I've just had some very bad news. My friend Jim Horsford has sadly died.
Jim had been ill for some time, but he passed away last night after a fall. The Bf and I had only seen him on Wednesday, where he had been full of anger at David Cameron's speech and making plans for holidays. He'd seemed upbeat and cheery, unleashing his fearsome tongue on the Tory conference and updating us with the gossip.
Jim was a real railway fan; I was in awe of his knowledge and his passion. His home was crammed with models, books and magazines. His specialities were the Czech railway system, and the railways of the Caribbean - to the extent that he wrote a couple of books on St Kitts and Barbados. He'd just received the proofs for a third book, this time on the Jamaican railway, and was going to be checking them through. He was also a gifted artist, and had begun to sell his paintings; only a couple of weeks ago he put some on display in Northgate Street in Chester. He typically painted railway scenes, great plumes of smoke billowing out over landscapes, beneath Victorian arches, steam and fire and iron.
He was also a fan of this blog, and I think secretly pleased to find another railway geek in his circle (though goodness knows he already knew hundreds - he was nothing if not gregarious). Jim had a massive collection of photographic slides, amassed over the decades, that he was working to transfer to his PC. Among these were a number of shots of Merseyrail stations over the years, and he'd promised to send them to me for the blog when he scanned them in.
I'm writing this not long after finding out about his death, so I'm still a little stunned. The Bf, who had known him for the best part of thirty years, is even more upset. It'll be even harder for his partner Norman, and all my thoughts are with him today. I'll remember Jim for his humour, for his sense of fun, for his wicked, wicked way of talking, When the Bf and I signed our Civil Partnership earlier this year, we did it very quietly, with no guests; but Jim was one of the witnesses, and I was proud to have him there. He was one of a kind.