Tuesday, 10 March 2015


The afternoon moon.  Photo by me

Hugh was a nice big fella - tall, thin, quiet and unassuming.  I'd met him back in 1983 when I was attending night-classes at my old secondary school (now demolished), and he was one of those people with whom it was immediately easy to get along.  I'd left school at 16 before sitting any Highers, and now I was seeking to redress the oversight by studying for Higher English.  (Passed it.)

However, it wasn't until after we'd sat our exams and night-school was over that Hugh and I became friends rather than just mere acquaintances.  Not the sort of friends who palled about regularly, or who made arrangements to meet up or anything like that.  It was just a case of whenever we ran into one another, we'd pass the time by 'shooting the breeze' and perhaps having a coffee together.  Sometimes he preferred a pint, so we'd find a bar and I would partake of a Coke (in a dirty glass - nothing soft about me), and we'd kill an hour or two in conversation.

The last time I saw Hugh, I treated him to a meal in a local eatery and we reminisced about 'old times'.  We'd only known each other for about seven years or so, so our shared recollections didn't reach back too far, but Hugh was a bookworm and always had something interesting to say.  He was also a book rep, which meant he had a car, so when we'd finished our meal and had a gab, he deposited me at my house and said goodbye.  "We'll do this again sometime," he said.  "My treat."

A couple of months later (or so it seemed), I was reading the 'In Memoriam' column in my local paper and spied a familiar name.  It was the first 'anniversary' of the death of someone's beloved son, and I was surprised to see that the name of the deceased was the same as Hugh's.  Couldn't be him of course, as I'd last seen him only a couple of months back and the poor guy in the paper had been dead for a year.

However, as the day wore on, something gnawed at the back of my mind, and eventually I 'phoned a Glasgow shop which Hugh used to supply with books from time to time.  A guy called Stevie answered and I asked if he knew the book rep named Hugh, and whether he'd seen him recently.  "He's dead," he said.  "Got hit by a bus about a year back."  Thanking him, I put down the 'phone and slowly let the confirmation of my nagging suspicion sink in.

That meant I'd last seen Hugh over a year before, despite it seeming far more recent than that.  I could hardly believe it - he'd been resting in his grave (or his urn) for over twelve months while I, in my ignorance, still trotted about permissively, half-expecting to run into him at any time.  Even after I learned of his death, I'd occasionally see someone in my local shopping centre and absent-mindedly think "Is that Hugh?", ready to call out to him before sadly remembering that he was no longer around.

Funny how quickly time passes, isn't it?  It's now over twenty years since I learned Hugh had died, and it still only seems like a few months since we ate and talked and laughed together, and he dropped me off outside my house with the promise of "doing it again sometime".  Sadly  for Hugh, that "sometime" never came - nor, in fact, for me either.  But who knows?  Maybe one day, perhaps - in another place, another time.

And Hugh - if so, you're buying.


  1. What a sad story, Kid.To be taken so young and so suddenly - it's so unfair. I can just imagine how you must have felt.
    I think we all read the " In Memoriam" columns every week, hoping that we don't see yet another new name we recognise.
    Incidentally, it comes as no surprise to me that you passed your Higher English - from your written eloquence!
    ( But, DSE, if you're reading, just WHAT did you pass? HIGHER Higher English? ) - I tip my hat to the pair of you and would never take either of you on in a debate!!

    1. Huh! I'll 'ave you know that I sat Higher, higher & higher English. So there! Sad to think that Hugh's now been dead for over 24 years. It still only seems like a few short months ago since I last saw him.

  2. Yes, Kid - I agree with John about your excellent writing and spelling. I've got 'O' Level English and I could have done 'A' Level but it was 100 per-cent Shakespeare so I didn't fancy that and chose French, German and History instead. I've mentioned before that my sister died in 1988 aged 19 - next month will be 27 years since her death but I remember her so clearly it seems amazing that it's that long. It's funny to think that if your friend had crossed that road just 30 seconds later he'd probably still be here today - such is fate.

    1. And also such a tragedy to lose a sister so young, Col.I cannot even imagine how you must have felt / still feel.
      Incidentally, it is also quite obvious that you know your way around a sentence, too. In my day, English language and Literature were 2 separate exams, which they should be. Shakespeare? - No thanks!

  3. 27 years, eh? At least she'll be 19 forever in your memory (although obviously you'd prefer if she was still here), so maybe that's some kind of minuscule consolation. As for Hugh, 30 seconds later or 30 seconds sooner, and yes, you're right, he may well have still been here today. Even the hotel bar where we had a meal is now gone, as is the school we attended at night, and the different one in which we sat our exams. Life really is like a puff of smoke.

  4. Sorry to read about Hugh, Kid. Coincidentally I was thinking about a friend who passed away some time ago in his mid thirties just before I read this post.

    I suppose stories like this just emphasize how important it is to make the most of the time we spend with friends.

  5. Too true, DD, but it also emphasizes how important it is to make the most of the time we spend by ourselves. Time is running out for all of us, yet it's the most precious thing in the world.

  6. John, English Language and Literature were separate for me too up till 'O' Level but 'A' Level English was totally Literature. By the way, Kid - that picture of the moon is very nice but does it have a point as regards the post ? Apparently some educational experts say that you mustn't tell young children they can see the moon in daytime as it will confuse them...???

    1. If it had any significance, CJ, I've forgotten what it is. I suspect that, not having a relevant photo, I just used a non-specific one. Incidentally, 'Hugh and I' was the name of a TV show back in the '60s starring Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd. So much for so-called educational 'experts'. What if a kid simply looks up in the daytime and sees the moon for himself?


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