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Remembering David Bates

There are certain times in our lives when laughter pretty much rules every waking moment of our days.

One such time was sharing a house with David Bates, in the Boston suburb of Quincy, back in 1987.

Also there was future rock god Martin Crotty and the bould Des Cullen, these four wide-eyed and blissfully naive Greystonians both emboldened and petrified by our first major venture away from Ireland.

Beyond having to get jobs through temp agencies using dodgy, photocopied work visasthanks for that, Martin – and stealing cheese in the supermarket across the road, there was the simple pleasure of going Full Monkees as we, now masters of our own domain, were suddenly free to drink, fart and laugh to our hearts’ content.

When it came to the latter, the one recurring gag that would always trigger immediate waves of giggles and guffaws – especially in the wee-wee hours – was Dave’s childhood memories of being constantly startled and teeth-gnashingly afraid of the legend that is Jesse Hurley.

It was the fact that Jesse would usually refer to himself in the third person that triggered the uncontrollable fits of laughter. Whilst robbing an orchard, Dave and his friends would suddenly hear the battle cry of, “Jesse Hurley sees you up that tree!“, followed promptly by, “Jesse Hurley wants those apples!“.

This simple exchange was enough to inspire a thousand imaginary Jesse-interrupted scenarios, from nightclubs to last trains home, from 2-a-side football matches to all-night poker sessions. And for no good reason, but to very great comic effect, Dave lengthened the protagonist’s name to Jesse Hurleyboots.

Even thinking of it now sparks a smile. And today, given that David has gone, something close to a lump in the throat too.

Over the last few decades, having played in various bands with young Dotsi, having shared that Boston adventure, argued over Gary Numan, and waxed lyrical about being a dad to really cool kids, we spent the summer of 2016 meeting pretty much every day as he picked up the pieces from a separation, the two of us never quite managing to figure out what the hell is going on in this world – but, we did laugh. A lot.

And then he found love in a hopeless place Kildare – with the beautiful Anne, and that devilish ever-readiness to laugh went all the way up to 11. Suddenly, he was the kid who got the apples.

Through it all – the songs, the jokes, the pool games, the haze, the joyful mischief – there was that ever-present conspiratorial smile, letting you know that fun was always an option.

And that’s about all you could ever want from a good friend…

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