Sad times of late here at Tippler Towers. Not that the untrained eye would immediately have noticed any difference in my mate Denzil’s demeanour: pissed and confused is the look he wears to suit almost every occasion.
But even the fat fizzog of The Big D managed to register shock, dismay, anger and then numb acceptance (in the space of two swiftly downed pints) on hearing the news of the sudden and unexpected demise of our great friend Jezzer.
Yours Truly had last seen the Arsenal-supporting, puddleduck of a Softee Suvverner during a (for us) quiet afternoon downtown that consisted of a couple of beers - one each of which was provided by a local barman in return for penning a review on a well-known travel website. Jezzer never got around to writing his review - so, for once, he was ahead on pints. This all-too-brief soujourn was followed by some really posh coffee in a swanky beverage boutique just off the Brussels high street.
And when this magazine says ‘posh’, we’re talking €12 a pop. No shit. Well, that last statement isn’t true because ‘shit’ is right on the money in this case: the reason the coffee is so expensive is that the beans are swallowed by a one-winged bat, lizard, Amazonian lesbian, galaxy-surfing bug-eyed alien or something then shat back out again to be collected by one-armed monkeys wearing grass skirts and delivered, by the ounce, to snooty coffee shops.
Some of the above is true. The point is that these, erm, ‘processed’ beans are rarer than a Yorkshire virgin and taste about the same. Bottom line, though (or big-bottom line in Jezzer’s case) is that they are nowhere near as rare as our dear, departed amigo.
Jezzer was a consumate journalist (he’d consume anything) of indeterminate years. He would never actually tell anyone the year he was born but, in truth, he was ageless. Well, his hairstyle was. It was last seen being worn by footballer Tony Currie in about 1978.
He’d have made a great hack for the News of the World, except that even they wouldn’t have believed his stories - of which at least one-third were 50% true.
But he pitched up in Brussels instead and, subsequently, Jezzer and Tippler spent many a boozy night writing down ideas and jokes - yes, on the back of beermats - to find, next day, that they were mostly not clever and often not funny either. But that didn’t matter, it was the process of getting pleasantly pickled then searching for the pen (the one that all journalists don’t carry) that was the point.
Jezzer was always first to arrive at any party at Tippler Towers. And he was always still there on the sofa in the morning, correctly confident that his bacon sarnie had been factored in. He was ever a welcome guest (although the cleaner did mention that he once farted so loudly from under a duvet that she thought the Hoover had blown up), a loyal friend, an occasional flat-removals man and a top-drawer, gold-medal-standard blagger of cigarettes.
He loved life, adored a glass and gave most people the benefit of the doubt. Even some undeserving wankers.
Among his many talents were a knack for economics (except his own), a deep knowledge of military history and an unerring and almost supernatural ability to find his way home while at the same time being unable to locate his bus fare. His ‘working lunches’ were legendary, legion and lasted till 21:00. Often 21:00 the next day, come to think of it.
Jezzer was a great conversationalist and - rare, this - always ruefully philosphical about life’s knocks rather than cynical. It’s odds-on he’s now sat at a bar somewhere better than on this Earth, getting the beers in and wondering when the fuck we’re all going to turn up. It won’t be too long. We love you and miss you, mate.