DAVE ORAM: 1970-2022

DAVE ORAM: 1970-2022

Such was the popularity of Brumpic's Dave Oram this will doubtless be the 754th tribute you've read of a wonderful man. And so it should be. Forgive me, please, while I write a few bits about my buddy — a caring and fucking funny soul who we lost, this week, at just 52.

I don't remember the first time I met Dave, it will have been at a media call of some kind, us both finding ourselves in the same circle of citywide press events. Such is the digital age we live in, though, I can track back to exactly our first messages — November 2014. That week Dave had sent me a Brumpic mug and I'd taken to Twitter to pull his leg about how faded the logo had already become in the dishwasher. "FFS" he messages, "I paid £2 for each of those, stop washing it for the love of God!" The next week a replacement mug arrives with a handwritten note. Three words: "Hand wash only"

It's odd what eight years of hand-washing a mug can do to a man. Suffice to say showing that extra level of care means it rapidly becomes your favourite item of kitchenware. I'm the only one that's ever drank from it and I always will be.

The provider of my favourite mug was also my favourite person to see at a press briefing. As big as Birmingham is it's always the same faces at these things and Dave and I always gravitated towards one another. When you saw Dave Oram for the first time in a while he always did the same thing. You know how we're all told to ask our friends how they are twice, once to get the stock answer out of the way and another to find out how they really are? Dave could have invented that trick.

"How are you?" he'd say looking you dead in the eye.

"Fine mate."

"No," he'd insist, holding your gaze. "How the fuck are you?"

He would ask because he cared and not because he read about the technique in a Sunday supplement. He had a refreshing knack of cutting through the crap at breakneck speed which was, in hindsight, perhaps the only thing Dave ever did fast.

I would, of course, ask him how he was too. That conversation never lasted as long because, honestly, Dave was absolutely fine. He was better than fine, with his wonderful wife Lou and his boy Tom, he had the world. And although he didn't often let his hangdog face know it, he was happy.

Never one for hyperbole I would often track down Dave at the interval of plays or shows to find out what he thought of the first half. "It's alright yeah" would often come the reply with a shrug. Believe me when I tell you that's a rave review in Dave's world. I remember once telling him they should put that on the poster and it won me the best giggle I ever got out of the big man. Getting a booming belly laugh from Dave Oram — Birmingham's own Jack Dee — always felt like one of life's victories.

I don't mean to portray a cynical man, because he wasn't. In the insanely successful Brumpic he showcased some of the most fascinating images of our city in years gone by. And although responses to his photos often led with "It was better back then" Dave never bought into that bullshit. In Dave's opinion to bemoan the loss of some of our most beautiful buildings was, to coin a phrase, as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. Instead Dave would use his colossal platform to put the spotlight on the Birmingham of today, from independent bars to ballets to start-up e-magazines. Thank you for your help, mate. Thank you so much.

Never have I known or will I know a person who more upholds the values of what it is to be a Brummie. Dave Oram was the Brummie's Brummie. Funny, but understated. Kind, but sarcastic. Warm but "don't hug me, Tom".

When Dave started to get really ill I asked him how Lou was bearing up. "She's being so bloody strong for me and it's breaking my heart" he said. That was the measure of the man. Worried about the most important person in his life as his life drew to a close. When I asked if I could stop by and see him he said: "I'd love you to come mate, but because of COVID I'm only allowed one visitor a day and that one visitor will always be Lou. I'll let you know when that changes. x"

It was the last thing he said to me.

As I write this I have a cup of tea on the go, of course in my favourite mug. It hasn't faded much since the day it arrived, just as I promised him it wouldn't. And as it reminds me of him every morning when I drink from it, my memories of Dave won't fade either.


Main image: Ian Davies