23rd November 2019 Toxteth Day of the Dead – The last time we mooted together to honour or beloved mumufied, we placed my brother, Andrew Charles Hardman in the foundation of the People’s Pyramid.
A year in the planning I had looked forward to the day I could pay tribute to him free from the fresh, angry pain that sits so closely alongside a recent loss that a standard funeral service throws out.
Sadly our dad, his namesake, Charlie Hardman had died just 2 weeks before on the 5th November and reminded me just how raw and visceral fresh grief can be.
Funerals are still enveloped in that focus on death and I know that time isn’t a healer but talking about our loved ones at times like these, is deeply cathartic and allows us to reflect on a life well lived instead. I’m sure dad would agree his life was a good one.
Born and bred in Birkenhead, a happy go lucky joker his first job was on the ferry and he had a passion for cars. A typical lad. His childhood antics got him sent away to an ‘institution for wayward boys’ in North Wales where he developed a hard, indignant ‘take no shit’ attitude, a deep loathing of bullies and an expert ability to run away. Regularly taking off, cross country, improving his self preservation and survival skills so much so that when his case came up for review, a shrewd councilor saw his merits and took the opportunity to have him moved to a Royal Navy college in the North of England. Dad swears this was the making of him. Military training and discipline was a breeze compared to the toxic environment of the home and soon afterwards he became a Royal Marine Commando.
When he left in the late 60’s he took a job as a chauffer. Driving Gerry Marsden, The Hollies, Ken Dodd, Bob Paisley and Harold Wilson to name a few, in his beloved Jaguar earning himself enough to eventually open his own Jaguar workshop.
He enjoyed travel and learnt to scuba dive in Hawaii, flew planes over Pearl Harbour (and was granted permission to buzz the tower) he flew out to Phuket after the tsunami to help a friend who’s property had been raised in the disaster and spent weeks on the beaches taking remnants of building materials and correguated metal up into the jungle for the grateful families who were trying to rebuild their lives there. “They had nothing to start with and I was giving them ‘nothing’ Lise, but they offered me their food, and were so grateful and they all smiled and it was so humbling”.
Dad described himself as a “pessimistic optimist” expect the worst and anything is a bonus, his dry wit, strong work ethic and sense of fair play took him places and he made friends easily but his best friends were his dogs. He routinely rescued German Shepherds his last dog Spike, made the walk with us on the last ‘beating of the bounds’. If you recall the ritual of carrying the ‘ghosts’ that year, Spike carried dad’s ‘ghost’ pinned to his collar but at the gates of St James’s Cemetery Liverpool I wasn’t ready to let go of it like I was with Andy’s so 23 November 2020 during lockdown we made a pilgrimage to St James’ cemetery, Liverpool and we let it go there.
After last years haitus, dad’s brick takes its place alongside Andy and the other members of our family of Mu. It is a comfort to know that all of those good souls bricks are surrounding our loved ones for all eternity and that one day we will be bonded with them once again one day.