I was on the phone with my nephew Jarlath to tell him the Breeders gig we were going to see last night had been cancelled because of hurricane Ophelia when he said, “it just came up on the BBC news that Sean Hughes died” . It’s just one of those weird ridiculous sentences that you can’t process immediately. Sean Hughes dead? Dead? What? But Sean Hughes or the fella who used to be called John Hughes was a wide eyed youth with his life ahead of him only yesterday. I was in a band called Guernica and he was in a comedy double act called the Short and Curlies. This was in a time when everyone was in a band and comedy was something Maureen Potter or Brendan Grace did. I can’t remember anything the Short and Curlies did. I think I was too concerned with my own front man ego to concentrate on what the support act did. I did see Sean do his own act one night in Liberty Hall at some gig that went on for ages with all sorts of random acts on. I don’t think he was well received. I was there with Paul Tylak and we loved him. I met him a couple of times outside Kehoe’s and realised he was a big fan of Guernica. He chatted with wide eyed enthusiasm about the band. He was a proper fan. Then he disappeared off the scene and someone said he was doing alright in London and before you knew it he had won some big prize at the Edinburgh festival and came back a hero selling out two or three nights in The Project theatre with his one man show.
Then there was the Sean Show. Amazing what could happen over in London. Young people got their own TV shows and it turns out we were talented. It was the start of the Irish becoming trendy in London. I met Sean back in Dublin one night down in Sides night club. I told him I had started doing comedy. He was disappointed that the band had broke up or that I hadn’t formed a new band. I was disappointed that he was disappointed. I met him another night in Edinburgh during the festival. He was seriously pissed out of his head and he started singing an old Guernica song word for word; a song that had never been recorded and he still remembered the words. I didn’t even remember them.
Then I would meet him occasionally back in Dublin when he was working on something or other for RTE usually with Billy Magra and he was always a mixture of friendly and grumpy. That was his thing. I met him last May while we were working on one of Billy’s RTE radio panel shows. I thought I should interview him for my podcast but I never got round to asking as I was busy doing a play at the time. I mean I knew he would be such a good interview, He would have such a story to tell and I was there at the very beginning. And now I can never interview him. Just like that he is gone and I remember this young enthusiastic bloke who I met outside Kehoe’s one night and who kept babbling on about how great he thought the band were. What the fuck happened? `I mean it’s so sudden.
Zoom. What was that? That was your life mate. Oh do I get another? Sorry mate, that’s your lot.
sean hughes