So I got a text on my phone this morning. I was on his, and his son (or maybe daughter?) Sam, relayed the news that Mike Hurt had died suddenly last Wednesday. Thinking about it, it was the sort of news I might have expected at any time over the last decade, and Mike would have chuckled at the thought of it.
For years I sat with Mike in the Duke of York over lunchtime (not that we were there for eating anything); with Gordon McLean, Matt White, Kit Allsopp, Mischa Welsh and others who drifted over from the university opposite. A lot of the time it was just me and him, and there was never a time when it was not a delight to see him, mooching along in his overcoat, the seasoned pub-goer, to sit in his favourite spot which we joked (as is the case perennially) should have had a plaque but would never get one. We spent a lot of time watching the girls go by (there's a theatre school opposite) and we gave each of those anonymous performers cheery nick-names to lift our day.
They always have a name for the winners in the world, but we relished our ambivalence and disdain with stories of curious and usually failed opportunity; him running ashrams in India, tucking up Timothy Leary, trading Afghan coats from Afghanistan; generally mucking about somewhere near Vancouver, with the occasional exclamation that 'Oh...no! They were good!' when it came to one rock band or another. We mused over the failings of temperamental furniture designers and university managers as if we were rocks impervious to air.
But eventually there was one re-organisation of the technical staff too far, and Mike was made redundant and we bought him extra brandy, and he tottered off back to Notting Hill to mooch around there. One day he came back, same overcoat, same gruff chuckle, just to see if some things remained the same.
His funeral is this Wednesday 25th March at 1.30pm at the West London Crematorium. It's a great sadness that I can't be there, because, for once in my life, and of all things, I have a show to open in Luton. He would laugh, but I shall certainly use the occasion to raise a glass to him, and for all the guys out there who know about stuff, and to whom we should listen. He was great company and is sadly missed.