The Great Gig In The Sky

Yesterday, our friend Paul passed away, following his battle with cancer. I say our, but I can’t speak on behalf of everyone who’s life was touched by this wonderful human. I won’t write too much, but I wanted to share two stories, if I may, which are perfect examples of why we all feel this way about him.

When our first son was born, Paul arrived at our house three days later, in his spine-cracking, toot-toot, Toad-of-Toadhole Caterham. He delivered some flowers to Mrs Pause, a four-pack of beers and cigars for me, and a gift for the newborn. Instead of the usual baby-booties, sleepsuit and other paraphernalia provided by the unimaginative, it was a CD. It was a copy of ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC. Upon staring at my quizzical and sleepless face, he said “Personally, Ben? I think it’s really important that he can answer the “what was your first album?” question with a really fucking solid response….don’t you?”

The second is more poignant and pertinent to today. When he married his beautiful wife Julia, in Chipperfield on a wonderful August Saturday, rather than the traditional fanfare, they exited the church to the anthemic ‘Do You Realize?’ by The Flaming Lips, and we friends in the pews exchanged knowing smiles, nods and shared in their joy. However, Wayne Coyne’s words strike the chord I wish I could:

“Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face?

Do you realize we’re floating in space?

Do you realize that happiness makes you cry?

Do you realize that everyone you know, some day, will die?

But instead of saying all of your goodbyes…..

Let them know you realize that life is fast,

Its hard to let a good thing last,

You realize the sun doesn’t go down….

Its just an illusion caused by the World spinning round”

When my brother and I saw him only a few weeks ago, he did exactly that. He held us, told us not to be silly, stop crying and get on with living our lives. And he thanked us for being in his, while we cried on his shoulder. He made us realise.

Paul, I hope you’re smiling on us, shaking your head slowly, raising one of those enigmatic eyebrows, and telling us we’re being daft sods for grieving for you. And more importantly, I hope you’re now directing the great gig in the sky.

 

For Julia, George and Archie. x

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13 comments

  1. Bruce Webb · November 23, 2012

    If we are talking stories well I think there are too many to choose from so I’ll tell the first one I ever had about Paul.
    We had known each other at school but not very well, and we both went to what was to be our first proper house party with booze, fags and girls. Aged 15.
    Paul and I clocked each other at the table where the booze had been left and realised there was a sense of camaraderie as we filled our pockets with other people’s beer – neither of us were stopping each other. Paul went one step further and started swigging Vodka like it was water. The table ran dry and I drunkenly went out to buy some Hoffmeister (I had a beard at 15 so this was very easy for me)
    On the way back I managed to slip over in dog shit which went all up one my trouser legs…I was then established amongst the girls as the boy who smells of dog shit.
    I went and sat gloomily in the back garden, only to find Shyvers sitting there with sick all down his chin, mouth, shirt and legs – he had exploded in vomit.
    We sat on the garden wall and drank the Hoffmeister…. him stinking of puke and me smelling of dog shit and ruminated and laughed about fate, love and life. Our cheerful idiocy was firmly established and continued all through our lives.

    That rumination and laughter has now stopped, and frankly Im devastated.

  2. Jim Parsons · November 23, 2012

    That was the Paul I knew and loved.

  3. ian newman · November 24, 2012

    honestly i dont really know what to say…im just shocked..the last convo you and james had with him really summed up the type of bloke he was …just terrible it has been cut short like this….rip mate…

  4. James Collett · November 24, 2012

    What great stories. Miss you Paul x

  5. Bruce Webb · November 24, 2012

    Paul’s funeral is to be held on Friday 7th December at 2pm at St Mary’s Church in Wendover.

  6. Redlilocks {Swoon Worthy} · November 24, 2012

    I obviously didn’t know your friend as I’ve come here from Twitter but what a touching post (I got all teary I admit). He sounds like an amazing person, how lucky for you to have had someone like that in your life. I love the first album story. I’m going to remember that, it’s brilliant. So sorry for your loss… Peace x

  7. Zane Lowe · November 24, 2012

    Thank you Ben. Its good to share stories of the great man. Right now there are so many racing thru my mind. He is the one of the finest people I have ever known. He was my best man at our wedding. Well, to be fair, he was the only man at our wedding but he was the man. He stood firm steadying my nerves, looking wild and woolly like he had returned from a filming assignment in Borneo strictly for the occasion. On that day, he was the most grown man I knew. That will always be Paul for me. A proper man. He knew about stuff. He taught you stuff. And he was really into stuff. His passion for who he loved / loves and what he loved to do was a huge inspiration. Basically, he had his shit together and on the odd occasion when he didn’t, it was a very deliberate celebration of ‘not having your shit together’. Because a real man knows that its important sometimes to let go. And now, with great sadness, we must all do the same. We share in your grief guys, and we also share in the privilege of knowing and loving a brilliant brilliant man. Love to all. Zane and Kara.

    • James Collett · November 28, 2012

      Well said sir x

  8. Andy Connell · November 24, 2012

    I first met Paul at a St Helen’s School play. Although we were only 6, he was (inevitably) performing in it. On returning to his seat he stepped on my Mum’s broken foot – somehow he talked his way out of the situation with his easy charm and toothy grin.

    We were instant friends, his devil-may-care attitude to rules, danger and consequences made everyday an adventure. He was the Eric Morecombe to my Ernie Wise. As George – his beloved Grandfather always put it – Paul leads them into the scrapes and Andrew leads them out. What scrapes they were – starting as boyish nonsense and progressing into booze, girls, cars and all sorts of shenanigans.

    Whether it was uncontrollable giggles in church or hitch-hiking to Paris (not sure we ever owned up to that one), it was the joy of exploring the boundaries of what was possible, no matter how implausible or inappropriate, that made being Shyvers’ side-kick such a pleasure.

    All of the adventures of childhood and youth were with Paul, he was a great buddy. The best bits of the man I am now come from the lessons we learned together all those years ago, just mucking around, doing “boys stuff”. He led and I loved following.

    Life with Paul was always a gas, his friendship was the gift that just kept on giving – happiness, entertainment and laughter. A great man, a great mate, a great life.

    Thanks Pablo for being you and making me. I love you and will always cherish the time we had together. I am so sorry that life was taken from you and that you were taken from us. Our lives are so much richer because you shared yours with us.

    All my love,
    Mr C

  9. Mark Wright · November 28, 2012

    I heard about Paul yesterday. I haven’t seen him in years but have very fond memories from our days at school. I hear Paul continued to be a very popular guy, went on to become a successful director, enjoyed his racing and has a lovely family. None of which surprises me.

    My lasting memory of Paul is a mop of hair at the back of the Great Hall banging on the drums to the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie”. Amongst the noise & chaos, Paul’s expression would be an incredible mixture of concentration and ear to ear grinning. For me this characteristic mixture sums up Paul. He was without doubt one of life’s good guys. Keep banging those drums Shyvers!

  10. Andy Iwaszko · November 30, 2012

    I heard the shocking news yesterday. I too haven’t seen Paul for many years yet the memories I have of him will remain ever vivid.

    I first knew Paul when we were amongst the few boys at St. Helens pre-prep where the novelty of being chased by dozens of girls at playtime ran contrary to the way we approached things when we met again as teenagers. I recall the first time Paul and I were given ‘lines’ to write for committing some misdemeanour or other and I naïvely wrote an essay explaining why “I must not…”, however Paul seemed to know the drill already and was finished long before me.

    After we met again at Taylors and then both joined the boarding house at the same time, I like to think we brought a different approach to boarding. I can recall several nights where a group of us would go off to explore the tunnels under the school (nearly scaring the life out of the kitchen girls when we emerged from under the floor on one occasion!), climb up on to the school roofs or go and relax by the lakes or golf course to enjoy an illicit ciggie and drink. Then there’s the time that four of us stood in a row attempting to look casual whilst blocking Mrs Cole’s view of the carpet that I’d just set fire to!

    Paul’s joie de vivre and exuberance were only exceeded by the brightness of his cheeky smile and warmth of his friendship. As more memories of music and laughs (he introduced me to King Kurt, SOD…) come back from just the short time I knew him, I thought to share some of them here for the smiles they still bring me.

    One of the last times I saw Paul, I’d come back to the Manor on my puny 50cc FS1E and at the end of the evening Paul held onto my shoulder as I towed him unsteadily on his bicycle from Moor Park back to Kewferry. An interesting experience and one I always wish I could have seen as a bystander.

    Fare thee well Shyverbilly.

  11. lodge28 · December 3, 2012

    Wonderful words Ben, Paul sounded like a great man and an epic laugh and someone who lived life to the max. x

  12. richard "Dicky' Scollard · December 8, 2012

    I met Paul at MTV in the mid 90s, me starting out vision mixing and him starting out Directing. I was drawn instantly to this warm, witty, intelligent and charming buffoon. I recognised Paul’s talent not only in Directing TV but in inspiring the people about him and infecting us all with his passion and drive. He helped me become what I have today and helped me push the bar. Paul, I wish I could have been there at St Mary’s on friday to say goodbye, but things would not permit, though I thought of you constantly.
    I tried something new that day and dedicated it to you in your honour. You taught me so much old friend and I loved being your ‘monkey’ to you the ‘organ grinder’! You gave me so much confidence to do what I do and I truly miss you, though I’m so happy I had the greatest privilege to call you friend.
    Rest in Peace dear boy, I love you and will always hold you dear.
    Wishing much love to Julia and the boys and all those who’ve been blessed to know the Great Man. Love Dicky xx

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