In the years we knew each other (not enough) GKA brought surprise into my Christmas Eve, or whenever it was we were able to get together with a few friends. He brought presents for us all - treasures he'd found on his meanderings round the charity shops of Shrewsbury. On these evenings there were no expectations, no disappointments, only the excitement, the wonder of a child's Christmas.
I'll tell you about three of these gifts, ones that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life, because that's how it rolls, isn't it? (Graham would've liked this touch: to be cast as all three wise men in the nativity play -- at last).
The first gift is gold and green -- a precious casket which says You are special. It contains a paperweight, and a paper.
It's gold - pure and true, heavy, precious, rare.
The second gift is strong, saved for an emergency which hasn't yet happened. Souvenir from another land and time - if I need to open these tiny bottles one day, I expect what will remain is perfume, a prayer of alcohol and malt, of memories of holidays, of those holy days of happiness.
The third gift is the place Graham still is, all residue of him. To wrap this for me was what he was like -- he found the solar system in an Oxfam shop, then gave it away. And with this must come the last poem -- the one he read to us in the park in September.
I will bury my bones beneath the earth
grow flowers from my soul
trees will feed from my essence
I shall be forever untarnished
I will scatter my ashes across the sky
fly like flocks of birds
like moths before the moon
I shall become the wind
until I burn
yeah! burn in the heart of the star
Graham Attenborough, 2021
And there's something else. A gift which couldn't be wrapped. And it's this -- that it's possible to dance to Handel's Messiah, and that joy when doing this is inevitable. After we'd opened our presents, we'd push back the coffee table and prance around: And the Glory of the Lord. All We Like Sheep. His Yoke is Easy. Hallelujah!
Here he is, wearing a coat made by Gabriel. Here he is. My beloved friend. Here he is - Graham, GKA, Gray: half fallen angel, half risen dervish.
Love to you, love to you all, at Christmas.