Simon Howard – the invisible man. Very few of us had met him, had no idea of what he looked like and many of us had never heard his voice. Within that, we probably all knew different Simons, we all had different pieces of the Simon 'jigsaw'.
But his written voice came through clear, strong and distinct. As clear as any composer's voice is heard within their music.
There was his rage and despair at Times Present. His sense of hopelessness and helplessness at what he increasingly saw as an unjust, uncaring and greedy world. If anyone raged against the dying of the light in terms of how he saw the ill, the disabled and the poor being demonised by our current political regime, it was most certainly Simon.
Then there was his sorrow for Times Past. For what he saw as a kinder, gentler but more energised time. A time when there was hope for change, when all things were possible. Punk was alive and kicking Establishment backsides for all it was worth. There was sorrow for a love unrealised and the revolution that never happened.
Those of you who are familiar with Simon's work will recognise these lines:
"They couldn't get the word emotion to move
they tried a new secret weapon
but it just said it felt sad"
For me, they reflect Simon in these last few years. He became very sad and he struggled with it.
If it wasn't for the net, none of us would have known Simon. He made so many friends via messageboards and FB and it seems only right that the voices of some of those friends should be heard here today. This is just a small selection of what some of those friends had to say when they heard that Simon had gone.
“I'd known Simon for 7 years but never met him and yet I count him amongst my friends”.
“I suspect that Simon did not realise quite how much he was liked. A powerful personality who will be greatly missed”.
“I'm glad I knew him (even at a distance) and his words. I have a feeling the words have staying power”.
“So very shocked. I too only knew Simon via these boards, yet count him as a friend”.
“Simon was the most intelligent and widely listened commentator on music many of us have come across”.
“We never met and I feel immensely sad that now we never will. I don't even have a face. I knew Simon only through his intelligence, his immense musical sensitivity and his fierce anger at an unjust world”.
“The closest friend I never met. He would have had words for a moment like this. I don't”.
And finally …
“Thanks for it all. I'll see ya when I see ya”.