Sad news arrives of the passing of my Mum's cousin Tony O'Connell in Southampton. For those of us close to my Mum and Dad (Sally and Adrian) and/or cousin Irene and Tony - the garden party in Spalding, Lincolnshire, last year will now be the documented memory of their last reunion.

Let me step back a little. My Mum was organising a party for the late summer 2017 and was inviting our close family. Mum has a few cousins on the Ralph side of her family but not many. Indeed the legendary photograph of great grandmother Annie Ralph's 80th Birthday Party taken in the 1950's has all the Ralph cousins: Les, Tony and Sally (Mum), Sylvia, Daphne and Irene.

Lots of people are larger than life it seems but what does that really mean? That they were small, that our world vision is narrow or that it's just a hackneyed phrase rolled out for appropriate consumption...

I now realise that my mate Andy Lindup is larger than death. In life he was generous, inclusive, welcoming, fresh and a delight. At your party he would be present, fabulous, vivacious and real. On the dance floor he was fast, deliberate, skilled and memorable. At the dinner party he was bright, alert, engaged and grateful. And when it went wrong in your life he was there, at the end of the phone, text message and yes if need be he would be next to you smiling, listening, non-judgemental and wise.

But the cruelty of death leapt upon him too soon and with Andy gone at the mere age of 36 we gathered today to say good bye.  But his life was so special, so full of verve, so electric and so necessary that it will last and live on.  So larger than life? Yes absolutely - Andrew Lindup was and is larger than life.

His life here may have moved on to another cosmic or astral plane but his impact, love, fun, charm and place in our hearts will continue to beat and swell. And when other lights go out, his star will shine forth in our memories and in our deeds.

As was said several time today - most bravely by Rod and Tony - we were all given a gift of friendship with our Andy and we have a responsibility to love him and others back for that. 

And so I'm home, a little lower than yesterday, but I reckon I'm feeling low because I am daunted by the challenge - to pick up that small fragment of the Lindup mantle that he shared with me and to pass it on to others. It won't be easy and I'm not him, but I will try and I will strive to recall his laughter, generosity and his ridiculousness. 

If I do that a portion of the scale of him in my life then others will notice and smile. My only regret is that those who will be new to me will not have know him, but then I will tell the stories, retell them again and share him from my heart. Yeah on that basis I will cry for now and rise to the challenge tomorrow. I'm daunted but I'll try.

Good night for now good folks, goodnight Andy, love you now, love you always and thank you. 

Ed Xxxx

I’ve spent the last few weeks back in flat rural Lincolnshire. One of the main benefits is being able to see the stars up in the night sky. Whilst there I spoke to a mate of mine. “There must be loads of stars up there" he said, "given how many greats have died in 2016”. Little did I think that just two weeks later that very same mate would be up amongst the stars, another in the crop of 2016.

Andy Lindup was a one off and truly fun and high quality. When I told him I was thinking of asking Russell to marry me if we won the Same Sex Marriage vote in the Houses of parliament his response was typical of him: “Dude you have to”.

This morning as I rushed to the railway station my favourite local charity shop had a new window display. The Batman suit stood out as did the label: "suitable for large child or small adult"... almost instinctively I went to take a picture and send it to Andy Lindup.

It's not the first time in recent weeks that I have seen moments that Lindyhop (it was an instant nickname) has been my instinctive first port of call, but cruel tragic events before Christmas make such a phone call, text, poke or tweet impossible. This time Andy's Facebook holiday will last just took too long.

Well we gathered in Newcastle to say goodbye, and I'm pleased I went. Saying goodbye to my mate Lenny, Leo, Lennie, LJ, Lucky LJ, Leonard, even Len.

I didn't know anyone really when I first arrived at the Crowne Plaza ("The Crowne Plaza - of course" I can hear you quipping), and as I sit here reflecting on last night I realise the only person I got to know better was you Lenny. So this is written directly to you, as right now I'm feeling very alone.