Saturday, June 04, 2005

Barry Christian from Sheffield, England (RIP)

My oldest internet friend was Barry Christian, who I’d met through the Dubstar mailing list during my freshman year in college. We’d started communicating because he offered a trade of Dubstar’s first album Disgraceful (only release in the UK) for a copy of (Shirley Manson’s band) Angelfish. We started writing long emails almost daily, discussing mostly music though occasionally art, language, religion, etc. We made lots of CD exchanges since we both liked music so much. Barry worked in the Chemistry department at Sheffield Hallam University. He had a wife and 2 daughters, who were near my age. He was a very well read Anthropophosist (I probably mispelled that), a fan of Pink Floyd and Garbage, and a vegan. We still had plenty to talk about.

In 2002 (my last year of college), I won a trip to Europe from a UCLA Travel Fair that included a 7 day tour of London and Paris. A great part about it was that I’d already planned on going to England that summer. I have a couple cousins in London that I stayed with for the first few weeks of my trip. Since I was planning to go the Leeds Festival in Northern England, I decided to make a short stop in Sheffield to meet Barry. When I did get there, he met me at the train station and we stopped by his office at the university to drop off my stuff. Then we went to lunch at the faculty cafe. It was very nice, we both had some sort of tasty onion pie. After that, we rode the bus to a few local record stores. I picked up a Volume compilation CD and a special version of Beautiful Garbage for 5 pounds!

After that, I met his wife Christine who drove all three of us around Derbyshire to see the stone circles (which Barry had told me a lot about). It was a very nice drive through some lush green countryside. When we got out of the car, we hiked around to see the stone circles until Barry slipped and fell hard on his back. It was a very bad fall so we had to rush to an emergency room nearby. I was in the waiting room for quite awhile. After that we went to dinner at a pub, I think I had a steak mushroom dish with potatoes. Then, Barry and Christine took me to a bed and breakfast where I’d stay the night before going to Leeds. This story isn’t about Leeds so I’ll skip to the next part.

Barry and I continued to email each other after meeting, but then it stopped for a few months. I resent some of my emails to him, but got no reply. In late December 2002/early January 2003, I received a message from his daughter Heather (who I’d met when they picked me up from the B&B to bring to the train station the next morning). Heather said that her father had a lot of back trouble after his fall and after going to the hospital to get it checked out, they’d discovered that he had kidney cancer. He passed away in the hospital on December 26, 2002 (I think) at the too young age of 60. I thought I could take it pretty well, but I broke down a little. Barry was a good friend who always remembered my birthday and even my siblings’ birthdays. I’m sad that I couldn’t have met him again, or continued emailing him. Three years later, and I still remember meeting him and his family so vividly. He was the kind of friend you’d never forget.