16/12/69 - 11/09/01
Steve and Geoff Inter-railing
I first met Geoff in a Northampton jewellers in around 1984. We were both having our ears pierced. I only really became friendly with him a couple of years later when we both worked at Mereway Tesco in Northampton as checkout operators. Geoff's brother
Matthew already worked there & the two of us sat on adjoining tills every Saturday. Without fail this guy would come in to the store every single Saturday morning wearing exactly the same clothes & purchase exactly the same things - 4 cans of
Silvikrin hair spray & 3 bottles of Blue Nun. I soon learnt this was Geoff's daily quota. He consistently went through Matt's till & they would exchange a few words. After me taking the mick for several weeks Matt finally turned round & admitted that they were related.
Our first social outing to this day remains perhaps the most outrageous evening of my life. The venue was a pyjama party in the least desirable area of Northampton's eastern district. After several life threatening 'incidents' we finished the evening with a 4 mile walk home from Ecton Brook to Shelfleys at
4am. We became pretty much inseparable from this moment.
Having usage of a car at the age of 17 is fundamental to life. Even though he never mastered the art himself, Geoff made it clear we had no future unless I passed my driving test. The day after I passed I borrowed my mother's car to drive us to a party in rural Northants. Whilst trying to impress some bystanders I proceeded to drive into the back of a parked car. Unfortunately the parked car was immediately outside Geoff's house on Lister Drive with the extended Campbell clan (& several of the neighbours) looking on. Having been blamed for the majority of Geoff's
misdemeanors anyway, my already dwindling reputation in the Campbell household descended to even greater depths.
There are a million Geoff Campbell stories. Anyone who knew him well have several classics, some bizarre, many involving members of the opposite sex, most hilarious. He had many moments of sublime comedy, not always knowingly. Certainly one of the most famous was when a group of us were having lunch in The Union Café on Union Square in NY. A somewhat 'fashionable' venue, orders were being taken by the effeminate, aspiring model waiter. I ordered Eggs Benedict. Geoff was up next, frowned at the extensive menu for what seemed like an eternity, the entire table awaiting his choice & duly announced 'Yeah, I'll have the same, only without the eggs'.
Geoff loved telling stories & would often revel in nostalgia. Even after not seeing him for
6 months & in a room full of strangers he would recount the same tales to amuse those present, but mainly to amuse himself. Over the years they became more & more exaggerated & the line between fact & fiction ever more blurred.
I think Geoff had two overwhelming personal qualities. Firstly his ease of character & secondly his generosity of spirit.
In the 15 years I knew him I can only remember arguing with him twice, and one of those being when I had left him stranded in a remote Northamptonshire village in the early hours. He genuinely was the best natured guy I've ever known. He got on with everyone he met with very few exceptions. I never saw him lose his temper in all those years.
He was incredibly generous. For the large part that I knew Geoff neither of us had any money to speak of, however we always strove for financial parity. This obviously excludes the time when we went to Europe for a month & he managed to lose the majority of his entire budget on the fruit machines before we got off the ferry. For the whole time I knew Geoff, resources would always be pooled to achieve our objectives, regardless of what people had. The whole point for Geoff was to enjoy & have fun.
His popularity was unrivalled, and let's face it he liked being popular. A true master at keeping in touch with people he would have been immensely proud of the turn out at the memorial service. Every person attending because of their own personal relationship with Geoff. If we hadn't all been there to remember him it would have been his ideal birthday party.
Ironically, I think the horse purchase will provide a great platform for many of us to keep in touch. Something I'm very much looking forward to doing. Lets hope we have better luck than he ever did.
Geoff was one of the closest people to me. He was joint best man at my wedding in August 2000. There are very few people in life that you can call true friends. That level of familiarity, someone who you really talk to & know you'll be doing the same stuff with when you're collecting your pension. Even when he was alive I was always very proud to call him my friend. Many of the best memories I have are with him & I will be eternally grateful.
We all loved Geoff. It's impossible to comprehend his death, especially in such circumstances. However we have to rejoice in the person he was & the times we all shared with him.
Geoff, Steve and Michael