Judge was receptive to the free software, and afterwards we met up a couple of times for drinks and a laugh. Unfortunately I started working away from home, and didn't see him as much as I did and we lost touch. A little while later and I'd passed my driving test, and whilst out for a spin one day I knocked on his door. The young lady that greeted me (I later found out it was his sister) told me that he'd moved just a few doors up, and I knocked on his door. He was so pleased to see me. We spent the evening, chewing the fat. He'd been working in Poland a lot, and had met and got engaged to a young Polish lass, and was looking forward to life. A couple of weeks later he needed to pick up his son (from his first marriage) and needed a lift. I was happy to help and we spent the day in and around Swansea.
At the time he was quality engineer for a large motor wiring loom manufacturer, and held a position of high esteem. It was shortly afterwards that they announced they were shutting down the plant, with the loss of 800 jobs, but he was one of the 31 that was staying. He worked for a short while in the area, before getting promotion and moving to Romania to set up a new factory with his new bride. Things didn't go to plan and he returned home, looking pale and unwell. He'd quit the job, the stress was killing him, and I was glad the have my old friend back.
Every Friday he'd finish work early (Poet's day, y'see), and we'd spend the afternoon and evening at his place or mine, playing Warcraft 2 against each other, watching movies, chatting, and generally doing things friends do. In 2004, I was faced with homelessness and he was there to help us find a new home. I was so fed up at that point, I just wanted to bury my head in the sand, but he drove me on and helped immensely. Meanwhile he started to face his own demons, and admitted that he liked a drink a little too much to be healthy. I'd never considered him as having a drink problem, but he'd lost his driving licence and was unemployed and sitting at home all day seemed to be a perfect breeding ground for the problem. In the meantime, our friendship went from strength to strength. He got a free kitchen (see here), we went to the Red Bull Air Race together, we went camping together, and generally did loads of things together. The whole time he didn't seem to have any real problems. He was looking for a job, and was also repairing PCs at the same time. His wife was working in Swansea, and was the main breadwinner. He got a job as a night watchman/receptionist for Premier Inn in Swansea, and that's when the chinks started to show. He would come home, drink a bottle of Vodka, and pass out on the settee. He'd started to go to Alcoholics Anonymous, and was taught that he had an illness. This in his eyes meant that it was ok to drink, and as long as he knew that. A few times he was late to work again in the evening, and eventually he lost his job there. He then got a job selling beds in a supermarket about 20 miles away. Again, with no transport, he was either walking there (leaving at 4am) or getting a taxi and owing the driver. It took it's toll on him, and he hit the bottle. This then took it's toll on his marriage, and he split up from his most excellent wife. He ended up helping out someone with a house needing doing up in the back of beyond, and trying to come of the drink once and for all. It was at this time that I lost touch with him. Without a phone, and miles from anyone, he was uncontactable.
About a year later and Sharon was shopping in Port Toilet, when a voice boomed out his name from behind the tills in the supermarket. It was Judge, and he was living in Port Toilet, in a rehabilitation centre. He was looking grey, dishevelled and unkempt, but the old laughter was identifiable. I then had him add me on facebook last year, and whilst in the area I met up with him for the afternoon. He had a local pub, and still drank heavily, but he seemed to have it in check. He was a single man, in his 40s, enjoying a bit of freedom. I tried to catch up with him a couple more times when in the area, but failed. Then I got an email from his now ex-wife last night. He'd been admitted to hospital last week with liver and kidney failure and had passed away yesterday afternoon. He'll be missed terribly.
|Rest in Peace, Andrew.|