Wednesday, 12 February 2014

My mate Mike

A difficult day lies ahead tomorrow when I attend the funeral of my friend Councillor Michael Kelly.  He'd been ill for some time and very sadly passed away last week.

But I'll forever remember Mike with a smile on his face - and a glass in his hand.

A huge rugby union fan - thereby always giving us lots to talk about - Mike was very proud of his Irish heritage, and liked to drink to it whenever the chance presented itself.

I first got to know him in 2008 when I was working at Bradford Council and he became Executive Member for Children's Services and Education.

I hadn't encountered him much before then but, as his first big speech to full Council approached, we had a chat. Mike had asked the senior education officers to pull some background information together and send it on to me.  My job was to sort the useful bits from the less than useful bits and it on to him.  He then left to attend a meeting and I said I would see him the following day.

Shortly afterwards, the information come through to me, and I had a bit of a play.  And I kept playing, and playing, and playing and, maybe 90 minutes later, I had written a speech - which I emailed to Mike.

The next morning, he walked into my office looking a touch under the weather - but with a big smile on his face.

"Are you alright?" I asked.

"Bit of a sore head, but otherwise wonderful!" he barked.

"Was the speech OK?" I continued.

"Absolutely," said Mike, "that's why I've got a sore head!"

"Oh?  Do tell."

And he did.

"I was bit worried about my speech," he said, "and when I got home from my meeting, I poured myself a three-finger whiskey to give me the little boost I thought I would need to write it."

Mike had very big hands so, when he talked about a three-finger whiskey, I can assure you that it would've had a kick.

"Then I turned on my computer and discovered that you'd written me a whole speech," he continued. "So I poured another three-finger whiskey to enjoy as I was reading it.

"And when I'd read it, I didn't want to change a word.  So I poured myself another three-finger whiskey to celebrate!"

That was why Mike had a sore head.  And it was one of the many reasons why I loved him.

He'll be greatly missed.