(May 10, 2019) My friend Charles passed away in the night of April 4 in his Liverpool flat. A month on, I can still not really understand and remain paralysed ... A week earlier we had talked for a long time on the phone. He was telling me about his work in a home for the elderly and was eagerly talking about how he was teaching English to foreigners in some institution. He wasn't all alone after his hospital stay and recovering period. He skyped around and spent time with his sis Felicity. I am thinking of her now.
Charles and I were friends for about 14 years, introduced to each other by our mutual friend Waltraud. He held a computer job and lived in Mainz, in walking distance. We met about weekly, cooked together, went out sometimes, or just talked. One day I drilled into the high-voltage cable in the bathroom by accident and after waking up found myself in complete darkness. I had no idea how to change the fuse, so I went to Charles', and we fixed it together.
Charles was an admirer and sponsor of my art over a long time, one of the few people with whom I was able to share some new songs, poems and drawings. When my major work was out, "THE FLOOD. A Story Told in Thirty Songs", we listened through the whole long CD together. This meant a lot to me. The only other people with whom I could do that were Sabine and Lorenzo, the flautist of the album. Over time, Charles witnessed the creation of hundreds of things I was doing at the time, he was always around. Until he got into "redundancy" first and lost his job a year or two later, without having done anything wrong.
We had both moved within Mainz. He found a flat in Finthen after trouble with the earlier landlord, and Sabine and I soon after that also had to move, because this damned supermarket had opened directly underneath us with crash boom bang from 8 to 8. One of the reasons we chose the flat in Gonsenheim was that it was close to Charles'... Then he had to leave for Blighty, and he really really didn't want to. He loved Germany and the freedom he had here, in contrast to Liverpool (his assessment). In our last phone-call he talked about his wish to come for a visit once he'd be better. His condition after moving deteriorated because he had no task anymore and no position. We kept in touch, but of course it wasn't the same.
We did a lot together. We were in Liverpool together twice, went to the Beatles museum where I bought me this famous cap that I am always wearing (well, I later got more caps, I'm not wearing one for 12 or so years). Felicity told me I should not buy one that is too loose and chose the tighter one. That was right. Later I had an argument with the museum owner, who was an ardent zionist and told shite about Palestine. Yeah, we had a good time. Sabine's and my gallery exhibition, my little stage show close to the Cavern Club... Charles was sometimes attending when I had a musical appearance in Mainz, too, and at other times I brought the guitar along to his place and just played for a while. He actually was one of the three people who know the names of some of my songs, and he particularly liked "Goodnight Louise".
When I created "Charles' Room" on my website it was mainly an attempt to encourage him to unfold. He had some talent for drawings, photography (particularly light-connected expression) and also music. Even languages, although he never got round to it. In the beginning I gave him structured German lessons, but soon realised that he was simply not ready. So we dropped it. I told him that this was only in his head and that in reality he can learn German to a substantial degree. I also bought him drum sticks once, when he accompanied me to the music store where I got me some strings. He actually always wanted to be a drummer, so I told him that with these he can doodle around wherever he is and maybe this leads to something.
Charles had quite an ear for music, pop and classical. He could enjoy symphonies, even opera. Whenever I played him a new song I felt understood. I don't have this, usually. We also both were into classic British comedy and knew a lot of it by heart. Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, Monthy Python, Atkinson sketches, Laurie & Fry, Big Train, Yes Minister, The Two Ronnies, Not the Nine o'Clock News, Cook & Moore, the list goes on forever. One allusion sufficed, and we reassembled whole dialogues. Of course, our friendship also had limits, but I cannot remember any serious fight between us. He had simple needs and a big heart. He was an important part of my life, and I miss him.
If there is anybody else who wants his or her memories of Charles to be present somewhere, here is a place for it. Just drop me a mail.
This room started with some photos he took of me in October 2007. Since January 08 I've collected a couple of Charles' drawings, because Sabine and I think they are significant.
- Drawing "Tired Mother", 19 April 2010
- Makko Ho Drawings by Charles Matthews
- Drawing "Pregnant Woman", April 2010
- Drawings by Charles Matthews
- Photo Session October 19, 2007
- Obituary by Rosita Eckl, Mainz, 14 May 2019
- Anis' Liverpool Blog Jan 2008