Jaye and James
My object is a pair of Vic Firth drumsticks and they belonged to my friend James.
I actually asked for them after James died because, I mean I have photographs, but weirdly I don’t think I have very much. Even though we went out, I don’t seem to have very much in terms of objects that actually he’d given me or had quite the same significance. So I specifically asked for a pair of used drumsticks; I didn’t just want a pair that were bought, that were fresh, and luckily she obliged...his wife Sarah said that was ok and so I have these.
It’s weird actually, I’ve had these now for eight years and this is probably the most I’ve ever looked at them. It was more just about the comfort of having them; I just wanted to have them, because in... more than a piece of clothing or anything like that, this feels like a piece of him. In terms of when I think of him...the majority of my memories of James are to do with his music. It felt like the best way to have a piece of him with me.
I value it because I know how important his drumming was to him. In his last year one of the hardest things, I think for him, was that because he was ill, because of the treatment for the cancer and everything, his band told him to take a break and they brought in a replacement drummer for a while and that was really hard for him. I think weirdly, that seemed to take more of a toll on him than the actual treatments themselves. The fact that he wasn’t able to do this thing that he loved and that someone else was taking his place. I didn’t ever talk to him about it, but you wonder whether he ever looked to the future and how that might end. They kept saying to him, ‘when you get well you can come back, this is just a temporary thing’...but I think that guy actually stayed with them.
I like knowing that they’re there. They live in my memory box: I’ve got a box full of many, many things, including letters from James.
Well he was quite long and thin so...
That’s not technically true, actually. Towards the end of his life he was...he’d always wanted to beef up because he’d always just been this string bean. So how he looked before he got sick and at the end...he was considerably more manly. But when I met him he was this gangly eighteen year old who was all long limbs and floppy skater boy hair. So maybe...maybe a little bit like him; a little bit battered, a little bit unconventional.
The first thing I think of when I think of him is usually just his big, big smile. Enormous smile. And he gave really great hugs as well. I don’t have many clear memories of him. I found that really hard for a while because I went out with him for like, two and a half years and it really bothered me that I couldn’t bring in any clear memories. What I do remember though, is just these great hugs – I guess being all limbs is quite helpful. Just big enveloping hugs. And that he used to call me lass, because he’s from Ossett, so proper Yorkshire. A Yorkshire boy.
We’d split up a long time before he got sick. And he got married not long before he died. But yeah, he still always managed to make me feel special...loved. And he called me lass and I really liked that. It was sweet.
He would go to these rehearsals and come home and we’d sit on his bed (I don’t know why it was always his bed, in his room in halls, but in my head it’s specifically his bed) and he would just talk at me for hours and he’d be going on and on and on about whatever new riff him and the bass player (who he had this proper bromance thing going on with) had come up with. Or he’d sing some of Dav’s crazy lyrics at me. And he was more alive then, than any other time.
So yeah, my strongest memories of him was this bundle of excitement and joy.
It was really exciting to see somebody so passionate about something they’re doing; I love it when people talk to me about their creative ideas and you can see their excitement. I really enjoyed that because it also made me feel a part of it even though I wasn’t. It was very much, ‘no you can’t’...there’s no room for Yoko Ono.
There was no disagreeing with the fact that part of our enjoyment of James was that he was just so bloody minded... and opinionated...and deeply argumentative at times, but not aggressively and not nastily.
God, if I could say one more thing to him, maybe I would say that I admire him because he found himself so much earlier than I did. Looking back on it, he found his conviction, he found what he wanted to do and he really went for it. Whereas I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time over the last ten or fifteen years. I was going to say I’d want to tell him I miss him but I tell him that all the time... actually not all the time, it’s not a constant state, but I do.
It’s weird because neither he nor I believe in any sort of afterlife. I don’t think we believe in spirits, we don’t...I’m talking about him in the present tense, it’s really weird now, because we are talking about him, I keep talking about him in the present tense. But yeah, we didn’t have any of those kind of beliefs and yet I do talk to him. I just do.
He never stopped making me feel like I was important to him and I appreciate that.