Simon Kilpatrick passed away in his sleep during the early hours of Sunday the 17th of October, 2010; he was just 37 and one of my best friends. I feel a great emptiness now that he has gone.
Si and I both started working at Mondial Assistance at the same time; all the way back in June 2004. We both worked within the Warranty side of the business and my first impressions of him were that he was a loud, brash, ‘rough around the edges’ and a ‘no airs or graces’ kinda guy; that impression never changed, and blokeish acknowledgements down by the tea machine eventually blossomed into a strong friendship.
I can still remember the conversation that made our friendship; Simon and I had both lost our fathers during the same week and we both found ourselves (rather reluctantly as I recall) at TGI Friday’s on a company night out because my department had been absorbed by his. And even though we both felt and looked like shit, we had a laugh.
Simon was direct and ‘brass as a farthing’, it was a quality that I always respected him for and I can still recall how he took it upon himself to ask how I was doing that night because he had heard through the grapevine that we were going through the same thing. I was speechless; it was gruff male bonding at it’s finest, and I shall never forget how genuine Si was when in situations like that.
In the coming years I sat either next to or directly opposite Simon and had to ‘endure’ how loud he was whilst reprimanding dealership staff who tried (usually unsuccesfully) to have him over on a claim. That and putting up with ‘Soapbox’s’ opinions on politics, life and just about everything else! I jest, we shared a very similar outlook on life; especially the importance he placed on family.
I learned very quickly that Simon’s world consisted of Tasha (his then girlfriend of a zillion years) and son/best friend Billy; I was always humbled by how unified the three of them were together. Utterly devoted to each other and fun to be around.
Ray (who had worked with Simon for many years at Dees of Croydon), Hitesh, Alan, Andy and I gelled almost instantly into something of a ‘gang’ which became reknown in the office for our love of pranks, loud banter and constant pisstaking. I loved going into work during those times, it was the best of times. Things got so outrageous that we were actually separated within the office for a short time before we eventually got moved back together again. Much to the disappointment of some killjoys!
He practically carried his department for as long as I can remember, and opportunity eventually came knocking when Simon applied for Dan’s old managerial job in Mobilo; I spent the best part of a fortnight telling him how he’d walk it, all the whilst being surprised at how nervous he was during the application and interview period (he was a softy really!). And walk it he did.
Si and I also started riding motorbikes around the same time; he was there when I had my tumbles (once with a torque wrench to prize back my bent brake lever after I’d thrown the bike down) and we’d always encourage each other to keep at it.
Si would take the piss at my inability to stay out of A&E, and I called him ‘postcode’ because he would only ride his bike to and from work.
I was overjoyed for him when he recently passed his big test; only to get a text from him saying “YOU NEXT!!!!”. That’s the sort of guy Simon was. I could write for hours about stories, memories and tales involving our antics in and outside of work; however I very much doubt that I would ever be able to sum up Simon’s unique character, even if I had eternity to do it in.
I think some of my fondest memories of Simon were during our many trips to France together (with the gang) to stock up on cheap plonk and cheese; it was a scream every time. Simon and I both had England FAN memberships and went to support England at Wembley; we shared a love of football, he broke every stereotype of a Millwall fan you could think of (although he certainly didn’t lack the passion for them!).
Undoubtedly; my favourite memory of Simon was of him dancing with Tasha at their wedding to ‘It must be love’ by ‘Madness’ whilst cuddling Billy; Simon leaves quite a legacy because Tash is expecting their second child.
Although I have tremendously mixed emotions regarding this for obvious reasons, I am mindful of the fact that that both of his children will grow up much loved by friends and family; with many of those offering hundreds of examples of why their father was an amazing guy; loved by absolutely everyone.
Of my friend I shall simply say this:
‘Nobody likes us, we don’t care, but nobody will ever be as popular as you’.
Rest in peace fella.