Friday, 28 June 2013


I have come to believe that the neat endings we aspire to when we speak of closure are nothing more than a Hollywood fantasy. Life, unlike narrative, does not give us all we need to move on. Instead endings are ragged and messy, their threads combining with those of our beginnings to weave the fabric of life, with its flaws, snags and occasional patches of brilliance. Today's ending, the last day of my Advertising career, is overshadowed by a past made present again through my father's death; I step onto the threshold of going back into therapy, to discuss my grief, my traumatic relationship with my mother in the month following my father's death, and all that has withered and greyed since. Today's beginning is all about endings, today's beginning terrifies me, and it is only in the grey light of dusk and birdsong that I notice, then say 'goodbye' to the job that crystallised the pain and forced me to acknowledge I need to start over again. Fear crawls across the evening, pulling me forward, even as I retreat to bed, reminding me I live and can only keep weaving.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Quid Pro Quo

The show is nearly over, only one more act and a closing number. Back in my leggings with drink token in hand, I ask the barman for something non-alcoholic as I have to drive home shortly. 'You like juice?' he asks me and I nod. 'Lychee? Elderflower?' I smile and nod enthusiastically, 'I'll mix you something up.' he says with a twinkle in his eye.

I run up to the dressing room with the rest of the drinks order and once back at the bar, see him shaking the cocktail shaker vigorously before pouring the contents over crushed ice in a tall glass. With a flourish, he garnishes the drink with two glistening pink lychees, succulent as Tiger prawns, and two straws. I take a sip; it is delicious and I tell him so. He smiles and I understand that the extra care, the desire to please comes from having watched and enjoyed my performances; it is my reward for entertaining him, for doing my job well. The drink tastes even better.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Communication, they say, is more about listening than talking. And indeed, I've always found that truly, it is amazing what people will tell you when you listen. I'm working in the box office and as the night progresses, things get quiet. The doorman and I strike up a conversation. He isn't challenging any sterotypes; six foot three, broad shouldered, with an impassive face and imposing manner. Our conversation moves from small talk into more personal territory; he tells me about his army days in Iraq - capture, constant fear and coming to care not if he lives or dies. He tells me about his childhood in East London, his feelings of isolation and even of his little black and white cat, Nancy. I ask questions and I listen to the answers, including the casual homophobia, sexism and racism, without judgement, and I begin to understand it's been a long time since this man really talked to anybody. I feel a sense of privilege, I feel intensely interested in what he's telling me - recounting a world that is completely alien to me, yet familiar from the news and Hollywood.

At the end of the night we go our separate ways, not even saying goodbye in the bustle of closing up, and as I drive home, I feel profound sadness for him, alone in his flat with the little black and white cat and those memories of war.

Friday, 28 December 2012

White Bleeding

The tears I cry for my late father are unlike any I have cried before; fat, full and frequent, they stream down my face soaking clothes and tissues alike. They arrive unbidden from some deep unconscious place in my chest and even as they fall, I wonder at their form.

I remember my first yoga teacher telling me that tears are 'white bleeding', that shedding them is healing for they carry cortisone from the body. But these tears catch me unawares; they are an embarrassment to those around me when the sight of one of my father's favourite foods confronts me in the supermarket, or I open a letter in a waiting room to find his new bus pass complete with frail, faintly smiling picture. 

The tears are a marvel, unlike any I have shed before, but the pain they bring with them is overwhelming and I long for an end to these days of sorrow.

Friday, 7 December 2012

History Lesson

Finally, after seven years of saving, work begins on the house. The builders strip the walls revealing dark blue wallpaper, resplendent with a late 50's geometric design, and in the back room, under layers of woodchip wallpaper, vibrant orange paint shouts its 70's heritage. The cream and dusty pink preferred by the previous owner is now a memory. And not a pleasant one. The plaster is horsehair and lime; the dust horrendous, but as I sit in the midst of this mess, I see this house's past through the decorative choices made by those, probably long dead, who used to live here.

Friday, 23 November 2012


The room is still but for hum of the radiator. My back aches but I can't bring myself to move. After midday and still in bed, my mother's scolding disapproval rattles round my head. I'm too sad to move. I'm too sad to do very much at all these days, for grief is a relentless thief of time, energy and colour.

Since my father's death I watch the world, my world, as if on a cinema screen - it is flat, an illusion, and definitely make-believe. They all say 'it's a process', 'it will pass', and I suppose they are right, but the primal scream of loss in my head continues nonetheless.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Window Shopping

It's late; a long day in the office. As ever, I turn left out of the train station and hurry past the little parade of shops, keen to get home, get warm, get some supper. The window of the charity shop is full of bric-a-brac that I scan habitually, always on the look out for something deemed superfluous, redundant in one life that might come in handy in mine. I spot it, sitting back from the glare of the street lamps, on the left hand side of the main window and its presence strikes me as so very sad; a primary-coloured mug with the words 'World's Best Dad' filling its exterior surface.

As I make my way up the hill, I consider what might have led to that mug being discarded, and I feel a keen sense of loss.