Wednesday, January 19. 2011
Each month has a photo and a message from the Boys and Girls so, for one year only, the Cuddly Toy Calendar appears on the side-bar. The Photos won't look too good, so I'll make sure I add the caption in clear text.
Saturday, October 30. 2010
"This Movember I've decided to donate my face to raising awareness about prostate cancer. My donation and commitment is the growth of a moustache for the entire month of Movember, which I know will generate conversation, much laughter and ritual abuse. As I’m sure you can imagine, the thought of growing a pitiful imitation of a moustache fills me with horror and there is every prospect that I will chicken out at some stage unless sponsorship commitments mean I have too much to lose. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I plan to shave it off on Monday 29th Movember at the UKOUG conference in Birmingham.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. One man dies every hour from the disease in the UK. I'm asking you to support my efforts by making a donation to The Prostate Cancer Charity. To help, you can either:
- Click this link http://uk.movember.com/donate/your-details/member_id/763450/ and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account . Or,
- Send cheques and CAF vouchers (made payable to 'The Prostate Cancer Charity Re Movember') directly to The Prostate Cancer Charity, First Floor, Cambridge House, Cambridge Grove, London W6 0LE. Be sure to include the person's name on the back of the cheque.
The Prostate Cancer Charity will use the money raised by Movember for the development of programs related to awareness, public education, advocacy, support of those affected, and research into the prevention, detection, treatment and cure of prostate cancer.
For more details on the impact Movember is having please visit http://uk.movemberfoundation.com/research-and-programs.
Thank you in advance for helping me to support men's health and putting me through a month of miserable embarrassment.
P.S. How on earth did I allow myself to be talked into this?
P.P.S. Perhaps I could run a marathon instead?"
Monday, September 27. 2010
They are incredibly well-behaved dogs thanks to their training, but we felt it was best both for the safety of the Boys and Girls as well as to take temptation away from Umber and Becca (the dogs) if the Cuddly Toys were decanted from the living room, just for one night. We had visions of a tossed Cuddly Toy flying through the air and multiple severed limbs.
The living room looked *strange* though.
The atmosphere was even stranger. At one point Mads came through from from the kitchen to ask if everyone was alright, only to realise that I was the only one sitting there.
Although there was initially a *lot* of resistance, we just stuck X Factor on the bedroom telly and they were fine ...
You can imagine how long it takes to move them all! That's why there aren't the number of family trips we'd like.
Yep, to quote Mads - 'I live in a madhouse!'
Saturday, July 3. 2010
I have no idea how many parts, so let's just pick a random number. One thing that surprised me when I had the occasional burst of contact with Jof recently was just how well he remembered the past but I'll stick to what I can remember so it might be a bit more limited.
- The first time I met him ... me deep in emotional and financial trouble (as usual), turning up at Ocean with my barely-written first demo of Grog's Revenge. Him liking it. Me being very pleased. (Even more pleased later when I learned how high his standards were)
- When I got engaged, Jof came up to Edinburgh soon after. Must have been 19 years ago? For an engagement present he bought me a portable CD player and two CDs. One Bomb The Bass (who we both liked), one William Orbit (way ahead of his time, as always).
- Dancing with each other every weekend in Macmillans (?) night club in Liverpool. We weren't gay and didn't hate women, just utterly petrified of them and didn't really understand the *point* of going to a club. Well, we did, but just the getting drunk and dancing bit Had a fantastic time, anyway.
- His glasses steaming up when we'd be eating the Chinese after getting home from the club. He *hated* that. He was *so* pleased when he switched to contacts. Virtually life-changing for him, although I always thought he looked weird without glasses
- The night we watched Liverpool 'tame the Beastie Boys' and a copper gave me a good hard slap!
- When I first worked at Ocean I had a bedsit. Coin-operated electricity meter and I had one of those mini-ovens that you can put on a kitchen work-top. Joffa stayed the night and, despite me putting the oven on as a heater and feeding the meter with coins, it may have been a little cold. He told me that they'd built a special freezer room for 'The Exorcist" so that the actors breath would steam up and that's what my bedsit was like.
That was the thing. I was the crazy mixed-up kid and he'd chuckle at my misadventures whilst trying to help me out whenever he could.
This might go on forever. Not right now though ....
P.S. Yeah, well done spammers. I'm going to have to shut off comments to this post again. Hope you can look at yourself in the mirror in the morning. Scum. Anyone who is not spamming scum and wants to talk about Jof, just drop me a mail and I'll post the comment for you.
Tuesday, June 29. 2010
That's how I finished this brief announcement. "Sob, Sob" was a character that Jof invented in his teens. He was a gifted cartoonist. He was a gifted film-maker, artist, human being and games programmer as well and, although I never heard him, I'm sure he was a gifted DJ too. Jof excelled at everything he did, apart perhaps from his inability to deal with most human beings face to face. Don't get me wrong, he was funny as hell and his friends loved him to bits, but human contact was a much bigger struggle for him than anything else. Particularly with women. But I knew him in his 20s mainly, so maybe that track record improved.
Which brings us back to Sob, Sob! We'd known each other quite a while before he started to show me his 'other' artwork, away from games. Sob, sob would go through life with the best of hopes and intentions but life would turn back on him and the final frame would just feature him saying 'Sob, sob'. Pure Joffa. Laughing at emotions and melancholia (he was a Widnes lad, after all) but being painfully aware of them. He always cared much more about films and art than he did about games, but games gave him an immediate outlet for his artistic bent and, better still, he turned out to be a top, top technician.
He never sucked up, never made 'the right move' and never attempted to grab the limelight when I knew him. He was anti-fame and virtually anti-recognition, which is why he originally wasn't held in the same regard as people like the teams at Ultimate, Imagine, the Matthew Smith's et. al. His games were appreciated by kids in bedrooms, though, and when those kids revisited their youthful years on forums at WOS, (where he used another old alias of frobush), he discovered that actually people did love him and his work and I think (mainly judging from his postings) he enjoyed the appreciation more than I ever remember him enjoying the original experience of being a games programmer. I'm so glad that he found that appreciation in the end. He always knew he was good, but to be loved by people who would accept his eccentricities was a different thing altogether.
Ah, eccentricities! Many of the tributes have mentioned him being as daft as a brush. There's no question that he had an enormous internal world of imagination and feelings, but I also remember him as being incredibly down to earth and although we'd have a brilliant laugh and he loved the absurd, he wasn't quite as crazy as he seemed from some of the WOS forum postings. But Jof's big thing was that he was always just having a laugh anyway. He was, but that was often to cover up a pretty deep and emotional guy. I think he liked to play up to being a little crazy. But, as many forum posters have recognised, everything was just a big piss-take with Jof. That was his form of anarchy.
I suppose by some standard definition of these things, we lost touch. Actually, we didn't and we'd have the occasional burst of contact, a couple of days mail flurry or a long phone call and everything would instantly feel the same as the old days, but we hadn't spent much time together for a long time. Therein lies the dilemma. My guilt is nothing compared to the pain he obviously went through recently and his family are going through now but I remember him in happier times and wish I'd done more to make him happier later on. I was delighted when we discussed him getting into DJ-ing and partying because I knew he'd have a great time, open up to other people a lot more and it might make him happier. Actually, I remember seeing him in that time and he did seem a lot happier and had changed and I was reassured. But he deserved better from me.
When I saw last year's Byte Back conference being organised, I stuck it in my diary. I was going to turn up and surprise him and was really looking forward to it. Then, sigh, sh*t happened and I couldn't go. I wish I had now, or checked the forums in May or June and could have seen him again.
Joff achieved so much in his life, regardless of whether he thought he had. He did certain things with a Spectrum that others hadn't yet (although he did *not* write Ping Pong! Just the music! He'd appreciate that comment and the music was the best bit, of course ), he followed his own path even though that might have made his life more difficult but, most of all, he cared about things. He cared about art, politics, people, the planet, music, .... this could go on forever. But beneath that painfully shy exterior lay a deep personality and that's why he found his home in forums, where he could communicate with people on a deep/shallow level who wouldn't take things at face value.
Ultimately, I could write for days and weeks and still not do him justice. I could write 50 different tributes (and I'm not kidding). All I know is that the world is a worse place for Joffa not being in it. Mine certainly is. He changed my view of the world, was the best of mates and as a confirmed atheist I hope I'm wrong but relieved that he won't be in any pain any more.
But that's just my view and my heart goes out to others who will be devastated to not be around him any more. He loved his family and we talked about them a lot. He was just a normal working class lad from Widnes who got to play around with things and be creative. That view might be out of fashion, but I don't give a shit and neither did Joff.
A class act, Jof. But at least you knew I thought that. Will f*cking miss you loads, mate, knowing we'll never speak again.
Sob, sob ... forever.
P.S. If the spelling and variation of Jonathan Smith's names is a distraction then tough. I could never work it out and he changed it constantly. Love, Bernie Dugggs.