Andrews Road, Southsea, December 1978|
This is the most common form of MND, with weakness and wasting in the limbs, muscle stiffness and cramps. Someone may notice they are tripping when walking or dropping things. Life expectancy is usually two to five years from the onset of symptoms.
I don’t know if this is perhaps what your friend had, but it may be that he was using an incorrect acronym. There are many variations of MND but I am not familiar with ATOL.
|Again, outside Portsmouth Register Office, 15th December 1978. In case|
you're wondering why I'm the only one looking at the camera, there were
two (one in front, one on the left), both taking photos at the same time
|Alan around the age of 7 or 8, I'd guess. He gave me this|
photo when I was down in Southsea/Portsmouth in 1978