7th July 2005 Terrorists are dickheads. End of.

From the bravecaptain forum, 7th July 2005, che was his username

Today is my first 7/7 without Jamie. He was living on my sofabed in 2005 when it happened and is inextricably bound up in my memories of that day and every anniversary. I think you could say he was collateral damage, a random choice meant that he missed being on one of the bombed trains, but the horror of the bombings brushed so close that he didn’t feel like they had really missed . He was wandering dazed after being let off work early in Camden, unable to get back to Walthamstow because of the tube  shutdown, when I reached home and called to see if he was ok.

I worked at Westminster Abbey at the time and Victoria station was emptied due to a “power surge” as I arrived that morning. There were too many Police sirens from  Scotland Yard, just around the corner, that morning and just before 10.30 one of the Marshals leaned over the Information Desk and said to me “two bombs, two buses”. The horrible news was updated through the day, but visiting seemed to continue as usual. My journey home was a boat from Westminster to Tower Pier, wonderfully calm after such a surreal day, then the train home from Liverpool Street

At first Jamie seemed ok and we spent the evening of the 7th walking around Walthamstow Village, enjoying the lovely summer evening, peaceful, quiet. But then there was the time he called me from the station, the train was arriving and he couldn’t get on. I had to get him on the train: “you’ve got to get on the train, if you’re late you’ll lose your job”, not too gentle, not rough. “Yeah, I can do it, get on the fucking train, just get on the train”. He talked himself onto the train. He moved out in August, living his dream  in Archway in a house share, a better job, having fun in London. Until he just couldn’t do it any more. He went to Bedford to visit his family and on the 5th of December called me: “I’m not coming back, can you clear my room out for me?”

Every subsequent anniversary brought misery at the damage done, the tenth brought tears and anguish. He always took the 7th off and we would talk about it, it ate at him, the scab he couldn’t leave alone. A lovely man eaten up from the inside by the memory of one day in London.

Never a dull moment

As I’m sure everyone who knew him would attest to, there was never a dull moment with James. Whether good, bad or ugly, dull was the one thing it never was.

Not going to lie, I saw plenty of the bad and the ugly, but in hindsight, I feel privileged that he trusted me enough to show me his uncensored dark side, the inner demons that he had to fight every day.

But that’s not the memories I want to write about right now. No, I want to write about the funniest memory I shared with him. One story that I will probably tell for the rest of my life.

This story must be over a decade old now, as it was the time before he got his driving licence. Whenever I visited him back then, he always wanted to show me the Bedfordshire countryside, “because she’s stuck in London and never gets to see the greenery”.

One time, after an unsuccessful trip to the theatre (because he’d been reserved two seats by his friend who was in the play, and he showed up with a 6-strong crowd – late), he decided that he wanted us to go for a drive, with our friend Alex, who was designated driver, by default, as the only one who could drive legally.

After a pitstop outside Wootton Upper School, where James stood outside the gates and screamed out exactly what he thought of them (you can imagine… “fuckers, cunt… etc etc etc”), we ended up on top of a hill – a place I now know was somewhere along the Greenside Ridge.

The view, overlooking Houghton Conquest, was beautiful.

The three of us stayed up there, in the dark, pondering about life for a while.

The clock struck past midnight. It was time to go home…

Except, there was a problem.

Evidently, the ground was soft and muddy – I guess it had been raining during the day; I can’t quite remember. Alex did the usual drill – keys in ignition, engage gears, foot on the pedal.

Plenty of wheel spin, no movement.

“Ah, crap.”

Car was bogged down in the mud.

“Shit. Right, you’re the lightest one. You get in the driver’s seat, foot on the pedal when we say, and we’ll push.” James was always quite quick to give the orders.

“Ok, but you realise I’ve never driven before?”

“Start the engine, put it in first gear, foot on the pedal.”

Let’s ignore the fact the car was a manual.

Let’s ignore the fact I’d never even had a driving lesson, or done my theory test….

I do the rest as I’m told.

*Keys in ignition, start engine,  left hand on gear stick for first gear, right foot on the pedal*

The car dies.

“You fucking dropped the clutch, you cunt!”

“No one told me my left foot had to be on the clutch the whole time I put the car in gear you wanker!” (Like I said, never driven before.)

With clearer instructions, we tried again.

*Keys in ignition, start engine, left foot on clutch while getting first gear, right foot on the pedal, and slowly lift left foot off clutch*

“ARRGHHH fucking stop, you’re covering me in mud!!”

It took me a little while to hear his screaming. Evidently, it was the right back wheel of the car that was stuck. Only the right. Which meant that James got a load of mud all over him from the wheel spin while Alex got out clean.

If I recall correctly, he did get covered a fair bit!

In the end, we had to be rescued by James’ mum, who kindly drove up to us with a tow rope, despite having endured a long evening at work. She felt quite sorry for me when I said it was my first driving experience and the car didn’t even bloody move!

A decade on, this remains my only driving experience.

2013: James and the Legendary Elstow Barbecue

James and Megan Ellis were living in  a lovely cottage called Roselea in Elstow in 2013 and this was the site of the Legendary Barbecue featuring next door’s dalmatian.

The gang were all there -Berni and Sean, Steve, Alex and myself and the weather was good. The cottage had a gas-powered barbecue in the garden – none of that frustrating nonsense of  waiting around for the charcoal to get hot enough, the food was cooked beautifully in no time under the expert hand of Jamie.

As always, Jamie was on excellent terms with his neighbours and when the woman who lived next door popped her head over the fence to say hello he invited her to join us. She pointed to her dog but a chorus of “bring the dog too” convinced her to come round.

As you’d expect, the dog was very good-natured and loved Jamie’s cooking. I think the dog was a fella, and he also took a liking to a red and white tea towel I’d got hold of. With just a shake of the tea towel in his direction the dog was tempted, and fastened his teeth round it and wouldn’t let go, much to our amusement. In fact, the dog was so keen on the towel that it got ripped!

Spotting an opportunity for more fun, Jamie tempted the dog with the tea towel himself and once he’d established that the dog really wouldn’t let go, he took things to the next level.

The friendly Dalmatian took that bait and when he had a good grip on the tea towel, Jamie started turning in a circle, stepping faster until I swear the dog’s feet left the ground! Picture if you can our James, not quite a stripling, with the determined Dalmatian and a mouthful of red and white tea towel, moving through the air as if flying! We were all in hysterics, really couldn’t believe the dog’s tenacity, and I don’t think I’ve seen Jamie laugh so much ever. The tea towel didn’t survive I’m afraid and sadly there are no photographs that I’m aware of. I think they’d probably be a bit blurry if there were any, caused by beer and laughter.

Wish You Were Here

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell
Blue sky from pain?

Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?

Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

How I wish,
How I wish you were here
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year.

Running over the same old ground
What have we found
The same old fears,
Wish you were here.

And death shall have no dominion

…a poem by Dylan Thomas

And death shall have no dominion.

Dead man naked they shall be one

With the man in the wind and the west moon;

When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,

They shall have stars at elbow and foot;

Though they go mad they shall be sane,

Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;

Though lovers be lost love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.

Under the windings of the sea

They lying long shall not die windily;

Twisting on racks when sinews give way,

Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;

Faith in their hands shall snap in two,

And the unicorn evils run them through;

Split all ends up they shan’t crack;

And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.

No more may gulls cry at their ears

Or waves break loud on the seashores;

Where blew a flower may a flower no more

Lift its head to the blows of the rain;

Though they be mad and dead as nails,

Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;

Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,

And death shall have no dominion.

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:


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.