Vague ramblings

Coming home, losing touch and the penalty of missing

Posted in Life, Musing, Personal by Ian Cundell on 11 July, 2018

Paul Kirwan was one of my circle of chums when I was at LSE, a garrulous and quick-witted son of Essex, a Billericay boy through-and-through.

Chuck that first reaction away – Paul was all the good bits of “Essex boy” without the whole “dodgy wide boy” crap. Don’t get me wrong: some of us learned the hard way not to play him at pool for money, but he was cheerful, witty and generally fun to be around. He was also the best assembler of a three-Rizla spliff I ever met.

I’ve been thinking about him a fair bit since England earned a place in the  World Cup semi-final

It wasn’t just the fun and games. During my Masters exams I was having my usual stress-fuelled existential crisis, such that some kind soul thought I was a suicide risk. I wasn’t, but I was feeling a strong urge to chuck it in. As I leant on the balcony of Carr Saunders Hall’s cafeteria – a makeshift study space – Paul wandered over and asked what was up and I said I felt like jacking it in. “Well that would be bloody silly after coming all this way,” he said and slapped me on the shoulder before heading back to his own revision. It was just the kick up the arse I needed at just the right moment,

So it was no surprise that, come Italia ’90, when the important England matches were on we ended up at his flat just off Russell Square, which he shared with his girlfriend (and future wife) Julie. We thoroughly enjoyed his delighted phone call to his Irish dad when  England won and The Republic didn’t. It went right to the fateful semi-final against West Germany. When Chris Waddle’s penalty ballooned over the German goal Paul took it harder than any of us (and we were all pretty gutted). Yet it is a treasured memory of the bit “when Lineker scored” from the song.

Time moved on and it was no surprise that Paul got offers from all of the big six (as then was) accountancy firms and before too long he had moved to Boston. We kept in touch for a little while, but this was the days when even email was in its infancy and a lost contact list meant we lost touch. As with many of that cohort, the four winds took us where they would.

But that semi-final has been a bittersweet memory of the pain of defeat and pride in performance for 28 years.

Twenty eight years.

It’s also nearly ten years since Paul died. I only found out about six months after, by chance, doing a bit of random “I wonder what they’re up to” Googling. His obit was the only place he showed up  – other than as a listed partner on some Deloitte report or other – and it wasn’t until I saw the photo that I was prepared to accept it was the right Paul. I don’t know what happened – he was prone to black moods, but also fond of an ‘occasional’ kebab or burger – and a letter to Julie was unanswered. I didn’t really expected a response after all these years, but I couldn’t just let it pass.

Since I have other friends in Boston, I had simply assumed that sooner or later we would catch up. But the next time kept getting put back to next year, then the next.

Fuck me, 42 is no age.

So, come the final whistle this evening, win or lose, give some thought to the pals you haven’t seen for a while, and maybe check in to find out what they thought of the match.

Because Paul would have bloody loved it.



All my bags are packed…

Posted in Life, Personal, St Albans by Ian Cundell on 1 March, 2015

…and when I say ‘all’ I mean all, from my venerable Karrimor Jaguar rucksack to my dad’s suitcase from when he was a commercial driver and on to a tartan thing that really shouldn’t be seen in public and which, save for some unexpected extra stuff, would have been quietly shuffled off to a charity shop.

I have sold my house and, thanks to a vendor being a right dickhead at the worst possible time of year, am temporarily of no fixed abode while I wait for a house I want to become available. And that means that a person who prefers to travel light, can’t. But still, an important and overdue life change is at last under way, even if I still don’t know where it will end up.

Here is some stuff I’ve discovered:

*Having a good buyer is like gold dust. Craig didn’t dick around for one moment, although he was mightily dicked around himself and I’m fairly sure he has had to promise the soul of his first-born to Nationwide;

* The new recycling arrangements in St Albans are an abomination and whoever came up with them should be fired and never allowed to work in public service again. They are a positive inducement to fly-tip;

* That you have much, much more stuff than you think you do;

* That the thing – you know that thing – that might come in handy one day, won’t – so take it to the sodding dump or a charity shop;

* That putting your cats, who have hung out with you for more than a decade, into a cattery is really distressing, but that the people at Cayton’s get that;

* That family, friends and neighbours – Alan, Sian, Daz and Will, Miah and Silvia, Jes, really step up;

* That, when having a last look round before the house ceases to be legally mine and spotting an envelope, picking it up and realising it is the words I wrote for Dad’s funeral causes all the “I’m really not that sentimental about this” nonsense to unspool in an instant.

Just over 60 years ago, Doreen and Ken moved into a council house of the kind they don’t let working class people have any more. Two days ago, that era ended and Craig has big dreams to make a wonderful home for him and his partner. I am quite certain that Mum and Dad would have liked them.

Time to go.

Years may go by

Posted in Music, That which is cool by Ian Cundell on 6 March, 2009

Courtesy of those nice people at Apple I have recently been upgrading my music collection to the whizzy new iTunes Plus format. A side effect of this was more poking around in my collection than I normally do and I stumbled upon something of a revelation.


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