In other words: he didn't suffer fools at all, let alone gladly; was an extremely private person; was a blessed with a healthy sense of others' - and especially his own - absurdity. Given that those were his most obvious public qualities it is strange that I should have met him, of all places, on LJ, the home of the *hug*.
When Pete and I first friended each other online, steer, whom I was dating at the time, groaned, 'Oh God. WHY have you made friends with Pete Fenelon? He's even more AWFUL than you!' Pete guffawed, and warbled with proud delight when I told him this. Indeed we were united by awfulness; where awfulness equates to a profound dislike of many of the same people and phenomena. Steer's grumbling was self-interested and prescient as he knew we would also be united by a delight in Steer-baiting as savage as it was affectionate.
I liked reading Pete's journal for, variously, his embittered, incisive criticisms and expansive, passionate enthusiasms, such that even his posts about stuff that is elsewhere often achingly dull, such as motorsports and beardy guitar bands, were always worth reading. Unlike so may LJ-ers, he completely avoided cant and cliche, and was always well-informed and often able to offer a fresh perspective. See, for example, entries like this. His other enthusiasms included breasts, books and beer, though not necessarily in that order. He was something of an evangelist about all three. He was convinced he could get me to like beer; the fact that I didn't, was, he assured me, because I simply hadn't tasted the right ones. He said this with the manic zeal of a mother in denial about her son's homosexuality, trying to convince him he just hasn't met the right girl yet. He was going to bring me some beers he thought he would like on his next trip down south. It's a testament to how much I liked him, and the intensity of his enthusiasm, that I would have been quite prepared to try them, even though I am quite convinced beer is Satan's own bladder-juice.
We also shared an odd retrospective connection via the Other Pete F, minusbat, as Bluecondition was Minusbat's second oldest friend. In fact I probably met him twenty-odd years ago in York when I met vin_petrol and discovered I had a horror of geeks. The last time I saw Pete Fenelon in London the three of us - me and both Petes - had Sunday lunch together. This was his treat. The deal was that I was to cook for him on his next visit.
Before lunch he and I sat in my flat and drank Armagnac and had a long, fascinating conversation that included, amongst the things I can remember, pubic hair, the Clangers, Jean-Paul Sartre, why jaffa cakes in flavours other than orange were both bad and wrong, Hubble's Constant, ancient Greek surgical procedure, what a variety of women of our mutual acquaintance would sound like having sex, Kenneth Williams' intellect and haemorrhoids, Macbeth, and why I should get married. We also talked about Minusbat, and Pete expressed his concern about our mutual friend's delicate health. Ironic now to think that we discussed then the dreary prospect of outliving our friends. He promised me that if we both outlived Minusbat, he'd come to the funeral with me and we'd cheer each other up by taking the piss out of all the ghastly emoting goths. He also promised that if he outlived me, and people who didn't know or like me started grief band-wagon-jumping on LJ and saying offensively nice things about me, that he'd flame them to buggery. He was, indeed, awful - in the 'oooh, you are - were - awful' sense, with the very best of British bleak-humoured, bloody-minded awfulness.
His concern for the other Pete was very moving, and the humour that followed it an Englishman's natural defence against seeming sentimental. I have been a direct, and rather surprised, recipient of his concern in the past. It was when I was recovering, far too slowly, from being ill and had made a very bleak and despondent post on my LJ. Pete, who hated using his mobile phone, and thought deep and meaningful conversations were the preserve of goths, metrosexuals and Frenchmen, actually phoned me to see if I was alright, and to offer unstinting concern (including 'pull yourself together, woman') and thoughtful encouragement (eventually, after the serious bit, 'get some bloke with more money than sense to get you drunk and give you a good seeing to').
He also made me an insanely generous offer - especially for a northerner - when I thought I was going to be jobless this September. He said he would subsidise me to stay on the dole for a few months if I would only crack on and write a book and that he'd consider it an investment. The encouragement, and the confidence underlying it reduced, are reducing, me to tears.
I last saw him in York, for my birthday, when, despite being stressfully busy at work and not overly keen on social gatherings, he managed to make it to both the meal and the party. I was touched at the time; more so now of course. I wish I had got to pay back my dinner debt and had had the chance to cook him something splendid.
I doubt he'd approve of me being publicly sentimental about his carefully concealed finer qualities, nor saying that my worlds, both virtual and real, are diminished and darkened tonight with the loss of his grumpy ginger presence, nor attempting to wax vaguely lyrical about about how his stupidly early death should be a reminder to all that knew him that Times winged Lola-Aston coupé is forever hovering near. I suspect he'd only approve of what I said at the beginning: Pete Fenelon (also known hereabouts as blue_condition) was a misanthropic, curmudgeonly and profoundly vulgar man.