I've heard it said you can measure the Internet in doggy years - it moves at about 7 times the rate of the rest of the world. If this is true, then I knew Charlie for over 40 years.
I never met him in person - the Atlantic Ocean kind of got in the way - but it didn't stop me counting him as one of my closer friends in life.
A few years back I wrote this description of him:
Although I've never met him in person, my image of him is a wild haired, unshaven guy wearing an old dressing gown, sitting on a doorstep smoking a fag while winking at any women walking past. Periodically the resident of the house, a tall man in a black cloak carrying a scythe, stops to ask if he's ready to come in yet. Charlie thinks for a moment, glances through the door then says, "Maybe in a minute," before lighting another fag off the stub of the one he's just finishing.
Of course by this time he'd not smoked for some time. However, the emphysema had already settled in and he knew his time was limited.
For 6 years he'd been telling me he was on his way out. Over 3 years ago he told me he'd been given only a year to live, if he survived the winter. 18 months back he was rushed into hospital and we were all convinced this was it - I even had a condolences card at the ready - but in the end I had to score it out and scribble "get well soon" on instead.
I became so used to the idea of him sitting on death's door, without actually going in, I was beginning to think it might never happen - that 20 years from now he'd still be telling me it wouldn't be long now, and I'd beat him to it.
Charlie's intelligence, wit and humour was to be found in all his writings, but his compassion was to be felt behind the scenes.
Like everyone, we've had times of difficulty where blogging about it just wasn't an option. Longer term readers of this blog will occasionally have come across hints of things, but with Charlie I was able to pour it all out in emails, knowing he'd be non-judgmental and be able to offer clear insights, or supportive words when you need them the most.
Partly because of his condition, his blogging was always a bit sporadic. He would go through long periods of time where not a word was typed. Indeed on at least 2 occasions he deleted his entire blog - usually just after I'd mentioned on this one that his was a blog worth visiting.
During these gaps I would begin to wonder if the worst had happened and would eventually prod him with an email just to see if he was still with us. He began to refer to these as the "are you dead yet?" emails, which seemed to amuse him no end.
Unfortunately I can't send him any more of those.
Charlie, I hope you've finally found the peace you desired.
Miss you, my friend.