Last night I took the kids to McDonalds at Sixfields. Just a normal trip, well, normal except for me not being able to eat anything. Well, it soon turned out to be far less than normal when I pulled into the cinema car park where I normally leave the car. Sitting on the corner was a red Volvo estate car, an ‘E’ reg and suddenly the gravity of what Robin had told me about Tony struck home and I was totally gone, weeping like a baby. Not even sure how I managed to park the car I was crying so much. Matt was amazing, he lent over and just hugged me and Daisy stroked my hair … when did I deserve such great kids? Anyway, I gave up trying to stop myself and just sat there weeping in McDonalds, I considered I had the right.

Tony is one of my closest friends and I probably owe him so much more than any other for the way he turned my life around.

We met in the summer of 1998, he was the first openly gay friend I had, well, I mean ‘real’ friend and not just an acquaintance. He was kind to me, he was understanding and so gentle. I was struck by just how ageless he was. I don’t know if I knew his age at the time but it certainly didn’t enter my mind, he was Tony, my friend right from the start.

He introduced me to so many things I had not done before, some I liked, others I didn’t but he made me not afraid to try new things for the first time in my life and as the years of knowing him passed my confidence grew and I became the person I always wanted to be.

To my eternal gratitude he introduced me to some people I am also proud to call my friends, guys I know now I would never have known had it not been for Tony and I know his strength and personality have likewise helped so many others, that’s the kind of guy Tony is.

I am not going to pretend we have not had our moments of falling out and I am sure there are things I have done that have totally annoyed Tony as much as those that he has done that annoyed me but, when there is as much love as there is from me to him then it is easy to forgive, the good always outweighs the bad.

If he has faults I would list the top two as smoking too much and not showing or sharing his feelings though I can understand and respect both.

What I really cannot accept is that there will ever be a time when he won’t be around.

To be honest, I am not sure if there is an after life or not but if all it is could be the memory of us that our friends have and pass on, it is going to be an awful long time before Tony is not around, we shall be thinking of him and, more important, loving him long after he leaves us. I shall always love him and so will my children, they too will miss him terribly. Forever when someone asks … ‘do you fancy a coffee?’ I shall think of Tony as that is always his way of saying, I need a ciggie or a break, lets compromise!

Tony, I love you so much and am so glad that tears won’t smudge the text on this screen.

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