Andy Roberts (7.05)

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My friend Andy got knocked down by a hit and run motorcyclist on Bethnal Green Road on Sunday 12 June. He injured his head and suffered irreparable brain damage. He hung onto life for a bit but on 18 June he died.

Here are some links that might help explain what a special person he was:
• He was in a band called Linus
• He gave relationship advice to lesbians in his Ask a Geezer columns on what was then called
• He was involved with Homocrime
• He had a LiveJournal, and turned lots of people (including me) onto it
• He was a great subject for a photograph
• He was a pro-choice campaigner and memorial donations are being made to the Abortion Rights Campaign in his name, and also to the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal London Hospital, which looked after him after the accident.
• He donated his organs to four people
• There’s so much more to say
• He is really missed.

Andy was one of those people who you see around all the time, that’s because he loved life and loved being at the centre of things. Most of my various circles of friends have a connection to Andy in some way, either through comics, DIY stuff, music, queer stuff, bands, LiveJournal and more. It’s hard to think of him not being around any more, wondering how his absence will affect everyone. I’m hoping that his death will remind us that we are also amazing and creative people, stop us thinking that our time is infinite, and that his memory will act as a catalyst for a lot of big, new, fantastic projects.

Here’s something I wrote about him when I heard that Andy had been hurt:

I first met Andy at a small press comics thing in Reading around 1991/1992. Amongst the nerds talking about cover card stock and two colour printing techniques, he was the friendliest and least nerd-like. Even though he didn’t know me at all, he sat with me and Sime and passed the time of day and made me feel involved and welcome. He’s still like that. When I see Andy out and about, I always feel more relaxed and at home than I would have done had he not been there. My mental equation goes something like: see Andy = things are going to be alright.

Andy’s like the furniture. He’s always around. There he is in his stripy t-shirt (I think he gets them from a special stripe supplier), always there. I don’t know him closely but I know him a bit and I feel as though I’ve known him for ages. I take him for granted and now I’m wishing that I didn’t, and that I won’t from now on. I’m quite good at keeping my word.

The thing is that it’s hard to imagine a more down to earth guy than Andy. I know down to earth is a cliché but he is not one of those. He’s (or at least my projection of him) one of the people I think about when I’m trying not to be a wanker, when I’m thinking “How would a decent, ethical person deal with this situation?” He’s thoughtful and considerate and a feminist without being creepy about it. (He gives relationship advice to lesbians in his column for the website where I work! Rock on!) I’m cynical and I’m hard inside and often I don’t know how to handle people, like Andy, who are not. So knowing him is a lesson in how to be a bit more of a human.

More: Andy’s a generous musician and music fan, he’s completely unsnobby about it, which is a rare quality. Andy’s mix tapes have turned me on to so much good stuff, and the song he wrote for K’s dog, The Bean, is usually kicking around in the back of my brain whenever I wrastle the pup, which is often. Andy’s one of the reasons I have a LiveJournal, when I started he said “this will change your life,” and it has. He drinks too much too, he’s got a big face and he dances like a girl (actually, like a monkey on elastic), but they’re pretty minor infractions when you think about the grand scheme of things.