I'll never find another you.
Updated: May 29, 2019
I'm not sure this post has a lot to do with writing, but it has something to do with being human, fallible and utterly individual, and I suppose if I'm going to make a link it is about how people are never one-dimensional, however much we would like that to be the case.
So - I went to my neighbour's funeral today. A troubled, somewhat difficult man, I had little contact with him although he was invariably kind, offering to cut my hedge when he did his, and generous when it came to the Christmas drink he brought round. Aged just 55 when he died, it would be easy to paint him as a rather sad alcoholic, defined by the liver damage that killed him.
But in the eulogies at his sparsely-attended funeral, a different man emerged. We knew he had looked after his disabled elder brother (until the latter's death) but today we learned of the bike rides they went on, P pedalling furiously on the front of the tandem while his brother freewheeled behind. We had witnessed some of their closeness, the elder miming snipping the same hedge that bordered our houses while P enacted the real thing.
We learned of P's love of music, his playing of a keyboard and one of his favourite songs, The Seekers' I'll never find another you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmactMIhrRM
which was one of three played at the service. We found out about his skills as a plasterer and builder, his love of fishing, country walks - a whole hinterland we'd never really got to know which existed behind the shy, awkward demeanour.
I feel guilt too, that I sometimes reduced him to a caricature - one of the slightly nutty characters who live in our road. It was easy to invest his quirky diffidence with a fictional life which made friends chuckle.
So much for story-telling. The truth is, of course, often more interesting. P's death also reminded me of the utter nonsense of the Thatcherite phrase, 'There's no such thing as society.' In the end, society is all we have. Friendship is all we have. Commodities that suddenly seem more rich and precious now than they ever have.
P's reason for living was his brother, to a large extent. Caring for him, with all the hardship that brought, was as nothing to not having him. It's easy to produce cod psychology here but the drinking probably filled a gap - the one on the tandem behind him, happily freewheeling while P strained to circumnavigate Bewl Water.
I wrote last week about the difficulty in capturing character. I had intended to write about P but his death then was too raw, so I turned to an easier subject - gender (!). I would struggle to invent someone like P partly because at root everyone is unknowable. But I do need to try harder.
If this sounds like a message on repeat, then so be it.