|Mike Barber & Dave Watts were
the very best of mates, and they shared a dream. They dreamed of getting
out of the casino business for good. Like all of us, they dreamed of living
their lives in the sunshine, by a warm blue sea, lounging on a terrace
in the warm evenings, sipping ice cold Sundowners and watching the sun
set on another peaceful day. Oh yes – and having a good laugh. They liked
to laugh together, Mike & Dave.
They dreamed of moving to a country where the pace of life is slow, the work not too hard and the price of tobacco not too high, for Dave smoked a lot.
They decided to move to Spain. This move would be especially good for Mike’s wife, who was very ill and who would benefit from a climate warmer than Suffolk.
So Mike & his wife moved first. As in all things he undertook, Mike met the challenge of living in a new country head-on. He set up a little car rental company. Then he started an estate agency.
He did well, our Mike. Had the life he had dreamed of – the companionship & support of a wife he adored, a successful business, warm evenings, deep blue sea. All going according to plan.
Dave was encouraged, and eager to join him, but for personal reasons had to delay his plan of joining Mike in Spain and opening a small English bakery business there.
Then shortly before Dave was ready to make his move - on 17th September 2006 - Mike had a massive heart attack, and died.
Far too soon for a man in his forties.
Dave was deeply affected by the loss of his best friend, but decided to continue with his planned move. Although he knew it wouldn’t be the same without Mike, his heart was set on a new life in the sun. In June last year he sold up in England and moved to Spain. He bought a small house from Mike’s Estate Agency –now being run by his widow - started to settle in and make new friends. Started to live his dream.
One afternoon, he went to the doctor to see about that nagging chest pain…
Only a month after his arrival in Spain, in July 2007, Dave was diagnosed as having lung cancer.
Treatment in Spain and subsequently in England was unsuccessful, and Dave’s life and Dave’s dream came to an end on the afternoon of Saturday 19th January 2008, in hospital, in Kent. He died peacefully, without pain, his hand being held by the woman he loved. He was just 52.
You may have met Mike & Dave in London Clubs where they worked together in the surveillance department. Or you may have met them in the Varkert Casino in Budapest. Or perhaps later in Moscow, or Greece, or Romania or elsewhere, when they were joint owners of their own surveillance equipment supply company.
If you did meet them, you will remember Mike’s outstanding professionalism, and you will remember Dave’s enormous sense of humour.
You will remember the laughter, and your life will have been enriched by it.
My personal cherished memory – and I have many - is of sitting with Dave in a small pavement café on the banks of the River Danube at 6 am one morning, drinking a couple of beers together before going home after a hard night shift.
Laughing till it hurt. Doubled over, clutching my sides, begging him to stop talking.
Now I’m happy to know that these two great guys are together again. Their sunshine is not in Spain, but in a far, far better place.
They’re together again - I can hear the laughter.