Farewell to a dear chum

Schoolfriend 1983-87

I’m sure Jo won’t mind me sharing a little of what I shared with her a few days ago concerning how I knew Richard. He was my best friend at High School. I first met Richard in 1983 as a fourteen year old student at John Cleveland College, Hinckley. My first and abiding memory of him is sitting in the school dining room with him at lunchtime and us making each other laugh so hard that we were scarcely able to breathe. This shared sense of humour sealed a close bond which lasted the duration of our time at school (though I would probably wince now if I were reminded of the kinds of things we found so funny). Although we were both bright lads (we sat together in the top chemistry and physics classes), Richard was also blessed with a certain sporting prowess that eluded me. Rather than being jealous, I was extremely grateful for the regular thrashings at tennis he would mete out at Hollycroft Park tennis courts. He taught me the art of applying topspin and persevered until I was finally able to offer him at least some degree of challenge. I never beat him, though. Our shared love of tennis was only equalled by our love for computer games on our Sinclair ZX Spectrum computers. I have a cherished memory of being round his house playing him at a newly purchased tennis computer game – our faces beaming with delight as we discovered how to lob each other. But our greatest collaboration was when I enlisted his help with my newly formed Hobbit Appreciation Society. Huge fans as we were of The Hobbit (both the book and the computer game), we ran the society by mail, co-writing a monthly newsletter which rapidly expanded from hints and tips on the game to include news, computer game reviews, reader’s letters and quizzes. Richard’s passion for Tolkein (and reading age) outstripped mine – I was in awe of the fact that he had read the entire 1,200 page Lord of the Rings, something which was akin to running a marathon as far as I was concerned back then. We went our separate ways at 18 when we left school for University, and our paths crossed only a couple of times since then but I will always cherish the memories of our friendship.

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