Tuesday, 20 July 2010


At the weekend a man was murdered. Violence never fails to shock and annoy me. There is always an underlying frustration as to how people can be so incredibly evil (and stupid).

But there was something about this murder. Society is such that I could have snatched this act from the front page of any newspaper in any part of the world. But I didn't. It happened around the corner from where I live.

The man died on the streets that I walked as a child, where I rode my bike in the summer heat. He died opposite the fish and chip shop where I watched my Great Uncle Tom devour a plate of jellied eels and mash, with a strange mix of horror and delight. He died where my memories were made.

And I can't help but feel a loss. Not just for those lives ruined by a knife in one careless hand. But for the loss of good memories. The loss of safety- that innate feeling that allowed one to walk the streets without fear or question. Now, the value of my home and the comfort that evoked has slowly dissolved. Everything around me feels tainted by an evil plague.

I know bad things happen in the world. But as petulant as it sounds, I don't want it in my periphery. If bad things have to exist, and sadly they do- good and evil are as synonymous as yin and yang- I want it to exist in some other world that I don't have to think about. Occasionally I wish I was still a child and awareness was just a word in the dictionary. It would sure make life liveable, sometimes.

I wish I was naive enough to believe that was even possible...

Monday, 12 July 2010

I miss you too...

Do you remember that day?
I didn't wave you off to school,
Instead I lie in bed
Waiting for pain to subside.
The last moment I saw
Your worried little face;
Tears on red cheeks,
A flash of fear in green eyes.
Later you came to see me:
Your soft peachy hand rested
There upon my grey face.
You said it felt like marble.

Do you remember that day?
You wore black lace
With pretty blue shoes;
I thought they should have matched.
I gazed from afar,
Under the wooden arch
Where I married your father
While you threw down black soil.
Later I came to see you:
What once was my hand rested
There upon your peachy face.
You said you felt cold.

Do you remember that day?
You were only sixteen
Forced to leave home;
I wanted to hit your stepmother.
You moved into the flat
Above the model shop
And when the door closed
Eyes wept like the day I left.
Later I came to see you:
What once were my arms rested
There upon your sorrowed shoulders.
You said you felt so alone.

Do you remember that day?
Dressed in white
Holding peach flowers;
I wanted to tell you I was so proud.
You walked down the aisle
Clasped in your father's hand,
Stepping and smiling
Despite the stab of pain.
Later I came to see you:
What once were my lips rested
There upon your sullen cheek.
You thought it had been a boy.

Do you remember that day?
You turned sixty
Surrounded by friends;
I wished I had reached that age.
You laughed with guests,
Opened cards and presents
Feeling pleased
The day had gone so well.
Later I came to see you:
What once were my hands rested
There upon your tired face.
You said 'I miss you mum...'

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Eleven thousand doors to eleven thousand lives

On Sunday I ran my local Race for Life to raise money for cancer research. The race is popular in the UK; apparently women love to dress up in pink to walk or run 5k. I signed up with basic knowledge of the event: Busy. Far too much pink for my liking. And it would be silly...

We stood beneath a cloudless blue sky, on a heath thirsty for green. The weather grasped the body like a hot second skin. Thousands gathered in pink t-shirts, hats, tutus and feather boas, bunny ears and fancy dress.

Attached to the back of every person was a sign which read, 'I race for life for...' Before me were thousands of doors to thousands of lives. Some raced for mums, dads, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters. Friends. Others raced for themselves, or for someone known by someone else. We were strangers bound by one common thread.

Perhaps the cause was still raw for me but I had never felt so moved. My surroundings were immense, the horizon tipped far and endless and the people ant like and tiny. It was like I had floated up and out of my body and I was privy to a weird giant puppet show from above.

And in that moment, I walked to the start line aware of my own insignificance- my own mortality. How trivial matters had been given the right name. How grateful I was to be there. Sure, I was boiling hot, sweaty and aching before the race had started. But I was hot, sweaty, aching and alive.

It's amazing how these things hit you in the strangest of places. Particularly when you're sandwiched between two women dressed like Betty Rubble from The Flintstones. Well. I did say it would be silly.