We are now back after a traumatic couple of weeks. Having survived the inquest, we then found that several newspapers had published an incorrect report of the proceedings. We have spent the last week trying to sort this out, and are pleased that both the Daily Mail and Bucks Free Press have amended their reports and also included a link to the Justgiving page on their web pages. The Daily Mail has also donated to Save the Children in Russell’s memory.
The idea of giving to someone less fortunate than yourself is a fitting way of introducing this week’s piece. Many of you will remember that in the spring of 2012, Russell and four friends, Kaley, Kieran, Hannah and Joel, travelled across the USA. Their trip started in southern Texas, and they travelled through Louisiana, Tennessee, and Missouri to Chicago, with the inevitable adventures on the way.
This is how it all began…….
It’s been a tough and tiring week or so, and definitely easy to start to feel miserable and dwell on our loss. The way I’ve found my way through it all is with sporadic anecdotes, which are simply unavoidable when you’re talking about a character as large as Russell’s.
A couple of months ago one of these came up casually and Rose wanted to hear about it. It is way easy to let life and work and the petty things get in the way, and I confess that I managed to do that here. But, I’ve got my head out of my arse and remembered how much Russell’s family, and indeed we all, need to keep sharing even the smallest of stories – after all, we are luckier than most to have had someone in our life who generated so bloody many.
When we went road tripping around the states, we stopped and spent a night on Galveston Island, Texas (I can’t really remember why, it was a run down, hurricane blitzed seaside resort – Joel/Hannah/KB?). It was April 2, 2012. Most of our friends will have had the chance to share a ‘Patron’ with Russell and it was this island that saw his introduction to it. The boys met a rather strange Mexican dude and ended up on the Patron in a gay bar (we had uncharacteristically gone to bed early). I think the new friend very much wanted to share our hotel room and the boys had to do a runner…?
Most people might allow themselves a lie in the next day, but not Russell. Up at 5am and off to find the nearest petrol station, none of us were particularly impressed (5 of us in a room often led to some grumpy shouting – this time I think it was Hannah). Not really ever afraid of bugging the people he loved, Russell managed to get us all up and off for a stroll down a miserable and windy pier, just ahead of Hurricane Ike.
We had refueled by the sea with a beer and packed up the car ready to get to New Orleans when Russell started talking to a homeless man, leaving an impatient me rolling my eyes and stamping my feet – I wanted to get going, and I was way too used to him talking to everyone and anyone. BUT, this homeless man had a CHIHUAHUA PUPPY! We forgot about New Orleans and bourbon and jazz bars – CHIHUAHUA PUPPY! We all got fully involved, holding him and talking to the man about his life, ‘Nam, Texas and the island. Russell was a huge dog fan and it was quite cute to see a grown man cooing over such a tiny thing.
So, we gave a our couple of bucks change to the man, wished him well and all perked up and ready for our next adventure we got in the car ready to go.
“OH FOR F###’s SAKE!”.
“What? What’s wrong?
“Gave him $20 didn’t I? You reckon he’ll give it back?”