I never thought I’d write something like this. Not until I was at least fifty. People drop like flies when you’re old, but they’re not supposed to die in your twenties. I honestly thought the phone call I received yesterday was some sick practical joke. Anyone but him, because David Stier was supposed to live forever.
I met David in 2006, practically the first week of university. We went to the student bar and David introduced me to cider-blacks. We talked about Robbie Williams, I think. From then on we were pals. David loved to drink and dance. “Wine, give me wine!” was the perpetual screech, and we’d bounce up and down to the Valerie song doing our special dance. A lot of cheese toasties were consumed at university, but I once got David to try coronation chicken. He was hard to reason with; he knew what he liked and he knew what he wanted. I respect that. David always did what he wanted to do.
I used to say that if I hadn’t become friends with David then, I wouldn’t be friends with him now. A bullshit term to describe the brash confidence that David bounded into every conversation with. “What’s this, what’s happening?” became a catchphrase. When we were out, he was likened to Bernard from Black Books a lot. I loved it. We’d come back from the club in the early hours and crash out together in his small student bed, listening to “audio Black Books” and I’d tease him about how god-awfully dirty his room was. He was a part of everyone’s life, it seemed. It’s impossible to think of a memory or a story from those years that doesn’t have David in it.
It’s easy to have a surface level, alcohol-based relationship with someone but there was more to David than that. We talked a lot and he was compassionate, although maybe he didn’t always like to show it. I remember the nights in first year where Steven, David and I squeezed into the bottom of my bunk-bed and talked about his life pre-university. He was also good with kids, adoring his nephew. The last time I saw him, we discussed him being the god-father to my first child and he was enthusiastic. “Drunkle David” would have been an excellent god-father. We were going to move in together in 2010, but it fell through, and I was gutted because I wanted that close, housemate relationship with David, sitting in our pants watching Buffy together. I wanted to watch him grow up and fall in love.
David was such a staple of our university years. He touched a lot of people, and I’m not just talking about The Chart that we laboured over together so fondly. And then beyond graduation, he was the person I kept in contact with the most. He was genuinely a “character” and it seems impossible to think that someone who seemed so permanent is gone. He was attending job interviews hoping to move to Manchester. We were going to meet up, drink cocktails and trade Pokemon over our DSes. He is the first post on so many of my friends’ Facebook walls. He’s still here. It seems like he is still here.
On my twenty-first birthday we got too drunk together. We went to the union and did shots, toasting “to Gallifrey!”. Later, we held hands under separate toilet stalls, vomiting and shouting “Help!”. Thinking about that always brings a smile to my face. It’s not your typical story you’d tell someone after one of your best friends died, but it summed David up to a tee. Off the wall, fun and fucking loving even to the end.
I will miss you so much, David. You were too good to go this soon, but I’ll never stop toasting your life,