My best mate since I was seven years old texted me last Friday from Ireland asking me to call him. This type of request is never good news and sure enough it was not. His father Terry had recently been diagnosed with cancer and although last week they were discussing treatment, today he was told he had a week or so to live. Arrangements for a hospice or a home visit had already begun and Karl felt that I should know. It was a bit of a shock, there is so little you can actually do when news like this filters through from home. Karl and I chatted for about 30 minutes, mostly about our time growing up together and the adventures we had on the housing estate. I forgot how good it was to connect with my old friends from home. The laughter comes so easy and it feels like I’ve never left. After we said our goodbyes and promises to stay in touch a little better, my mind slowly went back to Terry and the role he played in my life. He was my best mate’s dad, which meant he witnessed a lot of me growing up. Like all kids, Karl and I ignored all his advice. We always found new and interesting ways to piss him off. Mostly it was the noise Karl and I made screaming, shouting and laughing, due in part I would presume to some type of undiagnosed hyperactivity disorder we both shared. We spent hours recording ourselves on blank tapes, putting on silly voices and comedy routines. Karl found a way to crack the tape recorder open and interfere with the motors allowing us to speed up or slow down our voices. Yes, this was a long time before the phone apps that can do such things now. We were old school idiots.
When I was thirteen my family left the housing estate and moved to a town a mile away. Every weekend or so I’d return to hangout with Karl and of course his father. Terry was unemployed for most of the time I knew him and I’d always find him sitting at the kitchen table playing The Beatles on his guitar or in the sitting room watching TV, Star Trek mostly. Terry, I’m sure like all fathers, was a pain in the arse from time to time to those around him but I loved hanging out with him. It was Terry who made me listen to Jimi Hendrix on original Vinyl for the first time. He showed me a few of my first guitar chords and bombarded me relentlessly with tapes upon tapes of Beatles albums and songs, all pirated of course. In a way he forced my musical taste in a direction he felt best, away from my parents and over to his. His only failures were The Eagles and Eric Clapton, as much as I liked them I never grew to love them.
Karl was kicked out of high school and decided it best to gain employment instead of trying again at a different school. Long story short, he finally stood up to (attacked with a hammer) a bully in woodwork class. He got a job on Irish Ferries and married a girl he met through a coworker on the ship. I stayed in school and went to college to study Engineering, a subject I romanced about liking but never truly did. Karl worked a week on the ship and then had a week off. Our meet-ups now became a twice monthly trip to the Racecourse Pub in Baldoyle which was walking distance from the housing estate. We’d sit in the same seat that looked out into the car park and talk about our favorite subject, Science Fiction. A good half hour before closing time (11.30) a small white Toyota Starlet would pull into the car park and Terry would hop out. He’d join us for last orders and we’d talk about whatever he wanted to talk about. Mostly The Beatles and Star Trek, that was fine with me. In Ireland at the time, a bell would be rung ten minutes before the bar closed and that was the signal to buy two or more beers. It was over these rushed beers that conversations heated up. Who was a better guitarist, Mark Knopler or Eric Clapton? Alien or Aliens? The Wrath of Khan or The Undiscovered Country? Why I liked Pink Floyd and hated the Eagles? Silly pointless arguments of no real value but utterly enjoyable. Time gents PLEASE! We’d cram ourselves into his tiny beat up car and drive back to his house listening to, you guessed it, The Beatles. His guitar was brought out and The Beatles would be played (of varying quality) into the small hours of the morning in the kitchen. Those nights were some of the main things I missed the most when I left Ireland.
A few hours after our conversation I got a text from Karl letting me know that Terry had passed away at 5.30pm. At first I felt nothing, they were just some words on a cell phone screen. It’s hard to take news like that, especially when you’ve never experienced it before. The office was empty, everyone else had gone home for the day. I had a little moment at my desk and when I recovered I walked outside and waited for the Q39 bus to take me home. I listened to my iPod and realized that a lot of it was filled with music that was influenced by him. I think there was even an Eagles album or two. Terry you bastard, even from beyond the grave you got to have the last word.
Abbey Road was his favorite album, although it took him over an hour to come around to answering that question one night. I’m posting this below for Terry Moles and all the happy memories I have of him. Who knows what awful noise I’d be listening to, or worse, singing on stage if it wasn’t for him. A gentleman, kindness and love, I am a better person for having known him.