Most people knew him as Eddis, a single name like Madonna or Pele. But to me he was always Mr.Eddis. A name brought on from respect because he was older than me, because knew more about music than me and because he ran the gauntlet of getting a kicking from Teds, Skins and Mods so that we could freely listen to weird music and dress strangely.
He had a unique dress sense. Clothes would be purchased not for the colour or fit, but because of the vibe they gave off, a vibe that only he could see or sense. “Feel the quality of that” he would say beaming, offering a sleeve of an old jacket that had a huge hole in the armpit and smelled vaguely of sheds. “Fucking beautiful”.
He’s the only man I’ve ever seen wearing a cravat and a cagoule at the same time. And of course he pulled it off.
He was a gentle soul. After an admirably forthright doctor had told him if he didn’t sort his shit out he would be dead in six months, he was happy to nurse half a lime and soda and tell old punk war stories, tales I was happy to lap up. He never ever talked to me about work or where I was living or anything the straights talk about, It was never ever how I made or spent my money. It was always about what I was putting my heart into, and I loved him for that. “Who have Town got this weekend?” “Bournemouth Mr.Eddis” “I saw Penetration there once” and away would go.
Not that he wasn’t principled mind. He was a punk, a vegetarian, a socialist, firmly anti fascist and a feminist. He adored women in the same way the Egyptians worshipped cats, with a mixture of awe and love. He had a massive respect for female punk and ska singers, though Polly Styrene out of X Ray Specs was his favourite. He would talk of her in the hushed reverent tones normally reserved to discussing God. He loved hearing about my daughter and delighted in hearing how much she loved school. He wallowed in hearing the minutiae of bringing up a baby. “Tell me about changing her nappy, that must feel fucking brilliant”
He was a funny man with a arid dry sense of humour. His black/white right/wrong almost childlike sense of the world would have me in stitches. On Eric Clapton (“It shouldn’t have been his lad who fell out of the window, it should have been him. And I don’t want it to be instant, I want him to lie there thinking about what a racist cunt he is”). On a member of notorious fascist Oi! Punks Skrewdriver. (“He got brain cancer didn’t he? Let’s hope he didn’t die to quickly”) all delivered in that slow monotone. One of the last times I saw him was a baking hot day and I was racing home for an ice cream and a lie down. I passed him eating lunch in his pink shades. “Alright Mr.Eddis? Hot one innit?”
“Well” he said slowly sipping on a can of Lilt “depends on how quickly you’re moving don’t it?”
He was evangelical about music to the point of Stalinism. I remember him stopping mid sentence, putting his drink down and walking out of the pub because someone had the audacity to put Fleetwood Mac on the jukebox. He got punk in a way I can only dream of understanding. It made and defined him. Not in the mohican and gob sense of pub, but the DIY and community sense, the principles and the politics, the submergence in art.
When I heard of Mr.Eddis’s passing my initial reaction was selfish, I thought of how sad I was and how much I would miss him and how Shrewsbury, the Nags and life wouldn’t be the same without him, but the real actual tragedy is we are lost in this world full of shit and horror, and we need more men like Eddis, not less. How cruel it is to take him away from us, this gentle, caring, wise and funny man. That’s what I find unfathomably cruel and unforgivable.