Three years ago today, my bestest buddy Llŷr passed away.
Three years. Where on earth did that go?
I still think about him and miss him every day, and I don’t think that will ever change, nor would I want it to. Yet it just doesn’t seem possible that so long has passed without seeing him.
When I’ve written about Llŷr before, the focus has been very much on the music, the records that remind me of him.
But, as I alluded to in my post shortly after he passed, when we lived together, as well as the music, there was an awful lot of television watching which forged bonds between us.
I often watch Gogglebox – a show which, for the uninitiated, films people at home watching TV and talking about it (and whatever else is going on in their life) – and I think: they missed a trick by not having Llŷr and I on board for this.
For every evening spent watching TV – which, to be honest, when we weren’t out and about together around Cardiff, was pretty much every night – was a night when we would both be creasing up, each trying to make the other laugh so hard about whatever we were watching that snot might come out of the nose.
Sure, there are many many songs which remind me of him, but it’s the laughing that I miss so much now that’s he not around anymore.
I won’t pretend that our taste in TV was perfectly aligned; again, as alluded to previously, Llŷr was much more interested in the whole Pop Idol/X Factor/American Idol shenanigans than I was, but there was definitely a shared love of certain reality shows.
Obviously, there was Big Brother, which first aired around the time we first began sharing a flat, and which we both watched almost religiously, to the point where on more than one occasion we turned down an invitation to go out on a Friday night because we didn’t want that week’s eviction to be subject to any bar-room TV spoilers.
There was a dating show, aired on BBC2, called Would Like To Meet, where a panel of three experts would set some loveless sap a number of challenges designed to bolster their confidence. In the climax of the show, they’d go on a blind date which they were expected to ace, having taken on board all of the advice they had been given.
Llŷr and I loved this show, partly because we both we both quite fancied one of the panel – the appropriately named sexpert Tracey Cox – but mostly because we thrived on some of the situations the subjects were put into to try and bolster their self-esteem.
Most notably – and I wish I could find a clip of this, but alas, I cannot – a girl who was instructed to stand by the magazine rack in WH Smiths at lunchtime and try to engage men reading magazines in conversation.
Thankfully, her very presence prevented any – ahem – surfers of the “top shelf”, but one guy picked up a music magazine, Q or Mojo or some such, whereupon he was approached by the girl asking “Excuse me, can you tell me which tunes are excellent please?”
This made Llŷr and I howl, and forever afterwards whenever we were out and a tune got played which one of us failed to recognise, we would turn to each other and say “Excuse me, is this tune excellent?”
As with many private jokes, you probably had to be there. But that phrase still rings in my head, especially whenever I’m in a newsagents.
The other show we loved was Channel 4’s Faking It, where somebody was plucked from their normal job and way of life and given four weeks to learn a completely new and opposing skill, tested at the end of the show by a panel of experts who would try and snuffle out the imposter.
There are a couple of episodes which normally attract the most attention – timid vicar becomes a car salesman, burly sailor becomes a drag queen – but the episode which Llŷr and I loved was an early episode, where a young female classical cellist (Sian – no relation), who has not one clue about youth culture and clubland, had four weeks to pass herself off as a club DJ.
For those four weeks, she goes to live with hardcore DJ Anne Savage, who is supposed to be her mentor, but in actual fact it’s Savage’s mate Lottie, also a renowned DJ, who does much of the tutoring.
This is especially poignant for me, as Llŷr and I saw Lottie DJ a few times, the most auspicious of which was when we happened to stumble on her playing a mid-afternoon/early evening set as a favour to the landlord of Progress Bar in Tufnell Park. It was the day after we had been to Fatboy Slim’s legendary Beach Boutique 2 so we were both, I think it’s fair to say, a little worse for wear. Still, Lottie was kind enough to pose for some pictures with Llŷr, which we’ve tried to source and share here, but sadly we’ve not managed to track down. So here’s a picture of Lottie instead; you’ll be able to see why Llŷr was so keen – other than her DJ’ing prowess, of course – to have the moment he met her captured for posterity (on film, I mean. We didn’t kidnap her, or begin to plot to, honest!):
The other reason Lottie’s involvement is relevant is because it was her that I saw the first time I went clubbing after Llŷr got ill and wasn’t able to go anymore. It was at The Emporium in Cardiff – sadly a venue no more, but without doubt the greatest club I have ever been to. I may have written about it before; it will certainly crop up again at some point. Needless to say, Llŷr had many fun nights out there.
Anyway, I digress. Back to Faking It. At the end of the four weeks, Sian has to play a set to a packed club, which included four club promoters and DJs and the like; they had to try and pick her out from amongst three other female DJs, whilst she tries to convince them that she was not the one who only started DJing four weeks ago.
I wanted to post the entire episode here, but can’t find it to share. It is available to watch on Channel 4’s streaming service All4, and if you’re able to, I’d urge you to watch it. Even if you find dance music generally a bit meh, it’s one of the most amazing and uplifting pieces of television, watching this young woman blossom and come out of her shell, battle all the forces against her (which were mostly of her own, and her upbringing’s making), and discover and reclaim her lost youth.
There is an edited version of the episode on YouTube, which, if you do want to watch the whole show and avoid spoilers, I would not recommend you watch:
If that does nothing else, it will make you nostalgic for the days when you could smoke fags indoors.
Llŷr and I watched many, many hours of television together when we shared the Flat of Filth and then the House of No Housework, but there’s only a few which really stick in my mind. This is one of them, and when I watched it again the other day, I found myself laughing, smiling and sobbing in equal measure.
So, to wrap things up for today, remixed by the great Greg Wilson, an appropriate tune, which just so happens to pop up in (Coming Soon!) Friday Night Music Club Vol 6.4. It’s also a tune which I don’t know that Llŷr ever heard (I mean this mix, of course he would have known the original version), but I’m damn sure he would have loved – the sentiment (of the title at least) utterly sums up him and his loveably jokey ways perfectly:
And, just in case you want more evidence of Llŷr’s love of television, can I point you in the direction of one edition of The Xennial Dome podcast, where Llŷr’s younger sister, the talented, funny and gorgeous actor Sian Reese-Williams, talks about, amongst other things, growing up and being obsessed with – and acting out – public service adverts from TV with Llŷr. It’s a really lovely hour, which made me laugh a lot and blub a little too:
Disappointingly, there is no mention of Sian’s alleged membership of 90s Britpop band Gene’s fanclub in there.