Road Trip for Chud

 

19-02-2017

Chuds order of service

Chuds order of service

For the best of reasons, for the worst of reasons, old friends gathered to celebrate the life of an old friend, Richard Miles Wilson, or ‘Chud’ as he was  known to a certain crowd that long since grew up and became sensible. To revert to the names we used when we called Crown road home, P Dog, Billy Boy, Roly, Monetta, and the Wolf, aka Ramdog, drove up to Wales together, among many others that had made the trip from far and wide to pay their respects. P Dog being the only one not to have lived at number 18 Crown road, but spent as much time there as any that had. Chud had the box room during his tenure at that happy bungalow, around 1996/7, and at the time I was a tad restless about my lot in life, and took a psychometric assessment to see where it might lead. When I got the results, Chud suggested a media course he’d been reading about, at Northbrook College, Goring. I went along for an interview, and got on the course for the 1997-98 terms.  Britpop was all the rage, with Blur, Oasis, Pulp, The Verve, Ocean Colour Scene knocking out classics, the film Trainspotting, and it’s Welsh version, Twin Town came out. Music, films, and computer games played a major part in our lives, studying the subject seemed to validate the importance of watching as many movies as possible. The computer games and cards brought out the competitive child in all of us, PGA Golf, Wrestling, or Worms, on the Sega Mega Drive, and Sega Rally Championship, Sega Knights with its clown ball, on the Sega Saturn, all played in a highly animated fashion, to the great amusement of the rest of us waiting our turn.

The card games are probably what defined Crown Road above all else though, and Shithead for Tea was ‘The’ game. A game of deviousness, deception, cunning, and from certain quarters, cheating, you didn’t want to lose at Shithead for Tea, because there were generally as many as 13 players, and that’s a lot of tea to make. Not every game was for tea, but when the call went up, there would be chewing of nails, and furtive glances around between the established cheats, namely, Roly and Guzzi, but others were not averse to the occasional sliding of an unwanted card down the side of one of the sofa’s. The game of Shithead is not designed for finding a winner, it’s all about the loser, and trying not to be the last one standing, and Chud, like me, loved the fact that you could actively work towards stitching someone up, even delaying your own exit so you can have fun sealing someone else’s fate, especially when it’s for tea. The Horse Racing card game was the liveliest, as the banker would give commentary on the progress of the Aces as they race to the top depending on whether their suit had been drawn from the pack. All the penny jars came out for Horse racing, with bets limited to 20p, and occasionally raised up to a pound, should the banker permit. Imagine looking down on a round rug, with 3 sofa’s, and two armchairs, ashtrays all over the place, the stairs acting as extra seating for a big attendance, and everyone cheering on their ace, or holding heads in hands as their ‘horse’ struggles to get off the mark. These were the things that amused us all at 18 Crown Road.

Of the many things that Chud introduced us to, was the word ‘cutch’, or ‘cwtch’ as it’s spelt in Welsh apparently. We all liked a good hug, especially on one of our many excursions into Brighton, to the Escape Club, so when Chud informed us this hug would be called a cutch in Wales, it stuck, along with silly Welsh accents, sayings, and whatever else childish word play we could think of. A cutch wasn’t just a hug though, it would be a form of bear hug, a deep feeling, hold on tight, let that loving out, full on way to let the recipient know that they’re better than all right.

I have a tape recording somewhere, of Chud, Billy, Zac, and Roly, after a pub session at the Cricks one weekend. As was their wont, they would often come through the door play fighting, normally Roly and Zac, but now and again anyone else in the immediate vicinity could become involved. As they bundled their way through in to the lounge, smashing in to the phone table under the stairs, I happened to have my camera at the ready, taking snaps of these precocious youths, unbeknown to all of us at the time, the voice recorder had been activated, so I have this priceless moment recorded for posterity. All I need to do now is find a way to get it digitised, and upload it. I remember one line from Billy, like, ‘Zac’s got his finger up my nose’, you couldn’t help but laugh at them.

Crown Road post pub bundle

Crown Road post pub bundle

 

As we drove up to Swansea, story after story being recalled, a good deal of them unrepeatable here, the journey seemed to zip by. On arrival at the Travelodge, we began seeing old familiar faces from that bygone era, and knew that the memory of Chud had weaved its magic, but for the worst possible reason. This day was to be a celebration though, so no sour faces, just walk around, share your stories, and listen to the others. When Chud’s brother, Si, asked me if I would be a pall bearer, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so honoured, and of course I took up the offer without hesitation, if not a little concerned as to whether they would have someone else as short as me to line up with. P Dog had told me of his uncle’s funeral, where he had been a pall bearer, but was a foot taller than all the others, so he had to bend himself in to shape for the job, top hat and all. Needless to say, it went fine.

Next to his picture on the front of the Order of service was:- Richard Miles Wilson: 6th June 1974 – 21st January 2017. Star sign: Taurus, with Mars ascending, although he believed astrology to be utter nonsense.

The service was a masterpiece by Chud’s family, beginning with his 13 year old daughter, Sophia, reading, ‘He Is Gone’, some lines of which were,

‘You can shed tears that he is gone, or you can smile because he lived.

You can remember him and only that he is gone, or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.’

His brother in law, Matt, read the most wonderful eulogy, which still has me smiling at the massage episode in the taxi. I’ve never met Matt before, but as he spoke, with every word we could understand he knew Chud so very well, and ‘got’ him, summed up so perfectly the loving nature he carried with him. Si and Chud’s 90 year old Grandad addressed us all, to thank everyone for coming, and what a testament it was to Richard, that so many, from so far, wanted to come to pay their respects. When it came to Si’s turn to give us his own tribute, by way of an amusing anecdote, we were hit with the harsh reality of the crematorium business, they were telling him to wrap it up and move along. But Si took this in his stride, determined not to let anything deter us from keeping it a happy affair to celebrate his brothers life, he did so amazingly well on what was probably the hardest day of his life. I hope to get the story he couldn’t tell from him at some point, and share it here. As the coffin disappeared to the tunes of Surfin’ Bird by the Trashmen, smiles broke out, which I know would have made the Chud of old grin like a Cheshire cat, he never let go of the irrepressible child within himself, and that was something that endeared him to all who knew him.

Later that day, having partaken of a beverage or two too many, I nodded off at the wake at the Buck Inn, Pontlliw, and as a nod to times past, the boys naturally took advantage of the situation. I should consider myself lucky to have kept my eyebrows, but they decorated me with whatever came to hand, the pictures had been circulated around Facebook far and wide by the time I got back to Shoreham. Next week we will be celebrating Chud’s life again, at the Cricketers pub, Southwick, where we met him, Si, Gill and Kev all those years ago, and hopefully raising a few pounds towards the children of Chud and Rachel.

no-respect

The physical presence is no longer with us, but our memories of him will live on, so Richard Miles Wilson, cysga’n dawel cariad bach.

Sleep peacefully dear friend.

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