Letter from Darren Nicholas to Segals

Thursday, January 7, 1999

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Segal,

It has taken me a long time to write this letter to you, to express my deepest sympathy to you for the loss of Anton in such tragic and meaningless circumstances. I apologise that it has taken me so long to write, I have tried on many occasions but either the words did not seem right or I could not think of what to say. I find it very difficult to believe that Anton is not alive now, so I cannot start to understand what it must be like for you. I spoke to my grandmother a lot after my father died 10 years ago, and found out the pain that she was experiencing, but to lose your son at such a young age must be very hard. I know from what Anton said about you that you have the strength to survive this tragedy as a family. I was always impressed by the strength of your family unit even when your family was thousands of miles apart.

Anton will always be very special to me, and by the number of e-mails I have received over the past month from various people in Japan I know that he touched people in a very special way over the three years that he lived in Wakayama. Anton was the second gaigin I met in Wakayama, and from the first time I met him he was a very open, friendly person who was very easy to talk to, and share a laugh with. Over the two and a half years that I lived in Japan, Anton came to be my closest friend there, as we shared the same interests and probably the same sense of humour, probably not a day went by without us talking and winding up the Japanese teachers!

I wanted to write down some of the best memories that I have of my friendship with Anton, but I find that to be an impossible task, as every moment of our friendship was important and special to me, and to write down certain incidents would not do the incident justice and perhaps belittle the many hours of quality time spent training in the gym, or having a drink in the local bar, or chilling out watching a video, or going out for a night of drinking in Osaka, or covering for each other when we got in trouble with our bosses.

I also have fond memories of learning how to SCUBA dive with Anton in Boracay, I know that diving was very important to Anton and that was obvious from the first moment we donned a wetsuit, and a 'lads' holiday of diving in Guam and Palau.

As I said, there were so many good times of friendship that to pick one out would be impossible, but I think a more impossible task would be to pick out a time when we did not get on with each other. I think that was one of the greatest points about Anton that he was always a friendly person, willing to help and willing to make people - whoever they are - feel welcome. I am sure that all of Anton's friends would also say that he was a naturally funny person who brought cheer and happiness to everyone that he met, that is a very rare quality in people, but it was so easy for him.

I have spoken regularly with some of our friends from Japan, and we have decided that we will all get together somewhere next month in a cottage somewhere in England- just a small group of Antons friends from Wakayarna (myself, Nicki Bowe, Robert Shortt, Kelly James and Ben Stainer) and drink to Anton and remember all the good times of Wakayama. I am sure that Anton would think this is a great idea, and would obviously have a drink - even if he was the first to go to bed drunk! Perhaps after this occasion some very special moments for us will come to the fore and then they can be passed on to you.

I have just realised that I have your e-mail address, so I will send this message by e-mail now that it is written, but I would also like to send it by air mail, with a card I found to express my sympathy to you in a short poem. I would also like to send a tape that I heard the day after I heard the tragic news of the death of Anton, that upon listening to the words it seemed to sum up the way Anton lived his life and the qualities that Anton possessed. It obviously did not help in the loss.

Darren Nicholas

45, Manston Road,
Mount Pleasant,
Exeter, Devon.
EX1 2QA.