Apologies in advance for the sombre tone of this post, the subject matter isn’t really in keeping with this festive time of year, and it’s a bit of a departure from my usual pointless witterings about shoes. I was originally planning on posting this last week, but it was one of those posts that you sit down to write maybe a hundred times and can’t quite find the right words. There isn’t really a cheery way of beginning a story like this one, so I shall just dive straight in there and get to the point…
Just a little over a year ago, I lost an old friend. It was one of those strange scenarios where it was someone I’d known for most of my life, that I’d shared a cherished part of my childhood and adolescence with, yet someone that in recent years I hadn’t seen often, in fact bar the odd chat via social media and one or two group get togethers here and there, I’d only spoken to a handful of times in the previous 12 months, and even then only briefly in passing. We weren’t what you can call close friends, Andy and I, but he was one of those people you just assumed you would always know, until suddenly he was gone – hit by a car on a December morning by a driver who fled the scene.
Anyone who has experienced such a thing will I’m sure agree it is incredibly difficult to process this kind of news. The loss of someone that you don’t often see is a difficult concept to get your head around, because you are used to them not being there. Even now he pops up in my mind thanks to a Facebook memory or a certain song playing on the radio, and I have to remind myself that he is no longer with us. A part of my brain just assumes that he is still here somewhere, partying hard and being his usual enthusiastic and vibrant self. It’s a horrible punch to the gut when I remember that he is not – it always seems unjust when someone this young dies, particularly in such an avoidable way, but Andy truly was one of those people who seemed to have what they describe as a lust for life and it makes it seem so much harder to accept somehow. But I don’t want to focus on that, because the pain and sadness I feel when I think about him can only be a mere fraction of what his family and close loved ones go through every day, especially at this time of year. Instead I have something important to ask of you on Andy’s behalf, because it is the season of giving, after all!
The driver who killed Andy managed to evade capture for several weeks, and went to great lengths to cover up what he had done. By the time police had him in custody it was too late to breathalyse him, and it was very difficult to prove that he could have been driving dangerously or above the speed limit. As a result, the highest penalty they could seek for him was for leaving the scene of an accident, which carries a maximum sentence of just 6 months in prison. In the end, he served just 61 days. Andy’s family are now campaigning to have this sentence – which essentially acts as a deterrent from stopping if you hit someone – reviewed, in the hopes that other families don’t ever have to experience this same sense of injustice. Who knows what might have happened if he had stopped and helped Andy? So I’m asking, if you can or are willing, to sign this:
In order to have this even responded to by The Government they need this petition to raise at least 10,000 signatures, so if any of you could spare a few moments to sign I’d be hugely appreciative – it costs nothing and could make a huge difference. At the very least it would be amazing if something positive could come from losing such a wonderful person. Because he really was a wonderful person. Incredibly witty, if sometimes a little lewd. An exuberant dancer with a fun sense of fashion. His look changed many times over the years I knew him, but he was one of those rare people whose personality remained largely the same – he always seemed to know just who he was even when we were young. He was the boy that refused to cut his long hair despite threats of expulsion from school, who made everyone’s jaws drop by turning up to a disco in leather pants, who proposed to me aged 12 or so with a haribo ring, then divorced me 5 minutes later by eating it. He was the epitome of the phrase ‘the life and soul of the party’ – the one everyone wanted to talk to. After his death many of his friends talked about him lighting up a room and I guess I have to agree. I’m not sure I ever saw him on a bad day, and the world definitely seems a few shades dimmer without him in it.
So I guess the title of this post is misleading, because of course if I could ask for one thing this Christmas, it wouldn’t be for you to sign a petition. It wouldn’t even be for the law to be different. It would of course be that this had never happened and that Andy was still walking this planet, lighting up rooms and making people laugh in his slightly offensive yet hilarious way. Sadly that cannot be, so I guess this will have to do as second best.