I’m going to focus on Rufus’s time in Vancouver – aka the “The Promised Land”.
The first time I met Rufus is the stuff of legend … (I call it a legend because I’m the only one that remembers it) … it was on Hamilton Street in Yaletown. A bunch of us VFX nerds were pretending to play road hockey in a Yaletown tournament, I had worked with Liz for a few months and heard tale of a guitar playing Rufus. It had recently rained, and the sun had just come out. I remember a lot of glistening. I saw him from afar. He was wearing a striking long coat and looked about 26% more handsome than the best Yaletown had to offer that sunny afternoon. I feel like he spun around in slow motion when I approached… Crazy Strong handshake. We spoke. I think he was signing autographs or something, so I let him be.
Everything I just said has been doggedly denied by everyone involved (including Rufus), But I don’t care. Perhaps I was projecting, I really wanted to like him, and ….. I played drums and he played guitar.
It was 2010 and the winter Olympics were on. A week later we sat together at the Heineken House with more work friends. The bus ride home took 3.5 hours for some unknown reason. I considered that our first date. It must have been a good one, because a couple days later we were playing music together for the first time.
And I need to take a moment. I’m guessing that Rufus and I probably played together 200 times over the past 12 years. And MAN I’m going to miss that more than anything else. It was our thing. Our time. We would drop into a such a calm meandering state when we played together. Some of my favourite photos and videos I took of Rufus are when I would catch him unawares while we were playing. He looked so child like. So happy. Sitting cross legged on the floor cradling his guitar. I would send them to Liz to make her jealous, since I knew it was like a rare Sasquatch moment only I got to witness.
Music led us to the Gorge to attend some sort of Dave Matthews love-in. Not sure how Anita and I ended up there, but was glad we did. I loved running from stage to stage with Rufus discovering bands and drinking cans of corona larger than a baseball bat. (Slightly smaller than a cricket bat). Huddled around Liz’ impromptu pasta-n-block-o- cheese-by-headlamp-over-open-curling-iron-flame, (you should all try it). Anita led a round of music trivia, Rufus dominated, I scraped the pasta off the bottom of the tin and watched.
If it’s not clear by this point – Music was at Rufus’s core. Part of me thinks his brain only spoke music and had to constantly translate to English. Which brings me to one of my closest and most recent memories. The night John passed, Rufus called to tell me. My weepy Canadian self couldn’t really keep it together. I was sitting on a bed in LA and wanted to jump through the phone and take Rufus out for a pint. But like a strong Brit he was so in control and ended up comforting me. A month later we met up in Vancouver. I convinced him to join me at an Andrew WK Show – picture the heaviest, most over the top party-rock. By the end of the night we were both soaked in sweat and had lost our voices. He wept for John that night through his pores, he pushed everything out. It was pure catharsis. In our last phone call – we made plans to re-enact it the next chance we got.
I remember one of the first times I met John and Camilla and talked about us playing music together. We were in a Pub in Chelsea. Camilla’s eyes lit up. It was clear she was happy he had found another creative outlet. John wanted to know what we were charging at the door.
This is the half way point in this speech… I will memorialize this with one word … Mayonnaise
The day Oscar was born I was with my family – 8000 km away travelling Norway and I remember thinking that Liz had it all figured out and wasn’t worried, but Rufus was about to have his world rocked. In fact earlier that year Rufus and I were driving to Whistler and talking about his arriving child. As he weaved in and out of traffic at double the speed limit turning one lane into two… I told him that what I was going through as a passenger reminded me of the onset of fatherhood – and that there was no way to express what was coming his way.
I’ve been surprised by Rufus before, but never as surprised as watching him pivot into becoming a dad. The best part of the Vancouver Rufus story was watching him raise his boys. Rufus was born for this. He wrestled with his own path, but I think came to peace with it when Oscar was born. None of us make sense. We all struggle to feel like we know what we’re doing. But watching Rufus taking on this new challenge seemed effortless. He was so protective. So driven to surround them with solid structure and support. To make them both world-class skiers for instance (which is now on us).
At Oscar’s christening, I didn’t watch the priest, or even Oscar… I watched Rufus’s face. To bring a son home to St. Bride’s was monumental for him. I celebrated the occasion by wearing jeans.
In reality – There were two Vancouver Rufus’s – Pre Oscar and Post Oscar. Many in this room only know Post-Oscar Rufus. I think we can all agree he’s pretty great. Pre-Oscar Rufus was… a riddle wrapped inside an Englishman. So much potential and kindness desperately searching for an outlet. He found it. Simply put … As a father Rufus’s best qualities bloomed and it was clear he was now composing two of his masterpieces.
The Rufus I knew could be woken up by a single high-heel footstep on the floor above his sleeping head. The Rufus I knew was so driven he would put vacations on hold to make sure the correct song was playing at the Keg, or a 5 star half way around the world. The Rufus I knew would drop everything to ski Blackcomb or meet me a Foo Fighters show in Atlanta. The Rufus I knew lived for conversation and was the most outgoing recluse I ever met. A lot of us would joke that he was the last to leave a party because he needed to say a personal goodbye to each and every guest. The Rufus I knew was frustrated by the taste in the world. He heard every song playing in the background at all times. Sometimes multiple songs overlapping. He would stop mid- sentence to break it down for you, and I often couldn’t even hear it. He should have been the world’s DJ. He was impeccably polite and didn’t suffer the impolite. He was stubbornly gracious and loyal to a fault. If I bought him a bottle of whiskey – he would wait and only drink it with me.
He was so sensitive. So creative. So unafraid of being charming. His parents so desperately loved and missed him and wished they could see him more in London. It was tough, He was more Canadian than I was… and just as I was falling in love with England I could see it from both sides. We all yearn for the world we never knew. Rufus found so much here in Vancouver. He found space. He found people that saw him truly for himself. He found amazing friends, many gathered here. He found a home for his family. He finally found good beer.
Oscar and Jake are so lucky to have Rufus as their dad and Liz as their mom. And nothing will ever take that away.
It makes no sense that he isn’t here, but goddammit I’m going live like he hasn’t gone anywhere.