I don’t know if it’s ever really sunk in that Andy died. I remember I got the call on Father’s Day. My brother and sister had flown back for the weekend so we could all be together. It was two weeks since my mum had died, and we scattered her ashes in the garden.
I went to the beach by myself, relieved to finally remove a layer and expose my arms – it was a hot summer and to this day my dad still thinks I’m a tattoo-free zone. I sat on a rock and looked out to sea. I maybe cried for Andy, but I’m not even sure any more. It felt too incomprehensible, I think.
After I got back to Scotland, Leonard and I hitch-hiked down to London so I could attend the funeral. I figured hitching there was a suitable tribute to Andy and plus I donated the money I saved on travel to the campaign he supported.
I guess being at the funeral put things in some sort of perspective. But I also think I was kind of on autopilot. I mean, I was doing the best I could, and I was trying to stop analysing my feelings every five minutes: how are these bereavements affecting me, am I dealing with them the ‘normal’ way, how do I incorporate them into my life and keep going? I still talk of Andy a lot; I guess I see him as a role model as well as a friend.
And here’s where I always feel weird telling this story, because it goes from ‘my friend died and that was fucked up’ to ‘and then I got drunk and went out and got off with somebody random’. You know?
So yeah, at the wake I drank a lot of alcohol and didn’t eat very much, and then Leonard and I decided to take our leave and go to Soho, to some bar called Trash Palace that #130 had recommended to us, and then to some other bar in a basement somewhere. I remember sitting in the middle of the place; I think I stayed there the whole time while Leonard went and got the drinks. #163 was sitting next to me, we were talking, and eventually we were making out. It’s blurry as hell, but seemed okay. When the place closed, his friends fetched his wheelchair from the corner and I staggered around vaguely offering help that wasn’t needed. It was raining, I think. We headed to his car – in stark contrast to me, he hadn’t been drinking – and he dropped us off round the corner from my sister’s place.
“Whoa,” Leonard and I said to each other, dusting ourselves off and just about ready to go inside. And then he realised he’d left his bag in #163’s car. “Wait, he maybe gave me his number,” I said, racking my brains to remember the past hour or so. I searched in my phone and managed to summon #163 back. This enabled me to get off with him some more, while Leonard got busy with his two friends in the back seat. It was not the most discreet of endeavours – I think at least one door was still open and there were passers-by. I got hickeys.
In the morning, friends of Andy’s gave us a lift to Bristol, and then someone from the Anarchist Teapot, on his way to cater at the G8 protests with a large supply of organic vegetables, picked us up and took us to Glasgow.
And that was it. Back in Scotland. Back to work. Wondering if all this stuff had really happened, struggling to believe – or not believe – that these two people I loved were really dead.