Tag: TERENCE RUFFLE

TERRY RUFFLE

Volumes could be written about Mr. Terence Ruffle. Never a dull person, Terry made an impression wherever he appeared…

It wasn’t always a welcome impression, but it’s impossible for such a showman to be himself-and to be what he wanted to be-and not rub someone up the wrong way. He was willing to be friendly with anyone, but if he detected unpleasant vibes, he would reciprocate. I don’t believe he was ever vindictive-it wasn’t in his nature.

If I could sum up my view of Terry in a couple of sentences, I would have to say that he was always at the centre of every situation he found himself in, and that, upset a few delicate sensibilities as he did, he was never boring.

I once wrote a blog post about my best friend, which was in fact he. We weren’t always the best of friends though, and in recent years fell out of contact. Most of what I’m writing here relates to the earlier part of our lives, up to about the age of thirty. He may have mellowed somewhat after that, once he realized he wasn’t going to be a rock star after all. Living here on the other side of the Atlantic, and being married and “responsible”, I don’t know quite what he became.

However, when we were together, we had many huge laughs, intense fun thrashing out those tunes, and lots of cerebral conversations. His mental energy always ensured this, and brought out the best of me in that regard-and most likely the worst also. Not only that, but he was one of those people who can make you feel totally appreciated and welcome. He would look people in the face (unless he knew they didn’t like him), he would take an interest in them, and make them feel like he really wanted to be with them. I couldn’t ask for anything more in a friend, but there was more.

Optimist that he was, Terry was rarely under a cloud, and when he was, it was normally because he’d lost a girlfriend, lost a family member, or lost a band. Spending time with Terry was always enough to blow any blues away: the fun and the optimism were infectious. I’ve known perhaps three people who could make me laugh uncontrollably: Terry is the undisputed champion. There were times when I literally couldn’t breathe for laughing, and the beauty of it was that I was able to make him laugh too. He laughed easily-an invaluable trait.

He was capable of being a deeply caring person. Some who knew him might find that a provocative statement, because, being incurably sanguine and confident, he was prone to insensitivity. He really didn’t mean to irritate or be utterly self centred or at times narcissistic: it was just part of his natural persona. But when he did think things through-how others felt and what they might be going through- he was touched to the core. He would freely express concern, and if the situation presented itself, he would act to alleviate the problem.

Strangely, even Terry’s selfishness was food for amusement and laughter. If he dispatched himself to the “offy” to get a little something to drink for everyone, it came as no surprise to all awaiting his return, despite the disgust and frustration, if it took him literally hours. Indeed, he might not have came back at all. We knew what he was like, we compensated for his distracted nature, and we had a chuckle that he could be so totally self-absorbed.

He would, however, freely admit that he was the consummate hedonist. In fact, I’d say that this was his raison d’étre for a large portion of his life. It was this attitude in him which made him so much fun to be around, and yet also, at times, so irritating and obnoxious. I know I’m not speaking ill of the dead here: I believe Terry would read this and laugh, and most likely agree with most of what I’m saying. He would probably even be flattered.

I knew Terry from Junior school: he was in my class. At age ten, the rest of us thought he looked a little odd (though we probably looked just as odd). He had a patch over his lazy eye. He rolled his head a little, and when he ran, it wagged from side to side. By the time he was thirteen, he was already working at looking like a rock star, and did it pretty well. I remember seeing him on his easy-rider bicycle, wearing a stars and stipes t-shirt, and holding an LP, most likely of Jimmy Hendrix or Woodstock.

At sixteen his hair was over his shoulders, as mine was, and he had taken to wearing shades even in dull conditions. By the time he was eighteen he’d adopted a new wave look, and then not long after that, sported a flat-top, which was eventually bleached-and a leather jacket. He told me, around that time, that if he didn’t “make it” (as a rock star) by the time he was thirty, he would give up. There was no lack of trying with Terry.

In Terry’s zeal to try all things illicit, he never, to my knowledge, touched LSD. He wanted to protect his brain, which was his second favourite organ…

I had jammed with Terry and friends of ours (Mark Robbins, Paddy Mulville, Bob Mardon and others) from the time we were fifteen-he on his Stratocaster and me on bass. We successfully and frequently attracted the attention of irate neighbours or the policeman they had dispatched in order to stop the hideous noise emanating from our practice room.

So much could be written on the subject of Terence and bands, including those I was in with him. He really did have considerable potential, which desperately needed some professional coaching and direction. I think his best performances were with the very talented Carl Seager and The Flying Heroes, of which I was a proud part for a while, and also with Paul Sullivan and various incarnations of The Accidents.

The most fun I ever had playing with Terence was in the Surf Rats. Our intention, as per Terry’s direction (of course) was to play the instrumentals as fast as we possibly could. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but with the line-up we had, it actually worked very well. There were moments when we were playing that were so sublime I could not possibly describe the feelings and emotions I had. “Oh euphoria-you know it’s so good for ya…” and Terry’s love of pleasure, and his aim that all those with him felt the same way, made the sensation of euphoria possible-a talent very few of us have. All I can say is, Thanks, Terry, for providing me with so much fun, laughter and great music.

How to choose an anecdote out of the thousands which could be told? They are all so rich. Terry and I left the pub one evening (how many anecdotes involving this bloke could begin with that sentence!) and determined to visit someone who lived on a nearby barge. This entailed, obviously, stepping a short distance from the quayside onto the side of the barge. I went first, but my foot slipped off the side of the barge, and I fell between the concrete and the boat. Luckily for me, I did in that moment manage to grab on to both sides on my way down, otherwise I would have been at least waist deep in good old Maldon mud and water, in the darkness. Perhaps I would have fallen in all the way: probably not a good idea in my condition.

So there I dangled helplessly, between the devil and the deep blue sea, gasping for breath and wondering what was going to happen next. And what was Terry doing? Those of you who knew him can answer the question: he was laughing hysterically. Once he’d regained a degree of sanity, he grabbed my arm, and impressively, lifted me out of the miry clay.

It seems unnatural to have to say goodbye…to the best friend I ever had. Bye, Terry, mate. I did love you.

To SAMPLE MY LATEST RECORDINGS, go here:

Album Artwork

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FOR FURTHER READING RELATED TO TERRY, try these:

https://nickyfisher.com/2012/09/25/profile-of-a-good-friend/

https://nickyfisher.com/2015/08/22/my-ten-greatest-experiences-3-playing-music/

MY TEN GREATEST EXPERIENCES 7: LAUGHING WITH MATES

000_0842Some of my favorite experiences are not once-only events but types, and one of the best and most memorable pleasures of life so far has been having a laugh with some good friends…

My idea of a real friend is someone I can relax and be myself with-not someone I have to force myself to chuckle at small-talk with. I’ve had a number of close friends over the years: all, unfortunately, a long way from where I live now. Of those good friends the one I’ve had the most laughs with is a bloke called Terence Ruffle. Terence is one of those people who loved to laugh and would make light of almost any situation. Even in a mildly disastrous conundrum, and perhaps after some brief initial shock, Terence would turn things into a joke, so that it didn’t seem to be half as bad as it would if you were with someone else who took things seriously. I’m not talking here about out of place mockery, flippancy, ridicule or rudeness, but good-humored fun, and always pithy, witty and imaginative. It was these qualities in his humor which made me laugh so much-the cleverness and inventiveness of his words and observations. I only wish I could supply an illustration of his verbal inventiveness, but I have a terrible memory for word-for word conversation, and I’m afraid I couldn’t do him justice.

However, to illustrate the general tone of his positive spirits and good humor, I relate to you an incident in which he and I decided late one night to visit someone who lived on a barge. The tide was low, and the barge was moored next to the quay on the famed Blackwater River, probably with a few others which would have been “parallel parked”. Taking the lead in our venture, I stepped from the quayside, expecting to connect my foot with the edge of the barge, and instead fell between the two. I just managed to hook a hand on each side, so that I was hanging like a letter “Y”, suspended several feet above deep, deep mud and dirty water.

What was Terry doing? He was laughing his head off. To him this was a hilarious spectacle. It wasn’t a sadistic laugh: it never was with Terence, because he was too caring even of his enemies. I know he would most definitely have been somber and immediately helpful if he thought I was in any danger or if I was hurt.

After gaining a minute or two of hysterical lung-exercise at the sight of my predicament, he came to my rescue, grabbed a hand, and pulled me up, where we had a laugh together.

I thank my God for laughter, for friends like Terence (although there are very few around like him)…and also that I didn’t fall into the mud.

My Best Friend