Shaun Kirkpatrick: an A to Z

Written by Louise and delivered at Shaun’s Thanksgiving service


Living with Shaun for the past 12 years has been a little like being a cabbie studying to take The Knowledge. There are so many stories he has told me and that others have shared too. I have only a few minutes so, in keeping with the cabbie parallel, I have come up with a system which is simultaneously methodical and random – very Shaun – I give you…




A is for Authentic, he never edited himself for anybody or any occasion, he was always just Shaun. A is for Appleton, he loved living here. And A is for arrival, he began life as he meant to go and defying convention was born on the stairs.

B is for boys. His beloved sons Luke and Cameron, as they matured into young men he was in awe of Cameron’s courage as he travelled the world and he took great pride in Luke’s quiet compassion and kindness. He was also very proud that they are both so handsome…. B is also for Bronz the band that he toured America with and recently resurrected for the release of the second album. A third is pending…..

C is for creative. It was obvious he was just born a creative, the choice was made for him, he simply couldn’t function in any other way. He always came at life with his own unique slant, why not mow the lawn leaving a stripe of white daisies down the middle or to make a change and start in the middle and spiral outwards.

C is also for curry. He had a curry face, honestly I could tell by the middle of the afternoon that he wanted a take away curry that night just by the shape of his face. I never fathomed it out, I was never wrong. When he failed his 11 plus he was devastated; his Mum, Judy, asked what would cheer him up… “a vesta curry, Mum”. There are chillies in amongst the flowers here in church today in honour of this great love!

D is for dogs. With the arrival of our puppy earlier this year we both remarked how fun it was having two dogs…he retorted that what he would really love was a smallholding; then he would have 8 dogs…8! Rosie our westie adored him, their relationship flourished after he gave her a square of fillet steak at our first “stay-in” dinner date, but not all dogs felt the same way. His sisters remember how he used to disappear into the garage with the family dog Duke; a while later the door would rise to reveal Duke clothed and bedecked in dark glasses. Sadly Duke grew tired of this game and would growl a warning at Shaun if he came too close.

E is for enthusiasm, I was once told the story of who could erase the image of Shaun as the young guitarist opening the set for Bronz on the American tour, running on to play so enthusiastically that he missed his mark and shot off the front of the stage. E is also for entertainer. He was compelled to entertain. He couldn’t help himself, several friends have reminded me of the day of the Appleton dog show when he seized the winner of the scruffiest dog award from its young owner and made a last minute illegal entry into the dog most like owner competition.

F is for funny. He had such a truly great sense of humour. Often close to the bone – but always on the money funny.

G is for Gosforth where Shaun was born, the second of what was eventually five siblings. Jonathan, Shaun, Wendy, Sharon and Sara. His Mum and Dad, Ron and Judy, remember him as a child that was always breaking stuff, not least himself, he was a regular fixture at the local A and E department. Blessed with his cheeky grin his Mum obviously had a very soft spot for him. The first time we spoke, she spent nearly five minutes extolling his virtues, “my Shaun’s an absolute poppet” Finally I got a word in…it’s alright Judy, I already love him. G is also for the girls. Tara and Ellie. When we left for Italy the summer before last he hid this note on the sun visor THERE ARE ONLY THREE RULES FOR THIS HOLIDAY! 1. Drive safely and don’t distract your mum when she’s driving. 2. Have a great time all of the time. 3. Come home safely…simples Oh I lied there are 4 rules… Miss me as much as I will miss you all Signed your evil step dad Shaun Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

H is for hair. What great hair! At its best … gorgeous tumbling ringlets; at it worst catweazel. As a family we teased him with this fridge magnet…it reads… “You can’t control everything. Your hair was put on your head to remind you of that.”

H is also for hearing. After an adenoid operation went wrong, he lost his hearing for much of his childhood. After a series of surgeries, he regained almost full hearing – but it had a lasting impact on how he perceived sound and he never forgot the first time he heard the birds singing after that period of deafness.

I is for ingenuity. A clever fixer and builder of things. A combination of an intent expression and the donning of his specs was a sure sign that something was being dreamt up and brought into being. His latest project was the creation of an I studio, a portable studio built around his iPod about so big, complete with external charging points and connectors and a solar charging panel for emergencies “in the field”. Ellie had a lot of fun ribbing him about this feature, having never seen him far from a plug socket….

J is for jokes, he loved jokes especially his own.

K is for kindness. Inherently kind Sharon told me this week how he gave away the balsa wood planes he had built for a little boy up the road who had no toys. On the flip side Sara remembers being hung upside down by her ankles over the banisters, but she assures me it wasn’t done with any malice!! K is also for the Kirk in Wiltshire; one half a home that he shared with Liz his first wife and the boys and the other half a studio converted from a disused Baptist chapel. Van Morrison’s song ‘It’s so quiet in here’ was inspired by his time working there.

L is for love. When he loved he loved deeply and fiercely. Three days after he died struggling to come to terms with what had happened I received a text from Cameron. We’ll always have the love Lou, nothing can take that away. Hence the Beatles sing along later … sorry if you think its cheesy!

M is for music. Shaun embodied the phrase ‘where words fail music speaks’ His guitar playing was fluid, expressive and lyrical. He bared his soul when he played. To hand him a guitar and watch him play was akin to allowing a bird of prey to take flight. An awesome transformation would take place, like all great performers he was generous spirited and energetically open, no words were spoken but it was implicit, you were invited to fly with him. Making music meant everything to Shaun. It was his authentic path; it was the language which afforded us an instant and deep affinity.

N is for naughty. As a small boy, usually aided and abetted by his older brother Jonathan, Shaun got into all sorts of mischief. He cut his mothers new curtains into strips with the too bigs – the giant dressmaking shears. He peeled the newly hung wallpaper off the walls whilst his parents were out that evening for a well earned rest after a days hard work decorating. A little older he progressed to more adventurous acts of destruction, building a home made bomb and blowing a small crater in one of the local roads. As a young man he earned the dubious distinction of making the front page of the local paper, having broken three speed limits in succession on his motorbike – with the police in hot pursuit. He did hear the siren but never dreamt that it might be for him….

O is for one liners. Note to self. Most probably unsuitable to recall in church, please request congregation to recall some at their leisure later.

P is for professional. A consummate professional. When gigging, every last thing was planned and thought of. The “happy go lucky” chap vanished for a while, replaced with a quiet, single minded focus. He probably had the army to thank for that. Playing in a military band for three years from the age of 18. I checked with one of his fellow band members this week how many paces they had to march to the minute….144, whilst managing changing time signatures, parts, marching patterns and the puff to play. It was great training for being in a band, and gave him skills which are rare to find in a rock musician. A musician friend summed it up beautifully when he wrote last week: “He had a musical intuitiveness which was so sensitive. He could follow any pattern a drummer laid down and play with it, ahead of it, behind it or around it. Even if you tried to lose him and catch him off beat for fun, it seemed it could not be done.”

Q is for the Queens jubilee. Who can forget that night on the mound, Shaun dicing with death, surrounded by electrical equipment in the pouring rain, blinded by his overactive smoke machine, blasting out “God Save the Queen”. It was EPIC.

R is for Rock night. The night when all the toys came out of the cupboards, and trusted musician friends were invited and called upon to bring, for one night only, a little bit of stadium rock to the beautiful barn at South Lawn.

S is for Strat. Shaun’s guitar of choice. S is also for sensitive soul, because he was.

T is for talent. Such a talented chap. He could write, record, produce and play music to the highest standard. He has written some lovely stuff, check it out on YouTube and online.

U is for UFO. one of Shaun’s weirder stories…in the nineties he was randomly contacted by a school teacher from Canada, Barbara, who had tracked him down because she had heard his music on the spaceship when she was abducted by aliens. She flew over to meet him and take him out to dinner bearing maple syrup and a dreamcatcher.

V is for volume. Loud. I mean shake the house Loud!!

W is for Wuss. Brave enough to play in front of 50 thousand people but scared of spiders!

For X you will have to allow me a text speak moment. X is for exit strategy. The morning of Shaun’s funeral at Bath crematorium the gearbox broke on the hearse so Shaun travelled down the M4 in the back of a Ford Mondeo estate listening to rock music. On his arrival in Bath he was transferred to a private hearse to arrive looking the part at the crem. Perfect. He had the last laugh and always used to say never let them see the show from the side of the stage!

Y is for young at heart. He never really got past the age of 25

Z is for Zappa frank Zappa. Shaun was a huge fan and I hope they are jamming somewhere together as I speak.

Z is also for Zen dog. I am a big fan of Edward Monkton’s Zen dog. I only realised this morning that Shaun was and is Zen dog, these words suit him perfectly.

He knows not where he’s going

For the ocean will decide –

It’s not the destination…

It’s the glory of the ride.