Author Topic: RIP John Self  (Read 24766 times)

RIP John Self
« on: February 07, 2008, 04:15:26 PM »
Hello there.  Lots to catch up on, I'll do another update very soon to catch up on the plentiful Morris news, and my interview with Armando Iannucci, and all sorts of other bits and pieces.  However, just before Xmas one of the forum posters very sadly passed on, and I felt that should be marked on here.  John Self was a valued contributor to the boards, very funny and intelligent bloke, and a stunningly talented writer.  He was a very popular poster, who would craft out long, hilarious walls of text to entertain us, regardless of whatever he was discussing - frequently he'd be at his funniest when publically poring over his own problems.

Anyway, I've run this site for 8 years now, and through all the good and the bad, it's been the community that's kept me at it.  I'm very lucky to have such funny, intelligent, talented and kind souls using up the bandwidth.  Very lucky indeed.  And it's a great shame that one of you lot has passed on at such a tragically young age.  Our thoughts continue go out to Brendan's friends and family.

Here's Ronnie The Raincoat - another very talented writer - to tell you a bit more about John Self:

Quote from: Ronnie The Raincoat
Neil has asked me to write a bit about Brendan.  I've sat here for a good hour trying to put into words what kind of person he was. I can't tell you who he was to the others that loved him; to you, to his family, to his other friends, to his lovers and companions over the years, because I can't speak for anybody else.  I can only tell you who he was to me.

If he'd been writing this himself, it would have been done and dusted fifty five minutes ago.  Although there would probably be as many cigarette butts withering in the ashtray.  The last time I saw him, we were wheeling a massive table up the Blackstock Road.  It was about five minutes from my house but we took turns smoking the whole way there.  We wheezed and puffed our way up three flights of stairs.  Our hands- mine, short and stubby, his, long, slim and stained yellow at the fingertips- were shaking in the winter wind chill as it blew our laughter into the afternoon traffic.  Physical labour wasn't something he was fond of- he could be incredibly lazy- but I needed his help, and he would never refuse someone in need.  It's weird to be sitting at the desk now, looking to my door, the last time I saw him, the last time I put my arms around him.  He seemed out of sorts that day and hugging him goodbye after he drank the coffee I made him (I don't drink coffee, but I always kept a jar in my flat for him when he came round, since he was absolutely hooked on it), I thought, I'll see him again soon.  I didn't, I never saw him again, although we spoke many times.  I was supposed to see him shortly before his death, and I missed him because I was asleep.  He had always been there for me; and I regret deeply that in that last week, I wasn't there for him.  He lit up my life and though I wish that he was still here, I am so grateful and proud to call him my friend and feel honoured that he was part of my life and to be part of his.

If Brendan was writing this, every sentence would be filled with something self-deprecating.  He could be a harsh critic of himself.  In snatches of clarity, he could sometimes see himself how we saw him; how violently funny he was, how intelligent, how full of potential and talent.  Every single post he made here sparkles with his customary wit.  He was an extraordinary writer, but his confidence failed him often.  He had already written two books, the latter, "I Am A Modern Monster", constantly edited, sent to various people, seeking approval and reassurance that he was worth it, that he was a great writer.  We could tell him til we were blue in the face; and one thing this forum offered him, amongst so many others, was the confirmation of his talent.  He was instantly likeable.  His friends I've met, and his family, all uniformly love and adore him, and believed in him, his talent, and his gifts. He glittered.

My friendship with Brendan actually started here.   He was this funny bloke called john self.  I was, then, Banana Woofwoof ("you can't greet me with "Woof!" anymore- you have to say, "Hello!  Here is my raincoat!" now...) I thought he was fantastic, from the first introduction post that he made.  It was clear from the offset that this was someone incredibly special.  He sent me various PMs thanking him for being so friendly to him.  I then convinced him to come to a meet I organised- which was, by most accounts, a failure.  But I met him.  I have never so immediately clicked with somebody.  He was obviously incredibly nervous so I thought I'd say, "Shut up, newbie", to him which for some reason made him laugh and we warmed to each other totally.  We dispensed with the usual polite pleasantries and spent most of our time huddled together giggling. He made me laugh so much.  There was a man at the bar- "the chinless wonder", as we called him, we had created a whole life for.  We renamed the area, "Smug Rapist's Alley"- don't ask. 

From there, the complicated, wonderful Brendan Hollywood became a part of my life.

We saw each other often- he would rob the Silverlink of their paltry fares from his home to mine.  We sat in many cafés, chainsmoking, then eventually going outside to smoke.  We visited each others' flats.  He was the only friend I ever had who travelled across London at 5am just because I needed him.  We met in familiar areas- Finchley Road, Finsbury Park,  Crouch End, to sit in empty afternoon pubs, cokes in hand, talking about our days, our lives.  He'd roll endless cigarettes, talk quickly, listen, laugh that uninhibited, wonderful laugh that he had, always dressed smartly, with ever-changing haircuts and ties.  When we weren't together in person, we spoke on all ends of the internet, on here, on MSN, on other websites we both frequented, on the phone, by text, smoke signals, Morse Code.  I have chat logs, texts, e-mails, messages that at the moment I still can't really bring myself to read through.  We rarely ran out of things to talk about.  Brendan, no matter what mood he was in, was always interesting.

Brendan had been through it.  He had an alcohol problem that had landed him in rehab and hospital and had dogged him throughout his life.  He also suffered from depression that he struggled with until his death.  He could be, as well as hilarious and open, sad and withdrawn.  Our friendship, when he was drinking, was fraught.  I lost my father to alcoholism and I couldn't bear to lose Brendan, too.  In the end, it got to the point where I told him that I wouldn't see him when he was drinking.  I would talk to him, of course, and be there for him to talk to, but I could not see him when he was drunk.  It was a bit of a rubbish incentive that worked up until a point.  He would send long messages saying how he wanted my love of him to be "present tense"- "if it had been in the present tense, would have been a beautiful, wonderful, utterly-reciprocated delight. Sounds pathetic, doesn't it?  Anyway, I want that back; I want that present tense back". 

It was always present tense, though- I loved Brendan almost as soon as the first time we shyly met up, and did throughout our friendship, and will, forever.

I had been through it, too, suffering from manic depression, as I do, and landing myself in hospital.  We actually bonded over that experience. He was a fantastic friend to me, and we were close.  Brendan was one person who was understanding, someone who was patient, someone who listened to me, helped me, cared for me, loved me and most importantly, someone who made me laugh when the world seemed unfriendly and grey.  He was sarcastic, but never unkind, critical but constructive. His opinions- and he had a lot!- were voiced with sensitivity, humour and intelligence.  He was capable of incredible warmth.  No-one could get me out of a bad mood like Brendan.  There was a time he came to visit and I was flipping out over something unimportant.  He sauntered through my door, rolling a cigarette as he did, and made me crack up laughing, and my anger was forgotten. With everything he had been through, he had time for other people, and he was someone to swap, "Fun in the mental hospital" stories with, although other people sometimes looked at us weirdly when we would laugh our heads off at tales of our outrageous behaviour, stories that are painful until shared with someone who had been there, too.  I could tell Brendan anything. He was there for me through what were two of the most difficult years of my life.  We confided in each other, sharing secrets, stories and cigarettes.  We had fun, singing along to our favourites (Bowie, Morrissey, both whom he idolised), pulling ever more ridiculous faces while singing to make each other laugh.  Sometimes, as you know, recording the awful results so we could listen to them when we were down and cringe.

Brendan discussed his problems with alcohol and depression both in real life and here with a disarming candour that no doubt many people had found incredibly helpful.  He was aware of his problems and he was strong, much stronger than he gave himself credit for.  When he slipped, he would pick himself up again and again.  His outlook on life, although sometimes tempered by depression, was almost unwaveringly hopeful. He talked about the things he loved passionately.  The passion was contagious.  His love was strong: for his family, for his friends, for writing, for comedy and music, for art, for untempered silliness and laughter.

So, I think I've gone on enough.  To my extraordinary, complex, wonderful, hilarious, intelligent, witty, loving, fun, fantastic, courageous, giving, passionate, immensely talented chancer of a friend, I will give you the advice you gave me for the day I made my ascent:  whatever you do, don't kick god.

You are so loved.  And you will be missed more than I can put into words.

And in closing, you may like to visit Brendan's site, which contains the full first chapter of one of his unpublished novels, or flick through his posts (particular faves here and here.

Cheers.

neveragain

  • like those swamp tar pits that bubble and go Gloop
Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2008, 05:56:42 PM »
Beautiful words Ronnie, and all my thoughts are with you, Brendan's sister and anyone else affected by his passing.

again: RIP JS.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2008, 02:15:31 AM »
Beautifully written Seaneen, a really fitting picture of Brendan, who was, above all, an incredibly articulate man. I found, quite unexpectedly, miles of msn conversations we'd had on an old pc I haven't used for years, I wanted to read them, but they made me feel just far too sad. Death never becomes 'okay' to deal with, you just get more used to idea I suppose.

Really lovely though, that bit of writing. I'll print it out for my friend to read. I have a christmas present that was for him sitting in my house, and Alex has his ipod and piles of his cd's in her room, as well as the electric guitar he wrote about so much on the walls at the wake. How do you deal with those items? You keep them, but seeing them makes you feel ill with sadness. I spose it's like other death i've had, you just have to leave it all out of sight till you can cope.

I'm babbling, sorry, I just meant to say, I really liked what you wrote.

ziggy starbucks

  • a prize cucumber
Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2008, 02:31:48 PM »
Lovely stuff Ronnie. If you feel the urge, write more.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2008, 02:39:48 PM »
A really wonderful post, such a shame that it even exists though.

Ciarán Gaynor McCoy

  • Guest
Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2008, 02:55:42 PM »
Hi, just dropped by to say well done Neil on that excellent interview with Armando Iannucci, thoroughly enjoyed it, you did a great job.

And also, a lovely piece on John Self there by Ronnie... I'm sure he'd be delighted to know he's remembered so fondly.

Regards, Ciarán


idlehands

  • Guest
Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2008, 12:45:15 PM »
Hi, my name is Laura and I am Brendan/John Self's youngest sister. My sister Marie has posted on here before. I have really enjoyed reading all Brendan's postings and all the tributes to him but this is the first time I have felt able to post on here. I wanted to say thanks to Ronnie for her beautiful words. Many of the tributes on here have been testament to Brendan's enormous talent and humour, as a person he was so much more than that and I felt that Ronnie really captured the essence of Brendan.
The last time I saw him, about two weeks before he died, he was talking about this site and I think he said he had met some people from here at a comedy gig. I know how much this site meant to him and being part of it gave him great enjoyment. It is comforting to know that Brendan made such a huge impact on so many people who visit this website. It is incredibly hard dealing with his death, I keep thinking it must all be some awful nightmare that I will wake up from soon and then at other times it seems painfully real.
I would feel lucky if I had only met Brendan once; I am so proud of being his sister and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend my last 27 years with him.
It is Brendan's birthday on Saturday 1st March. Marie (Jenny Self) and I are organising a celebration for Brendan on this date so please keep this date free if you would like to come. Everyone is very welcome.
 

Glebe

  • Cheers, thanks mate, nice one.
Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2008, 07:13:58 PM »
Hi Laura, I'd like to offer my condolences as one of the relative forum newbies.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2008, 03:28:28 AM »
Hi, my name is Laura and I am Brendan/John Self's youngest sister. My sister Marie has posted on here before. I have really enjoyed reading all Brendan's postings and all the tributes to him but this is the first time I have felt able to post on here. I wanted to say thanks to Ronnie for her beautiful words. Many of the tributes on here have been testament to Brendan's enormous talent and humour, as a person he was so much more than that and I felt that Ronnie really captured the essence of Brendan.
The last time I saw him, about two weeks before he died, he was talking about this site and I think he said he had met some people from here at a comedy gig. I know how much this site meant to him and being part of it gave him great enjoyment. It is comforting to know that Brendan made such a huge impact on so many people who visit this website. It is incredibly hard dealing with his death, I keep thinking it must all be some awful nightmare that I will wake up from soon and then at other times it seems painfully real.
I would feel lucky if I had only met Brendan once; I am so proud of being his sister and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend my last 27 years with him.
It is Brendan's birthday on Saturday 1st March. Marie (Jenny Self) and I are organising a celebration for Brendan on this date so please keep this date free if you would like to come. Everyone is very welcome.
 


A bizarre way to ask this, but has Alex been told about this at all? I'm sure she has, she's obviously still in hospital but i'll bring her. Will it be in St Albans or London, just so I can sort out work stuff if I need to.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2008, 11:48:07 PM »

I would feel lucky if I had only met Brendan once
 


I met him exactly once (in late November) and felt lucky enough. We clicked straight away. I'm unavailable on the 1st March - rather typically it's the only day in the next two months I wouldn't be able to make. I'll be thinking of him, though.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2008, 03:54:05 PM »
Hi, my name is Laura and I am Brendan/John Self's youngest sister. My sister Marie has posted on here before. I have really enjoyed reading all Brendan's postings and all the tributes to him but this is the first time I have felt able to post on here. I wanted to say thanks to Ronnie for her beautiful words. Many of the tributes on here have been testament to Brendan's enormous talent and humour, as a person he was so much more than that and I felt that Ronnie really captured the essence of Brendan.
The last time I saw him, about two weeks before he died, he was talking about this site and I think he said he had met some people from here at a comedy gig. I know how much this site meant to him and being part of it gave him great enjoyment. It is comforting to know that Brendan made such a huge impact on so many people who visit this website. It is incredibly hard dealing with his death, I keep thinking it must all be some awful nightmare that I will wake up from soon and then at other times it seems painfully real.
I would feel lucky if I had only met Brendan once; I am so proud of being his sister and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend my last 27 years with him.
It is Brendan's birthday on Saturday 1st March. Marie (Jenny Self) and I are organising a celebration for Brendan on this date so please keep this date free if you would like to come. Everyone is very welcome.
 


Thanks, Laura.

I'll see you soon. x

Marvin

  • No I have not thought about buying.
Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2008, 03:58:44 PM »
Hi, my name is Laura and I am Brendan/John Self's youngest sister. My sister Marie has posted on here before. I have really enjoyed reading all Brendan's postings and all the tributes to him but this is the first time I have felt able to post on here. I wanted to say thanks to Ronnie for her beautiful words. Many of the tributes on here have been testament to Brendan's enormous talent and humour, as a person he was so much more than that and I felt that Ronnie really captured the essence of Brendan.
The last time I saw him, about two weeks before he died, he was talking about this site and I think he said he had met some people from here at a comedy gig. I know how much this site meant to him and being part of it gave him great enjoyment. It is comforting to know that Brendan made such a huge impact on so many people who visit this website. It is incredibly hard dealing with his death, I keep thinking it must all be some awful nightmare that I will wake up from soon and then at other times it seems painfully real.
I would feel lucky if I had only met Brendan once; I am so proud of being his sister and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend my last 27 years with him.
It is Brendan's birthday on Saturday 1st March. Marie (Jenny Self) and I are organising a celebration for Brendan on this date so please keep this date free if you would like to come. Everyone is very welcome.
 


Thanks for posting that Laura, I met Brendan at that comedy gig about two weeks before he died, we had a really brilliant evening, it's a very happy memory and I only wish I could enjoy his company again.

I hope you do get comfort from his posts here and seeing how much he was loved and respected by this community.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2008, 05:42:31 PM »
While reading over old e-mails, I found a short story that Brendan sent me.   If anybody would like to read it, do let me know.

weekender

  • Member
  • **
Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2008, 08:17:52 PM »
You could post it here, that might be nice (if it's not too personal).  I always enjoyed reading his stuff.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2008, 03:43:24 PM »
It's far, far too long.  It would take about 40 posts to complete.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2008, 09:36:17 PM »
I've uploaded it to here:

http://www.mediafire.com/?i99kuqtmdiv

Not sure how he would feel about it.  His words on it are "funny, bit kind of dumb".

I don't know if Marie and Laura will be back to tell yous, so just in case: the celebration is some food and drink in the Old Dairy pub in Finsbury Park, from 3pm this Saturday the 1st, which is Brendan's birthday.

http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/s/18/1800/Old_Dairy/Finsbury_Park

As Laura said, you're very welcome if you would like to come.


Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #16 on: February 29, 2008, 06:17:02 PM »
It's a shame, I can't make that because I have to do some godforsaken stuff to do with my house move, and his closest friend, who really should be there, as she was virtually family, isn't there because she's on a section.

Life isn't fair really, I spose thats what this whole episode teaches you. I think it was eleven years ago I met him...and bureaucracy dictates neither of us can be there.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2008, 02:54:04 PM »
It was nice.  I'm sorry Alex missed it.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2008, 05:17:36 PM »
As it happens she was pretty rotten with a bug, so even if she had been allowed she wouldn't have had been able to go.

Can I ask what you did with his christmas present? I don't know what to do with this present I have here for him, and I came across a load of his cds and videos last night, it feels horrible keeping them, but on the other hand getting rid of them feels wrong too.

LeboviciAB84

  • |<--------------->|
Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2008, 06:20:18 PM »
I'm very sorry to have missed that, too.

Incidentally, in my attempt to get I Am A Modern Monster published, I've exhausted all my contact. None of the houses to whom I've sent it have been interested in novels (certainly not those without pictures, anyway). We/I/you need to find a literary agent.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2008, 08:22:03 PM »
Well the feedback I got wasn't positive really, so i've pretty much hit a brick wall with it too.

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2008, 09:06:06 PM »
As it happens she was pretty rotten with a bug, so even if she had been allowed she wouldn't have had been able to go.

Can I ask what you did with his christmas present? I don't know what to do with this present I have here for him, and I came across a load of his cds and videos last night, it feels horrible keeping them, but on the other hand getting rid of them feels wrong too.

If you really do want to not have them then maybe you can give them to Marie or Laura.

idlehands

  • Guest
Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #22 on: March 07, 2008, 01:42:18 AM »
Well the feedback I got wasn't positive really, so i've pretty much hit a brick wall with it too.

Incidentally, in my attempt to get I Am A Modern Monster published, I've exhausted all my contact. None of the houses to whom I've sent it have been interested in novels (certainly not those without pictures, anyway). We/I/you need to find a literary agent.

Thanks for you help with this, however at the moment I am in contact with someone about getting it published so would prefer it if no-one sends anymore copies to anyone. Mindbear I will reply to your message on facebook when I have more time.

Cheers,

Laura

Suzy Pepper

  • Guest
Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2008, 10:35:59 PM »
Sorry Neil, didn't hear a bloody word of that, couldn't get past the Belfast foghorn.

Fran

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2008, 10:05:20 AM »
Wish I had the opportunity to make contact with 'John Self'
Good-bye to him - I'm sure we could have been friends .
                         

[RIP - HANDLE WITH CARE]

Re: RIP John Self
« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2008, 12:36:09 AM »
On my mind a lot tonight.  My friend. I miss you.