22 April 2019 – Ben Raemers Tribute21.07.2019
Watch Jake Martinelli’s accompanying film here.
Tell your friends you love them as often as you can.
Time with Ben has always been precious, especially the last few years. There were always distractions and troubles getting in the way: women, hangovers, missing boards and broken / dead phones. Two days in a row with Ben was almost unheard of recently. After an afternoon barbecuing at mine while Ben DJ’d a predominately Smiths set with my dog Betty in his arms, I didn’t expect to see him the next day.
It was a beautiful bank holiday Monday, the perfect day to skate off a hangover. Ben arrived at the Spot in Tottenham with barbecue in hand wearing a fresh pink Slam shirt and carrying a selection of budget meats. He was two hours late but we didn’t care. Big smiles, hugs, beers cracked, sun shining – it felt special although we had been there a million times before. We fired up the barbecue then Ben, Raf, Jake, Jon and I shared Cherry B and Smirnoff Ice.
There was no plan so we just skated around, shot some photos and filmed while chatting nonsense about nonsense. Smiles all round, that’s what I remember. Nothing else mattered, just being there having fun. We bombed the hill in the corner repeatedly while confused looking families wondered what these adults were doing playing on skateboards.
Somehow a message I sent Ben years ago came up in conversation.
I was with Parrott filming for Albion. Ben was a no-show, so I had Kev text him: “Horsey is concerned you’re not taking this doubles part seriously.” This joke stuck for years and now it was back. We decided to start filming for another doubles part.
Of course Ben suggested we make moves in the direction of Victoria Park, his safe place. Knowing it was roughly east from Tottenham, we set off down the river on our boards. 45 minutes over gravel and grass, through boat parties and past pubs, bumping into friends and falling over on tight corners. Clueless, tipsy men laughing like kids, repeatedly Google Mapping and wondering why it was taking so long.
I’m not sure how, but we ended up at the DIY spot under the bridge in Hackney Wick. Ben was instantly inspired and began blasting over the hip and back tailing the quarter pipe. He just switched it on like he could and that energy was contagious. We all got in there and filmed some triples action and laughed as each one of us messed it up in turn.
Not wanting the day to end, we kept skating in the direction of Vicky Park via an off licence to grab important supplies. Funnily enough we didn’t make it to the skatepark. We didn’t need to on this day. We crossed the road to spread ourselves on the grass and sparked up another £5 disposable barbecue for our cheap meats. By now it was cold and almost dark but we all wanted to be there. Again, nothing mattered but that moment. We were all happy and content chatting shit with some beers and dodgy burgers. It was all so simple and special just being out with our mates all day skating in the sun. I think everyone is so wrapped up in so much that you forget that’s all it really takes to be happy sometimes.
That night the “I don’t think you’re taking this doubles part seriously” Whatsapp group was born and we managed to keep skating together for a couple of weeks. Being around Ben has always made me happy, so the idea of a summer full of days like this got me hyped. Between us we talked about how fun our little crew was.
Ben moved to Cornwall for a week. After that I told him to never leave me again and he promised he wouldn’t. I miss him so much but I am eternally grateful to be his friend and to have spent time with him. I know it’s been said by many, but he was genuinely too good for this world.
Ben had troubles no one knew about. We need to be nicer to each other and we need to talk to each other. He would hate this attention. He would hate the focus on his decision to take his own life, but it needs to be spoken about. We need to acknowledge that’s what he did. Whatever troubles you have, there is always a better option than suicide. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to the Samaritans or any suicide prevention hotline. Don’t be scared to ask for help. I probably know 1000 people that would have travelled any distance to have been with Ben if only he had reached out. Tell your friends you love them as often as you can and don’t be scared to talk about how you feel. I feel sad and I miss my best friend.