Meet Siri – more on her below.
Writing about something that’s both intensely personal and universally shared should be a gift, right?
So today’s topic is bereavement.
Not so simple, huh?
Phil Adams is worth reading. His wife Rachel died. There’s an excerpt below, but you should definitely click on the title and go to the full piece, which is called…
My wife’s death was not unfortunate.
Time hasn’t healed but it has enabled me to put a lid on things around other people.
The struggle, bizarrely, has been telling it straight to a bunch of complete strangers. Resisting the temptation to sugar the pill with vacuous, inappropriate platitudes.
Hello, my name is Philip Adams. My wife and I have a joint policy with you. Unfortunately she died at the end of March…
Where did that come from?
What possessed me to say that?
Unfortunately is what I say to a client when I can’t make a meeting.
It has no place in a conversation about the death of my wife. Continue reading
That's me dying the first time - on stage.
My great disappearing act took place at the height of my professional theatrical fame. For the princely sum of £5 and a bottle of Fanta (a night? or was the £5 for a week?) I trod the same boards the feet of Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds and Adrian Dunbar had before me. I played the eldest of Macduff’s sons in Shakespeare’s Scottish play at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.
My main role was to die defending my Mum against the king’s hired killers – a bit of dramatic struggling and swooning after being stabbed. But it wasn’t all action. Oh no – I had lines too. A couple of Yeses and then that immortal exclamation.
Thou liest, thou shag-hair’d villain!
That’s what everyone remembers from that play, isn’t it? Never mind all that hubble bubble toil and trouble or being steeped so far in blood. Oh yes.
On the final night of the run, the usual murder happened. (Obviously I could have beaten the killers if I’d wanted, but I had to let them get away with it for the sake of the play. Just wanted to make that clear.) The murderers fled, leaving the bodies of me and my mother and brother strewn across the stage. Then the lights went down completely, leaving the stage in complete darkness to allow us to drag our carcasses off stage.
As usual, I quickly nipped through the side drapes, but Continue reading
This is a very very poignant film.
It’s about the unexpected thing that happened – or did not happen – after a cyclist was knocked off his bike and killed.
His name was Michael Caulfield. He was married and had four children.
Not at all gory. It’s more of a slideshow than a film.
It’s short and strangely moving. Beautifully done.
Bad things happen. People die too soon. But have a look at this short clip. I predict you’ll feel a little better after it.
The single rose surviving against the odds. A fluke or a miracle?
I saw it at the blog of Malachi O’Doherty – a journalist in Belfast. He’s a very thoughtful commentator on life.
Eskimos and Inuit are reputed to have many/seven/50/100 different words for snow. Though it may be a tundric myth. (And anyway, don’t we have snow, blizzard, sleet & slush – OK that’s only four, and I’m not sure about the last two.)
But anywhere with an unusually high number of different words detailing aspects of a phenomenon interests me. It evokes poetic lists. Like these from Belfast poet Michael Longley – The Ice-Cream Man.
Rum and raisin, vanilla, butterscotch, walnut, peach:
You would rhyme off the flavours. That was before
They murdered the ice-cream man on the Lisburn Road
And you bought carnations to lay outside his shop.
I named for you all the wild flowers of the Burren
I had seen in one day: thyme, valerian, loosestrife,
Meadowsweet, tway blade, crowfoot, ling, angelica,
Herb robert, marjoram, cow parsley, sundew, vetch,
Mountain avens, wood sage, ragged robin, stitchwort,
Yarrow, lady’s bedstraw, bindweed, bog pimpernel.
You can listen Continue reading
I joined our village’s Remembrance Sunday parade and service this morning. Though I have an instinctive uneasiness about people in uniform marching through my community – a hangover from growing up in Northern Ireland – this is one of the few such occasions of which I am proud for my family to be a part.
There is nothing grand about our Continue reading
I was at the memorial service for former BBC broadcasting colleague Allan Robb today (9th November). Allan died earlier this year. The service at All Souls in London was lovingly well organised, poignant and joyous.
People spoke – very aptly. One, his old friend Nicky Campbell, told this story (apologies for any inaccuracies on my part): Nicky and Allan were out one day when Allan collapsed in the street. An ambulance arrived and after some effort, Nicky managed to chivvy Allan inside. Pleased to have a new audience for his stories, Allan entertained the ambulance crew en route to hospital. On arrival Allan was decanted and wheeled to a ward, whereupon some “four day old NHS mush” was presented to him.
Never failing to rise to the occasion, Allan immediately responded: “But I ordered the lobster.”
Thanks to the organisers – and Allan – for a great day. It was lovely to see old friends and remember.
Filed under friends, life, media
1. Do You Feel Free?? It was going to be the title of this post – but Kissing the Gator elbowed it aside. (You can find out why further down.)
How does this graffiti make you feel? Puzzled? Reflective? Called to action? Annoyed (especially if it’s your garage door)?
I saw it the other day behind some shops. It makes me think smugness. The person who sprayed it is smug.
What about this next one? A step or two too far? Continue reading
Death in the North is different. We don’t like to acknowledge the event. Down South they’re weeping and wailing and partying round the coffin.
But up North we don’t like to talk about it.
We come up with euphemisms instead.
He’s tatey bread Continue reading
Boa Sr. Andaman Islander and the world's last speaker of Bo. RIP
So that’s that then. You’ll not be hearing any more Bo. In fact, you won’t have heard it spoken for a while, because Boa Sr (pictured left) was the only one left who could speak the language.
However, you can hear her sing in Bo. Continue reading