Friday, 4 February 2011

Thursday 3rd February 11, Mark 'Mozaz' Wallis' Funeral

Gill took our youngest to school in a taxi... I was going to cycle in with him and then on to the station, but he wasn't feeling up to cycling so we used the taxi again. 

I got out of the house soon after they left, to get the 9.28 to Sheffield.  I didn't take my trailer and cycled extremely fast through York and got my ticket and put my bike on the train.  I had a good chat with a pair of transport planners who were on their way to a meeting with Yorkshire Forward, and soon it was Sheffield.

I bought a road map in the WH Smiths in the station, although I'd memorised the route up to Grenoside Crematorium, and then set out to get to the Penistone Road, which I planned to follow some of the way.  I decided, as I had plenty of time, to visit a place that Mozaz really liked, a derelict factory called George Barnsley & Sons, on Cornish Street.  I then cycled on to the Penistone Road and up through Hillsborough and then up Fox Hill up towards Grenoside.  This hill was so long and steep that I got off and walked for some of it.  Above this, Skew Hill, was a delightful little road, and had an amazing view back down over Sheffield.

I got to the Crematorium at 11.15, and fortunately there was a cafe there where I could have a coffee and visit the loo, and cool off.  There were a rag-tag bunch of people starting to gather, I could tell that these were people who knew Mozaz.  I locked my bike and joined them.  There were a few Sheffield Greens that I recognised, and other friendly but subdued people.  More and more people arrived, a very diverse bunch.  Then the hearse arrived, with a nice wickerwork coffin, and an A4 paper in the window saying 'UnderclassRising On Tour', and another in the other window with some other words connected to his life, such as '0742' (one of his 'names') and 'The Subterranean Tourist Board', and 'Bucolic'.

We filed into the room after the casket; there were so many people that there weren't enough chairs and people had to stand at the back.  He would, I think, have found it difficult to believe that so many people cared about him.

The service was facilitated by Deacon Dave Havard, someone who's known Mozaz for more than 20 years.  He welcomed us and offered a brief overview about his memories of Mozaz, and then introduced Sam Walker, who's been the main organiser of the funeral.  Sam told us how she became aware of Mozaz when he started following her around, many years ago, and their lives had run in parallel for a while before crossing and getting much closer.  At one stage, when Mozaz was homeless, he even lived with her, but reminded her that he was celibate so 'don't get any ideas' or words to that effect.  Their relationship was more similar to brother/sister than anything else, and Sam especially enjoyed it when he took her 'urban exploring' into empty factories.

After Sam there were recollections from Heather, Emily, Dan, Pete and Rachel, and a very interesting story from Green Councillor Jillian Creasy, who said that the best thing about him was that he constantly challenged her, and others.  With her GP hat on, she explained about why he didn't get a flu jab, because he didn't have a regular GP and had such problems with authority figures that he'd been labelled a 'violent patient' so he couldn't just go to a GP when he needed, he had to book to go and see one and then he could only go if they got security guards in.  So, no flu jab, he got pneumonia in December and then in January, H1N1 Swine Flu, which was too much for his rather battered body to cope with.

Then there was a time for reflection, with a series of photographs of him, and Carole King's 'You've got a friend'.  For me, my tears were interspersed with laughter at some of the images.  He was quite a clown, as well as an anarchist, provocateur, irritant, demonstrator, angry ranter and kind-hearted idealist.

After this, various people got up to add their thoughts... Smiley Steve Marshall, Anthony Goddard, Rob, and an interesting character going by the name of Tyran Oh Sore Arse, who when not in drag, is a chap called Stan, I think.  Deacon Dave then closed the ceremony... but Sam and Emily stepped up and said they had to do something before Mozaz went.  They explained that on occasion he had joked that they weren't 'real women' and they should prove to him that they were.  Then whilst he was in intensive care, they'd said to him that when he was better and out of hospital that they would prove it... but this was not to be.  So, they said, better late than never, turned their backs on the attendees, faced Mozaz in his coffin, undid their blouses and 'flashed' as they coyly put it.  Not something one would expect at a normal funeral!

And nor was the leaving music, Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols.  A classic.

I cycled away, enjoying the steep and long hills down back into the city, and within about 15 minutes was at the Philadelphian Working Mens Club.  Sam and friends had laid on a good buffet, and I chatted with a very sad Andy, who is someone else who'd known him since he was young.

There were more announcements, anecdotes and stories from the stage, and I read out something which Ali had asked me to write in a condolences book (but there wasn't one) so I got up on stage to read out:
'Mozaz died too soon, leaving a world worse for his loss but the better for him living here at all.  Thank you Mozaz, true beauty will never be forgotten.  Love Ali'.  Sam and one of her friends read out a solicitor's letter describing an incident where Mozaz had randomly sent out a fantasy 'Tweet' about having two AK47s and enough bullets to get all of you c**ts, meaning the police.  A couple of days later, he was arrested in Sheffield City Centre under the terrorism act.  The house search revealed no guns, and eventually he was let go.  The solicitor's letter contained some of the dialogue about the incident, written in dialect, it seemed, and Mozaz's humour had been very present, and the letter was hilarious.  Another story was when he's taken part in the anti poll tax protests, and wound up in court.  Most protesters had asked for a McKenzie Friend to help them in Court; Mozaz took a Sooty hand puppet and used that as his McKenzie Friend.  Just brilliant!

I had some good conversations with Mark from The Land Is Ours, (who paid for some leaflets for We Love The Earth Centre)  and I hope that he'll visit York sometime.

I left shortly before 5pm, as my Sister Anna had said she'd be back home in Hillsborough at about 5.  So i cycled back up the hill, and was really pleased to see her, as it's been quite a while.  I had my sandwiches as she was making a stir fry and we talked about a wide range of things.  Her hubby Douglas came in just before I had to go, as my brother Tom, in the Norfolk Park area, had said he'd be in from 7pm.  So I shot back down the hill, all the way down Penistone Road, around the ring road and then up the hill past the Park Hill Flats.  I love cycling in Sheffield, it's an exciting city.  Tom was dealing with his 3 children, the youngest read me some poems and it was a lovely visit.  I had a glass of wine and an hour's chat once the children were in bed.  Kate was at her life-drawing class.

Soon after 9.30 I got myself together and cycled down to the station, and jumped on the 9.54 which arrived in York an hour later.  I cycle much more quickly without a trailer, and was back home before I thought it was possible.  I had the wind behind me too.....

Was good to see Gilly and then she fell asleep as I spent til 3am dealing with emails and typing up this bog.

Rest in Peace Mozaz.... in fact, you're probably ashes by now.  But in my memory, you'll live as long as I do, and maybe there will be a long term memorial to this Sheffield Legend.  Keep your eyes on this website for details of an art exhibition, and other post-Mozaz activities.

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