David J Rodger, 1970 – 2015

On 22nd November, 2015, David J Rodger passed away. I’m writing this over a year after it happened, and it’s still very raw for everyone who loved him. It’s only today that I discovered that David had given me editing rights to his blog, and after talking to his girlfriend Jo, I felt it was important to post something about his death here. His blog still gets a lot of visitors keen to learn about his work, and he wouldn’t want them to think he was ignoring their questions and comments.

On Friday, 12th December 2015, I was honoured to speak at David’s funeral, to a venue packed full of his many friends. Below is the text of my tribute to a remarkable human being.

Hi. My name is Chris Halliday. To David, I was “Doc Toc”, or occasionally “Mr Sardonic”. Looking out at the faces here, I’m struck with a sense of “Deja Dave” – the feeling I’ve seen many of you in David’s photos.

David was only the second friend I made when I arrived in Bristol eight years ago, but it’s through him that I met many of my closest and dearest friends. David delighted in friendship – more than anyone I’ve ever met he understood the true value of it, the joy of a life made of precious moments shared with the ones you love.

David was, first and foremost, a storyteller. Many of you I first came to know as characters in David’s anecdotes; colourful characters with larger-than-life names – Oj, Miss Scarlet, Sharky “Bones” McCoy, Game Breaker Hagen, Penfold, Nice Guy Tony, Hiab-X, and many others. When I became a character in those tales with a name of my own, it was a badge of honour. I wear it proudly.

David’s passion for life was infectious. Through him I discovered new authors, new music, new places. He loved unearthing gems of experience and sharing them with others, and he loved when it was reciprocated. He introduced me to Hybrid, I gave him M.R. James. He gave me Leftfield, I gave him Robert W. Chambers. A glance at the most played tracks in my music collection shows his influence – over half the bands there are ones I first learned of through him.

David was a catalyst. He drove things, events, people; either by setting an example or by his honest encouragement and feedback. Because of him, I’m a published game writer. His unfailing kindness and loyalty – and that of the wonderful friends he brought into my life – helped me get through some very dark times. That’s not to say that there weren’t moments when he was the very devil. I’m sure many of us have woken up at some point with random objects taped to us, or had our most embarrassing and intimate moments painstakingly documented on film and video. We all have Dave stories like that.

I think it’s well known how much of an influence H.P. Lovecraft had on David’s life and writing. The day before David left us, I read the following passages in the pages of what is probably Lovecraft’s most optimistic and uplifting story; “Beyond the Wall of Sleep”. I like to think that it describes David himself; a visiting Trickster god, part Loki, part Coyote, sliding in on a light beam to remind us that the only real things in life are love and laughter.

“I am an entity like that which you yourself become in the freedom of dreamless sleep. I am your brother of light, and have floated with you in the effulgent valleys. It is not permitted me to tell your waking earth-self of your real self, but we are all roamers of vast spaces and travellers in many ages. Next year I may be dwelling in the Egypt which you call ancient, or in the cruel empire of Tsan Chan which is to come three thousand years hence. You and I have drifted to the worlds that reel about the red Arcturus, and dwelt in the bodies of the insect-philosophers that crawl proudly over the fourth moon of Jupiter. How little does the earth self know of life and its extent! … We shall meet again – perhaps in the shining mists of Orion’s Sword, perhaps on a bleak plateau in prehistoric Asia, perhaps in unremembered dreams tonight, perhaps in some other form an eon hence, when the solar system shall have been swept away.”

David was a chameleon; many things to many people. To me, he was a mentor, a brother, and a friend.

We shall meet again.

David J. Rodger, August 30, 1970 – November 22, 2015

Never forgotten, always in our hearts

NOTE: It was only after creating the original post that I noticed the tag at the bottom leads to David’s last post on the blog, entitled “Designer Death”. I have a feeling that this is another of David’s practical jokes from beyond the veil.

Personal blog: Saturday morning with a 60s vibe

Sitting at the Oak refectory table I’ve known since childhood.

Sunbeams are lancing through the large window behind me, to my right, picking out the colours of the wood and the objects that occupy this room from my travels.  Mugs of tea sit on ceramic coasters printed with images of the characters from CLUDEO.  Steam rises. Music drifts.  Lovely moment.  Mild twinge of a red wine hangover from last night.

My friend R___ is here. Someone I’ve known since we were both 5. He flew in yesterday morning. He’s setting down notes for a book I’m going to write about his life: he should be dead, or on the streets. Instead he has become a remarkable human being. And he has a story to tell.

Last night I got to listen to a recording that is the missing piece. An audio recording made on old spool to spool dinner plates made in 1972 – by his mother, talking about what was really going on back then. She passed away last year. And here she is, talking from the past when she was younger than Richy and I are now. It was like listening to a scene from the Profumo Affair. The style of her voice: a wealthy, well-travelled, highly-articulate and intelligent woman who had turned her back on the “established way” for a woman to behave in the 1960s.

A profound story has come looming up from the 43 year silence of this recording – one that paints the picture of why Richy’s life was so unusual, and details that provide a tantalising glimpse of the police, politics and emerging drug culture of the time.

Traffic 1960 Photograph Norman Parkinson swinging sixties London woman with red London Bus

Traffic, 1960 Photograph: Norman Parkinson