Glasgow, October 1998. My first ever Rag Megaraid - Clash of the Clans for ICRF. being all young and impressionable, and mildly scared after being in a pub with a large bunch of people I didn't know, we got back tot he church hall. Ewan Spence from ESCA started chatting to me about this new conspiracy theory he had - that man didn't actually land on the moon. Although he clearly had his patter down and whole theory set out, it was interrupted from time to time by this big blond bloke who didn't seem convinced by Ewan's arguments. We all found a common love of the Transformers movie though. In the end we didn't go to sleep, preferring to stay up all night chewing the fat. I had never felt so instantly accepted as that night.
After the collection, we all went to the pub and carried on chatting about the day, into a wider group. Andy wasn't the leader of the group, but was a really important part of the group.
Over my time at strathclyde Andy was a really useful guy to have about. He said as much to me one year after moving to manchester "I'll only ever be around when I know I can be of use. I never intend to get in the way" - and there's no doubt that he knew just the right way to make the most use of himself in any given situation.
On Jan 1st 2000, both of us with stinking hangovers, he said to me "I'm going shopping for tat. Want to come?" This led to one of the weirdest mornings of my life wandering around Edinburgh, trying to find the tackyest c**p we could for ?20. Andy outdid himself coming back with a pink flamingo that would go down in Rag history.
Many years later when I recieved a box full of pink famingos as promo toys to give away I instantly thought of Andy, and several raggies would spend the next six months placing them in weirder and weirder places for Andy to find.
His mix of "Evil Bru" was legendary. one UnderGrand he started with a 2litre bottle of Irn Bru, which he would regularly top up with the cheapest, nastiest vodka he could find. In the end it was about 30% bru. That was one hell of a closing party.
He came up with the classic advertising campaign of "Rembrant Vodka - It's Grim!". There was arguments over whether it should be said with a smile or a grimace. Andy somehow managed to do both.
It's no secret Andy had his darker moments too - struggling with depression through his post-student days. Although still capable of some truely dark moments this seemed to be effecting him much less in recent years. It's fair to say I don't think I ever saw him happier than when he was with Donna.
His passions have always had a comically sardonic edge - from his excellent writings to his campaign against Dyhydrogen Monoxide, even if he didn't show it there was a real wry smile inside.[*1]
Some of his real achievements have been in helping raggies communicate. At Rag Conference one year there had been a particularly long-winded debate/consultation over what we could do to help raggies communicate. Ideas were put forward, of "Things" that people could "Use" so that "Stuff" Could "Happen". This p***ed off Andy so much he decided he'd just go and bloody well do it.
And thus the Rag_UK_List was born. An email list for raggies all over the UK to discuss all matters raggy on - it was a breakthrough for inter rag relations. It was so succesful that when Martin came up with UKRag.net
he invited Andy onto the top level team to help build the site as a successor to Rag_UK_List.
Over the past nearly-6 years Andy has shown an incredible ability to cut a discussion right down to its essential parts and turn them on their head. It doesn't matter how much you thought you'd looked at a situation from all angles, Andy could turn up and with one deft (usually wry) comment make you look at it from an entirely different perspective.
Even in his last few days he was an active part of the admin team bringing invaluable insight to how we run the site. UKRag has lost an intrinsic founder member, Rag has lost a truely useful guy, and a lot of us have lost someone who's been a friend since our student days.
Never short of an opinion, but only willing to share them if they will be truely useful and entertaining, Andy, you will be sorely missed by a lot of us.
Andy died on May 5th 2007, as a result of DVT.
[*1] He also liked his footnotes. [*2]
[*2] He would often double them up. It's worth also noting he'd use them for wry asides[*3], such as to mention he'd probably find all of this terribly embarrasing and would much rather everyone used their time and energy to burn some hippies.
[*3] For more of his wry asides, check out his old website: http://sinisterglobalcabal.org