How can I describe to you my friend Gerry? I've known him half my life. There’s so much of Gerry that I could tell you about, that whatever I say could never do him justice.
Gerry has been so many things to me, the word ‘friend’ just doesn’t cover it. Very few people understood the relationship Gerry and I had. I met him when I was 16 and he was in his early sixties. We were regular fixtures down our local pub, and nightclubs for that matter. He revelled in the attention we'd attract, and the speculation over what a sixty-something man was doing in a nightclub with a load of teenagers. He was my best friend and watched me go from one teenage catastrophe to another without ever saying “I told you so". He'd let me make my own mistakes and be there to pick up the pieces when things inevitably blew up in my face. People often expect you be something you’re not in life, but Gerry didn’t think like that. He accepted people, and he either liked you, or he didn’t.
I’ve never met anyone like him. Champion ditherer and mischief maker, impatient, loyal, generous, and waging a constant battle against his own eyebrows. Master of the perfect egg and chips and falling magnificently when drunk.
There was once an incident at Loch Ness involving a bright yellow JCB, which was parked up for the night next to Urquhart Castle. It had been left with its lights on and was the only thing visible for miles in the darkness, but the dozy old sod still managed to fall over it and land in the bucket, pissing himself laughing and rubbing his sore backside.
There was a notorious summer when he fell asleep on his side in the sun, sustaining one burnt arm, one burnt leg and one burnt butt cheek. One half of him was a deep crimson and the other drip white, separated by a clear line that ran neatly down the centre of his face.
We used to drive out into the countryside in the summer. We’d put music on loud and I’d stick my feet out of the passenger window and we’d drive for miles. His hair would fly out of the open windows as we drove along and he never failed to trap it when he closed the sunroof, not realising this until he tried to get out of the car, and finding that he was stuck there. At which point he normally hurled abuse at himself in the form of “Bloody fool Ryan!”
He hasn't quite been the old Gerry I know and love over the past few years but he was still my friend and so much more than that. His mischievous side now manifested itself in the form of getting thrown out of shops for being rude to people, blaming everyone else, and his own car, for his now terrible driving and barging old ladies trolleys out of the way in Morrisons. He felt it was his right and privilege to be cantankerous in his old age, and he took full advantage of it.
Gerry died on the 7th June 2011, aged 76, with me at his side and his son and girlfriend, who are also my best friends in the world. We may not have been the most conventional of units but we are a family in our own way. We watched the paramedics drag Gerry out of his flat and work on him relentlessly all the way to the hospital, but we knew he had gone. He had phoned his son for help that morning and hung on just long enough for us to get there. In the chaos and panic and in his weak state, he managed to look each of us in the eye before he slipped away.
We said goodbye to him as he would have wanted, with a wreath that was a pint of beer, playing Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks and Imagine by John Lennon, acknowledging his scouser routes, and the final insult as the curtains closed around his coffin was Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by The Monty Python team, just as he'd always requested. A few nights later in the early hours, I took his wreath down to the beach, set fire to it and pushed it out into Gerry's beloved Morecambe Bay, which is where his ashes will be scattered.
I don’t know how my life would have turned out if it hadn’t been for Gerry. He brought so much wisdom and fun and mischief into my life and he understood me probably better than anyone back then. I still can't quite believe he's gone. He was one in a million and there’ll never be another like him, some would say that’s probably a good thing!
I love you Gerry, and I’ll miss you so much my old friend. Rest in peace x x x