John Runcie

Music: I first met Conrad in the mid 80s. I was playing drums in the band Big Brother and Conrad kindly allowed us to rehearse in his large music room. When Graham Millner, the sax player in the band, was tragically killed in a motor bike accident, Conrad took over on saxophone for the few remaining gigs we still had. Our main musical relationship however blossomed in the Trio Nardis with now world famous composer Gavin Bryars on bass. This trio was most heavily involved in the area of experimental free jazz but my most cherished memories of the group were at a gig in May 1987 when we backed one of the music’s greatest  ever sax players – Lee Konitz – in a much more conventional setting. It took a remarkable degree of musical confidence and ability to play sax alongside Lee. The anxiety prone Conrad acquitted himself admirably. I still listen to the recording of that gig with great enjoyment. Another musical highlight occurred the following January when Nardis provided the core of a student band backing the legendary Duke Ellington singer Adelaide Hall.  Gavin and I also provided the rhythm accompaniment for the CD which went with Conrad’s ground breaking book Harmony with Lego Bricks.

Holidays: I am forever grateful to Conrad and Alison for allowing me to share frequent summer holidays with them back in the days when they used to hire gites in the Normandy/Picardy area of France. Fun times indeed.

Film Club: For a number of years in the 2000s Conrad and Alison plus Alan Ross and myself used to meet once a month to consume Indian food and watch a movie. Conrad it must be said had a somewhat unusual/idiosyncratic taste in films  – to such a degree that the idea of each of those involved choosing a film in turn progressed to the point where all films were chosen by Conrad. Despite this a good time was generally had by all!

It always intrigued me that Conrad who generally despised all sport had a passionate interest in cycling and especially in the Tour de France – an interest which I happened to share. Back in the days when TV was a dirty word in the Cork household, Conrad and Alison used to visit my house to watch 1 or 2 of the most exciting stages of the Tour on my large screen TV. They always came armed with a bottle of malt whisky to enhance the pleasure of the occasion. We continued this tradition right up until the pre pandemic summer of 2019 though by this time Conrad’s increasing mobility problems and the presence of a TV in the Belvoir Drive house meant that I came to them rather than the reverse. They still provided the malt whisky!

Conrad was a unique and very special person. I feel honoured to have had him as a friend for so many years. He will be much missed.

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