RIP, Toffee

This blog would not live up to its name if it failed to mention a death in the local bohemian community. So here goes.

In the last week or so, the sudden deaths of two young men featured in the local media. The death of one frequently and prominently, the other just marked by a brief police acknowledgement that a body had been found in unexplained circumstances.

The first was a modern celebrity, of the kind who seem able to be famous just for being famous, rather than for remarkable achievements. He achieved that fame off-island after appearing in a notorious TV reality show. Prior to that, on-island he was mostly known as the clueless offspring of a particularly obnoxious and anal entrepreneur, with all the uniquely Manx problems such kids have. Thankfully, I never had to meet him, but over the years have observed many such losers at close quarters.

Still, while he moved solely amongst people nobody of taste wants to meet, and did things which were the source of no delight or amusement to me personally, those who put up with him rather than lived off him deserve at least as much public sympathy now as they needed during his life.

The second young man I never knew by his real name, so at first the police report rang no bells. But he too was a human with friends, family, talent and life interests. If truth be told, the real tragedy is that while he had considerably more talent and imagination than his better known mortuary mate he lacked ways to use or express it.

He was an optimistic if under-employed musician of the kind found around any UK city music studio but rarer over here. Always claiming to be close to a big deal or break, he was a regular busker – and not too successful at that either.

Many Sundays he could be found with the ‘regulars’ at a free lunch for homeless and otherwise dispossessed people. He presented with the early symptoms of schizophrenia, probably needed help from the mental health services which he never got, and instead had only the informal network of a few others in similar straits and old school bohos like me who live as outside the law as possible.

His funeral was today – a private affair for those classy or privileged enough to know him. It will not be written up for the press, and there will be no public obituary, because we of real taste and wit do not lower ourselves to such kitsch. We leave all that to Sunday lawn-mowers, car-washers, and all the others Saint Jeff memorably dismissed as having pebble-dashed brains.


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