Be Like Don Johnson
I never liked the eighties either during or since. I shudder when an 80’s CD is suggested as a soundtrack to an evening out and feel physically ill when reminded of some of the fashion back then.
This wasn’t helped with the grim political news of the day and then the horror of the AIDS epidemic. Many people of a certain age group will remember the bizarre sight of Ian Dury demonstrating how to put a condom on a banana and were put off sex for years. The mere notion of sexual congress with a human would plant the pub rock singer in the back of your mind telling you “don’t forget to squeeze the tip.”
I only mention this because I was reminded of an old friend recently that was a mainstay of those years. His name was Chris and we were good friends up till about age 16 then, as happens at that age, we went our separate ways.
We spent a lot of time watching action films that we were too young to be watching. Along with his older brother David, we would have movie nights watching pirate VHS tapes of action films that were at their peak then. It wasn’t just the big ones with Arnie and Sly either.
I remember specifically watching the horrifically bad Charlie Sheen film, The Wraith. If I recall correctly Sheen was the vengeful spirit of a killed teenager who returned as himself (though no one recognised him) and he would then summon a demon car that would take out his murderers. Don’t judge us. We were 13 and there was a scene where a lady took her top off. I told you the 80s were rubbish.
Chris was mad about guns and loved Miami Vice, which became the TV hit of the decade summing up the style above content times. We both went to a Mister Byrite store and bought espadrilles and cotton suits and pastel coloured tops so we could look totally badass (We obviously didn’t) and strut around Forest Hill in the rain as though it was Miami.
I had a white linen suit, which one-day I wore with a white shirt and white trainers. I looked like a walking Persil advert. The last time I saw Chris back then was as I was walking through the woods to get to a party. I was with a group of others and was taking a shortcut when we bumped into Chris and a few others going the other way. They were all decked out in camouflage gear and carrying replica guns. Ah, simple times in South London.
I re-connected with his older brother on Facebook a few years ago and had the pleasure of seeing him and his family in Plymouth for a gig.
Sadly David died 2 years ago and I went to his funeral and met Chris again. He looked identical and hadn’t aged at all. Turns out he ended up working as a military policeman for the M.O.D. so carried real guns for a living. I had a vision of Chris dressed like Don Johnson guarding a submarine base but Chris assured it wasn’t like that but he loved his job despite the lack of pastel coloured suits. He clearly loved his job though and despite the occasion, it was good to see him again. We messaged each other via twitter occasionally with the promise of meeting up again if I was gigging nearby.
I just got a message from David’s widow that after a very short battle with pancreatic cancer Chris has passed away. Both brothers were gone at 46.
Life really is too short. So tonight I will download the best of Jan Hammer and Phil Collins, wind the window down on my Chevrolet Spark and pretend that I’m driving through the streets of Miami in slow motion. If I may be so bold may I suggest that you take a moment, appreciate life and take every opportunity to be the Don Johnson you want to be. I know Chris would like that.