This is the eulogy I read at my dad's funeral a few weeks ago. Happy Father's Day Dad!
First thing Dad, more people have turned up to your funeral than my wedding so you did well there! Rest assured that I'll make sure that in future people will always say 1,000 people came to Marcus' funeral and Robbie Williams sang 'Angels'. You know what I mean dad.
I want to thank my family and friends, who have supported me recently, in particular Sandie without whom I could not have managed to do it all over the past few weeks. The bad times definitely show you who really cares.
Ironically you were one of the only people I knew who didn't have a Facebook account, yet there is a group with 170 members dedicated to you.
It is a testament to the man you were that so many people have sent messages and raised money for today. Special mention to the WOMAD crew, WOMAD which turns out is not only the World Of Music and Dance but also the world of friendship, love and generosity. We are forever grateful.
I want to quote a few of the notes left on the Facebook page (I've edited them a bit) because the world needs to know what a man you were. One thing is for sure, you were definitely one of the boys:
1. "You were a true friend; a rascal; a good laugh in the good times; dignified when times got tough. You were never slow to tell anyone who gave you the opportunity how much you loved your family and how proud you were of them and their achievements. You often wore your heart on your sleeve, which brought you gentle ribbing from your friends and family, but NEVER derision or dismissal. You were - and still are - a truly unique individual who enriched our lives, and will be sorely missed. Thank you for having been MARCUS; a larger than life figure who I'm proud to have known."
2. "a WOMAD legend gone, clearly he will be greatly missed"
3. "a true legend, who had a lot of fun. I learnt a lot from Marcus, most importantly always wear sunscreen"
4. "Raise your glasses for an amazing man, we will miss you madly thank you for all the good times and exceptional company RIP mon ami"
5. "In a festival world full of characters you sir were a giant. Always on hand for a chat, a joke a 4am call out across site or fist if needed. Old school rock n roller and a real gentleman. The world is a poorer place without you Marcus. I am sure campfires will echo with tales of your exploits for years to come. Rest easy man. "
6. "WOMAD will never be the same"
Nothing will ever be the same to be honest.
How many people have the honour of knowing their dad was a legend, so unique and so unforgettable? Lana, George, Max and Tallulah, we had our extraordinary dad, I know he wasn't perfect but man he tried. And Lana Banana, you did him proud, you were there til the end, something I couldn't do and that's because you're an Armstrong, we all are and man am I glad I never changed my name. George and Max, you have clearly inherited his physical abilities and strength, George you look more like him every day (in a good way!). Max, whenever I would ask how you were, he would say "Max is lovely". Tallulah, one of the only full size pictures he kept was of you, he was so proud of you and always told me how well you were doing at school.
He loved us all so much, may you never doubt that.
Dad kept two cards: a fathers' day card from Tallulah and Michael Eavis' invitation to his 70th birthday at Worthy farm. These were the loves of your life, your family and your festival family
Dad, this is what I am thankful for, why I was proud of you and what I promise.
I THANK YOU:
• For taking us to festivals and opening our eyes to what an amazing world it is out there
• For giving us all a love of music from Dire Straits to Burning Spear to Tracy Chapman and Tom Petty.
• For a non-conventional childhood
• For introducing us to such a wide variety of people
• For not being a dad like any other dad
• Showing me what passion means, your passion was working at festivals and you made it happen
• I thank you for teaching me that if you walk in somewhere like you own the place, they'll let you in
• For not judging me and just being there when I needed you a few years ago
• For coming to Berlin to my 21st Birthday party, you made up for forgetting my 18th birthday! Of course, in true Marcus fashion, you made one of the waitresses give me their staff t-shirt as a souvenir
• For instilling in me this strong will to live life to the full. Carpe Diem
• For all the laughs and fun times: for example when we went to Twickenham to watch England and every time you got up to get another beer they scored so you missed all their tries. For having a mouse stuck in your leather trousers. For shouting out loud at my graduation when someone was receiving a degree in medieval grammar or something "I bet he's fun at a party". Man you were fun at a party dad
• Thank you for offering to take care of Arabella on Xmas day when she was only one month old and just wouldn't stop crying. Not everyone would take that on, I'll always be grateful for you coming in my room where you heard me struggling and offering to help
• For giving me health and safety advice when I was stuck in a hotel during Hurricane Sandie. If there was one person I would have been happy to be with at that time, it was you because you would have made me feel safe. Nothing scared you. You were a true man
• For some of the most magical moments of my life like standing in the crowd at Glastonbury when Robbie Williams sang 'Angels', that's a big deal for a 16-year-old
• My friend recently told me, "you're amazing Adele and it's partly thanks to your dad". What else is there to say
I always tell the story how one of the only times in my life when I've been really irresponsible was when I decided to have a party in my hotel room in Abu Dhabi. Tony P told me "your dad would be proud of you", I knew this meant it would end badly! But man, was it fun. Story of your life basically.
Now this is the hard bit for me. I know you never thought I was proud of you but I really was dad and this is why. I would not have changed you for a thing, you made us strong.
I AM PROUD OF YOU:
• for taking me to buy my first bra at John Lewis, I ended up with a lacy red thing that probably wasn't appropriate for a 14-year-old but you tried your best
• for having the strength to drive Lana and I back to Heathrow and put us on a plane to France so many times. That can't have been easy, you were a better man for it
• all your certificates that used to hang in Brenda's at WOMAD
• For being able to walk into any pub and make friends at the bar. The dodgier the better. From Rastafarians to Hell's Angels, you had friends from all walks of life
• For giving me the courage to walk around my school in France wearing my England rugby shirt that I am wearing today whether England had beaten or lost to France at the weekend. You didn't care what people thought, I'll never forget when you came to visit me in Berlin and wore your "fast as fuck" hoodie
• Once at Glastonbury I watched you with my own eyes avoid a massive crowd crush by climbing on the top of a bridge and redirecting 10s of thousands of people
Most importantly I am proud of you for showing us what to live authentically means. Very few people manage this and if I can live even half as authentically and true to myself as you did dad, I will be proud. Needless to say "work hard, play hard" was invented with you in mind.
I PROMISE TO
• always have smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on Christmas morning
• drink pints in your honour
• try and make you even more proud of me than you were
• dance in the mud all night at Glastonbury (talking of which if anybody has ticket, come and talk to me), to take Arabella to WOMAD and, by the way she wanted to say she loves you Granddad
• make sure all your children stay in touch with each other
• to put my happiness first as you told me to do
• go to New Orleans where you always wanted to go
• watch every France versus England rugby game religiously for the rest of my life
• To not look back and to be happy
• And I finally I promise to be one of those people, who has stories, just like you did because sensible can be wrong sometimes
Very few people can say "if I die tomorrow, I'll die a happy man because I've done so much in my life", you said that and you meant it. It gives me great relief to know you died happy and typically under your own terms. As per Mark Twain (thank you Adrian): "The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time"
Over and Out, it's time to switch the radio off.