Togetherness

*Video System initiates, connection made*

*SYSTEM MESSAGE – YOUR ONE HOUR VIDEO CALL BEGINS NOW*

‘You’ve changed your hair’

‘Yes, I did it last week, what do you think?’

‘It’s lovely, it shows your eyes more somehow. They’re more intense than they were, greener… – Hang on, they’re adjusting me at this end’

*background noises* 

‘That’s better, I can see you properly now……It’s like you’re lying next to me, let me just look at you for a second, I want to bask in the glow from your eyes if that’s OK……I’ve missed you so much and this feels like I’ve been granted a moment of grace and peace. I just want to take it all in.’

‘Take your time, I’ll watch your eyes while you do, I’m not going anywhere.’

*sighing noises*

‘So, tell me about your day. You know how mine has been. It’s always pretty much the same, except today the call got scheduled. Tell me everything. All the little details.’

‘Well, I woke up early again, I don’t really sleep through the night at the moment, but it gave me the chance to choose clothes for the call and to take the dog out for a nice long walk. He’s so funny these days. It’s like he’s trying to make up for you not being here. He goes and finds his own sticks and brings them to me. This morning he tried to drag a whole fucking branch out of a ditch. I was in hysterics, It was five times his size, like a man trying to drag a tree..’

*laughter*

‘Then the little shit decided that we were going the wrong way for the walk and just kept going til we reached the fountain. He wouldn’t come back no matter what. Just sat there and I think…. I think he posed for a picture. Look!’

‘That’s beautiful and.. random. Maybe he’s psychic, I was only thinking about him and the fountain this morning and looking through old photos. But… God  – that’s a beautiful picture. Thank you… Then what?

‘I took him to the cafe for breakfast and we shared a sausage sandwich. Well, you know. He ate most of it and then started looking for people to beg food from.’

‘I bet at least one person fed him. AND gave you a dirty look for starving the little bastard.’

*laughter*

‘Yep, some old boy gave me a few treats for him, just in case he was hungry later.’

‘Evil genius… I always knew it.’

‘Very evil. Then we walked home, I took my time because I wanted to be relaxed for the call and to be here for you properly. Can they bring you a cup of tea? I’m going to make one and it’d be nice to share one together even though we’re so far apart’

*mumbles and background noise*

‘Yes, they’ll bring one. Let me watch you make a cup of tea…’

‘OK, let’s just wander into the kitchen.. It hasn’t changed really – see?’ 

*background noises*

‘Ok, that’s the kettle on, I’ll just sit here for a minute, tell me what you’re thinking.’

‘I’m just so happy that we got the chance to do this, it feels… normal, like I’m there in the room with you. You have no idea how much I’ve missed that. Whenever we’ve talked on the phone, theres been distractions and I haven’t been able to picture you properly. This is like.. like coming home. ‘

‘I know, I can’t believe it.. My tea is nearly ready, is yours coming?’

*mumbles, noises* 

‘Yes it’s here, I’m going to drink my tea and just look at you if that’s OK. I want this normal thing to carry on and never end..’

‘Of course, let me just take the tea back to the bed so I can lie and watch you drink too.’

*background noises*

‘I’m back…let’s do this tea thing.’

*background noises*

‘Ahhhhh, that’s lovely. I’ve missed all these little things, I don’t think I realised how much until this was scheduled and then it hit me. All the things that I took for granted, they were so important and I never knew. Like I said, it feels like I’ve been granted some grace. And I’m making the most of it’

‘Good. I know what you mean, life just gets in the way of life somehow and we miss the things that matter. Let’s enjoy this moment and store it away – it feels like some sort of magic anyway, so let’s use it.’

‘Magic is a good word. It’s so lovely lying here and looking at your beautiful face. Thousands of miles and five timezones apart and I’m in the room with you, those eyes shining at me.. Hang on is that…..?’

‘Yep, he’s woken up and wants to join in. “come here, say hello” .. here he is..’

‘Hello you little pisswizard, where’s my stick?’

*Barking and yelping noises*

‘Be good, bite every fucker that even looks dodgy.. good boy.’

‘Oi.. are you trying to corrupt my dog again?’

‘Yep.. he needs reminding that he has a worlwide reputation to live up to.. the god of small dogs and idiots.’

*laughter*

*SYSTEM MESSAGE* *15 MINUTES REMAINING*

‘Shit this is going quickly, I could do this all night – as a matter of fact, I can’t imagine anything more lovely than watching you drift off to sleep and listening to your breathing.’

‘Me too. do you want me to stay to watch YOU sleep at the end of the call?’

‘I don’t know, do you want to?’

‘Yes and no, but I think so.. I want this to be as complete as possible. I’ve missed you so much and I don’t want to miss anything now.’

‘OK’

*sighs*

‘So…. what else happened?’

‘Well, I had lunch, cleared up, did a bit of work and then put the dress on that I chose for the call. Then changed it. Then changed it again. Then tried jeans and a t shirt. Then another dress. Then started it all again.’

*laughter*

‘Which one did you choose? Wait.. it was the third one… No the original..’

*laughter*

‘Yes.. do you like it?’

‘Beautiful. Perfect. Like a dream come true. I mean that. This whole thing is like a dream right now… God… your EYES…’

*SYSTEM MESSAGE* *5 MINUTES REMAINING*

‘Shit.. where’s the time going.. hang on. they’re adjusting me at this end again.. sorry…’

*background noises* 

‘OK – I’m back, is there anything you want to know from me?’

‘Just to look at you, does it hurt at all?’

‘It did at times and I’m told that it will in a few days as things get closer. That’s why today is happening, I want some beauty and there you are..’

‘I never understood why you went all the way there for treatment, but I think I do now.. you always had a plan B’

‘Yes. this is it. If things had worked, it would have just been expensive, but this is the other doorway and I’m choosing when to walk through it.’

*indeterminate noises*

*SYSTEM MESSAGE* *1 MINUTE REMAINING*

‘Thank you for doing this. I’ve got your beautiful face locked into my brain now and  I know now that your eyes are the stars that will guide me home.. You know I….’

‘Yes. me too. Always. Him too’

‘Good.. look after each other.. Can you hear me Pisswizard?’ 

*background noises*

It’s time.. I’m told that I’ll jus.. drif… sleep… your eyes…. lov… Oh GOD.. so beautif……….
*VIDEO ENDS*

A balloon for Alison

Part two  – following on from The Ghosts of Rubies

So.

It was in a strange frame of mind that I sat and watched the motley group of people that had gathered, walk up the small hill to the memorial garden and open it with the key that is left inside the castle offices.

They were a wide range of ages, from people in their thirties to old men on sticks and frames, struggling up to the garden at a sedate pace while chatting to their friends.

To a man, the old men had red berets and chestfuls of medals.

It was strange, I was sat in a picture window table and I’m pretty sure that the only person watching them form a semicircle around the memorial and airborne flag was me.

I was fascinated and ate my chilli while I watched them take turns in giving a short speech and googled airborne battle dates and planned memorials.

To fast forward a bit, I rejoined the world of Twitter on Monday this week in a slightly better frame of mind and even a real near-miss in the car on Monday hasn’t returned me back to the role of soothsayer of my own death.

I’m slightly more sanguine about things and I’ve accepted that I need to change a few things about me if I’m not to keep repeating the past.

I know that I can’t return things back to the way that they were, I only hope that in time; the people I’ve hurt can look at me with some balance and judge the positive things that I brought into their lives against the hurt I’ve caused.

Hopefully, the scales will swing slightly in my favour.

Then.

On Tuesday, David Sinfield’s wife Alison died.

She’d been ill for a long while with breast cancer and had successfully done a number of fundraising events in aid of cancer research.

I never met Alison (nor have I met David, but in the weird world of Twitter, I know him quite well) but was impressed by the determination that she showed and amused by the odd anecdote that David posted from time to time.

And it took me back to Saturday.

I couldn’t find any details of a memorial on the general internet, nor on social media, nor in the local press for the town, nor in announcements.

Not anywhere.

This was a private memorial set up by friends and family.

Old friends who’d been to war together, had known each other for over over sixty years, fought side by side, drifted in and out of the orbits of their lives and come together for a private recollection of one of their own.

I wondered if they’d ever fallen out? fought? let each other down? laughed at stupid things and got so drunk that even as a group, they couldn’t piece together a whole recollection.

I hoped that whatever was being said healed any wounds that might linger and that all that would be left after the memorial would be smiles.

Then..

They released a bunch of helium balloons into the sky.

I was still the only person looking and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried a little to see that.

It was a beautiful morning and the balloons flew up into a clear sky.

When they finally vanished into the blue, the little crowd disappeared as if in a dream, they were all gone within minutes and I was looking at an empty memorial.

the scene stayed with me for days after though, the solemn walk up, the unheard speeches and the unexpected beauty of the balloons was a privilege to watch.

Here’s your balloon Alison, whatever the journey is now;  we all wish you well.

 

IMG_1426

 

 

(I asked David for permission to write this blog)

 

The Ghosts of Rubies

Part one of two 

I started writing this post in my head a while ago – it was darker at that time, full of omens, portents and presentiments of my own death.

I’d started to feel the brush of Death in almost every hour of every day, there was no rational reason for it, but I saw signs everywhere.

Ravens in trees, people that looked like ghosts from my past, random news feeds and twitter updates, you name it, I could see it there.

It didn’t help that I’d managed to hurt somebody that I love and then handled that hurt and the situation around it very badly.

I did.

It’s too late and I don’t think I can fix it. But that’s my loss and regret, I’ll have to live with it.

Add a crappy experience at work in the past few months, living alone in a strange place and a sense of quiet isolation and it all added up to a pretty bad mindset.

And so I took myself off Twitter for a week so that I could just sit and read books, watch TV, listen to music (and go to work for 12 hours a day, obviously).

Then, last Saturday, I took a long drive out for the day to visit a town that had been recommended to me, a place with a castle and a cathedral, quirky little shops and a number of bars and restaurants.

I did the obligatory tourist things and found myself fascinated by the castle, in excellent condition, with outstanding views, a massive wall to walk around and a number of excellent exhibits.

IMG_1424

I was early enough that there weren’t too many fucking tourists around to spoil the photos  and it was by  morbid coincidence that reflected my mindset that I found that there’d been a number of public executions in the 1800s on the spot that I took the photo from..

Still, it was diverting enough and I was glad that I’d made the trip rather than hide in Preston.

After a number of hours, I went for lunch and sat in a bar that overlooked the castle, the cathedral and a small Airborne Memorial Garden attached to the castle. As I had no intention of driving for a while, I had a glass of wine with a very hot chilli for lunch, opened my kindle and read/ people watched.

The light was shining through my wine glass onto the table and making a pretty little display – when these words appeared on the page of the book I was reading. (The Lovers, John Connolly)

“He put the glass down and let the candlelight play upon the wine, spreading red fractals upon the tabletop like the ghosts of rubies”

I smiled to see the words and the image played out in real life, and I settled into the people- watching, becoming more relaxed as I did.

Then I noticed the group of people moving towards the memorial.

end