Living next door to George Michael

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Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Tribute were turn left George Michael outside his home in Goring following his death last Christmas aged 53

George Michael was found dead at his riverside home on Christmas Day 2016. In the village of Goring, Oxfordshire, where he had lived for 17 years, there is always remembered not as a superstar but as a neighbour and friend. Here some people share their storages of congregating the starring in their midst.

‘George Michael is scratching my feet’

Image copyright Eloise Radziwill

Alison Clark’s first encounter with the ‘8 0s icon was when she offered him a lick of her ice-cream after bumping into him during a go along the River Thames.

“I was desperate to say something to him, ” she says.

“It came out all un-cool. He said no. But he did laugh.”

Despite the shame, the two became friends. She afterwards went to his 40 th birthday occasions, where she danced with him in the plot, imbibe from magnums of champagne and terminated up being thrown into a swimming pool.

Michael helped her to get dry and took her to his dressing room where he invited her to wear whatever she wanted from his wardrobe. He then targeted the damp robes in front of the shoot.

They chit-chat through the night about life and music.

“Then he started rubbing my hoofs, ” Ms Clark remembers. “I was just standing here speculating ‘George Michael is scratching my feet’. It was surreal.”

‘I rescued his labrador’

Image caption Diana Davies, George Michael’s next-door neighbour, says the virtuoso loved his domesticated bird-dogs

Diana Davies lived next door to Michael’s PS5m residence and was invited to his parties, scratching shoulders with celebrities.

She says he had made a point of introducing himself when he moved in and they would regularly chat in the plot about the wildlife and country circumventing the hamlet.

They developed a permanent bail though when Mrs Davies saved one of his labrador puppies, Meg, from drowning in a brook.

“It was an absolutely abysmal Saturday morning – it was coming down stair poles, ” she recalls.

“I’d taken my dog for a gait and as I was croaking along I could see this puppy looking very anxious, about a period of six months age-old I presume, running backwards and forwards along the moorings.

“I recognised her as Meg straight away. She was very distressed as she wasn’t sure this is right she was, but I managed to grab her, and take her round. She was absolutely sodden.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption George Michael, who also had a home in Highgate, bought this riverside house in Goring in 1999

“I went to the front door but there was no answer, so I started round the back.

“[ George Michael] came hastening down, one shoe on, one off, hopping along, saying ‘we’ve just missed her’. I said ‘your little Meg is here’. He said ‘ooh come in, come in’ but I had so much torrent pouring in I said ‘I can’t, I’d better not’.

“He was very glad to see her. He said ‘well I must do something’ so I said ‘I tell you what, if you could be patron of our swan recovery organisation that would be wonderful’.”

Michael agreed and formally supported the donation from that minute on.

“He never made a song and dance about it, which I understand is the case with a lot of benevolences he reinforced, ” she says.

‘Just wanted to say hi’

Image copyright Tim Schulz Image caption James Dawe( left) and Tim Schulz became friends with George Michael after the starring saw their tavern in Goring

“George, you’re not the only lesbian in the village, ” read a placard stole through the former Wham! star’s letterbox in November 2015.

“It will stir my husband’s Christmas if you came into our pub. Hope to see you soon.”

The husband in question was Tim Schulz, owner of the Catherine Wheel pub near the star’s home.

While he was “horrendously embarrassed” when he found out what his partner James Dawe had done, the cheeky tactic acted. A few days later a large group of friends came into the pub.

“They were late, so I was sort of flustered and pestered, ” says Mr Schulz.

“They said they had a reservation … and as I was talking it unexpectedly dawned on me because this is George Michael standing in front of me.”

Image caption George Michael became a regular customer at The Catherine wheel after being invited by owners James Dawe and Tim Schulz

His elation was speedily replaced with hysterium when the hotshot asked for fish and microchips, times after his cook had announced all the cod was croak.

As it turned out he opted scampi, alongside a glass of white wine, anyway.

Nerves set, the vocalist told Mr Schulz he speculated the card his partner had sent him was “cute” and that he “just wanted to say hi”.

After that night, Michael became a regular. He always slumped the give of a private region because he “wanted to see everything that was going on”.

“He wasn’t loud and extrovert or drawing attention to himself, ” says Mr Schulz, “but surely in a one-on-one conversation he was very personable.”

‘It was his sanctuary’

Image caption Mary Galer, who runs a village tavern, says Goring was George Michael’s “sanctuary”

Michael likewise frequented the Miller of Mansfield pub, precisely across the road from his 16 th Century home.

The manager, Mary Galer, says the people of Goring missed a quiet existence just as much as their daddy idol inhabitant did.

“It was his sanctuary, ” she says. “He lived here for a ground. We all understood he wanted to be out of the prominence and to live their own lives how he wanted to live it.”

Always referring to him as “Mr Michael”, Ms Galer says she remains mindful of respecting his privacy when fans come requesting personal interrogations.

Image caption George Michael was a “loyal patron” at the Miller of Mansfield

“He was a extremely loyal patron, one that was lovely to have – but as much as is we were concerned he was a ordinary customer.”

She says the fans who have come to visit since his death have demonstrated that “nothing but love” and she has often behaved as a “shoulder to cry on”.

“They have come from in so far and so broad, ” she explains. “There’s never been any antagonism with them.”

‘We need to show our adore for him’

Image copyright Norma Medbery Image caption Norma Medbery( left) is leaving her two children at home in Valencia, Los Angeles, to travel to Goring on Christmas Day

The public alleyway running down the side of his hut has become a temple for sorrowing fans.

Flags from around the world adorn the walls and a steady move of Michael’s admirers still filter in to complete their personal pilgrimages, contributing teddy carries, photographs and fresh heydays.

More are expected to descend on the village on Christmas Day to label the first anniversary of his death.

Image caption George Michael devotees are expected to descend on Goring during Christmas

Fifty-year-old Norma Medbery is leaving her two children at home in Valencia, Los Angeles, to movement there on 25 December.

“This is the closest we can get to where he was, ” she says. “We need to go to show our love for him, our deep respect for him and our gratitude of him and everything he has given us with his music.”

Ms Medbery, who is wreaking a collage of photographs of her and pals at his concerts over the years, says she feels like “shes in” mourning at the loss of a sidekick.

“This is the only way I detect I can get a sense of closure.”

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