The Heartbreaking Tale Of Graham Williams

From reading this blog, you’d probably have me pegged as a well-spoken gentleman. You most likely picture me tapping my pipe on the cocktail cabinet, and excusing myself from diplomatic engagements on the grounds that I’m too busy combing the pelts of endangered animals.
Well, I’ve been back in Nottingham for two days. And this afternoon, I asked my cousin if she could pass me my bottle of fizzy pop. Well, that is what I would have said in my London manor. “Be an absolute darling and fax me my fizzy wizzy”, I would have said.
50 hours in Nottingham, and I said “chuck us me wet”. I stopped, afterwards, to touch my lips in a baffled way. Chuck us me wet? It’s not even a phrase that they use in the East Midlands. It’s like my mouth stayed on the train and went to some imaginary Northern town where nouns have given way to adjectives.
“Would you like a Coke?”
“Away, with your brown air-water! I want a nice cup of the nice!”
Anyway, more on the confused stereotypes, blood-soaked old ladies and family betrayals that have marked my homecoming later on in the week – today, I want to tell you about The Heartbreaking And Entirely True Tale of Graham Williams. Graham was a regular face in the pub I ran in Nottingham a few years ago. He was a well-known in the pub trade, and a well-liked man; separated from his wife, but very much the doting father to his daughters.
I have vivid memories of him coming into the pub after an afternoon’s Christmas shopping, fretting over his presents for his two daughters. He was a terrible worrier, although he was too considerate to burden you with too many of his worries. Instead, Graham’s hands would flap to his mouth when he was talking, then he’d walk his fingers along his face and tug at his ear. Hard enough to cock his head. Often, he’d blink so heavily that when he finally got around to opening his eyes again, I expected him to shake his head, rub his peepers with his fists and say “wu-huh-huh!?”
And because he was so concerned about burdening other people with his problems, these were the only signs of his turmoil that I saw. So I rubbed my eyes with my knuckles and went wu-huh-huh!? when I found out that he’d committed suicide this year.
Well, not quite.
Graham had sealed the windows of his flat, and put a canister of carbon dioxide next to the filled bath. And knowing him as superficially as I do, I picture him dithering. Staring at the bath and crushing his lips between his thumb and forefinger. Going to sit down, but being drawn back to the bath and the cannister. Most powerful amongst the feelings that this scenario brings up, I imagine him feeling imprisoned in his newly airtight flat. Each individual preparation being relatively effortless, until all the preparations had been made, and he realised that all he had to do was turn a valve and lie down. He was at the end of the plank.
To continue the plank metaphor involves casting all his negative emotions as pirates. I am resisting the temptation to write Graham’s inner monologue and adding loads of “me hearties” and a snide parrot.
Even if he had changed his mind, undoing the preparations he’d made would do little to chirpy him up. The bathetic retreat would have been crushing; in that situation, I would have imagined a hundred CCTV cameras, manned by hyenas. But he might have changed his mind, for all anyone knows. He had a heart attack, and they found his body next to a full bath, and a full cannister of carbon dioxide. He was dead, whether he wanted to be or not – he just left enough evidence of his previous intentions to make it all seem hopelessly naff. The tragedy – and it’s fucking tragic – is burgled by its jaw-dropping crapness.
When I was told this story, I laughed, and said “oh, for fuck’s sake, Graham”. Our resident scientist said “the fucking idiot was lucky – carbon dioxide poisoning is an awful death. The daft cunt was thinking of carbon monoxide”. Everyone else… well, they said something fond and abusive too. Then they drank more than they usually would, in his honour. I wasn’t drinking, though. I was saying “what’s the point” to myself, in a pirate’s voice.
On the upside, I saw a car with the registration “WUF”, which made me say “woof” to myself, and laugh. This put a spring in my step for a good two hours.

5 thoughts on “The Heartbreaking Tale Of Graham Williams”

  1. This is the second thing that has made me feel sad today. The first was hearing that someone had kicked a Canada Goose to death in the town centre near where my girlfriend works.

  2. This’ll cheer you up.
    As I was walking into work today I stopped on the high street to check if traffic was coming before I crossed. I noticed an older black lady already walking across, paying scant attention to her surroundings. Luckily the only traffic comin was an elderly man on a bicycle who, upon seeing the woman attempted to slow down, barely missing her. His reaction to the narrowly avoided nasty spill?
    To raise his arm silently and shake his fist – just like some villain out of Dan Dare or something.
    It certainly put a smile on my face.

  3. well i came across this article by me being sad old bugger and googleing my own name plus haveing been a landlord myself can relate to charectors like you have discribed it just goes to show that we see the face not the person we all have our problems but i think it is how we as individuals see our own problems me well i think i am very lucky i can always see the alternative for good or bad and am able to deal with most situations on my own being a bit mad crazy and haveing a very light harted personality and a jovial outlook on life is a big help so to the rest of you out there don’t go down the route of my names sake head held high laugh out load take that deep breath as you just dont know it might be your last cheers all speak soon…..


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