Safe in my Mind’s Eye?

Once a week Fahar and I play chess. Recently I arrived feeling sad and in the same coat and hat I had just worn at a friend’s funeral. Fahar and I always chat as we set out the pieces, so I had a moment to explain what had happened. After offering his condolences he commented…

Freedom Amongst the Bluebells

I am addicted to reading the inscriptions on park benches. Those on gravestones used to be my favourites - ‘I told you I was ill’ was one of the best. However, around us in Richmond graveyards are rare while benches are now commonplace. Our council even has a website setting out its rules for public…

A fleeting moment

Thanks to the enduring suspension of our host's old Mercedes, our descent of the winding drive to the riverside clearing couldn't have been smoother. Phyllis, who collected us from the station, had invited us to spend a night at her family's water mill. The once-dilapidated seventeenth-century mill had been restored by her father Bastiaan and he had also…

Après le déluge, moi

Our dinner together that Thursday was special. Not only was it my wife's birthday, albeit celebrated two days late, but we both had lived to share the occasion. Her actual birthday had been lost during a hectic and horrible 24 hours earlier in the week. We were still on our holiday in France. At around…

In the pink

There were thirty of us gathered for the occasion. At one end of the room sat Martha, who was her calm, alert and smiling self. Next to her on a small table was a greetings card. It was from the Queen. Next day Martha would be one hundred. Three parties had been arranged for her:…

Last words

By their very nature the last words people utter carry a very special significance. To those who are close, they can bring solace or can engender guilt and anxiety, but whichever, they are likely to linger indefinitely. They somehow encapsulate our memories of the dead person, even becoming a sort of personification. And there are…