Saturday, January 16, 2016


16 November 2015

First frost of the year
5 degrees sunny

How can the beautiful, beautiful Alan Rickman be gone?  My secret crush for as long as I can remember.  As Bowie, aged 69 and taken by cancer. 

There is a Youtube Channel which has memorable clips, such as the recitation of The Dead Woman by Pablo Neruda

                               If suddenly you do not exist,
if suddenly you no longer live,
I shall live on.

I do not dare,
I do not dare to write it,
if you die.

I shall live on.

For where a man has no voice,
there, my voice.

Where blacks are beaten,
I cannot be dead.
When my brothers go to prison
I shall go with them.

When victory,
not my victory,
but the great victory comes,
even though I am mute I must speak; 
I shall see it come even 
though I am blind.

No, forgive me.
If you no longer live,
if you, beloved, my love,
if you have died,
all the leaves will fall in my breast,
it will rain on my soul night and day,
the snow will burn my heart,
I shall walk with frost and fire and death and snow,
my feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping, but
I shall stay alive,
because above all things 
you wanted me indomitable,
and, my love, because you know that I am not only a man
but all mankind. 

And the terrible but joyful rendering of The Sun Aint Gonna Shine any more

And who else went, aged 69?  My parents went on holiday - to Tenerife - and, taken ill, my father bled to death on a Spanish operating table, his aorta haven given way.  My mother, never having been on her own in her 76 years, was too traumatised to remember telephone numbers, with the result that my brother and I received late night visits from the Police.  The knock on the door, the chill of the kitchen, my children sleeping upstairs, the telly still blaring in the living room.  The terrible shock.  My mother flew back and we went down to see her.

We drove past the train station - where only a month before, he had waved us off on the Platform.  But he was not there.  In the house, his slippers were by the chair.  His newspaper and jumper on the table.  His clothes tumbling out of the suitcase.  But he was not there.  His smell in the bathroom.  His coat in the hall.  But he was not there. My mother's grief was frightening.  It was too much.  I recoiled from her pain. Something else to add to the guilt of never having really known my father.  Never really having a deep conversation with him.  And now it was definitively, unquestionably too late.  A week later we received a postcard, written in his neat cursive style, saying they were having a lovely time.  I take it out from time to time.  He comes back to me periodically.  Something will trigger a memory.  Like creosote and I see myself, a girl of 9, in the cobbled entry to our house and Dad up a ladder.  I bring him a sandwich and he takes it, his hand blackened and we are enveloped in the rich, treacled aroma of tar. New mown grass.  Frank Sinatra singing My Way.  My love of gardening.  All my links with him.

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