Recently a younger man with whom I used to play football asked me if I would go to his house sometime and show him a few things on the guitar … he and his wife started lessons recently, and he is anxious to learn. I said I’d be delighted, and showed up with my guitar on Wednesday night.
The first song he mentioned, of which he had learned the chords, was one called ‘Heroes or Ghosts’ by an Irish band, The Coronas. I didn’t know it, but said I would learn it for the next time.
Yesterday morning an old friend, whom I shall call JR, rang me with the sad news that a mutual friend of ours, DC, had died. DC was 48 years old, a civil engineer and a very clever man … I shall go to his funeral, in a distant corner of this small island, tomorrow.
The three of us hung around together in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and had a lot of wild times. We were part of a devastated social scene when JR’s girlfriend was killed in a car crash in December 1981; we shared a flat, with a female friend, for six months in 1982.
DC went to South Africa for a few years: I strongly disapproved, but we stayed in touch on and off. My wife and I attended his wedding in Manchester in 1990 or so. We continued to meet up occasionally with DC and his wife and sons as the years passed.
The last time I saw DC was in Dublin on the day of the Ireland–Wales rugby match two years ago. As that day went on, and the drinks went down, his mood changed. His marriage was over, and he was far from happy … in fact he was in a bad way. JR and I were somewhat shocked, and I know that JR tried to help him after that. Now it is too late for help.
I don’t know whether DC was ever a hero; I don’t know whether he is now a ghost; but something about the mood of the song seems appropriate. RIP, DC. Sorry to see you go, and I will remember the good times.