ROWLEY HITS THE BARDOS

Every day I wake up and take my medication then I spend the rest of the day waiting for it to wear off.

The alarm bell was ringing in my head, why had he not got in touch, Rowley’s phone was on, I left messages, last time I spoke to him he was ok but then again maybe not.

The alarm bell became a siren that was constantly gaining in volume, something was not right.

We  arrived at Rowley’s flat at 5pm  armed  with a tools and the intention of making a forced entry. It was raining hard, I quizzed the neighbour, he whinged about the smell of weed  in the building, he had not seen him for two or three days.

‘He is in.’  I shouted to Rhod as I saw the bathroom light on, I rapped on the window ‘It’s Pete and Rhod Rowley, open the door or we will force our way in.  no answer.

I managed to wedge myself into a small window, inside the flat it was warm and still, I shouted out, nothing, the rain streamed down my back, I managed to pop a larger window open  and we went in.

I was sixteen  hanging out in Bilton village, a diminutive figure flits by, ‘If anyone asks , you ain’t seen me right.’ Rowley seemed to be permanently pursued by imaginary coppers and he  always  appeared to be functioning at a different tempo to normal human life.

He was a bright guy who failed somehow to develop into a conventional person, when I first met him he was in a relationship but it didn’t last, sixteen years later I am rehearsing with Alphastone, Rowley is dancing like a madman, his shirt is  off  covered in sweat, shouting his head off, he made every band practice feel like a great  gig.

Rugby changed and the rag bag of hedonistic rabble, the hard drinkers, fighters, stoners  and  junkies either got old, died or moved away, life just strangely emptied out.

Rowley never dropped off, his humour and intellect remained, as he got older and more  vulnerable I  found myself with his life in my hands. He was living in his parents house in conditions that are difficult to describe, his amphetamine consumption was prolific but to his credit he tried hard as we moved him on to a new council flat.

I   helped make Rowley a rich man, his brother was an arse but I made him pay for being a fool by representing Rowley in a contentious probate case involving their parents estate.

I like a bit of legal argy bargy sometimes and Rowley went from being destitute to minted.

2015, a hot summers day, Rowley is sitting in my garden  crouched over a pile of stones, my boys ask me what he is up to, I explain Rowley is fascinated by stones. Craig Wagstaff and Steve Perkins are in the garden doing some work, ‘Found some gold Rowley ?’ Craig asks jokingly,’Yeah man , here there it is .’Rowley was once I believe a metallurgical technician but he was right he found traces of gold in a stone. That was a nice day, I posted a pic on Facebook of Rowley in my shed listening to Amon Dull.

Inside the flat it was warm, the heating was on, Rhod went in first, he turned towards me and I knew by the look in his eyes.

I got used to Rowley’s way of living, in someways it made sense although to most people it would be unfathomable, the flat was like him, it’s interior was an area  of  complete neglect and strange dysfunction, his body was the same, it had withstood decades of an amphetamine diet until it gave up.

So we were left as usual to clean up Rowley’s shit, the professionals came along ,they  looked at me with suspicion, I thought  don’t even think about giving me a hard time, it’s strange that professional people are often offended by the public if they appear completely in charge and in control, they thought I was doing someone else’s job and they were right.

Rowley hit the bardos and on in to the clear light, he had it rehearsed, and how much will I miss that mad fucker, his jokes, his foolishness, his wisdom, his concern for me and my family, he lit up everybody’s lives and everybody had deep affection for him, he touched every decent musician that ever came from our locality, Jason Pierce wrote a song called ‘Medication ,’ based on the opening line supplied by Rowley.

We left the Coppers in the flat and exited through the window, one was a formidable tattooed bald headed big bloke with a heart, a very understanding and nice chap as was the ambulance crew once they realised there was no skulduggery going on, one thing I learnt was the reality that these people have to confront on a daily basis and as a consequence I have a huge respect for them.

An empty feeling distracted my xmas as the memorys keep coming back, flashbacks ,my life and his, so long Rowland Arthur Ford hit the bardos and keep on going, you will make , we always do.

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