The Argotist Online
are those whose friendship is so integral to one’s life, that only their death
reveals its depth.
and I knew each other while at school, but it was the funeral of a mutual chum
that brought us together. Poetry, ethics, philosophy, all things raging,
budding-adult, and beer, drew us closer. I learned of his early childhood in
Battersea and the straitened circumstances, dragged into middling class home
ownership by the seemingly ceaseless labour of his mechanically minded father:
mostly he worked seven days a week. I believe Lawrence’s mother worked but I
cannot recall it being spoken of; she was always home when I called. She was
indulgent and interested in Lawrence’s works, which were a mystery to his
father, and both his parents seemed content to have Lawrence set up his roneo,
letterpress and photocopier, taking over the best room in the house: but then,
neatness was never a byword there, just a warm welcome.
a car came into my life, Lawrence’s desire to go a long way dovetailed nicely
into my desire and ability to drive fast. Lawrence always navigated, pushing at
the boundaries of what was possible, and we would end up, having dossed down in
the car, in the wee hours, in some peculiar and occasionally prohibited place
such as MOD grounds on Salisbury Plain, nestled up by Sellafield and so forth.
We came neither to be arrested nor otherwise harmed; those were charmed times. A
particularly memorable time was wakening, to the sound of some chanting, in some
verdant copse in a deep valley somewhere in central Wales. Stirring each other
out of cramped cold limbs, the predawn lit an adjacent clearing where people
dressed in white robes held seemingly secret ceremony, far from prying eyes. Our
car was painted matt black and was only noticed when we switched on and shot
through; uncommonly trepidacious.
never occurred to me that I might have been being led astray by Lawrence, but I
now imagine him demanding that I was one of his missions, perhaps more
certainly, one of his projects.
mutual interest in ancient monuments took us the length and breadth, more often
to the South West than the North. Some trips were “business”; poetry
book/pamphlet selling, distributing and poetry reading. All the time Lawrence
would tell me stuff, what project he was working on, what he was studying and of
course politics, linguistics, history and so forth and where all that might have
come from. Once juggling Leibnitz and Turing, led to my asking: ‘How is it
that you got interested in computing, Lawrence?’ ‘Oh, it’s just another
language’, he replied: along with Swedish, Polish and Greek that I knew of (my
Latin was better than his, though perhaps I flatter myself).
feel I might say that when we were young men, I was astonished by his ability
(to use the vernacular of those 1960’s times) to “pull birds”. Of course
he did not “pull”, for he did love women. On this topic, and for those who
knew Lawrence, he was, and I feel unsurprisingly, in love and loving the woman
of his longest relationship: he was devastated by its ending, mostly the manner
of it, of course.
care we took for each other was undiminished by my putting down roots in
Australia, frequent and sometimes fulsome missives were exchanged: e.g. close
typed ten foolscap pages, and then came www.
was fiercely non-discriminatory, accepting that all people are effectively,
genetically as one. He found discrimination based on pigmentation, creed,
politics or whatever, to be anathema. He mellowed, in recent years, to regret
some or other vehement expression, carrying the burden of having failed to
engage in dialogue and counsel.
dedication to his art and his craft was paramount, as it is for all whose work
is such. My not being an artist of any kind, I can only say that I struggle to
grasp the depth of such commitment. I feel feeble to the power of those who push
the boundaries of their art so far as to sorely try the comprehension of their
© Richard Kessling