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