Nige was one of the Southend lads who came up to Birmingham for the Derby-Southend FA Cup game. I first bumped into him when touring around the pubs of Leigh and Old Leigh, and at parties, probably in 1974. A tall, picaresque character.
One post-school afternoon I ended up at his house, for a cup of tea and contests on his small snooker table. He may have played a Uriah Heep, or Alex Harvey album. He certainly talked me to death while comprehensively beating me on the green felt. There was something very sovereign about Nige. He did his own thing, carved out his own views. Wore a battered sheepskin jacket, often with white plimsolls, if memory serves.
Nige had the class to hire the guest room at High Hall, so that he got a decent kip, albeit with bodies littering the floor. He went to Warwick University for a while, but it didn’t suit. Worked on cruise ships as a croupier, which probably did suit. Nic Beaver answered his front door several years ago. Nige was selling something or other that Nic had to decline.
Nige’s best tale stands among the greatest and simplest I ever heard. He was taking a piss in the pub next to the Palace Theatre, in Westcliff. A guy stood next to him, looked across and down, and asked if he could toss him off. Nige says that he replied: “No thanks, I roll my own.”
I paid oblique tributes to him in Out Of Essex. Satan steals Nige’s uber-witty comment in Chapter 3, when accosted for sex by a girl on a train. Near the end, a character called Dawn Landais, who cleans car windows, emerges as a prototype for a more transparent and kinder social order. Her 18 year-old daughter, Genevieve Landais, becomes the UK’s political leader.
“An Essex triumph.”