I was going to post about last Friday's KUNST but I'm not in the mood for it. I've been feeling numb and cold and a bit unreal since hearing yesterday evening about the death of a great friend of both me and TSB. Today it's sinking in a little more.
B died suddenly over the weekend. He was in his early 40s, apparently in fine health, recently (last couple of years) moved in with a good partner after many not-so-good partners. The partner came home from work on Friday and found B slumped dead in front of the computer. Presumably something cardiac; I don’t think anyone knows yet.
B was my partner’s friend for years before I met him. At that time, he was a nurse. He’d moved to London a while before and the summer me and TSB got together (1995) we came down for Pride and spent a couple of weeks in the city (B insisted we lodge in his bedroom while he took the couch). I think it was that summer that convinced me I wanted eventually to move south: in my memory, it's a haze of sunlight (on the strikingly sunflower-gold walls of B's small flat; we later stole the colour when we painted our living room), the smell of baking pavements, a hugely exotic (to me) gay scene, Britpop at its height and glorious daytime boozing in Soho and Camden and King's Cross with B's seemingly vast and diverse social butterfly network of friends, neighbours, admirers, ex-shags, future shags and acquaintances. All of it tinged, naturally, with the rush of my being in the first giddy flushes of love.
B was the first gay Londoner I’d met and initially his combination of metropolitan archness (at times, frankly, screaming campness), gregariousness and fearless confidence intimidated the hell out of me. He was HIV+ve too, that was acknowledged but only ever talked about obliquely. As far as I know (and I don’t know much), he must’ve been diagnosed in the early ‘90s. I always got the impression he was faintly surprised - but delighted - at having lasted so long, and embraced life accordingly. He certainly seemed to do phenomenally well on whatever therapy he was taking. I’ve no idea whether his HIV status is anything to do with his sudden death.
Talking about him in the past tense is strange. It’s still difficult to believe I won’t see him again. His Facebook page mentions his November trip to Berlin with his partner, and his most recently-tagged pics are all cosy domesticity, watering plants and dozing on the settee with his large fluffy cat sprawled beside him. His latest status update is “[B] is bolloxed”. I reckon he’d probably have liked that.