When I was five years old, I banged my head at school and my ear bled. Instead of calling an ambulance which to be honest the school should have done, but this was the mid 60s and nobody called ambulances for injured children, the school instead got my big brother Jim from his class and made him take me home. He was twelve and I was five, I wept with relief when I saw him and I can still remember his arms around my legs as he held me tight and ran home with me. He was crying as blood kept dripping out of my ear and he was panicking. Turns out I recovered from a bang to my bleeding brain or whatever that accident was and I can still hear in my darkest memories Jim screaming for help as his skinny wee legs juddered as he got me to the house.
Jim liked to be called Mij- that became his enduring nickname. He once brushed a big Alsatian’s furry coat backwards and told me it was a lion and I believed him.
Mij ended up on drugs, got HIV and developed cancer, yet survived all that. I have to be honest he was a brutally horrid son to my mum as a young bloke, he was a bully, he hit me, he hit her and then he finally grew up slowly and became a rather sad creature with his addiction and illness’s.
As the eldest kid in our family, he was spoilt by my mum and I think she and him had a very toxic relationship which spilled over onto the rest of us.
Later on in life he and I became very close, I forgave his anger, violence and madness and he supported my choice of career. His walls were covered in my press cuttings and posters. My daughter Ashley adored him. Mij and I had our own relationship that withstood the test of time and distance so I was horrified to click onto facebook and find out he had just died. I had known he was very ill that day which in itself was a shock, but Ashley’s facebook was on the big main screen on the living room, and then the status update of a young relative told me my brother was dead. It was as simple as that.
He brought Jerry Sadowitz into my bar in the East End of Glasgow and told me to give Jerry a gig at our pub doing comedy and magic. It was amazing, we saw the moment comedy changed forever when Sadowitz did his stuff and my brother had recognised that.
Jerry said “he was a fucking legend” when he heard Mij had died.
Mij told me tales of being pals with Bono, hanging out with Jack Nicholson and I would like to believe that on the day of his funeral they will turn up, oh and of course his beloved hero Bryan Ferry will totally sing at the event!
I have had many blogs and comedy routines dedicated to Mij and he loved that I spoke about him onstage; I always cleared it with him.
On the day he died (31st December) he had collapsed and was taken into hospital with a liver failure and died around midday. He was living down in Clacton near his daughter, so I couldn’t go to see him in his last moments.
I had to go onstage that night in Edinburgh for their Hogmanay show, it was hard and I kept having wee bursts of tears on my own in the loo, but I had a great show that night and I know he was somewhere laughing with me.
So that was my New Year. Rest in Peace big brother, I will miss you more than you know._