Loydell prose & verse

The following items were submitted by author, poet and artist Rupert Loydell, and were inspired by Fairnie and written with great love and affection for him.



for Steve

My history’s a pint of Guinness

and limping back home

doing only left-turns –

planning out routes to hell.

Slumped in the corner,

you caress me with gossip

and I nod in time to the music

blaring out above our heads.

You were only an hour late –

and I’m past caring,

slumped in a past

you won’t remember.

© Rupert M Loydell 1992


You’ve put my life into little boxes:

each a set of records and tapes by

our many different bands,

along with photos and reviews.

You don’t ever listen to our past.

The time for songs has gone

and even I am silent in my box:

giftwrapped for God

in best suit and shoes,

make-up on my face.

Don’t bury yourself with me,

neither past nor future dreams

should be stacked away like this.

Memories won’t be hidden,

and the children will want to see.

I know I’ve left the stage,

but please remember me.

© Rupert M Loydell 1994


Another friend dead.

Been a bad year.

Seems hardly anyone

makes it through.

There’s no song, no words

left in me today.


In the cathedral

religion sings to itself

an evensong.

Outside, the world wears spring

like a teenage girl struggling

to bear the weight of new breasts,

aghast at the interest they cause.


is no defence today.

The world’s emptier

and more miserable than before.

I come home

to unwanted possessions

in the silver dark.


The world’s much lighter

maybe moving faster

but I wish it wasn’t you

fell overboard.

© Rupert M Loydell 1994


for Martyn and Steve, rather late

We are deconstructing the day

with a bottle of bourbon to hand;

three upright chairs moved

to the balcony outside our room:

best place to see the storm’s display.

Naked in a bath of electricity,

we absorb sheet lightning

falling down the distant stars;

our own memories of America

a library of quirks and contrasts.

Widescreen effervescence

delays departing afterburn,

a retinal image of the unknown:

horizon bigger than we’ve ever seen

above the empty swimming pool.

© Rupert M Loydell 2002   


[this poem is – mostly – a collage of phrases and headlines Rupert Loydell, Steve Fairnie and Martyn Lucas collected and things they saw during a stay in New York]

‘It’s hymn time in the land of abandon.’

– Michael Wilson

I flirt with theory

I think God’s gone off America

I’ll be your go-go boy

a big fish in a small puddle

I know the price of aluminum in Harare

but not the time in Chicago

I hate fragile people

I’m allergic to jewellery

Free pie in July

Itch like a switch

Donate an organ to Wendy

grasp a little more of the aesthetics

Experience the emotion on video:

a wacky wedding where everything went wrong

Pizza boy grabs slice of the action

now he’s too fat to face the president

A one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest

Judge tosses kids in the slammer

Garbage can kid changes her life

at Bullwinkle’s moose-a-rama

A zimmerframe juggler

of flower child origin


Just when you thought you’d taken

your lashes as far as they could go

A detachable face

for the ultimate security

The Audio-Luminous Gurus:

Fundamentalists with ponytails

Dig up your own birthplace

Six dead monkeys and a lost tribe under my pillow


Madonna’s sister is on parade

outside the easy-over diner

The Garbage Can Kid has a duck and a hen

living in his broken pram

A moth around a candle

is bound to be burned

The candle is New York

these are the moths


The world is one big Chinese whisper

© Rupert M Loydell, August 1992


for Bev Sage

Their last evening together.

He sat at the table, drawing,

and she settled down to her film.

She could hear the scratch of his pencil

without having to turn round.

The whole house sang when he drew.

Everything seemed possible.

It took three days for the flowers to start rotting.

In the well of each vase a thick fur of algae grew

on the unfed stems, filling the house with its stench.

Petals curled and browned on the carpet.

The phone rang and would not stop.

She began to call him her eskimo.

He knew this would happen, she said.

They go off to do it secretly, all alone.

He was always on his own somewhere.

His whole life.

She looked up for the first time

at the long hill of doing certain things for herself.

She would have to learn to drive.

Maybe, she prayed, I will leave here

and live in Greenland.

At midnight I will find him walking towards me

across some ice-thin crevasse.

And there, there in his eskimo arms I will remain,

learning from his lips through the sunlit winters

the hundred thousand names for snow.

© Anthony Wilson 1994


For Bev & i.m. Steve Fairnie

I’m not interested in any other story right now. I have two deaths of my

own to haunt me.

There are no ghosts, just the unexpected presences, sometimes absences, as I go through my life. I expected to outlive my parents, and my father dying – although far too early – was something I knew would happen. Your death – a friend’s – was not.

It’s taken months and months to even start to push you two aside. You’ve become entwined, just as the deaths of a famous painter and my father did for a while; inexplicably linked, two deaths circling each other.

Everywhere we go there are people who know, or know of, you. A whole web of friends, students, fans, artists, acquaintances, seemingly all somehow touched by your life, and now your death. A few days silence on the subject ends abruptly in puzzled conversation, reminiscences, mournings Yet the tears have gone, it’s loss, bemusement, a dull ache. It’s a friendship slipped away, or with my father a friendship never cemented, only just begun, ten years on from being a teenager.


There’s nothing like your father’s funeral to give you insights into all those adult friends – the “uncles” and “aunts” of your childhood – you’ve known so long; from best-behaviour visits, or family days spent playing with other children you never truly got to know.

Now, after the service, the buzz of renewed talk. “Uncle” Pete’s alone at a table, quietly intent on some food; distant. I feel obliged to brave his stern poise and venture conversation.

Others mutter nothings to my sister, my mother, to me. Later I’ll discover Lewis upset at not getting to a place on time; too reliant on old friends’ generosity – a car ride too slow to make it to the crematorium on time.

Across the room I see two friends – one old, one new: his current partner.

She holds my hand to comfort me. Her simple action makes the most sense out of anything all day.


Difficult to imagine how death will never leave, now we know it so well.

Dad, you’ll always be there, old and drawn when you should have been still young. There might have been time to cross distances. You could have learnt to travel, to say “no”, to wing the world, to stay alive

And you, who I sometimes think I never knew, you’ll always be the joker in my pack. You’re the best pint of Guinness I ever had, you’re New York late at night, you’re the punchline to a wicked joke. And now it’s all gone.

The world seems quieter without you both. So different, but big parts of my life. Father/friend. Teacher, draughtsman, deacon/singer, painter, magician. Dad and death. Dark days.

Memory gnawed too long.

Holes where there should be life flowing on.


Five hundred full: a church packed and singing. You had so many friends I feel suddenly unimportant, a mere distant relative, an acquaintance. You’ve meant so much recently, an encourager, joker, accomplice, raconteurS

We all share this service uneasily: you had so many lives, and somehow cut across boundaries many of us observe. Artists, media stars, fashion designers and victims, students, and a rock star, collectively sigh.

We bury you in silence. I would have buried you in the city, on a corner swept with gossip and noise; perhaps you’re more at rest here, in unfamiliar pastures, the sun high above, backlighting the cold day.

I turn away, choked up.


How strange that your widow works her grieving out like this – bleak photos on the moor, a sheep’s skull in sharp focus against the sky; and stone angels in the city cemetery. She wants to gather up the past and carry it with her into the future. She knows it will be alright, but talks with your manner, uses your jokes, your familiar catchphrases. The new dog runs from room to room, yapping at the strangers gathered in your newly reorganized flat. The enlarged prints are spread on the dining room table. She lays out the workings of her heart for us to see.


She says you are buried in the t-shirt we bought in New York. The three of us, ‘lads’ for a week: too much art, too much beer, too many jokes. Excitable and tired. I think of you when I wear my shirt. Remember that instead of ours being the only three of those shirts in England, someone else turned up in one at our art exhibition.


You told her that you wanted her at your funeral, weeping like that. Two weeks before, at another church, another funeral. “You’re very good.”


The final magic, to disappear from view, far earlier than expected. Houdini in a box not designed for escape.


My first burial. The thud of earth on the box to be endured, the brass nameplate buried, you left alone in the churchyard miles away as we drive back to the city. And the tears of friends and family, the weeping from inside us all.


Who knew you? All of us? Or none? Who moved between musician, magician, painter, performer? Who knew your quiet discussion and your onstage shout?

Who knew when you were bluffing or when you simply spoke the truth? In a way, we all knew – all knew that we didn’t know, and that it was okay like that. That you were someone so special we had to share. That you leavened smany lives, made so many people laugh.

But you had to go. Or so it seems.

© Rupert M Loydell 1993