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.

Last night was lovely, meeting your family and mates: some I had met, many faces from Facebook (and other social media platforms 😜) but as I moved round the room chatting to your Mum, cousin, aunt, best mates, and many others we laughed and smiled. You loved well, played hard and the exchange of stories was really special. It would have been easy to miss it and to have stayed at home, but drinking with your family and friends was what I needed. Russell said I should go, as I would regret if if I didn't. As ever Russell was right.

I arrived at the function room last night knowing virtually no-one, but they say you can judge a person by their friends. Well mate, you have a great bunch of friends and if I was but a small part of that, then I'm proud, very proud. But I miss you.

And having laughed and joked, putting on the brave face, I realised I didn't actually feel sad at all. As you perched in your new temporary home of the urn on the table in the entrance of the room I smiled knowing you could hear every word. Occasionally, I even imagined I could hear your coughing, spluttering with outrage or even chipping in to make the story even more far fetched, more ridiculous, but adding a hilarious accurate element we had forgotten. Seeing you at the final party and able to speak about you uninterrupted was a unique pleasure. Lenny, you were and always will be a very special friend to me.

But right now I'm at Newcastle Central Railway Station heading back south to my Wussell (you never did call him Russell!) and I'm in flood of tears. I'm literally sitting here shaking with emotion. The stories are now memories, and the friends scattered to the four winds. I got through last night, met people you had talked of, met the people you lived with, worked with, grew up with and went to school with - but now I'm angry that there is no second chance to be rude to you or tell you off for being late or blame you for creating havoc.

Yes I can go on Facebook, your ever virtual home, and read your comments, your posts and re-live your memories but frankly I just want to see you again and I can't.

So to try and cheer myself up I have done what any classy man has done in Newcastle over the years. I've taken a few selfies, been to Greggs and am waiting for my train admiring the lads who are doing their walk of shame from last night. And as I munch my pasty and drink my can of coke I'll recall those mad days and nights with you. You were one in a million, you old git, but I'm gonna miss you. I can even hear you making some soft noise of comfort right now and reaching out for a hug or cuddle, which of course always made things better. Well this time it's just me and I will treasure my train journey home to Wussell cos I will get some time to think about you, curse you and send you more love than you will ever know.

Look after yourself mate, cos none of your friends who gathered last night are there to get you out of the scrape this time - right now - like me - your are on your own.

But I'm writing this so you know I love you, and I'm heading home to get my hug and cuddle from my husband.

Missing you already Lenny. I don't intend to see you soon - but as in life - I never did know when you would crop up next so I guess nothing has really changed. It just this time instead of being late, you just won't turn up. Well I know I will see you again sometime, but as much as I loved my time with you, this time it's my turn to be late. So wherever you are right now, you can wait - have a drink from the mini bar-in-the-sky and just wait.

Actually knowing you, the minibar is empty, the beach is calling, there is some scrape you are about to get yourself into, or you are off to get into the sauna or hot tub-in-sky. So raise your glass, enjoy yourself you git, wait for me and all your family and friends and if you wait long enough, we will all see you again.

Love you,

Ed
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