Kris Hemensley's Eulogy for Tim including some messages from family & friends, Springvale Crematorium, July 30, 2003
Tim's paternal grandmother, Tina [Berthe] Hemensley [nee Tawa], on behalf of my father, Alan, & herself: "Dieu te benisse a la fleur de l'age mon cheri" trsl "God bless you in the flower of his life"
Tim's uncle Bernard [who'd enjoyed Tim's visit to Dorset,UK a few years ago] : "The little bird [in his condolence card] sang to me of Tim, his little spirit... He lived his life on his own terms & with none, or few, concessions. Buddhist terminology comes to mind -- 'no birth, no death, no coming, no going, not the same, not different, no being, no non-being.' Love, Bernard"
From Roman Tucker, in London at the moment with his band [Rocket Science] : "I feel enlightened to have known him & proud that I was his longest friend.
I watched him with admiring eyes as he put comic plays together or wrote in his fanzine PUNK PURGE (TEDDY BOY TALES), selling it on the street corner for 20cents.
I loved his room, it was wild, with pictures & junk, horror toys, books & cartoon he had created. When Tim asked me to join Royal Flush I was ecstatic.
Playing gigs in adult bars, we were well read little children, singing about concepts & experiences that lay ahead... The foundations were set & for both of us there was no looking back.
Long live Royal Flush, God, Bored & The Powder Monkeys -- Long live Tim Hemensley."
From Helen Gardener this quotation from John Donne :
"We your sad glad
friends all bear a
part of grief"
Kris Hemensley's Eulogy for Tim :
I am speaking to you, this afternoon, aware of so many contradictions...
We're here to farewell Tim who has died.
He is dead -- And that means forever.
For all of us it means we will grow old, n'sh'allah, without our darling Tim, our grandson, our nephew, our cousin, our son, our brother, our dear,dear friend.
And this is shocking.
And yet, it isn't a shock.
It is unbelievable, yet it is awfully believable.
Let me say then, as gently as I can, that whilst it is wonderful to Retta & I that you are all here --all of our families --Garveys, Kennys, O'Briens, Massaraneys, & in spirit Hemensleys, Tawas --all of our friends & colleagues from Tim's schooldays, from the kindergarten, the bookshop, from the literary world and, crucially, from the world of rock & roll music and performance --whilst this is overwhelmingly beautiful & comforting, it's surely a tragedy that we're all here at all.
We are here to celebrate Tim, and to mourn him.
But we were happy to celebrate him alive. We would so gladly have him back... to an anonymous life...
Tim was devoted to his art and life in rock & roll. It was a practice and a culture. In that sense he was truly a rock & roll hero.
To be so committed can make one a martyr to that practice.
But Tim is a hero & martyr, if you like, within the art & life of rock & roll music and not of or to heroin.
He is not a heroin hero.
Heroin was a hoop he apparently enthusiastically leapt through.
He didnt ultimately complete that leap into further adventures and the marvellous discoveries of any simple life.
Addiction put him on trial day & night, it tested his friendships, it (in the phrase of the poet Philip Larkin, writing of parents) it fucked him up.
There is a crucial discussion we all of us have --it is about quality & quantity, quality versus quantity.
I thank Justin Negler for describing to me so succinctly the other day how the dynamo that Tim was at his best --the informed, energetic, hilarious, brilliant young man --was the product of all of his activities, all of his involvements, all of his commitments including heroin. The life measured as quality is indivisible -- Indeed--
And I also have subscribed to that idea of quality being more important than quantity-- Except that I have enjoyed the slow evolution of my life in which the idea of longevity seems equally rewarding--
I believe in quality but I like some quantity too--
I dont believe Tim wanted to die-- He had so much more to do--
Retta had an enormous involvement in his music life -- You were a wonderful ally Retta --His dancing, his ryhthm has everything to do with you-- As you have reminded us, Rett, you sang The Trogs' Wild Thing as you were giving birth to Tim, in Southampton General Hospital, in England on that wintery, November 23rd, 1971--
I was on the edge of his professional music in person though in my mind there too--
But I looked forward to an older Tim --or the same young Tim, if you like --to be with me as I grew older-- I looked forward to a continuation and development of our conversation. I confess that I feel cheated of that prospect.
I liked Tim's mind, his critical & conceptual ability, and I knew he would inevitably return to education formally or, like I did, off his own bat. I liked his imagination-- I believed, as he did too, that he would write prose-fiction, prose-essays one day --that the writing he did in rock & roll, both as lyric & review, would lead to story-writing --even to films, his lifelong love.
I liked his humour, his mimicry, his wicked parodies --
I was a willing accomplice in Tim & Retta's sending-up of my seeming elitism & pomposity, my thick-headedness before a film's story-line not to mention characters, my putting-my-foot-in-it in umpteen social occasions --I played along & fell about with them in helpless laughter --
When he was 9 or 10 he busked outside of Myers, a spikey-top, singing Jonathon Richmond's Roadrunner, accompanying himself on tambourine. What else did he have to prove in terms of courage? At the 2nd Surrealist Festival in about 1981, he read his epic poem The Punk Poema (which included the line "Fascism is boring! Long live art!") against a room of heckling plus amazed laughter and eventually great applause!
I was at Retta's side when Tim was born --look! I shouted at her through her shot of pethadine --look! the baby's coming out! When the baby didnt immediately respond to the midwife's little smack Retta thought he was dead! Is he dead? No, I said-- of course not-- myself waiting for that miraculous cry--
Retta & I found Tim in the outside loo of our small backyard-garden on Monday the 21st-- 10 days ago-- He'd dropped from the toilet seat onto the floor, head into the base of the door, legs crazy around him-- Rett applied mouth to mouth as I ran to phone O.O.O. --
The paramedics arrived & dragged him into the night garden beside the leafless apple tree & the dug-over tomato patch... They worked on him in torch-light --like a battle scene-- for 45 minutes but couldnt bring him back.
Rett & I have literally seen Tim into life and out of it, into his death...
We are heavy-hearted, sad but not bitter--
He lived his own life, he died as a consequence of his own lifestyle--
We love him, we're proud of him, we will miss him forever even as we understand that the world is composed of who we call the living & who we call the dead.
Poem by Tim [notebook, 02/03?]
Every Monday nite i watch
Every Monday nite,
i eat, & eat & eat.
i eat more more -- bread, cream-cheese portions,
salami, turkey-breast, pretzels,
fried eggs, toasted cheese sandwiches --
on a Monday nite whilst watching
than i ate on every
Monday nite last year put together;
consequently, it could be said
i am putting on a little weight
at this point in time.
when i see the ease with which
Tony Soprano glides thru each episode
munching, chewing & gnawing all manner of food stuff
with undisguised relish however,
i can honestly say that this development
is no great cause of concern to me.
Poem by Kris Hemensley
tell everything. Dont fling love
back at me. Dont ditch it love
dont give it all away.
this dying day lest we die out
before everything's spelled out.
Spill it out. Love enough
to snuff out deathly
cutting-off. Tell all
without fear of tax or toll.
Love more than there is
so that more than there is
can grow. Tell all
against the threat of all hell
breaking over love's only child
whose telling all
even softens death's absolute fall.
Tell its unloveliest tale until
it calls love of life its own.
Retta Hemensley read Anna Bronte's poem, Farewell :
"Farewell to thee! But not farewell
To all my fondest thoughts of thee;
Within my heart they still shall dwell
And they shall cheer and comfort me.
Life seems more sweet that thou didst live
And men more true that thou were one;
Nothing is lost that thou didst give;
Nothing destroyed that thou hast done."
[Other contributions from Tim's funeral service to be added as they come to hand]
April 25th (Anzac Day), 2007