Words for Friends #14

This is part of a new series of blogs entitled Words for Friends, in which I will try to acknowledge some people in my life for whom words of thanks are not nearly enough.

These living epitaphs to my true and lovely friends are published in a random order as fancy takes me.

#14  Jayne

This July I took a long overdue holiday with my wife Gill, in my old haunt of Chichester, West Sussex.

Whenever returning home – as I still call Sussex – I always made a point of catching up with one of my oldest friends.

Jayne and I met as teenagers while nursing together way back in 1978.

But any hope I may have had of a romantic attachment disappeared quickly when on our second date, and after a couple of beers and an attempted snog, she told me she was gay and lived happily with her partner Julie.

She was the first openly lesbian woman I had ever met – in a time when personal sexuality was more closely guarded.

I was gobsmacked and in typical 1970s’ misogyny I said something like: “How can you be gay, you are too attractive?”

Horrid words, which ought to have choked me, there and then.

But, there was something deeper between us and instead of romance, we became lifelong friends.

Over the next 30 years on my each visit to Sussex, we would meet for a beer and swap stories about the directions our lives had travelled and how much weight we had both gained!

While my life and career took my all over the UK, Jayne remained my constant point of return.

This summer I had not seen Jayne for over 10 years, so this holiday visit was going to be an extra special catch-up.

But, before I set off for the drive down south, I cried myself empty, when I discovered that Jayne had died some 30 months earlier, aged just 56.

Her partner Julie was with her to the end.

Time, life and death waits for no one.

But my friendship and memories of Jayne will always remain.

 

Rainbow of Friends

Sexuality should not define us

But society says it must

Too many friends within the closet

Their lives oxidised to rust

 

In my life of stolen moments

Good friends have all been gay

At first it was quite scary

In a world of bleak dismay

 

Come out now my friends and dance

Your life it is supreme

Don’t hide your love away

Behind some bitter Fascist scheme

 

Brave Andy was the first to dance

Back in queer bashing seventy eight

He came out to his parents

And faced their irrational hate

 

Cast out by those he loved

Alone inside his motor car

His body found next morning

Killed by a prejudicial scar

 

Come out now my friends and dance

Your life it is supreme

Don’t hide your love away

Behind some bitter Fascist scheme

 

Hiding in the closet Vicki, Jane and Hazel

Also loved to dance

They would boogie in a ghetto club

Whenever they had a chance

 

My house mate Trevor was the next to hide

His secret he was afraid to share

His father was an old coal miner

His black views were just unfair

 

Come out now my friends and dance

Your life it is supreme

Don’t hide your love away

Behind some bitter Fascist scheme

 

But time does not stand still

Liz and Nadine they were so brave

Together raised their wee son Thomas

With parent’s care and love to save

 

Some years along the road

My son’s friend talked of his two mums

The most wonderful of natural parents

They made prejudice seem quite numb

 

Come out now my friends and dance

Your life it is supreme

Don’t hide your love away

Behind some bitter Fascist scheme

 

The next to dance was close to home

My young nephew’s so camp and gay

It was no lifestyle choice, you faggot haters

So what’s that I hear you say?

 

Now this dance is almost over

But for Darren it was done too soon

He lived and loved with vigour

But now lies under a Mexican moon

 

Come out now my friends and dance

Your life it is supreme

Don’t hide your love away

Behind some bitter Fascist scheme

 

Rainbow of Friends

Sexuality should not define us

But society says it must

So many friends within the closet

Their lives oxidise to rust

In my life of stolen moments

Good friends have all been gay

At first it was quite scary

They are different, you say

Come out now my friends and dance

Your life it is supreme

Don’t hide your love away

Behind some bitter Fascist scheme

Brave Andy was the first to dance

Back in homophobic seventy eight

He came out to his parents

And faced their irrational hate

Andy took his life so sadly

Alone inside his motor car

His body found next morning

Killed by a prejudicial scar

Come out now my friends and dance

Your life it is supreme

Don’t hide your love away

Behind some bitter Fascist scheme

Good friends Vicki, Jane and Hazel

Also loved to dance

They would boogie in a ghetto club

Whenever they had a chance

My house mate Trevor was the next to hide

His secret he could not share

His father was an old coal miner

And his views were so unfair

Come out now my friends and dance

Your life it is supreme

Don’t hide your love away

Behind some bitter Fascist scheme

But time does not stand still

Liz and Nadine they were so brave

Together raised their own son Thomas

With parental care and love to save

A few years along the road

My son’s friend talked of his two mums

The most wonderful of natural parents

They were everlasting chums

Come out now my friends and dance

Your life it is supreme

Don’t hide your love away

Behind some bitter Fascist scheme

The next to dance was close to home

My young nephew’s so camp and gay

It was no lifestyle choice, you faggot haters

What’s that I hear you say?

And so this dance is almost over

But for Darren it was done too soon

He lived and loved with vigour

But his ashes lie under a Mexican moon

Come out now my friends and dance

Your life it is supreme

Don’t hide your love away

Behind some bitter Fascist scheme