Ian was blessed with many nieces and nephews and loved them all very much. Most of us will have heard him speak of their progress with pride. Here are some thoughts from them.
It’s difficult really to summarise what Ian Willmore meant to me in a few short sentences. I’ve been putting off writing this because I’ve been so stressed about doing him justice, which I think is telling about how exceptional he really was. He would have hated this – a) its a compliment and b) I’m rambling. The most nuanced conversation about death I ever had with Ian was the night before his mother (my grandmother) died, when he said “we all have to eff off at some point, and leave the mess to the next lot to sort out”. Ill try and be straight, abrupt and to the point, just like he always was.
I’m so so lucky to have had Ian as not just an uncle but a really fantastic friend. For a long time he was a key driving force in my career, pushing me (and my parents) to view the events side of the music industry as a legit area to work in. I owe a lot of my success today to the lunches he used to buy me every week in Garden House in Tottenham when I was working for free and struggling to feed myself. He would walk in, and without ordering would be handed a beer which he proceeded to down in a matter of minutes, which would then be replaced by another which would be accompanied by his (also unordered) meal. I eventually got used to restaurant owners knowing his name, order and life story. The people at San Marco once opened early just so we could have dinner, which we did accompanied by a compilation of Neapolitan music that Ian had burnt onto a CD for them some years ago. For my 21st birthday we went to a ridiculously out of budget restaurant where we accidentally ordered two of the most flamboyant cocktails I’ve ever seen – mine with a sparkler in and Ian’s bright pink.
I don’t think Ian had a natural interest in nightlife, but rather had a natural interest in both Tony Wilson and me, his niece, and used that as a starting point to do his Ian research and make himself interested in order to support me. He was kind like that. I didn’t have a natural interest in Mongolian throat singing, but I certainly do now thanks to him. I’m devastated that he’s gone, but as much as its a cliché he really does live on in his music. I’ve spent the past two days wandering around my house warbling along to The Hu, and I suggest that anyone missing him do the same.
Ian was an ally, a true friend and exceptionally intelligent both emotionally and in the realm of pub quizzes – the former he kept relatively well hidden and the latter he wouldn’t shut up about. I will miss him deeply but feel so very fortunate to have called him my uncle.
I’ll leave you with this video of Stella the dog – an Ian favourite.
This astoundingly moving short story was written by Monty Walton for the family and contains a number of references that might not make sense for the rest of us, but Monty has given permission to share it here and, myself (Kathy), I think that the point will come across for the rest of us, whether or not we knew his Mum and Auntie nor any of the family dogs!
A cold night, a warm hearth.
The night was cold, and whipped into his face but he kept walking.
The man finally reached the door, and pushed it open.
Inside the small bar, faces turned towards the stranger. Their glasses made clinking noises as they shifted their attention to the newcomer.
“Two bottles of beer, please.” He pointed to a pair of dusty bottles.
The barman nodded, pouring the liquid out.
The man thanked him, and proceeded to quaff the beer with apparent experience in the matter.
“What you doin’ round these parts friend?”
The man stopped drinking, and said “I’m on holiday actually, I’ve been busy you see. It feels like a long time that I’ve been busy.”
The barman commended the man on his wise choice of beer, and then said “Got any family round these parts?”
The man nodded.
“I’m expecting them now, as a matter fact. They’re late which is most peculiar.”
Outside of the bar was a shimmering haze. The kind that came on a hot summer’s day and irked all but the most seasoned Sunday drivers.
Faces rose out of it, smiling, laughing, crying, then dropped back down into the haze of colour and wind.
Understanding danced in the barkeep’s eyes, and he asked “so why did you leave?”
The man paused. He scratched his head.
“I knew it was time.”
“And I know they have each other.”
At that moment, the bar door opened and a petite woman entered. She was followed by another even smaller figure. She walked and had a stick.
The man beamed, and gave a hail of greeting.
The two figures beamed back and gave him two large hugs.
As they caught up on all things worldly (and otherworldly) two black Labradors and a border terrier joined them.
Phoebe Willmore has shared this poem that Ian wrote for her after she was involved in an accident aged 7 or 8.
The Ballad of Phoebe’s Phinger
One phine day at her phirst school Pheobe thought to play the phool To test the phirmness of a door She bashed her phinger, to be sure
Though small, the phinger lost a phlood Of the child's precious blood A nerve received a nasty slice It seemed she phaced a phrightphul price
Her phriends and parents were quite phaint Though Pheobe made no loud complaint Her doctor said with solemn cophph “Pheobe's phinger could phall ophph!”
The phatephul phinger caused the Queen A palace panic seldom seen To reassure her gratephul nation She issued a phirm proclamation
“One can now say, with great relieph That our doctors' phirm belieph Is that with the bandage gone Pheobe's phinger will stay on!”
But printed on a piece of card Phixed on the wall of Pheobe's lopht The moral of our cheerphul song Is that it could have turned out wrong
Phor while most doors are large and hard Your phingers are both small and sopht To risk the phuture of a digit Is the action of an idjit.