I sadly found out today that an old school friend, Richard Oxer, has passed away.
My good mate Angelo (who was in Richards tutor group at school) noticed an article in the Guardian last week which prompted me to contact Richard’s brother, Adam; who confirmed the worst. Phew.
From Adam’s perspective, the article in question is apparently very inaccurate; hurtful, cheap/lazy journalism really pisses me off and I felt compelled to pop up a little tribute to him because he was a top guy.
When most people look back at their childhoods they can probably reel off a dozen or so characters who defined their school years; I can honestly say that Richard was one of the most naturally funny people that I ever met.
If there was a classroom prank, he’d be one of the lead protagonists, if there was cheeky banter going on, he’d be at the front giving out the most stick; Rich was the first person who ever called me “Onion Bhaji” in relation to my Indian roots, and in that alone I think I will always grin when one is served up on a plate in front of me.
Yep, Rich was a friendly pisstaker of the cleverest kind; someone who wasn’t frightened to make comedy out of what made people different; and in today’s world I think that’s a very, very rare comodity (you’d probably get stabbed now for dat innit blud!!!).
During my college years I also worked with Rich at the Sutton branch of Safeway for about a year; during this time I frequently had fresh produce (watermelons!) hurled at me when I come out of the staffroom from lunch, only to find Rich atop the shelving areas grinning. He’d often use the store P.A. system to put out a call for me in various ‘voices’ (the Jamaican accent was my favourite); only for me to call up the extension and have him howl ‘Kriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiishnaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan’ before putting the phone down.
Of course this banter wasn’t one sided; I often reminded Rich that he had a pair of ears the size of a Spanish seaside Donkey; and I could never fathom why he’d sit in class pretending to smoke his fountain pens? Or why he’d go one step further and smoke the big fat dry board market pens like cigar?!?
Adam said in his reply to me that Rich was a funny fucker and I have to say you can’t really sum him up better than that; I am very sad to hear of his passing.
Rest in peace Rich.