- Author Benjy Stanton
Content warning: cancer and death.
My cousin Seb died early last year from cancer. He was just a few months older than me.
He had moved to New Zealand a few years ago, and we had lost touch. But he was the kind of person that I could reconnect with instantly, no matter how long it has been since we'd last seen each other. So I didn't think much of the fact that we'd drifted apart.
Me and Seb were part of a group of 4 cousins that were very close in age (within a group of lots more, equally great cousins).
I loved hanging out with them.
I have one particular memory of the 4 cousins together. We were taken to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The live action one. And then went to McDonalds for Super Mario Brothers happy meals. A literal perfect day out for a kid in the '90s.
Even if I've mixed up multiple days out here, this kind of event was typical of the kind perfect of weekends we'd spend together.
Surfing down Gower
Seb and his siblings loved surfing. I remember thinking they were impossibly cool. Next to me, who had no clue about anything other than Super Mario.
I remember Seb and his family turning up to campsites in Wales. They'd be hanging out of old cars and camper vans, with surfboards strapped to the roof.
I instantly wanted to grow my hair long and buy surfy clothes.
We spent loads of summers together down Llangennith exploring the dunes, surfing (in my case, very poorly, and only in fair weather), and trying desperately to get served in the local pub.
Seb and his brothers and sister helped turn me on to decent music too.
I remember they'd turn up with something like Alanis Morissette, Oasis or Moby. Next time we'd see them, they would have moved on and would deny ever liking whatever it was they'd been obsessed with last time. Whilst we'd play down the fact that we'd gone straight out and bought whatever album was flavour of the month, and had listened to it non-stop.
For one birthday, I received a Beach Boys album from my parents. I had no idea if they were considered cool or not, so I hid it from Seb and the other cousins. Afraid of being mocked for my childish music taste. Turns out The Beach Boys were considered cool. Phew.
So much music reminds me of Seb: Sublime, Crash Test Dummies, Red Hot Chill Peppers, Reef, G Love & Special Sauce.
For my 12th birthday, my parents took us to Glastonbury festival. I have hazy memories of seeing Finley Quaye, Foo Fighters and Ben Harper.
Whilst at Uni, Seb came to visit me in London. We went to see a band called Capdown. Seb accidentally burnt my arm with a cigarette (you could still smoke inside in them days).
I still have the scar now.
On the way back, after getting the night bus home to my Uni house, we ended up play fighting outside the front of the house. Rolling around in the mud, that our landlord was turning into a driveway. Something we'd probably done together our whole lives, but it must have looked odd to strangers who had no idea it was harmless.
My housemates had to drag us inside, before we disturbed any neighbours.
After Uni, me and Seb both moved back to Swansea, we ended up living together, twice. I have so many random memories of that time.
He worked as a bin man for a while, and always used to remind me and the fellow housemates to rinse and squash our plastic milk bottles.
"We'd just be throwing out air otherwise."
To this day, I think of this story whenever I put the plastic recycling out (e.g. at least every 2 weeks).
He was a vegetarian around this time and used to keep a bucket of natural peanut butter in the fridge. It would separate, so that it had about an inch of oil on top and had to be mixed every time he wanted some.
He had an Apple Mac and an impressively curated iTunes library of ripped MP3s. And for some reason he became obsessed, for a while, by navigating it with a keyboard. He had gotten rid of mouse completely. Perhaps this was my first introduction to accessibility testing.
We'd have BBQs any night of the week, and our poor neighbours would rush out to bring their sheets in off the line to stop them smelling of smoke.
The last time I saw Seb (still a few years before he died). He was visiting Wales from New Zealand and organised a walk for some friends and family.
We met at The Angel Inn in Pontneddfechan, Glynneath, on the edge of Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, and walked up to see the waterfalls there. Highly recommend this walk if you haven't done it.