I checked my email on Saturday morning and discovered one from someone I don't know with a friend's name in the subject line. 'Uh oh,' I thought. It was his niece, who'd found my address from this blog and who was writing to tell me my friend was dead, dead far too young. He was 46. If I'd checked my email the night before, I could've made the funeral, which was on Saturday morning.
I've already written about how Spontaneous Search Party changed his name. Rose, telling her kids about him, described how she found talking to him. She reckoned he only made sense if you were half drunk. They'd have some great yarns, those two. The first time they met they discovered they'd both been at the same Cure concert in the 80s. That was before Spont crashed out in a speaker stack at a Motorhead concert and went deaf in one ear.
When we were living in Waitati in 95, he wrote a long, very strange letter, a literally colourful letter to this German electronic outfit called (I think) Sun Electric. The return address was the servo down on the main road, where we got our mail: 'c/- Waitati Post Office, Waitati'. The German electronic outfit's next record, when it came out, included the track 'Waitati Post', as I recall a fairly trippy fucked-up little number. So Spont got the band's logo tattooed down his arm in large letters.
He was always doing shit like that. One time, he was just sitting smoking cigarettes and staring at his Camel cigarette packet. I asked him what the fuck he was staring at, and he pointed to a small line of camels. Then he disappeared for a couple of days and came back with them on his arm.
He had the best tattoos I've ever seen. Built up at random, on whims, like that. Both arms.
So on Saturday night, a group of us were invading Blandings South once more anyway, so it turned into a bit of a Spontaneous Memorial. All but one of the people there knew him. My favourite anecdote was my friend Ben's, describing playing chess with Spont. There was a group of us who played chess regularly, and when Spont came to visit he would destroy us one by one.
Ben described sitting there, carefully constructing a cunning plan over a considerable period of time. Meanwhile, Spont would be chatting away with someone else, not even looking at the board. When it was his turn, he'd glance at it and then show you the major flaw in your cunning plan that you hadn't spotted, leading inexorably to a complete rout. The big grin, the 'Are you sure you want to do that?', the sleight-of-hand flourishes while moving and taking pieces.
Spont got up to all sorts of tricks. He taught me a lot, and not just how to drive.
Spontaneous Search Party lived his life his own way, and there will never be his like again on the face of this Earth.