Attribution - Non Commercial - Share Alike 4.0 International License
Avee Isofa Holmes
Tony Robinson was a very special friend. We met on my first evening as a trainee at the Sussex AIDS Helpline in the summer of 1987. We received lots of calls in those early days. Tony and I really hit it off from the beginning and it turned out we lived just a couple of minutes away from each other. After about a week of training, one night Tony asked me to answer the phone. I didn’t think I was ready, but I did it and it went well. One day he said he admired me because I oozed confidence, but he was the one who gave me my confidence.
Tony and his partner lived in Upper rock Gardens next to St. Mary’s Church and I was at Tyson Place (affectionately known as ‘Fairy Towers’). He worked for the Probation service and commuted to London where his job was to read all the newspapers every day. He was a very quiet person with a lovely gentle personality, and originally from Milton Keynes, where his mother still lived. She knew he was gay, but wasn’t happy about it, so he rarely visited because he couldn’t tell her he was HIV+.
Tony contracted Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) and was given a Nebuliser which he kept at my place because I had a balcony and we could open the door and put the hose outside. This was a daily routine in the afternoon after he’d finished work.
I started working at BBC Radio Sussex on a two-year contract through the job opportunity scheme. Tony met me after work one day at 1pm carrying a lovely wicker picnic basket and told me we were going to Queens Park for the afternoon. We sat down on the grass and to my amazement he proceeded to lay out the Clarice Cliff plates and finery. Tony was so camp, but in a quiet way. He’d regularly come around to my place armed with a large bottle of Baileys, sometimes close to tears if there’d been a row, and we'd go through the whole bottle in one evening.
Tony loved to travel and once arranged for my daughter Giselle and I to travel to Pefkos in Rhodes. We loved it and Giselle met someone and ended up living there for eleven years. The last time he went on holiday was to Bali. I lectured him on not having ice cubes in his drinks, cleaning his teeth with tap water and avoiding uncooked food, but he came down with Typhoid and ended up in a London hospital when he returned. He asked his partner not to tell me about it, and passed away at 9.30pm on 7 May 1993. We shared many secrets together and really supported one another. He really was my buddy and I still miss him very much.