Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Each "Field Day" the whole school [Charterhouse] would usually go off and do a day or weekend's trip outside the school as part of an extended extra-curricular activity. Chris and I were in the Scouts and formed an expedition group with two others, Oli Smith and Guy Parry-Williams. The plan was simple enough - venture scouts would split up into groups of four, navigate a pre-arranged route through the countryside, camp out in tents overnight and return to the school the following day.
Our group decided that we needed to camp somewhere near a pub so we could go drinking during the overnight camping evening. We ended up in Binscombe and chose to camp on either National Trust land (which was prohibited) or some Army training site (which was also prohibited) - I cannot remember which.
After woofing down some baked beans, we went off to the pub and spent the evening drinking Lowenbrau and chain smoking cigarettes. It was impressive that we got served as we were only about 15 years old. For some reason, we had attracted the attention of some local youths. I distinctly remember at the end of the evening that we had to run away from the pub, completely wasted, whilst being chased by locals, in the pitch dark back to our tent hidden on some common land. We fortunately made it in one piece and returned back to Charterhouse the next day with huge hangovers. Our Field trip had been a lot more interesting than anyone else's!
I remember clearly that Christian was very good at PE and running. For one term during our weekly PE class, we were taught by a very temperamental Spanish student who had come over as part of an exchange programme. He was a nice enough guy but his English was terrible.
One day the teacher made the mistake of telling us that he wanted to improve his English as quickly as possible and that we should correct his English if he said something wrong. This was very entertaining because it meant the whole class started commenting on what he said and recited back to him rephrased sentences every time he opened his mouth (to the point that he could not get a word in edgeways). It slowed up class a great deal so we saw it as a great way of getting out of the difficult gym routines we were supposed to undertake. We also taught him some quite questionable English.
Chris unfortunately took it a bit far one day and was sent outside the class for blatantly taking the p*** out of what the teacher was saying but he still came near the top of the class for PE grades that term as he was the only person in the class who could do a handstand and make a decent effort of climbing a rope!
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Picture the scene: Dad has come in from the farm for his lunch...the sun is shining, so he's sitting on the terrace at the side of the house, near to the fish pond. Mum is I don't know where, but presumably on the terrace as well, because she witnessed the result of my dirty deed. I, all innocent, and apparently alone, am standing next to Chris' pram which sits on the slopped path outside the front door (said path leads down to the terrace and the fish pond). Chris is obviously in pram. Can you see where this is going, yet?
Well, in my innocence (I have to keep repeating this) I must have been tinkering with the pram and accidentally let off the brake of said pram. I can't remember seeing the pram, with my brother in it, gently free-wheeling down the path, but I can imagine that I was not that disturbed and probably was giggling at this point. So, pram trundles down the slope, gathering speed (it was quite a slope)....
Meanwhile, Dad wonders what the approaching rumble he hears could be. He asks Mum, 'What's that noise?'. They look round to see pram roll off the slope onto the terrace with a jolt, and see their little darling son launched in the air...
You'll never guess, but Dad has his arms out like a shot and Chris lands safely in his father's arms. Thank God, otherwise I'd have been in real trouble!!
P.S Will add some cute, and embarrassing, pics of Chris when he was a babe to this post soon....
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Apart from being absolutely hysterical – I pissed my pants numerous times with him whether we were in Portugal or playing the cardgame Shithead in Negotiant's café at Edinburgh (somehow Chrissy would always end up 'Shithead' and look aghast at the 'how' of it while Angus, Vicky and I looked on) – Christian V was wicked bass guitar player.
During our second year, Christian, Olly Smith and myself did our bit for the Edinburgh 'student acting scene' by writing and playing the live music for the Fresher's Play. I say we did our bit, but it wasn't for our love of theatre. Rather it was out of our womanising passion - to get our hands on the sexy young chikitas all desperate for starring roles and snogs back stage. I think the single boys of our trio – Christian and myself – had some success, but what fun we had chatting about it and plotting with glee, about which of the fit wannabe actresses we stood chances with, and who should come back to practice their singing role in a private session. God, we were animals! But all in good spirits, I might add.
Still, I just wanted to note that of many memories coming to me, the days of band practice with Chrissy plucking his bass diligently, and playing some fantastic badass riffs, are some of my favourite from that year filled with moments of joking, seriousness and laughs. And need I say it - The Boy Had Talent - I could listen to Chrissy spank that guitar for hours.
"Down with a world in which the guarantee that we will not die of starvation has been purchased with the guarantee that we will die of boredom." - Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution Of Everyday Life
We were out at a dinner party and after a few drinks Chris decided to spice things up and said that for a dare he would drink a bottle of chilli sauce. There was some debate over how he should drink it: drop by drop from the bottle, down it in one from a glass, and which would be worse. In the end we poured the chilli sauce into a wine glass and Chris downed it in one. He then drank loads of beer/wine to put out the flames and as a consequence was shit faced by the time we stumbled back to our flat.
Didn't think too much about it until early the following afternoon when Chris finally surfaced, wandering down stairs rubbing his arse with a very quizzical look on his face, saying that his arse was bloody sore and asking if any of us had buggered him in the night…he was suffering from a Ring of Fire. Still makes me chuckle at the memory of the confused look on his face having completely forgotten his chilli eating exploits.
Anyway, just a little story, but as I say, still makes me smile.
Monday, 7 July 2008
From Michelle (Dow) Clinton - at Edinburgh with Chris:
I like remembering Chris in his big hole on the beach on holiday in Portugal after our finals.
One day we went to the beach . When we arrived most of us lay down and sunbathed, sleeping off the hangovers or reading magazines. But Chris started to dig a hole. A BIG hole. In the end it was so big you could only see his little head sticking out and we had to pull him out. I don't know why but it still makes me laugh.
What a wally.
I came over to Burwash one day in the school holidays and the two of us set off on bikes. It was one of those really fantastic English summers – you know, the type “we never get anymore” …
Anyway, for some unknown reason, after cycling for miles we decided to stop at the side of the road and start a fire. Not sure what was going through our heads. I mean it was the driest day imaginable, and we were on the edge of this huge hay field. Still, we sparked up a little pile of dry leaves underneath a hedge and sat around watching the flames as if it was the first fire ever.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, this car appeared and screeched to a halt. It was a guy from the Water Board. He stomped right up to us and gave us such a bollocking … and we were all “yes sir”, “of course sir”, “never again sir”. But we split our sides when he’d gone.
Always makes me chuckle.
(Pic is of Chris in 2003 just before his African adventure; the map behind him shows his route)
I can't remember it raining on his birthday before, but to be honest since he's been gone this day is always gloomy, even if the sun is shining (I know that Mum and Dad soooo appreciate everyone's thoughts on this day - the cards and flowers).
So anyway, instead of mopping around I thought this year it was about time that some kind of memorial (a rather formal word, I know) should be started to keep Chris's memory alive. I've been needing to do something about this for ages, but have never really known what to do: have a service of remembrance, a get-together or decide on a day and all raise a glass to him at a certain time?
However, two things have happened recently which have forced the issue. I received a lovely email last week from Al (Alistair) Smith, at Holmewood House and Chaterhouse with Chris, sent via my other blog - Round the Water Trough. He told me a funny story about Chris, which always made him 'chuckle' when he thought about it. And it made me laugh too, because I could see that it was such a 'Chris' thing to have done (see the first post above). It also made me cry. Firstly, because I miss Chris so much and want him to be still around, but also because I thought what a wonderfully kind thing it was for Al to have made contact (from Australia) and shared his memories of Chris with me. So that gave me the seed of the idea I've put in place today.
Secondly, I'm expecting my first child in January next year (so only three months gone) and I really want my baby, and hopefully more children along the way, to 'know' Chris somehow. They should know about their gorgeous, adventurous, infuriating, cheeky/naughty, kind and loving Uncle Chris.
Although I'm sure there will be many stories of Chris's 'loveliness', I would also love to hear the 'warts n' all' stories - the ones that would make Mum's hair curl! We (the family) I'm sure know only a little of what Chris got up too - please spill the beans. We know about him stealing the flag off the top of one of Edinburgh's hotels (please someone, write the whole story if you know it), stealing house signs from around the Sussex countryside (Cock Farm was one I knew about), walking along the arm of a crane (or was that a myth?) and being generally a tear-away. At some point, I hope we can compile his ‘9 lives’ because he’s had quite a few near misses along the way – I caused one when he was wee; but more about that another time!
I would also love you to share any photographs you have of Chris.
On a even more personal level (sorry, but this is good therapy!) I have two regrets, which I hope this blog will set right:
- that I emailed Chris before he left for Africa and he never downloaded it and read it...hopefully, what I told him in the email will come through in this blog.
- that he started boarding so young at school and was only around at the weekends, and latterly the holidays. Then I left home, went travelling to Oz and went to Uni and then he did exactly the same thing - only we kept missing each other. The last time we saw each other, I was up from Cornwall for a long weekend. I clearly remember Dad saying to us (we were in the garage doing something - perhaps Chris was pummelling his boxing bag - is that the right word?!) that we should enjoy the weekend because we (Chris and I) didn't see enough of each other: how prophetic.
So, Happy Birthday, Chris. I hope, my darling, that you will see this some time, but, in the meantime, if anyone would like to contribute a 'Tale' then please email me text and some pics (not too higher a res. please), and I'll post them up. And please leave comments, and pass the blog details on to anyone you can think of.
Bye for now.