Homer’s Tribute

For James

For those of you who don’t know me I’m James’s dad, and thanks to The Simpsons since about 1988 mostly known as Homer to the boys.

I’m going to try and say a few words about James, please bear with me…

It has been of great comfort over the last horrible month to read all of your comments on social media, texts and cards, to see how much James meant to you is very humbling for us all….

At the moment, we are still in disbelief and nothing really seems to make any sense. Time seems to have stood still for us.

It’s a mark of the man to see so many people here today to pay their respects – thank you all.

James was born 13 April 1983 and passed away 22 December 2017 – which made him 34 years 8 months and 9 days old give or take a few hours. By my reckoning this Service is about 45 years too early. Everything is all upside down and it should be James and his brother Andrew standing here telling amusing and embarrassing stories about me….

We all have a James shaped hole in our lives now and our futures have been changed forever.

In a world of unique individuals, James was more unique than many, however underneath James’s outward persona he was a very kind and generous person.

If anyone had a problem, he would if he could resolve it, if he couldn’t he would work with you, encourage and guide you to come up with the solution yourself. He would have made an excellent counsellor.

He was a discreet and fiercely loyal friend to have.

It’s not widely known but James carried out many unsung random acts of kindness to both people he did and didn’t know. These acts of kindness have a massively positive effect on people.

I ask that to maintain James’s legacy we should all try to carry out unasked for acts of kindness whenever we can and remember that it’s what James would have done. You can call this your ongoing homework!

Think of it, one act per day each makes an awful lot of kindness…

James was also a champion of the underdog and would stand with them and support them against prejudice, injustice and bullying. More credit to him…..

He was at the top of his game in his job – which, to save my embarrassment, I’ll just say that it was something ‘techie’

His company ‘Giant Steps Digital’ although only a year or so old was gaining a very good reputation in the ‘techie’ world. James was very proud of his work – and so were we.

James was rare amongst the male population in that he could multi-task.

This is brilliantly illustrated by a comment made by one of his friends, which was something like…

“I could go to him with a real technical problem and he would answer it easily whilst smoking a cigarette, watching an episode of the Simpsons and playing an Oasis riff on the guitar”

Sounds like James to me…

Music was a very large part of James’s life. He was very much into world music and listened to any music from any age. He was constantly trying to expand my narrow music tastes and often texted links to songs he thought I should listen to.

He was a very good guitarist and we often traded guitars and he was a patient teacher to a very mediocre student. (me)

From the age of about 8 years old after James started to read The Lord of the Rings he became an avid reader and his knowledge was remarkable. He could hold discussions on many topics and talk with confidence and knowledge on them.

James loved poetry, he had a fascination with words and phrases, from the Early Romantic Poets to contemporary poets such as John Cooper Clark.

We both shared a love of the work of Dylan Thomas the poet who, amongst other things, wrote ‘Under Milk Wood’

James had the soul of a poet. I’m also sure that he would want you all to get a copy of Under Milk Wood, read it and see the beauty of the words that he saw. That’s more homework for you to do.

James, we were very proud of you.

A four or five minute tribute is far too short for a life

34 years eight months and nine days is also far too short for a life.

It’s fitting that so many of his friends are here today as James starts his last journey, his return to the stars from where he came and when he becomes a part of everything in the universe, while we are left only with memories, emotions and echoes of him.

At his journey’s end I can see him jamming with Lennon, arguing with Freud and discussing chord progression with Bowie.

It’s with all love and pride I say ‘See you later and play on…..’

For James

No flowers are beautiful enough for you today, nothing can be good enough, no words will ever express our loss.

I told you last week that you were the best of all of us and how proud I was of you – you struggled to believe me and I told you that you weren’t looking at what I was seeing.

James looked out for the ‘little guy’ and loved his family unconditionally.  He took time for us all and has left us all with a giant sized James shape hole in our hearts.

James was ‘Head Kid’ the eldest of his generation – it was his job to look out for anyone smaller than him and he did a pretty amazing job – this baton has now been passed to Andrew – his kid brother, who he loved so much.  Andrew, he needs you to do this job for him and make Giant Steps with your three beautiful girls – Jovita, Isabelle and Soija.

He said Lewis was his brother, none of this cousin shit.  He would be there for you without question, in a heartbeat and would never let you down.  No notice required, brothers forever.

You are both saying that you don’t know what to do now without James – I’m not going to tell you, I’m going to show you.  I will drag my sorry arse out of bed every morning and go forward with life.  We will celebrate Christmas and Birthdays, have goods days and sad days and we will carry you in our hearts forever and if one day we are not here, you will have the strength to carry on for anyone smaller than you.

His heart was given to his ‘American Beauty’ Dianna – who was his future and now you are part of our family forever.

His Mum and Dad, Carole and Michael – he didn’t want to leave you, he didn’t want to leave us.  He wanted to stay with us all.

If anyone based your opinion of James on first impressions, you were so wrong – strip back his demons and the layers to find  a Funny, Inspiring, Ridiculously bright, Interesting, Creative, Amazing Young Man – who always had a point of view and had mastered the art or unguarded conversation.  The first person on my call list who would swear unreservedly – you mattered, warm, witty, supportive.

You drew us all to you and had a knack of making us like him. Even if you didn’t want to – he would break down the barriers until there was o choice and you had to cave in and love him.  If you were the Queen of England or Aunty Susan – James would fart in your presence while having a drag on a fag – both without a single care in the world.

When you needed your friends, when the shit hit the fan, they have been here for you, helping me with your business, without question in a heart beat.  What amazing people surrounded you. Thank you so much Mark, Martin, Tom, Olly, Andy, Dave and every single person who has helped me so much.

2017  saw the launch of Giant Steps Digital Ltd and the future was going to be amazing, so much to live for – planning the business and with the confidence growing 2018 was going to be a great year.

James was especially proud of the artwork by Stephen Wood, couldn’t wait to show me, no sure if he spotted me drop my business cards across his floor and I hurriedly collected them up before he spotted me or I would of been on the ‘naughty step’

You coloured the corners of my world and now without you our world has turned to Grey.  This is the wrong order.  I know you are asleep and we will be with you on your last journey to the care of our Grandparents.  I hope everyone will make a journey to see you, not necessarily today but a some point as you don’t like being on your own for long.  Take in the beautiful views – from here you can see home.

It is my honour to say these words for you James, I am so proud to be your Aunty Susan – James you are, and always will be the best of us … Love you Kid – Aunty Susan x

The day after you died, we were in your flat – there was no technology, nothing in the CD player – no obvious clue – Blue Room  in Archway, by the Boo Radleys began to play – it was like you were there with us and you wanted us to here this track.   Listen to this for James, play it loud, sing along, dance around the room – For James.

Until we meet again

I cried at your funeral today and you would have laughed at me and all of us crying, and with much gratuitous use of the F and C words, you would have told us all to cheer up; or words to that effect.

I sang loudly (but not too loudly) for you, and you would have laughed at that too.

Your life was short and you suffered; but you knew love and were loved and you touched many with your unquenchable spirit and many discrete acts of kindness.

Watch over us from where you are now; until we meet again.

Live forever

Maybe I will never be

all the things that I want to be

But now is not the time to cry –

now’s the time to find out why.

I think you’re the same as me;

we see things they’ll never see…

you and I –

We’re gonna live forever.

A poem for Jamie

For Jamie

Do not despair

For Jamie-head-in-air;

He sleeps as sound

As Johnny underground.

Fetch out no shroud

For Jamie-in-the-cloud;

And keep your tears

For him in after years.

Better by far

For Jamie-the-bright-star,

To keep your head,

And not regret things unsaid

Apologies to John Pudney for altering his poem…

Water Aid

Water Aid was James’s preferred charity and he always asked for people to donate to this charity throughout his life.

I had a look on Facebook at some of Jamie’s posts and thought I would share them with you / remind you of them….

Ice bucket?

James’s take on the ice bucket challenge was: “Instead of wasting buckets of clean water, why not give a few quid to Water Aid to actually give people in the world the chance to drink water that won’t kill them?

Book exchange

James posted this recently:

“Fancy a random book? Send me a SAE with £3 for water aid and get a surprise. Pm
For details”

A wonderful world

James also reckoned this:

“We’re fairly well into the 21st century. Some things bother me. 1. There are still people on this planet who don’t have clean water, yet a continent over, people get to queue for the latest phone or video game. www.wateraid.org.uk. Make a difference. 2. Mental health problems are still seen as weakness. We’re a species that’s developed technology, connection and warfare well beyond the rate of evolution and consequently 2 in 5 people have mental health issues and most are even more afraid of talking about it. 3. Wednesday morning we could wake up with an American president who’s a[n alleged] rapist. The most repugnant person in the world is on the precipice of buying his way into purchasing the position of most powerful.

Listen to this and just imagine the possibilities of a decent world.”

 

Donate to Water Aid

If you’d like to donate to James’s chosen charity, Water Aid, there’s a JustGiving page set up in his memory:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/james-bunker2

My favourite knobhead

I’ve known Jamie since we were about 14. We hung around in the same group of friends frequenting dodgy music venues. We passed each other by in these times exchanging nods and then carrying on with our lives.

We all went our separate ways– college, uni, work. When I was about 19 I got a random email. He’d found me on friends reunited and sent me this:

“I always fancied you at school. Jamie x”

Typical James style. To the point and verging on inappropriate!

I don’t even know why I replied. I was a shy, unsure middle class 19 year old and wasn’t used to this kind of brass upfrontness! Maybe it was the sheer cheek and audacity of the message which made me reply.  Im glad I did though

We met up and were pretty much best friends from that moment on!

Most weekends we spent on train travelling to various parts of the county. Brighton, London and Cambridge featured a lot. We never really did much. Just walked the streets talking, sharing headphones and taking photographs. We were in our own comfortable bubble and didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the world.

We would sometime go to see our heroes – Manic Street Preachers, Pete Doherty, Kings of Leon and other bands we thought were cool at the time  (We Are Scientists, The Bravery, Bloc Party, Mrscruff, Arcade Fire.)

Most of the time James got us into these gigs for free. We posed as photographers and music journalists on many occasions and somehow this worked! James had a wonderful ability to engage with anybody and his cheek and charm ensured he always got what he wanted!

As time went on we both grew up. Life took us in different directions and to different parts of the country. We stayed friends for many more years, Talking daily via email, msn and on the phone. We would meet regularly to moan, laugh and as always, do nothing.

James always looked out for me from when we were teenagers right through to being fully grown adults! No matter what he was struggling with, he found the time and energy. He was always genuine. He would get visibly angry and upset if something had troubled me and would try to do everything in his power to fix it. Conversely, he would be over the moon if good things happened and would share in my happiness.

I wish more people saw this side of him. James was the sort of person you would apologise for before he met your other friends, and probably again after he left. They would think he was a twat, but also ask if he was coming out next time!

This wasn’t the real James though. Just a persona to see if people were worth his time.  James was kind and thoughtful. He had a heart of gold and made friends for life. He was witty, intelligent and funny. My dad taught him to drive and would look forward to his lessons. He enjoyed the honesty and rawness you got with James if you were lucky enough to be let in. I was proud to be his friend and missed him when he wasn’t around.

The last few years we weren’t as close as we had been. I always assumed James would beat these demons and we would go back to the way we were. I miss my best friend all the time. I missed him even before he passed away. I wish we could back to being 19 years old, sitting in Pilgrims Progress just doing nothing.

My memories of James will however be happy ones. Our friendship was a big influence on my life and some of my happiest times. He gave me confidence and taught me to follow my heart and fuck what anyone else thinks. He built me up, bought me out of my shell and showed me what a friendship should be.  I discovered amazing music with him (…….and some shit music……..The Bravery ?!! really what were we thinking). I found out that not following the rules often led to amazing things and that you don’t always have to think before opening your mouth!

James you were my best bud for many years, a huge part of my life and the biggest pain in the arse.

I miss you clart. Try not to piss anyone off on the other side x

 

 

 

The Whirlwind that was

Of course, we are all one of a kind but JamieO was one of those rare finds in life, the true meaning of the saying.

The Jamie I first met in 2007 was a whirlwind of a boy with energy that was both exciting and exhausting to be around. Cheeky, playful, talented and opinionated – he never failed to make me laugh :0)
So many fun times could be had with this one as he was always up for the craik. I remember us organising an office space-hopper time trial course and him being hugely competitive (cheating), us going to the pub a lot and generally having great fun. He was the sort of guy you could rely on to draw a massive cock on your car in the snow!

Jamie’s life on earth was far too short but during his time, there is no doubt that he certainly made a wonderful mark.


Peace out Bunkeroonie.xx

Rain Man: The Musical

Well what exactly were you expecting – a Miltonian epic about the fall of virtue and triumph of sin?

Actually that’s probably exactly what you were expecting. Or at least several abandoned drafts of this, much like the handful of aborted attempts we had to write lyrics, make music and tour toilets before triumphantly headlining Old Trafford and the Emirates respectively (funny story: I no longer support Man U – yes, I know, glory-supporting clint (frequently-used substitute term) – and work a few hundred meters from the Wengerdome). It’s easy to focus on what we didn’t create or have. Even what we didn’t want, or who we didn’t want to become. Society and culture have a long tradition of over emphasis on filling voids.

So what did we have, create, want, become?

We had moments. They may not have been remarkable, purposeful or especially glamorous (I know, hard to believe…), they may have been rooted in the banal, but in banality lies great poetry (sorta one of those things that require a basic grasp of subtext and symbolism, I’m sure you’ll agree).

Our drives on rural C class roads yielded much debate about 3rd division indie, discussion about the politics of our time, mutual agreement on contentious issues that only now seem to be coming to light thanks to the populace gaining a belated form of collective empathy (“we love the winter, it brings us closer together…”), and of course the FLICKING TUNES! By jingo, there were tunes!

You were irritated by my indecisiveness, lack of assertiveness and the probable hypocrisy of my overweight vegetarianism (update: overweight veganism). I, in turn, lamented never being able to finish my own beer (regardless of whose round it was), not being able to finish sentences uninterrupted and your insistence that “Only by the Night” was anything other than unadulterated AOR drivel.

In some ways we were polar opposites in terms of our personalities and surface behaviour. But similar minds seek familiarity, and our friendship was about familiarity, souls, art, poetry, finding the light in the dark clouds…and not being stuck in feckin’ Bruges!

What is my point? Well sadly the dark clouds have been present for a while, and will be persistent little buggers for the time being, but I hope as time passes the light prevails and our friendship can be remembered for that.

Xx

My most literate friend…

Jamie and I knew each other without knowing each other. It was in that way you know there are countries out there, rich, warm and fascinating places that you’ve never been lucky enough to visit. Jamie was another country to me… a place louder, brighter, faster, darker and bolder than I had the courage to be. He was somewhere off my usual tourist map, I wasn’t sure we’d understand each other’s language. But we did.

I can’t remember how it started, chats over making the first cuppa of the day at evolving. Crude jokes, teasing that gave way into meaningful questions about which book I was reading, or a poet I rated. Questions that became discussions on Wilfred Owen or the prequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. He knew about things I loved, really knew about them. And he was original in his opinions and penetrating in his insight. This seemingly wild country was also a place of deep reflection, a well not just of knowledge but of wisdom about the human condition.

He complimented me when I offered some snippet of information on an author I’d stumbled upon somewhere, then floored me with an assessment of that author’s work, illustrating that if I dipped my toe into books, he swam in them. He knew the currents, the pull of the tide. His conversation was a powerful wave crashing over you.

I left evolving. We didn’t really keep in touch for a number of years. Until we did. From time to time we ‘talked literature’ as he called it. When I experienced my own loss he expressed heartfelt sadness on my behalf which was deeply touching. He was there. I can’t claim I understood the inner workings of his country but he seemed to get mine.

I’ve never known a mind like his, and feel the loss acutely that I never will again. I was and always will be in awe of it, grateful for the tip of the iceberg I got to see and so sorry for the ways it was hard for him.

Thank you Jamie for the ‘John Lennon love’, I hope for you it does stretch across the universe ‘like a million eyes calling us on’. Your friend always in ‘brightness and literature’, Natalie x

10 July 2005

That was the day Storm Jamieo (as he was then. Soon he’d drop the “o”, add a Masucci on for a while, and then revert to the more “mature” James) swept into my life.

I guess I didn’t realise what I was in for back then. Life had been pretty mundane really. Oh boy, how that changed. For the next 12 years, my life became anything but.

Summer 2006 was particularly epic. We had the quiet hours spent philosophising about existentialism sat beside the river in Bedford, the loud moments blasting out Babyshambles and Muse tunes in the park. And then the crazy times….

Like when we locked one of our friends in the car boot and drove around town because said friend had got drunk drinking vodka out of a hip flask in the King’s Arms.

Or putting said friend in a Sainsbury’s trolley and then pushing him off the trolley ramp to see if he’d fly in to the river.

Who else remembers that August when James decided to go full skinhead and immediately regretted it?!

That was him all over though. He was never afraid to do anything. And usually whatever he did brought so much laughter to all those who were lucky enough to have him in their lives.

It breaks my heart knowing that I won’t see him again.

Or that I won’t receive another text demanding I learn to play a particularly song on the piano.

Or how I won’t be deafened by another phone call of him playing the guitar to me with the amp dialled up to 11.

But I can’t help but smile when I remember how bad his Nessun Dorma rendition was. Or how he had this incredible ability to include at least one swear word in every sentence he ever spoke.

It wasn’t always pretty. Having James in your life can be a bit of a rollercoaster, but ups and downs are what makes life memorable.

Memories are what makes us who we are.
Memories are what will be left when we’re gone.

And that boy has left so many memories with so many people that he will always remain larger than life in all our hearts.

Sleep tight, you wanker. Don’t go harassing Lennon and Bowie too much. Love always, your China Girl x

Landing On Water

I still think ‘Landing On Water’ is Neil Young’s worst album, despite James’s many attempts to convince me otherwise. I’m listening to it now, as I attempt to commit to the page some thoughts about my sadly and prematurely departed friend. It’s a really crap record. I can’t help but think that James was winding me up. After all, it wouldn’t be the only time.

Neil Young and his vast and varied output was one of the constant themes of our frequent and often lengthy discussions, as was politics, art, books, cooking and the world at large. We mused, conjectured, theorised, challenged, laughed, lamented and argued and I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it.

I was due to visit James in his Wixams flat on Friday 22nd December. I was going to drop off 5 litres of Greek extra virgin olive oil and some vinyl, two things that formed the core of our friendship; food and music.

I texted him the night before to check it was still OK for me to drop round and I was a little perplexed that I hadn’t had a reply. James always replied to text messages.

Then, around noon on the 22nd, I received a call from a shocked Mark Grainger to say that James had been found earlier that morning. Suddenly, my world got smaller and darker.

I first met James soon after he joined Evolving Media. It seems like a million years ago, but in fact it was little more than 10 years. It was our mutual appreciation of Neil Young’s music that got us talking and that’s where our friendship started.

Funny, opinionated, irreverent, humane, friendly, creative, literate, argumentative, fiercely intelligent, hard-working, political and often politically incorrect, James was never far from being at the centre of things. He simply couldn’t be ignored. A bit like Neil, in many ways.

As time passed he proved himself to be a loyal and steadfast friend, irrespective of circumstances. I greatly valued our friendship.

I often was surprised that someone of relatively tender years (certainly when compared to an old bugger like me) could have such nuanced and deep views. He was very well-read and had listened to more music than most people twice his age. Woe betide anyone who underestimated his intelligence and his intellect.

Of course, James drove me mad at times and I bet I am in the vast majority when I say so. But I suspect I’ll also be in the vast majority when I say that none of that mattered, because a bit of irritation from time to time is a very small price to pay for the riches of knowing and being a friend of that singular, vibrant, interesting man, James Bunker.

I’ll miss our conversations. They were an important and satisfying part of the rhythm of my week. They helped to reset things for me and, hopefully, for him too.

My world has got smaller and darker. I really miss him, but James will live on in my memory and, I’m sure, in those of all that were lucky enough to know him. And, every time I hear a Neil Young song, my first thought will be of my dear friend.

Martin Scovell, Sunday 7th January 2018

 

The Wire

“Hi, I’m Jamie. Do you have a nickname yet?”

“Erm…no, why?”

“Ok. You need one. We already have a Stick, but you look like a wirey streak of piss. So we’ll call you Wire. Let’s go for a cigarette.”

And that’s my rough recollection of the day I met Jamie, all perhaps within the first half-an-hour. A rude, obnoxious but somewhat equally charming and friendly character all rolled into one. A walking oxymoron, if you like.

This was my first day at my first new job of my new career. Nervous and somewhat quiet, I actually left that day thinking how well it had gone. People were genuinely nice and helpful, and this odd character had made me feel completely at ease.

This was also the start of a very long friendship. Y’see, I’m not from Bedford. I’d moved here a few years prior from Birmingham (also the source for many of Jamie’s jokes over the years). And as much of that time was spent working from home, socially I wasn’t doing too great. If I’m honest, i probably felt a little bit lost sometimes – despite being happy and having wonderful boys at home.

The start of 2009 was when most things changed, in that regard. Both in need of a bit of a ‘reboot’, we took our first trip into town together…”for a few quiet drinks.” And this is where I saw this dude come alive properly.

He spotted a bunch of girls dressed as bees and other random things. Without any hesitation, he charged us both over there, introduced us all, and we spent the next several hours tagging along, meeting all sorts of people along the way, all without a drop of beer for courage.

And that continued. Every time we’d go out, we’d meet new people. He thrived on the attention, and I loved meeting new people – some of whom I’m still in touch with to this day.

And it’s only really now as I look back at the change in me, my social circles, my confidence and everything else that I realise how much of an impact this guy has had on almost every aspect of my life. Almost everything around me has a link or a story back to the guy. My friends, my work, my daily interactions. All of it.

I’ll shed many more tears for the friend I’ve lost, and he’ll certainly be missed. But I have many things to smile about as I go forward, and he’ll certainly be part of all of that, too.

Rest in peace, dickhead.

Mark x

Something To Remember Me By

I first met James Bunker when I interviewed him for a job at Evolving. He was sparky, enthusiastic and hugely energetic even during the interview and it was a no-brainer to say yes to asking him to join our team.

Over the years we had many nights out and outings with work – and it was always a giggle when Jamie was around!

What happens when you give Jamie and Lech a webcam...
What happens when you give Jamie and Lech a webcam…
James Bunker at "Evolving Rock Day"
Jamie at work – dressed up for “Evolving Rock Day”

More recently in the last 6 years we became closer friends, sharing a love of music, lyrics and poetry and I loved the fact that a conversation with him would never ever be even remotely predictable.

And usually very, very sweary. 😂

He loved a good music gig…

8th July 2011, Ampthill Rocks gig
8th July 2011, Ampthill Rocks gig
24th July 2015 – Ash gig in Bedford

He never gave me a hard time about anything (even if I deserved it) and was always good for a hug. He was an engaging and entertaining dinner guest, and a fabulous cook too.

Feb 2013 - always good for a hug
Always good for a hug

One of my regrets is that I didn’t get to sample more of his cooking.

One of my best decisions recently was going out to a record fair just to say hi to him – even when I didn’t feel like it. He was always worth the effort even when he did my head in.

Love ya Jamie x

Jamie you knobhead, I’m going to miss you so much.

Sweet dreams, darling boy.

Jools

Xxxx

 

 

 

This one’s for you, Jamieo.