Dave Simpson was one of the gentlest and most generous people I have ever met. He turned up with a guitar at my folk club about 11 years ago (I ran a folk club in the Midlands for about a decade). From there he stepped forward with remarkable enthusiasm, to participate in any and every hair brained scheme I came up with.
As a consequence, I sat out on hills with him to see up the Midsummer sunrise. He joined the mumming side, initially as the Doctor. As there were a lot if Daves in the mix, my then very young son named him as ‘Doctor Dave’ for ease of identification, and ‘Doctor Dave’ he remained. He went on to play the wizard Tardebigge in a script I’d written, to be King Pelinor in one of our Arthurian productions, and the Green Knight in another. When the folk club couldn’t find a venue, he loaned me his living room, and it was in his garden one year that a group of us read A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
For many years, I jammed with Dave and his son Andy on pretty much a weekly basis. Them with guitars, me with a violin. It was an emotional safe-space for me during a challenging part of my life. On the day I most needed help, he provided me with refuge.
When I left the Midlands, I stopped seeing a lot of people. With no car, and for two years mostly in the middle of nowhere on a narrowboat, getting out to visit people was hard. Able to offer a tiny, cramped and problematic space, I was not much in the habit of inviting people over. By the time I got to Stroud, Dave was ill, and in and out of hospital. I thought there would be opportunity, and enough time, and I was wrong, and I can’t find words adequate to express how much I regret what I did not do.
I know that’s always the way of it with death. It’s the things we didn’t say and do that hurt most, afterwards.
Dave was my first student. He was interested in Paganism and there was no one I felt I could send him to. At the time I’d never taught, felt far too inexperienced, but he needed a teacher. And so, week by week, I wrote short pieces about different aspects of Paganism and Druidry, and emailed them over to him. I’ve since used that material with a lot of other people, and I know others are re-using it. Would I have started blogging, and started writing Pagan books had he not needed me to do that? Quite possibly not.
I hope he knew how much I valued his presence in my life. I can only wish that I had been a better friend to him. He was a fine chap, passionate about music, song writing, bringing a quiet intensity to everything he did. He wasn’t afraid to care, and to make that care visible, he had a lot of integrity, and a generous nature. I have missed him. I will always miss him.
There is only one way to finish. With the song he sang, when asked to, to close nights at folk club. I’ve played fiddle on this many times. Travel well, Dave.