This is the kind of blog post I’ve never wanted to write but it is a good source of therapy, contemplation and celebration. On Monday 11th January 2021, my good friend and former roommate Lucy Hale passed away at the age of 26 in Manchester. We’ve enjoyed so many memories and milestones together over the past decade and I’m gutted we can no longer enjoy any more adventures together.
To honour and celebrate the life of Lucy Hale and the amazing friendship we had through school, college and beyond, here is a letter to Lucy, in which I share all our incredible memories, praise her for her amazing achievements and thank her for the love and kindness she has given me throughout our friendship.
The day we met was Monday 23rd June 2008. It was my first day at Treloar school and I was in room 64 being introduced to the rest of the class when you whizzed into the classroom behind me after a visit to the health centre. I soon discovered you were also fairly new to the school, so we eventually became newbies together.
Getting to know each other
In September 2008, as we began our GCSE’s, we found out we’d be sharing a room together. I remember that first evening after school, sat in our bedroom chatting away and getting to know each other.
The funny, or maybe annoying, thing was me trying to understand your speech impairment. At one point, it felt like we were playing verbal charades. Eventually I learnt a few important facts:
- The Killers is your favourite band
- You like indie/alternative rock and hate pop music
- You despise David Cameron and the Tory Party
- You can’t stand Chris Moyles
At this stage, I didn’t know The Killers that well, listened to pop chart music on Radio 1 and had not much interest or understanding of politics – great start to our friendship!
We then found one mutual love, Harry Potter. I thought I was a big fan of Harry Potter but after meeting you, I felt like I should study my Harry Potter knowledge more thoroughly. You knew so many random facts and trivia about the wizarding world I never knew.
Over the next few months and years, our friendship blossomed. I could understand your speech so well that I basically became your translator. Because we couldn’t hug, our embraces were pokes and sometimes ramming into our wheelchairs. We even had our own can-can dance in bed.
Conversations caught by monitor
We used to have some of the weirdest and most bizarre conversations, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. I remember one night, we were chatting and using some colourful language, when one of the night staff spoke into the intercom on your monitor and told us they could hear everything we were saying and we should go to sleep.
We totally forgot you had the monitor on that checks your feed and bipap. We ended up in fits of giggles, try to stay quiet and then begun another conversation. A few minutes later, the carer told us off again and sarcastically said if we don’t go to sleep, they’ll get us up and make us do chores. We immediately said yes, we want to help with chores and went into another fit of giggles – so random but so funny!
Sleepover in health centre
There was a period at school when you had to stay in the health centre on campus, so I had a room on my own for several weeks. Although I saw you in classes, we missed sharing a room and our late night chats. Therefore, it was suggested I could stay in health centre with you one Sunday night as a sleepover. We had such great fun and we watched ‘Forrest Gump’ together, which I’d never seen before in full until then.
The following morning, we found out we had lots of snow and many teachers, carers and nurses couldn’t get to work. So, we had a very lazy morning in bed with a volunteer bringing snowballs into our beds.
By late morning, the senior nurse Jane – who had turned up after walking from Alton to Upper Froyle through the snow – was astonished to find us both still in bed and said we should be in class as GCSE students were still having lessons. We were both gutted and reluctantly got out of bed and headed for maths class – joy!
We had another couple of occasions where we tried skiving classes. One time was when there was the Icelandic volcano ash cloud after the Easter holidays. Our maths teacher was stuck in France and wouldn’t be in school that day. Our maths lesson was scheduled for after lunch so we had a leisurely lunch break and had a casual stroll back to the classroom to do homework or revision.
As soon as we entered the classroom, a stern voice asked; “Why are you both late?” – it was our maths teacher. It turned out she got a coach from Paris at 6am that morning to get to school for our maths lesson at 2pm – gutted!
Another occasion, we had finished our music exam and were allowed to go back to the house for a quick break before returning to our ICT lesson. However we decided to be a bit rebellious and take our time with our break. We sat in the kitchen while I drank my drink very slowly.
Eventually, the carers were anxious for us to return to class, so we left the house and made our way back to class extremely slowly. By the time we made it to the classroom, the teacher was letting the rest of the class head for lunch, so we just followed suit – sneaky!
I will admit we have some unusual nicknames for each other – Dead Parrott and Lobster. You decided to call me Lobster and for ages I never knew why, but it turned out you simply liked the word lobster and the name just stuck.
Your name Dead Parrot came after you introduced me to ‘Monty Python’ and the dead parrot sketch. I adopted this name for you because of the sketch and also because you repeatedly asked me to pretend to shoot you on a daily basis, which I fully don’t understand why now, but it strangely amused us. Also your name in my phone contacts is still Dead Parrot!
I even remember getting you a lobster and parrot beanie baby toy for your birthday. I hope you still kept them all these years later?!
School and college memories
There were so many other memories from school including you naming my toy monkey FANACKPANTS,our residential trip to Cornwall and prom nights.
At college, I felt that I didn’t get to spend as much time with you as we were in different classes, spent the evenings doing homework or revision and the weekends you were working on your music studies in London.
Introducing me to music festivals
A big thank you goes to you for introducing me to music festivals. In 2012, with the generosity of your parents, you invited me to come along to Reading Festival. It is still the best weekend I’ve ever had, with perfect environment, atmosphere, people and music. I also loved how we managed to do it again in 2014 and a year later, with your super speedy online actions, we got Glastonbury Festival tickets.
I was only thinking the other day we’ve only been to these three festivals and two gigs at The O2 – Russell Howard in 2014 and Arctic Monkeys in 2018 – together. I was sure we had done more gigs together but apparently not.
I was gutted when I missed out on seeing The Killers with you in Manchester a few years ago and now knowing I’ll never get to see them with you. I don’t think I even got to tell you that I got tickets to see The Killers in Southampton for last summer.
I initially looked at Manchester dates but I think they were a weekday so it wouldn’t have been practical with travel and care etc. As it was, it got postponed to this summer anyway.
I hope you’re proud that I’m finally seeing The Killers as I may have never seen them if you hadn’t converted me to good music. When I go to the gig in Southampton on 31st May 2021, I hope you’ll be with me in spirit.
I also never got to find out if you got to see ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ in the West End? I saw it in 2017 and it was incredible. I wish we could’ve seen it together.
I’m sad we can no longer see live music and shows together but I promise I will continue to go to as many gigs and festivals as possible for as long as I shall live.
I can honestly say, the past two years our communication has been rather limited. I guess it is a combination of workload, distance, my quality of care, lockdown and, I’m sorry to say this, but your lack of messages on occasions (which has been a habit of yours since I’ve known you).
Our last get together was seeing Arctic Monkeys at The O2 Arena in September 2018. Since we started university, we’ve always made the effort to see each other once a year, whether that be in Alton, Croydon or halfway between in Guildford. I’m gutted I never got the chance to visit you in Manchester. I was either unavailable due to work or health or just had shit carers that weren’t committed to support me.
It is more of a shame because in July 2020, a new carer started with me who is very keen to travel and go to gigs and festivals but due to Covid, I haven’t had the chance to do this with her and now we’ll never get to visit you.
I looked back on messenger the other day and the last message I sent was on your birthday in August 2020. The message before that was a random message sent in February 2020 about a weird dream about you that said:
The message I sent before that was on your birthday in August 2019. The last message you sent me was on 19th June 2019, suggesting I listen to the podcast ‘My Dad wrote a porno’ and I replied saying I was honoured that you thought of me when listening to this podcast.
I feel like these last couple of years I’ve missed out on what you’ve been up to such as composing, getting your flat and other life achievements. I just wish I had made more of an effort to contact you more.
Lucy Hale: Master of music
Surprisingly most of your achievements over the past two years I found out through your Mum sharing on social media or when I’m researching for Disability Horizonns content.
Back in July 2019, I wrote a news piece about Drake Music. While scrolling through their website, I saw a photo of a group of musicians and you were in it.
Then in September last year, I interviewed opera singer and violinist Joanne Roughton-Arnold. While researching her, I was on the Paraorchestra website and your name popped up too (although I can’t seem to find it again now).
I always knew you were a talented, creative composer but wasn’t fully aware how far you had come since university. I understand you don’t like to show off your work to everybody, but you should really be proud of what you’ve achieved and the world should hear all your amazing music.
Many other tributes for you have been pouring in, praising your amazing musical talent and featuring some of your compositions:
Love you always Lucy Hale
I can’t put into words how much I’m going to miss you. I wish we hadn’t lost touch over those two years and we could have enjoyed at least The Killers together. I know you’d be saying to us stop moping about me and get on with your lives. Well, I promise you I will try my best to continue to enjoy my life to fullest and you will always be in my thoughts and my heart.
Love you always Lucy Hale,
My condolences go to Lucy’s Mum Nicky, Dad John, sister Ellie, her friends, colleagues, fellow musicians and other fellow students and staff at Treloar’s. RIP Lucy Hale – talented, creative composer and an amazing, wonderful friend.
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