When my parents moved us to York, England, to the small village of Strensall, Dave was the first person to knock on the door, just asking if I wanted to come and play. I was 7 years old. Of course I wanted to come and play!
Dave and I were inseparable. We biked everywhere. We built dens, climbed trees, played video games together. It's hard for me to pick my childhood memories that didn't occur with Dave. I remember building the world's most bulletproof go-cart - it was built on a chassis that was a 6ft piece of 2x4 - that thing was indestructible. Dave got me into mountain biking, and he was always pushing me to go faster, and take on more dangerous terrain. He helped me build my first real mountain bike from bought components (a Ridgeback - I loved that bike).
At the end of primary school I asked to go to the same school he was going to, because I didn't want to be away from my friend (and as a bonus it was a better school, so my parents were all for it). His mum would drive us there every day because there was no school bus for the 7 or 8 of us that decided not to go to the mainstream school. We would joke every day about the car she had - the windows would freeze every day on the inside, so we weren't allowed to breathe while the car warmed up.
Dave's parents became like family to me. I hung out at their house constantly. A few times I went to Germany with him (his dad worked out there for the air force). I remember us going up in the Phantom simulator - we both tried to get it higher than anyone had ever taken it before it ran out of oxygen to burn for the engines. We both topped out somewhere around 70k feet and then got into uncontrollable spins, ah well.
Some time in 1991 a stranger arrived in Dave's house - his cousin Heather who had been travelling around Europe but got sick and needed a base to go to. Had it not been for Dave I would have never met the woman I married.
After I left for University we gradually drifted apart, as high school friends do. We stayed in touch periodically. The last time I saw Dave was when he came to visit us in Gloucester. He was working for Jaguar in Coventry I think. He had a new girlfriend, a Japanese girl who worked for Nissan, and seemed very taken with her. He came on his motorbike. I remember when he was coming, I said to Heather "I think he's here" as I heard the noisiest motorbike I'd ever heard, about a mile away. I was right. Typical Dave he had modified it with some kind of performance exhaust - totally illegal. He still had pins in his arms and legs from the last accident he had on it. He said what should be over an hour's journey took him about 40 minutes. Nutter.
Yesterday I got a call from my mum. Dave died at around 3pm in a no-fault motorbike accident taking his bike for its MOT, he just lost control somehow.
I only have one half decent picture of Dave online, taken at Christmas 2003. Not my best photographic effort, but that's not really relevant.
He had just turned 33, and was due to marry the Japanese girl (whose name I never even knew) this summer.
Although we were no longer close, I know I will miss him terribly. I wish so much that I could rewind yesterday and make it not true.
Dave Graham, 30th March 1973 - 7th April 2006