"Ere, Bert! What do you think this is?" I look at an object proffered by Bernie Beale, writes Truro councillor Bert Biscoe.

I turn it round, up and down, ponder, purse, inflate, deflate.

"I dunno, Bernie!"

"I made it up out of an old angle poise lamp and a music stand – pretty, innit?"

My tall, long-bearded, relaxed, myopic and very funny friend slopes off into the back of his shop, chuckling to himself.

Bernie Beale started out in business running a café at Loe Beach in the late 1960s.

It was strictly a youth business, and its proprietor was a good friend, mentor and often counsellor to all his clientele.

Many years later I spied him atop the old phone boxes in High Cross when Craig Rich came to switch on the Christmas lights.

As Craig hit the button Bernie pushed two large plugs together – blue sparks flew up through his beard and down behind the chest-flap of his dungarees. He held grimly on. The lights flickered into life. A cheer arose. Bernie stomped off around the back of the crowd, off to his next job.

Bernie was a trader at the first Glastonbury.

He specialised in kitsch fashion – bright colours, eccentricity and flamboyance. Behind his thick specs those eyes peered into hearts and minds, saw creative possibility in junk, peered through ever-dusty Transit windscreens and exuded deep kindness. The prefix ‘Ere!’ always opened a conversation which could, thereafter, meander through philosophy, comic-book wit, environmental science, engineering, design, ancient history, absurdity, concern, surreal visions and end up with "I can let you have that for a fiver Bert – as it’s you!"

With his great friend and theatrical collaborator, Nigel Parris, Bernie Beale treated Truro town centre as their stage set.

They made memories – like the City of Truro steam locomotive outside the cathedral, a Spitfire on Lemon Quay, a cathedral on Trafalgar roundabout, and many others.

My favourite was a Christmas nativity scene – manger, Mary, Joseph, shepherd, wise men.

One night just before Christmas, when office parties were in full swing, somebody abandoned a pale blue Morris 1100 (as 1970s kitsch as you can get) right in front of a slightly startled looking Messiah’s ma and pa.

Bernie said: "Somebody’s added the perfect touch – random is good!" There it stayed, all over Christmas.

Bernie was a "Street Doctor".

He would open an ‘ENJOY’ in Kenwyn Street, or New Bridge Street, or up Pydar Street (after M&S moved). He would bring an old building back to life, brazenly impose bright colour and flamboyant style on drowsy windows; he’d set up a workshop, fill windows with surreal works of fashion-art (especially the old Recruiting Office in Kenwyn Street) – it would make people laugh, and where there’s laughter, there’s trade.

There was a touch of Merlin about him – a gentle, humane, caring, inventive, pioneering, restless and anarchical touch which infected everybody who met him – with a hint of Andy Warhol too – Bernie was always working.

When he opened ‘Rare Bitz’ in the Peoples’ Palace up Pydar Street it was like visiting a sculpture exhibition – the eye which arranged things was that of an artist – and for Bernie retailing was the canvas upon which he made his art. It was this which attracted and endeared him to generations of people.

Truro has been privileged by the presence of Bernie Beale. Many of his creative adventures have been undertaken with his best pal, Nigel Parris. They took risks, mixed business and art into a colourful and vibrant paste and ‘baked’ many triumphs.

Bernie was a singular, wise, funky old bird – I, and many, many others all over the place, loved him, and drew energy and delight from him.

I’ve often wondered what it means to say "We give thanks for a life", but in Bernie’s case they are the only words.

"Thanks, dear, beautiful Bernie, for your life and all its works, and the gift of yourself – we’ve all loved it…and you."