As dark as death can be, light and life are greater

In the Queen’s Easter message to the nation, Her Majesty addressed how, now more than ever, we need Easter. Making reference to the tradition of lighting candles to mark the occasion, she said: “As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater.”

For anybody who’s ever lost someone, you’ll probably know that it’s not about getting over their passing. That’s to misunderstand grief. Everybody says that time is a great healer, but it’s not. You just get used to living with the new normal.

It was next week, two years ago that I lost my best mate, Julian. To me and many other of my mates, he was like a brother. We developed our bond during our time at boarding school. I have to admit that, when we first met, we didn’t exactly see eye to eye. But as soon as we started watching rugby, tennis, Top Gear and even Countdown together, that all changed.

I remember it as clear as day. Going out in the summer evenings after prep (a posh phrase for the time when you were supposed to do your homework) to our school’s tennis courts, we would play till the sun set. We’d spend most of our time on the court arguing with one another about line calls, and then spend the other half of it debating the most random of topics, from who was better – Björn Borg or Roger Federer – to which one of the Spice Girls we’d… don’t ask.

His passion, humour and intelligence were infectious throughout my time with him. He was famous for his ability to purchase obscure and elaborate items that, although he had a good use for them, at the same time he had no real plan for using them more than once. For example, his purchase of a hockey stick engraved with the initials JC69 baffled all of us at first, but then we soon learned this was actually just a reference and reminder to everyone about his superior knowledge of Kama Sutra, despite being only 13 at the time.

His business acumen was also something to be in awe of. I can’t remember the number of times he decided to set up his own, in-boarding house, black market business selling waffles with a waffle machine that someone else in the house had purchased. Then there were his infamous world cup sweepstakes, where even the winner didn’t receive the proceeds. He was quite the Lord Sugar, and with his sporting, political and economic knowledge, I have no doubt he could’ve made himself into the next Roman Abramovic.

There’s so much to say, but I know no matter how long I make this post, I’ll never quite be able to do him justice. I don’t mean for this to become a teary tribute, but more of a jubilant salute to someone who taught me the importance of how not to give a sh*t.

Someone who once did a bit of fashion (Coco Chanel) once said: “in order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” Now, trust me when I say this: Julian was certainly different. His intellect at times matched that of our teachers, and his humour charmed and won over any critics who ever dared to think he was purely juvenile.

First mate and best mate. He’s the reason I’m blogging now, the reason why I garnered an interest in politics, and the sole reason why I try to take risks in everything I do. Especially when it comes to the craft of journalism.

I hate people telling me you can’t write this or you can’t say that. Now, obviously, I’m not seeking to offend or insult, but a bit of tongue-in-cheek, or even a splash of blatant humour never stopped the world from turning. Jules taught me the importance of what it meant to revel in the opportunity of being a bit of a joker.

You shouldn’t be ashamed of being immature at times – you should just grasp it and enjoy.

I believe that, as a society, we are happiest when we let ourselves go, relax and find the humour in the strangest of things. My life is a brighter place for having met him, and I shall do my utmost to carry on the laughter as a metaphorical baton that resembles his legacy.