|FLASH HARRY HOTSPUR by Gary Gilhooly|
Gary is my oldest friend. My family moved form Finchley in North London down to West Wittering in Sussex in 1964 and in about 1965 or 1966, I got a job at The Harbour Chalet situated in the car park next to the beach. The Chalet sold everything from Candy Floss to Li-Los including sandwiches filled with leather (masquerading as beef) and Sun Tan Lotion. It was run by a Mr Gubb who also owned a shop selling similar goods (but not 'food') in Shore Road, East Wittering. Gary worked at The Harbour Chalet too but he also attended the same school as me, Chichester High School for Boys and I cannot remember whether we first met and became friends at the Chalet or on the Number 53 bus from Wittering to Chichester. my guess is that it was the former because he was (and still is) four years younger than me and I don't suppose I would have made friends with someone so much younger on the bus. Whatever. We had the same daft sense of humour and so we clicked and I was always disappointed when he wasn't working at the Car Park or when we didn't catch the same bus. He was (and still is) a dangerous individual. I could recount any number of silly stories of the scrapes we got into - whatever it was, we always ended up laughing our heads off whether it was climbing up the steps of Waterloo Station on our stomachs pretending we were mountaineering or singing with Manchester City supporters in a pub in Wembley after watching our team (Tottenham Hotspur) win the 1981 Cup Final Replay. It may not sound very funny to anyone else but, with 3 or 4 pints (or was it 5 or 6?) of beer inside us, it made us laugh. There are others stories involving mops on the London Underground, Table Tennis bats, Newspapers, Jane pouring beer over Gary in a pub in Kingston, a potentially disastrous delivery of manure which I won't recount here but, suffice to say, it was always silly. Apart from sharing a friendship, we also shared a love of Tottenham Hotspur FC and The Beatles with the latter generally performing better than the former. The Beatles broke up in 1970 but Spurs have had to keep going and we have supported them through thick and thin.
Apart from being a respected and respectful doctor, Gary is also a keen amateur photographer and so I asked him if he would photograph me as part of the project. He accepted the invitation and came up with two ideas - one was too photograph me on the zebra crossing in Abbey Road which appeared on the front cover of the Beatles' album of the same name and then possibly photoshop the Fab Four into the photo. We went up there last year and took the photographs but Gary wasn't very happy with the results. The second idea was for me to dress in a Spurs kit under a raincoat and to flash my kit in and around the Arsenal ground. For the uninitiated, Arsenal and Spurs are arch rivals. So when I say that Gary is still dangerous, this is what I mean. I was certain that we would run into trouble doing this especially in the Summer when Arsenal louts would be short of opportunities of giving people in general and Spurs' supporters in particular a good kicking.
As it turned out, we had a very pleasant day. We got off the tube at Arsenal Station and I was surprised to find ourselves in a sedate leafy suburb with not a yob in sight. We started shooting outside the entrance of Arsenal's old Highbury ground and that calmed my nerves a bit. Then we walked round to the new ground only a few minutes away. We asked the people in the Arsenal shop if they minded us taking photos and explained that I had Parkinson's and it was for a project so they would take pity on me. They were extremely friendly and slightly bemused but allowed us to do what we wanted really - s we trashed the place. We didn't actually - that was a lie. Then we walked around the ground and couldn't help admiring it and the contrast with Tottenham's less palacious ground at White Hart Lane. We then found a great statue of Tony Adams (or Donkey as he is known to Spurs supporters - I can put the boot in a bit can't I?). Actually, Adams was a great defender for both Arsenal and England and justly warranted a statue. All the more reason to flash him - which I did. Eventually, we decided to leave before we got seduced by the place and, on the way back to Victoria, we stopped off at a pub for a light lunch and two pints.
We moved to Brighton three years ago and I love it here not least because we see more of Gary. He is married to the darling Susie - the real love of his life (sorry Spurs) and who has always tolerated our jokes. I knew his father, Robert, quite well - a great man with a hearty sense of humour but who, sadly, died many years ago now. I am very fond of his mother, Gwen, whose humour is quite dry but no less amusing and he has two lovely sisters, Jane and Joanne and two charming children, James and Emma. I love them all.
I am very lucky to have met Gary and very proud to call him my friend. I would not presume to say that he feels the same about me but if he doesn't, I'll buy him a pint and change his mind. So, this is a very special photograph taken by a very special man and, in the words of Michael Palin at George Harrison's Memorial Concert, a man so overwhelming special that in his epic and superhuman specialness he surely transcends all previous specialnesses. Oh, I didn't want to write this....I wanted to be.....a LUMBERJACK!!