I can remember the days when my life was full of 21st birthday parties. Then it was engagement parties. Then it was weddings, followed by christenings, graduations, and more weddings. Sadly, nowadays, the milestones are more finite.
Out with friends the other night, I heard that Don Lindsay had died. I’d known he was ill, but he was still Facebook fit so I wasn’t all that worried. During his second round of chemo, he had a sudden relapse and went quickly, which is the way he’d have wanted to go. That said, given his druthers, he’d have preferred to be back in Budapest doing the Don thing.
We met online, many years ago, something not many people knew until he outed us when competing in Gift of the Gab, a speech slam I hosted back in the day. In the run-up to the competition, I asked him for a photo and a bio. He sent me this:
As a red-headed stepchild of re-invention, Don Lindsay has seen service as a journalist, salesman, DJ and blogger in diverse global corners such as Glasgow, Chicago, Cape Cod and, currently, Budapest. A one-time youth cricket international (literally once), he spends way too much time watching football and yelling at bar TVs. Music, reading and food are other waste-of-pastimes, but there’s no arguing his culinary skills massively outweigh a Lilliputian command of Hungarian.
Don had to give a five-minute prepared speech on a topic of his choice. He pressed his mental rewind button and took us back to the early 1960s resurrecting the Beatles vs Stones debate. [His love of music could never have suffered my complete disinterest in and desert-like knowledge of music of any kind.] Going into the second half – the impromptu set – Don took the stage first and drew two topics: “Three hypotheses as to why dinosaurs died out” didn’t quite grab the audience who voted on the second topic, “Internet dating”. In true impromptu form, he cooked what he had in the fridge and blew my secret forays on the XpatLoop classifieds wide open. I was mortified. I’m cringing now as I think about it. Talk about a sucker punch:-)
But that was Don. Master of the unexpected.
We’d occasionally meet up for a beer or a coffee. He’d fill me in on where he’d been or was planning to go. He liked to travel. We had that much in common. The last time I met with him was shortly after he came out of hospital in March 2018. We had a coffee and caught up. Then life happened. I was spending more time in the village, he was busy in Budapest. Conversation was limited to Facebook likes and comments. In March he wrote and told me about moving back to the UK, to my old stomping ground, Oxford. He needed tests and treatment. I wished him well. Five days ago, his terse, one-line intros to his FB posts showed the journo in him was still kicking. And then he was gone.
Just. Like. That.
He’s probably in Rock heaven now, bending Mick Jagger’s ear, bemoaning the fact that he missed Jagger’s birthday party by four days. I’ve no doubt but that he’ll make up for it next year.
Here’s to you, Don. May you rest in peace knowing that once, you left me speechless.