…I’ve been privileged to know Amy Hoff for a few years via the SOSYAL NETWURKS, and at a get-together authors’ meeting in Glasgow a coupla years ago… Amy has asked if she can publish here a tribute to her late (as-close-as-you-can-get-to-being) father-in-law… it’s my honour to do so, and yeez’ll read for yourselves why:
EPITAPH FOR CARL REAVEY by Amy Hoff
Last week we lost my partner Alasdair’s father, Carl Reavey.
When I first met Alasdair’s parents, Carl and Jan, we went out to a fancy restaurant at Princes Square in Glasgow. Alasdair and I met while attending the same medieval combat society. There were three paths you could take: craft only, craft and combat, or combat only. Alasdair was craft and combat, I was combat only.
Carl asked if I was in the same medieval society as Alasdair. “Yes, but I’m combat only,” I replied. “COMBAT ONLY,” he said in a loud voice in the middle of the restaurant. He then turned to Alasdair and mouthed COMBAT ONLY, and then grinned at both of us.
I’ve never gotten on well with the parents of any of my previous boyfriends. Carl, on the other hand, thought I was awesome.
Carl often reminded me of the eccentric dad on Monarch of the Glen. He and Jan are the reason that I have a great appreciation for good food, as they are both foodies. They took me and Alasdair to many different amazing restaurants. One of these restaurants had palate cleansers they called ‘amuse bouche’ and asked if we would like any. ‘Yes, let’s amuse our bouches,’ said Carl, smiling and looking around the table to make sure we had all heard his excellent dad joke.
When I worked for Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle, the Islay Gaelic College, I was presenting a talk on faeries and folklore. Carl and Jan attended the talk with Alasdair. Every so often, Carl would shout BOLLOCKS from the audience, and then laugh because he thought he was hilarious.
Carl was also rock ‘n’ roll. He was the sound engineer for The Undertones for several years. Teenage Kicks is the song most people identify with him. He also lived in Los Angeles for a long time and worked with people from Trent Reznor to everybody across the board, giving him an eclectic taste in music. One particularly memorable Hogmanay, we were visiting the Roys across the street for dinner. Carl decided that we all ought to put our favourite bands into a Spotify playlist and let it choose a song from each one. He had entered Nine Inch Nails at some point, which led to him belting out the words to ‘Closer’ as I turned to our hostess, Gael, a very sweet English mum, and said SO GAEL HOW HAS YOUR YEAR BEEN to drown him out.
“Jan, you’re so fierce,” Carl would say to his wife, who isn’t. “I am not fierce!” Jan would say, and he’d laugh. Dinners on Islay were always memorable. In their house, hundreds of bottles of whisky line one wall above an astounding music collection of CDs and records from every genre imaginable. During dinner, Carl would go to their wall of music and whisky to choose a record to play for the evening. At the very first of what would become many dinners on the island, I told Carl I liked Jimmy Buffett. “Well, now we can never speak again,” he said, and then leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, “I have no idea who that is.”
I’d sit up late with Carl and Les from down the street, drinking whisky and getting into ridiculous arguments. Carl was a part of Bruichladdich distillery, along with the rest of the Reavey family and various other people I got to know on the island. Much of the irreverence of Bruichladdich is reminiscent of Carl’s sense of humour.
Carl was also one of the most healthy people I have ever known. He’d cycle 20 miles a day. He loved birds and the outdoors, and used to take us all to the different beaches on Islay for nature walks. He always went out cycling in the worst weather, rain and hail and snow, and would come inside announcing what a beautiful day it was indeed while the more sane of us were sitting indoors drinking tea and watching the weather through the windows.
Every year, the cast and crew of Caledonia would go to Islay. This was the part of filming that everyone most looked forward to, as it was both a mini-holiday and signalled the end of filming. Sometimes Carl would take us on tours of Bruichladdich distillery. Sometimes we’d sit up with him as he took out whisky after whisky so we could sample different varieties.
Carl and Jan raised the best man I have ever known. Alasdair and I have been dating for over eight years. We never married, but I thought of Carl as a father-in-law. Losing him last week has been incredibly difficult.
Carl was eccentric, outrageous, hilarious, and a wonderful person. Everything was another opportunity for fun, or music, or making terrible jokes. He was just such a dad, really. He’d probably think all our sadness was ridiculous and tell us to put on some rock n roll and have another dram.
There isn’t much I have to offer, as I’ve never owned much and I’ve travelled too often to have anything to give. However, after talking to Alasdair the other night, I feel that the epitaph I had been saving for myself fits him better. In the immortal words of Douglas Adams:
Life will be a very great deal less weird without you.
…many thanks, Amy, for sharing that with us… Carl is one of those men I never met, but I’ve known him all my life. R.I.P., Carl… Slainte Mhath!
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