The other day, I wrote a blog post about having lost a hero. Mainly, it was decrying Morrissey and seems to have succeeded in winding up his fans. I didn’t realise that on Saturday, I would actually lose a real life hero.
Rob Windsor, friend, comrade, all round good bloke, lost his battle with cancer on 14 January 2012.
I’m not going to go into all the good that Rob did, that would be another complete blog post in itself and also, others will do it better than I ever could. This is about my memories of him.
I first met Rob when I was eight or nine. He was spearheading the anti poll tax movement in Coventry and my mum, being a political sort, went along to the meetings held in the West Indian Club in Coventry, taking me with her. Looking back now, he was a skinny, scruffy looking bloke with a lot to say. In recent times, the skinniness and the scruffiness had subsided, but he still always had a lot to say. His speeches were captivating, whenever he spoke, you couldn’t help but listen. Articulate, intelligent, rousing, inspiring. He was a key political influence in my life, along with my mum and Dave Nellist.
Another thing which struck me about him was, even though I was a kid, he spoke to me the same way he would speak to anyone, he didn’t speak down to me, he treated me the same as everyone else. He was warm, friendly and funny. He always spoke to me, he always spoke to everyone. I’d see him campaigning on one of the Socialist party stalls on a Saturday afternoon in town and we’d always have a chat, never forgetting to ask about my mum and how she was.
I knew he was ill. I work at the hospital and one day I’d popped down to the shop for something and there he was. I was surprised to see him and we chatted about how he was, what was going on and why he was in. I told him I did hospital radio and that I’d get him a song played if he liked, but he’d been discharged before my show was on. He ‘phoned me though to say thanks and to just play something anyway, the Stone Roses, I think he wanted.
The last time I saw him, he was still battling; politically and literally. I was striking on November 30 against the ConDem’s pension cuts and had gone along to the rally in town. We had a brief chat about nothing much in particular and that was that. I didn’t realise that would be the last time I’d see him.
You have a lot of heroes growing up be they film stars or musicians, or even your parents. I feel proud and extremely lucky to have had Rob as an actual real life hero who was a comrade, a fighter for what’s right, who fought until the very end and most of all, a friend.
My condolences go to Isla and the rest of Rob’s family, friends and comrades. We’ve lost a true hero.
(Edit: The official obituary for Rob as released by Coventry Socialists can be found here).