It is with great sadness that I report the passing of my good friend and once neighbour, Ian Course. Some of you will, of course, know him as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Who Shot Tony Blair? and Cambridge-types will no doubt remember fondly his eccentric sartorial leanings, generous heart and absolutely lethal homemade damson gin.
I lived next door to Ian for around seven years and we quickly became great friends. The wooden gate between our properties was always on the latch and (during the summer months, especially) one or the other of us would routinely trundle through, bearing gifts of the victual variety. I brewed wine and made jams from the fruits of Ian’s orchard and Ian shared his wares of the aforementioned damson gin and his own fiery brand of horseradish. I got used to his woolly menace of a dog, Bonkers, mounting regular invasions and gamely trying to make off with anything vaguely edible he could find. Once, Bonkers returned to Ian with a whole cooked joint of beef in his chops, but luckily it wasn’t mine.
Convincing him to take the role of Chancellor was a masterstroke on my part, as he already had an extensive wardrobe that would dwarf that of any self-respecting eccentric political heavyweight. Whilst I could go on and on about the many attributes of Ian and the adventures undertaken, I shall say for now only how much I shall miss him as a dear friend and what a huge hole he has left in the Tony Blair team. With plans for the filming of the new book trailer well underway, I cannot yet bring myself to think about who might take his place on screen. Because there is certainly no one who could take his place off of it.
Goodbye, my friend. At least just for now.