Sam Bellman

I first met Dan at school, many years ago. I didn't immediately become friends with him, mainly because he was in the top sets for everything, and I, wasn't. I only became friendly later during the GCSE and A-level years, and I think that I appreciated him more then than I would have when I was younger anyway. His unassuming honesty and subtle wit were unlike many of his peers, as was his excellent music collection, mostly of 80s and older music at a time most of us were obsessed with whatever flash in the pan band was currently the big thing.

One of the things I think about when I think of Dan is that he had an air of innocent about him. The way that he always thought the best of people and their motives. He never had a harsh word for anyone. In my mind Dan always seemed a bit like an old fashioned English gentleman, like he really belonged in a Jane Austen novel. His reserve and honesty, how much he valued honesty and fair play. His dislike of much of modern technology - he resisted getting a mobile phone until only a few years ago.

Dan was also very down to earth. I love escapism, in all forms, be it Hollywood films or fantasy and sci-fi books. For the most part Dan eschewed all this, preferring stories more rooted in reality. The exception to this was his favourite film, Back to the Future, a film full of optimism and hope. If you don't know the film the hero, Marty McFly accidentally goes back in time and in the course of getting back to his home time he meets his parents and helps his parents change their lives for the better. It is mostly a fairly simplistic teen flick, but on another level it is a story about redemption. I have had discussions with Dan about the film, mostly when he refused to go and see whatever was the latest blockbuster sequel that was out, and I think that what attracted him to the film was the idea that with a few seemingly insignificant actions a life could be transformed for the better. I just wished he had continued to believe that.

Most of my memories of Dan are of spending time with him in the bars and pubs of North London. Losing to him at pool, watching football, taking advantage of his amazing memory in quizzes, but most of all just sitting back and talking about music, sport, TV, films, nothing in particular. He was always good company, sensitive, caring and with a unique perspective on many different subjects. I always knew that if I had a problem he would make time and be there for me. Whatever you said Dan would never judge you, or criticise. You knew that whatever the situation he would always give you his full support.

If you added the hours together to make days the days would add up to weeks and months. As a result I was so used to Dan always being there that I think I took him for granted. Going out to a pub in town last night I at times found myself looking around to see where he was, and then remembering that he was gone. Friends like him are rare and I know we all miss him terribly.

Sam Bellman, 13th November 2005