In his early years, Sam and his then wife Myriam travelled extensively around Europe and much of South America, making a living by playing music… a true romantic wandering minstrel. Sam was a man who seemed to wear his very big heart profoundly on his sleeve and so he came to mean a great deal to many close friends and family… not least of all, me.
I met Sam in 2006, when I moved from corporate life in Bangkok to Phuket to take over the editorship of Phuket Magazine working for John Everingham’s iconic ArtAsia Press. Sam was an accomplished writer and had also worked for ArtAsia Press over the years and he was a regular contributor to Phuket Magazine among others in the company’s stable.
A humorous column titled ‘Ex-Pat Diary’ appeared each month in Phuket Magazine telling bawdy tales of Westerners getting themselves into all sorts of trouble with the locals, with their girlfriends, with the law, in motorbike crashes, or simply falling off their bar stools in late-night ramshackle dives along the Rawai waterfront!
Sam often wrote for this column and I well remember reading a story he’d penned titled ‘An Update on Phuket’s Sex Wars’ which had me in gales of laughter when I read it after work one evening while having a cold one. Sam was of course a wonderful wordsmith and had a great sense of humour which often shone through in his many writings, as it did in this particular story.
After reading this article I asked another of the editors at ArtAsia Press, Simon Hand, to introduce me to Sam and when we subsequently met, we immediately hit it off and a great friendship was born which lasted for the following16 years.
Sam was, I thought, an ultimate ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Dad’, one of those Phuket characters who keep on expanding their families while singing, laughing and making music well into later life, a bit like the rocker aristocrats such as Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart, and I personified Sam in an article titled ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Dads’ for Ex-Pat Diary in 2006.
Over the years, Sam and I collaborated on many creative activities from magazine articles, to restaurant reviews for the Thailand Tatler Magazine’s annual Best Restaurants Guide, to dramatic performances such as the comedy and musical show, ‘Love is a Four-Letter Word’, which I co-wrote and for which Sam was our Musical Director. This dinner theatre show was staged at the luxurious Mom Tri’s Villa Royale in 2010 and I well recall Sam’s beautiful voice and guitar on several of the numbers we performed that night to an enthusiastic audience of guests and local celebrities overlooking the Andaman Sea.
I became close to Sam’s family, to his wife Wan, his son Samson, to little granddaughter Peng, and to Sam’s older daughters Miki and Joy. Many times, Sam and his bubbly family tribe came over to parties and gatherings at my beachside cottage at Fisherman Way on Chalong Bay, where we sang and danced while Sam played, then laughed, talked, ate and drank together, while putting the world to rights sitting outside in the darkness, long into the star-filled tropical night.
From these many shared experiences I’ve enjoyed with Sam, I was always struck by his kindness, his romantic nature, his intelligence, creativity and talent, and perhaps most of all his wonderful, unspoiled boyish-ness.
Sam, I think, was in many ways almost too romantic and kind for this hard world… a supremely gentle alien from a better place, perhaps sent here to keep us all laughing, singing and entertained.
Tragically, Sam developed an aggressive cancer earlier this year, which caused his weight to decline dramatically and he was just able to make it back to England from his home in Isan. He was taken into Intensive Care at a London hospital off the plane in May and then transferred up to Liverpool, where he was born some 66 years earlier. He passed away on June 5.
I miss you a great deal my lovely friend and I’ll never forget the cherished friendship I was fortunate enough to share with you, a true ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Dad’.