I’m sat at my screen and I type like I did back then, when all I could do was to sit at my screen and type and words tumbled out in no particular order but they came out and they come out now. Now I sit at my screen and I’m aware of the fragments in my head, of the way my mind is trying to process the news but like back then, the images and thoughts are coated in a thick gloop, they pull apart from each other, they struggle to make sense but they don’t. In my head, like in the early times, there’s just a fug, a twisting, churning mess and I just follow it. All I can do is let the thoughts and feelings bubble up and jostle for position. There is a sense of being propelled from a familiar place again into somewhere strange, into a different land and so I type.

My devices are all active, they hum and bleep with updates as a spectrum of people post and grapple with the news, all affected by the connection to you. I remember sitting, staring at the flashing curser, in my week three, the TV bleating out downstairs, my son watching cartoons in his own fog and I took calls. I rambled and sobbed to the friends who reached out and then I posted. I typed and wrote the words and you responded, from out there, lost in your own hell at day nine, still counting on your fingers as you reached me.

And now I keep turning over the words and the messages, the encouragement and support. And while I type, I can feel the buzz of updates I haven’t read yet, of people calling each other and reaching out. A web of connections from your life, I can hear it now, a background radiation of complex links and all of us with our own stories, our narratives of how we knew you and for each of us somehow, in the places where we collided, there is a tearing now.

I used to post so much in the early days when every journey to the shops was an event, when the smallest interaction provoked a stream of emotions needing to be expressed and you encouraged me to start a blog. I remember being in another country with my son, away for the first time in our new world and as I took the hairpin bends in a coach, miles above sea level, riddled with anxiety, surrounded by strangers, I planned out my first post. There up a mountain in my chaos, I was anchored with the knowledge that I would write it out. I held the thoughts, I made mental notes and I coped because when I got home, when we’d survived what others saw as a holiday, I knew I had a vehicle for the pain and so I typed. And when I was finished, I sent it to you because you wanted to link it to your blog and give me the springboard into a world I relish now.

Now I process everything, up and out from the dust filled corners and the dark places that hide around the back, to the joy and the lightness that come from a full world and when the feelings make no sense – like now, now in this concentrated tapping on the keyboard, when the desire to check updates makes me type faster than I can, I turn to words. You were two initials on a forum, you were the stretched out fingers that reached mine and we travelled together. And now all your fellow travellers struggle to make sense of this place, we reach out to others like you did and we hold on.

Through my open patio doors, the sound of another Saturday seeps in, people mowing lawns, toddlers shrieking and my washing machine churns like my head, like my stomach when I heard the news. I must check my newsfeed; I need to keep close to the others touched by this. We stumble, our virtual family but we reach out, like you did on our journey. Our paths entwined, a patchworked tribe and I’m one of the many threads,  grateful for the entanglement, so thankful for the hand of a friend.

My washing has finished but my stomach still churns. I must check my newsfeed.

We are all connected.



February 22nd
It’s quiet – apart from the birds opening their breaks, trilling their throats to the skies. It’s quiet apart from the over the fields sounds of traffic and high above this quietness is the hush brush throb of a plane. People going places, like they do. To the right, out of sight, the ubiquitous farmer pulls his trigger yet again, startling a flock of large birds. They scatter in a cluster over me, a few stragglers hurrying behind and rain pats at the old patio knocking down the moss, splitting a splot on the car roof and I watch.

I try to hear a rhythm in the rain, a haphazard pattern almost there. I’ve been learning about counterpoint and variation with our son and everything seems to be made of music, of repeated imagery, broken up with altered patterns and we note the numbers underlining it all, the circles of fifth that encase us and we are this song.

Today is the first day after half term, it’s grey but almost fresh. And although the dates lie one week out I remember. Five years ago we went back to school for the first time; the first time since we’d been changed; the first time since the world we’d known had been severed away and our friends walked us in and I left. I took our son to the door, everyone had been informed and I watched his back as he started his new day. I peeled myself away to the headmaster’s office and there in the black sphere that became my cell, I started to try to find words. And afterwards I must have walked back home where my parents waited and people came and went with flowers from the day before, with faces and information that I couldn’t understand and then they left.

The unseen farmer interrupts my thoughts with another salvo, he’s on a mission again. There was a dead rabbit on the drive yesterday, maybe stopped by the circling kite and somewhere in the prickle of hedges a family carries on foraging because they have to.

I remember this date from seven years ago. We were leaving for school when our son noticed that his fish was on its side. I told him we’d check on it later and later while I was at work you rang me to say it had died. We’d bought three fish, one each and I sighed that it had to be his that was the first to go. We discussed the plan for the evening, how to manage his first loss and when, if he wanted to, to go back to the pet shop and buy another, and we did.  I remember the sound of the door closing as we’d walked up to school, then with a fish floating, and two years later in our brittle broken world and the sound, the leaden searing sound of closing the door again from the inside, when all of the visitors had gone.

And now. I watched our son’s back this morning, his trousers are slightly too short. I used hemming tape on some new ones but it didn’t work well, so just for a day or so he’s still in the trousers from last half term. They sit just above the shoe, showing his growth, showing the passing of time. He has mocks around the corner and I help him prepare, now like back then, I support, I encourage him to find what he needs but then I watch him go. Into his world, to deal with it all in his way, in that classroom five years ago, in the school hall soon, this week and next and in life. Trousers getting shorter, birds calling out for food and our planet, its orbit.

On the way to school we pass new builds. I notice the lintels hanging from cranes, the fluorescent men manipulating windows. Someone will live there someday soon, in a new way, in a new world for them and they will stand at their window, like I stand at mine. The rain will wash the muck away, cars and people will go about their business and the birds will open wide their beaks and sing.
A repeated song, a variation on a theme. The music of our life.

February 28th
I brushed up brittle bamboo leaves in a chilled afternoon. I must have disturbed so many creatures building homes underneath the mush of winter. I looked out for them as I cleaned but they were too small to spot. They were busy rolling in the dust, startled, wiggling their feet to find more soil again, to right themselves and regroup.  I watched a sycamore spore twirl in the air, it spiralled up and across in haphazard patterns till it settled out of sight. Our son was warm indoors, studying atoms, how the outer shells will seek out what they need, if they haven’t enough electrons they will bond to other elements, they adapt and  make changes to their structure. And I prepare the new food for the birds, hang it in the tiny cage up high, sprinkle more seed on the brushed patio and go back inside.

February 29th
And now before he strode off to Chemistry and English, I reminded him to watch out for marriage proposals from all the girls today. He checked his watch for the date but the small rectangular plastic still flashed out that it was the first of March and somewhere deep inside, it still was.

Steam rises up from the new flue outside our window. I watch the conservation of energy, the water transforming, changing shape and form. As its elements become a part of everything, the birds peck and fill their bellies with fresh food from our patio round the back.

Its early, I have work to do. We have all we need.





On a much earlier part of my timeline our son had a remote controlled car and he took it out into the road by our garage and he played and he jumped and he fell. The movement of the vehicle tripped him up, unexpected and sudden. I was in the lounge, I heard him cry and I was there,  you know, like you are when half of your genetic material is entwined and buzzing in another’s form and I held and wiped the tears. It’s what you do.

Sometimes I wonder how much of the joy of repair is in the fact that you can do something to help, that although it appears outwards and all for the other’s sake, that on some level it is for yourself. In the act of wiping tissues around the smallest of noses you are soothed yourself, not just because you take their pain away but because you yourself are soothed by the act of being useful.

We spent many years with a background of usefulness under the sound of peeping engines. The Fat Controller ran an efficient yard and we lived and loved through a variety of scares and disasters but somehow it was always resolved by a Really Useful Engine within the hour or even under ten minutes in the early morning breakfast pre school slots and they were part of our world.

In games and often in life I became Mummy Fat Controller because I made most of the decisions around him and when behaviour needed railing in I would put on my best yorkshire accent and pull him to the sidelines and resolve the situation, kneeling by his side with my virtual top hat and words. We had our favourite engines, he would be Thomas and I would be Percy unless we passed on the stairs. In this precarious manoever we moved up a gear to his guise as Murdoch on the down line which,  in turn, made me Spencer on the up line and we peeped to each other and we chuffed in our days.

The wooden replicas have dust on them now, although the odd one can be found, as I did the other day, lost behind a photo frame, a frozen shot of me in my wedding dress, taken just before the reception when friends and family peered out of the windows while I twirled and smiled, and they waited for the photos to finish and they waited for their food. They watched us from the sidelines, observers of our land.

Now this ancient picture masks the old train shunted behind it and I picked it up the other day, a random plastic version with a turning knob on the side. I turned the knob and the wheels whirred for a while, relieved to have purpose after years of being caked in time and they span for a moment and then stopped, clogged up and chocked with dust. The familiar sound of motion, the background radiation of our world.
I put it back behind the photo. The wooden ones live out of sight, a stored story in the waiting, packaged up, narratives for grandchildren down the line.

And I look out. The leaves have all gone from the tree outside our window. The berries are bright almost orange like Murdoch, almost vermillion like James, hundreds of tiny red engines waiting for the beaks to come, to pluck them from the rain.

And I look back.

I think about our home, the first one not far from here and the way I ran to his derailment and the warmth of holding him close, the plasters, the soothing biscuits and the role.
The commitment of being the balm to another, of having purpose and being able to heal. And my wounds are aching, it’s easy to get stones in these old cuts, easy to feel them rub and scrape along the scars and I dab.

I treat my own injuries and I crave. I crave the scrub of the carpet when the hardest thing about the day was the build of the track, when we puzzled over making the pieces fit. And now I sit here, desperate to make his pieces fit, needing to help him build his route. Our derailment, a constant in our narrative and all I want is to scoop him up but I can’t, I want to brush away the gravel and all it would take to stop the tears would be a warm drink and a hug. And my comfort in the primal need to sooth it, to wrap around him and to take away the pain.

But I have no plasters now. The autumn winds blow around the wounds, the train is on its side behind the photo and we make new tracks. Our scar tissue turns to steel as we construct, like when I used to kneel beside him.

And in this autumn, calling winter –

I still do.






And now Key Stage 4 scoops up the child we knew into the confident teenager he’s becoming. Armed with fresh hormones and a barber’s shop cut and he’s off again, polished up to take on the new timetable with a refuelled sense of what lies ahead. And in all the change I see that nothing changes, that the permanence sits below the shifting patterns, the threads that bind us tight. And we move and we grow and the deeper things remain.

New bags and a brushed up resolve. Our son, heading out on the next part of the journey. The keratin in his hair catching the early morning light.


July 1st
Long ago in a distant land when our son was first learning language, we started to name all the animals. His expanding repertoire included a selection from the farmyard:  Le Ma (sheep), Le Mei (cat), Da Woof (self-explanatory) and Le Moo (ditto). We never understood where the Frenchness came from but like all things it was a transitory phase. Wild animals were also covered with a particular favourite being an elephant or ‘A Twunk’ as he would say, swinging both arms as the two trunked creature stomped around the lounge and of course there was the lion. A-Wor, loud and fierce prowling the kitchen for the next biscuit or two.

Years and worlds later he has gone back to school tonight to see the evening production of The Lion King. His best friend is playing the young lion cub and I wonder how that will be. Watching James act out the rights of passage that our son has had to live through.

We had both wanted to go. In the old world I almost lived at school, helping out here and there, in class supporting, Governoring and Chairing, more assemblies than I can remember and any production going. At Primary I would not only have been there, I’d probably have run up a few lion costumes in the process.
But by last week there were no tickets left.

This afternoon he announced that Phoebe didn’t want to go and that she’d offered him her ticket… so with an earlier tea and tightly squeezed in home work, he decided to go by himself.

The temperature is cooling now, though I wonder how hot it is in the hall, I wonder where he’s sitting and if he’s buzzing with some friends.
We had a brief talk before he left and then he strode off wearing his new top looking older, with a swagger that comes from pushing boundaries and testing out his worlds and I’m sat here, quiet in the echoed scent of underarm spray with his discarded comb on the chair, wrestling with a foreshadowing of the empty nest to come. A lounge packed with the prowl of conflicting emotions.

I like to believe we’re ageing well, me with my deserting hormones, mellowing into my new roles and our son, sat there now, not here on the Pc but there, on the plastic chairs under lights with his mates. I hope he’s found some familiar faces to sit by, not just surrounded by whole families sat together. I hope his face is turned upwards towards the stage, glowing in the heat, projected colours reflected off his changing contours, eyes watching James as he roars.

Our son, striding forwards, his mane brushed back from his forehead, stretching out, growing strong towards the light.
In his best shirt, without me.
Finding new lands, our heir taking it all on – and he roars.

An end of hot-day-fly hums around the house. The trees brush rustle against the sky with the hope of a storm to break the heat.

I wander to the kitchen for some earl grey.
It’s quiet – I’m surrounded by lions.




It’s getting close now, it’s February 5th, moving around again, noting the dates as you can’t help doing.

Our son is off in the frost, no winter coat. It’s not the done thing as it’s more to manage at the other end. Bags and bustle to organise so you don’t need anything else to complicate the process even if it makes you slightly cold.

We’ve had the letter now. Next week is Options evening. Somehow we’ve arrived at that point, already planning for the next two years. I wonder about the conversations we’re not having, the other versions of everything from a parallel world. And I wonder if the end results would have been much different, if we’d been talking on un-reupholstered settees. Would he still be taking triple science? I believe he probably would.

I can’t know of course, I have to just work with what we have, with these conversations and the choices we make now. I find it so hard to keep up with him these days. I’ve been left way behind with maths, not hard really as we were both so rubbish weren’t we? I think he’s skipped a generation and picked up the skills from your Mum. Maybe it’s just who he is – the sum total of all his genes and experiences fermenting into so much more.

I guess he’s down the long road now, he walks so fast these days and the pavements are full of children chuffing, red cheeked, dripping noses, bags stuffed ready for the day. If I listen deep enough I can hear it. The sound of traffic, the floof of exhaust fumes around the car behind and the footsteps. Quick, focussed heading off to do what needs to be done.

It’s grey today. Solid low cloud, not like the rain from back then. I remember walking through the puddles with Jenny and following your Father’s back when I couldn’t raise my head. Some of it is so fragmented now like a broken mirror on the past. But it’s still there in the pieces and I can look at the shards and if I choose to I can reassemble the moments with care, hold the sharp edges in my hand and look deep inside.

He’ll be nearly there now, in the noise and throb of day. I need to fill in the form for the meeting, need to talk to him about the questions we need to ask, the things we need to understand and the decisions that we need to make.

I watch him straighten his tie in the mirror, the reflection clear and strong. And next week we’ll be going out to have conversations in different rooms with different faces. Walking alongside him as we plan the times ahead.

It’s after the 11th now. We negotiated the old faces on the bus, felt the shock and judder of who we used to be in their awkward smiles and I followed him around the rooms, sat through the presentations that explained the jobs to come, the roads that he would walk down.

It’s the 15th now as I tap this and I remember walking home with him after the Options evening, down the long road that seemed shorter as we talked. He’s just taller than me now and he was buzzing, so sure of the direction he needs. I can’t take it all in, the distances we’ve travelled, the new lands we’ve found. He walks so fast, like he talks when he’s in full flow just home from school. I wasn’t looking forward to Options evening, it seemed so out of place. But part of me looked out for people I might have known and felt less inclined to hide that night. And I sat next to him with my silver shot hair and best coat and scanned the crowd for the backs of heads from our past. I felt us pivoting into some place new and did my best to hide my beaming as he nodded to mates and clocked girls from a world that’s all his own. We did it all and did it well, an unexpected excitement running on top of these parallel lands underneath us.

Somehow so many tiny steps are making miles now. We are right where we belong.

We have choices.
It’s up to us.



Through the dark and scary woods, a long long time ago we visited Brei in Oxford. I believe it was the winter after we’d lost your Mum and we pulled up and parked by their tiny stone cottage and waited for the sound of the dog. I can’t remember which breed it was now but I wasn’t comfortable around it and with a certainty, protected our son. I remember when we visited their workshops in the woods that the dog would be locked in the toilet. A rescue dog, the potential to be so lovely but they were always too busy to train him so he forged his own path with no boundaries, galloping around the rooms and leaping up at customers.

That was the last time we visited. We talked on the final stretch of the journey home. She hadn’t seemed that interested in the things you needed to say and you felt it wouldn’t be worth the effort to divert our route south again. But she still promised to re-upholster our settees. We confirmed phone numbers and emails, she vowed she’d get back to us but of course she never did.

I remember when they bought them down, right at the start in the autumn. Both she and Colin negotiating our new threshold and squeezed the sofas through on their sides. We paid for one each didn’t we, (though I’d agreed the fabric) mine was the terracotta one, a slight nap to the fabric, almost suede and yours was old gold, although she insisted the shade had another name. I’d bought fabric too for curtains and took forever to make them up. Always more confidence than competence when it came to sewing and I was there in full bloomed pregnancy, over two years later, crawling on the floor with pins in mouth trying and just succeeding to get the others finished for ‘the baby’s’ room. I believe my plan was to alter the lounge curtains to make them fit the play-room, years later when we moved in. But as with many things in that world, it didn’t quite happen and I didn’t get around to it and now the sun comes in with ease through those windows at the back with nothing to block the light that falls in, charging photons on the things I need to sort.

It’s the end of the year as I tap here, another swathe of time moved through and at the bottom of the stairs I have some swatches. Our son has chosen the new fabric and new colour. Soon as the days dance into weeks they’ll come to squeeze them out of these new doors, just after my birthday will be the way to go and I’ll watch the shapes of memory as they pile into their van.

Jan 1st 2015

And now I’ve crossed that bridge again into another year. My birthday tears up at me, somehow welcome, somehow unknown. I drop back to our hotel and the waiting faces that you planned for me. Ten years back then, with the friends who cannot be there for me now and the ones who remain by my side. And our settee that I sat on, on the eve of our eve that was piled high with cushions months later when my back had had enough and I sat through the hours like the Princess and the Pea until I could sit once more like a proper person again.

There’s something right about the timing now. Easing the old for the new and I’ll look to the door and our son as he tries it out for the first time. Making indents in new fabric. The fabric that sits on the top, the structure solid underneath. The foundations firm under a wave of change. The places where we sat, the life and times around us. Us in the moments, in the threads that bind and us now testing out of new material. Making our way, with new places to rest and to be.

Jan 10th

Fifty years ago my Mother went into labour and last week on a rare trip to town, I stood behind a fresh young couple. They bristled with new life, chirping over the pinkness that was snuggled deep in their pristine pram. I overheard their conversation with the cashier. How the baby was born at the start of the year, they were in the papers, and the Father yawned about how tired he was. I didn’t see the Mother’s face, but I could sense it, her exhausted euphoria, her aching pride and her primal commitment to the work to come.

They were on their way to the Registrars, they were excited to sign proof of her birth. I remember the building, where you went fourteen years ago while I lay upstairs on the bed, immobile with our own wrap of pinkness by my side.
I walked past the building many times in the old world, buses to catch, places to work. I see it now, from my wrapped up place on the journey home, I pass the small window by the railings, where from my inside view back then, I saw people’s feet walking by, and Jenny sat beside me and I couldn’t hold the pen. Couldn’t form the letters, couldn’t focus and all I remember was the enduring sense of Jenny on my left, their Pc screen and rub of tissues.

Same room, different forms and the circle completes again. My wanderings around town is framed in the look in their eyes, their joy carved out in the moments that lie ahead of them. And me, framed by the seat I sat on at the beginning of this journey. A document signed to force a new me to begin. And it’s that new me now who, with our son, has chosen the fabric to coat our life for the years ahead.

They’ll be taking the sofas away soon, peeling them back to their basic form and building them up again, into something new, something more padded, something able to withstand the moments to come. And we will sit and settle and welcome the newness.

Sofas and softness, stainings and scars and a life turning to renewal.
The re-upholstering of the girl I used to be.

I think of my Mother in labour,
I remember myself in labour.
Your face, his face
and our sofas at the door.




A special post today, from my favourite blogger – our son xxx

It’s here! It’s arrived! And just time for Father’s Day! My very favourite episodes from Star Trek Deep Space 9 and Enterprise, enjoy:

Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Move Along Home
Series 1 – Episode 10

A new species boards DS9 (the Wadi) they bring gambling games and Quark is naturally interested. But as he plays the game, the senior officers vanish in a maze of death and danger. Can quark save his friends or will they die when eliminated?

If Wishes Were Horses
Series 1 – Episode 16

In this episode a strange energy force consumes the space station causing every member of the crew to experience exactly what they think. The promenade becomes a blizzard, Rupelstilskin turns up and the space station is uncontrollably sucked into an obliterating anomaly (capable of destroying solar systems).

Series 2 – Episode 23

Who remembers the TOS episode Mirror Mirror? Where a transporter accident creates a parallel universe full of death and violence. Well, Bashir and Kira have a plasma leak inside the wormhole, this sends them to the parallel universe, where the empire is at war with the Klingons and DS9 orbits Bajor.

The Way of the Warrior – Parts 1 & 2
Series 4 – Episodes 1 & 2

After the destruction of the Enterprise D (Generations,) Worf joins DS9 to assist Sisko with a fleet of Klingon ships helping the Federation to prevent a Dominion attack. However after Worf uncovers a plot to attack Cardassia he tries to stop General Martok (Second in command of the Klingon Empire) from doing so but when accords get out of hand Sisko must prepare for a full scale Klingon attack on DS9.

Trials and Tribble-ations
Series 5 – Episode 6

After Kira finds the Bajoran Orb of Time a runaway miscreant of the Federation steals it and sends the Defiant back in time almost 80 years to deep space station K7 where a well known TV hero is dealing with tribbles. Sisko and the crew must blend in to stop a bomb disguised as a tribble from destroying the U.S.S Enterprise and all her crew.

Call to Arms
Series 5 – Episode 26

In the outbreak of the Dominion war Sisko and crew are forced to abandon DS9 and retreat to safer territories. But Sisko won’t hand DS9 over to Gul DuKat that easily. He minds the entrance to the wormhole with self replicating bombs and bar obliterating DS9 he utterly ruins all systems leaving just Kira, Quark, Odo and Jake to greet the unfriendly arrival.

Sacrifice of Angels
Series 6 – Episode 6

Out numbered by two to one on Sisko’s riskiest plan ever against over a thousand Dominion and Cardassion ships, the Federation tries to retake DS9 from the Dominion.

One Little Ship
Series 6 – Episode 14

Starfleet gives Sisko a break from the front lines and tells them to study an interesting astronomical phenomenon, fly into it and all sense of size shrinks by a hundred and fifty percent. But when O’Brian, Dax and Bashir get stuck at finger nail size, can they do anything to stop a Dominion invasion on the Defiant and more importantly stop being the size of half a paper clip?!

Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang
Series 7 – Episode 15

After a new interactive hologram programme malfunctions, can the crew do anything to help the new holographic counsellor from going bust?!

Star Trek Enterprise

Shock Wave – Part 1 & 2
Series 1 – Episode 26
Series 2 – Episode 1

After destroying a planet, Enterprise is ordered back to Starfleet Command where a special visitor reveals what is actually happening and when the Enterprise is over run by the Suliban and the Vulcans want an end to Earth’s space programme, Archer is dragged to the 31st Century because he’s the cause of a drastic change in the temporal war.

Series 2 – Episode 23

When Starfleet find a perfect sphere and a frozen cybernetic body buried deep on the Arctic circle,
Enterprise is recalled home to investigate. They unfreeze the bodies to see if they are friendly but what they find is far worse than mean.

Series 3 – Episode 8

After a shock wave causes a piece of the bulkhead to land on T’Pol and Archer rescues her, an unusual infection causes Archer to be unable to form any new memories. Almost 35 years into the future he wakes up in a camp where T’Pol explains his condition and the dreadful outcome of the Xindi conflict. Can Phlox eradicate the virus and ultimately restore the timeline?

In a Mirror, Darkly – Parts 1 & 2
Series 4 – Episodes 18 & 19

In the 700th episode of Star Trek ever to be broadcast, we find Archer in the evil parallel universe. The uniform has been changed, the Vulcans are in slavery and there is an all new title sequence! Archer find a rip in space time going to an alternate universe (the original universe). He also finds that the rip goes approximately 150 years into the future. He decides to enter it in the hope of finding second Empire but what he finds is the U.S.S Defiant (as seen in original series episode, The Tholian Web). Archer uses this new found power and attempts to become Emperor of the Empire but it’s not just him who wants to grab futuristic weapons…

These Are The Voyages
Series 4 episode 22

The crew faces one final mission to rescue Commander Shran’s kidnapped daughter. After a mostly successful mission but the unfortunate emotional death of Charles Tucker 3rd (Trip) Archer makes a speech that will be the beginning of the Federation as we know it. Which is then memorised by 24th Century grammar school students.

This marks the end of great series of episodes and even though J J Abrahams continues with his films it will never be the same as good old fashioned Gene Rodenberry’s Kirk.



March 15th

Twenty years ago I sent you a card and you thanked me for the ‘home-made’ one. At the time I was almost offended, from my old bedroom masquerading as a studio, where I painted with care, in soft subtle shades, where I’d sat, considered and produced the piece. Home-made? It was a one off, obviously, Designed by Hand watercolour, finished off with my finest 000 sable brush, of course. You never quite ‘got’ my work in those days. I showed you the cats at some point and we talked about what I was doing and why but we both knew they were too garish for your sensibilities.

You commissioned me once at Christmas, and somewhere in a drawer I still have the small sign I made for your front door, the door I got used to, at the side in your small cave by the candlesticks and curtain rings and the wooden stairs over your corner.

Sometimes I used to try to prove that I could draw ‘properly’ with sketches of our baby and all sorts. I was going to copy that favourite photo of your Mum, the one where the negatives were reversed and she came out back to front like this parallel world now. Like many things when life was linear, I didn’t get around to it, like finishing sticking in the photos in her big brown book. I remember you delegating the onerous task to me when it slipped into being a task too difficult, not long before I had tasks of my own.

The only drawings I do now are silly ones with our son, his People City concoctions. And I don’t paint now, hardly ever, I don’t need to anymore
– I write.

February 27th

I got into the back of things today, underneath and out of reach and found the bits that we’d forgotten, the bits we’d shoved away and the hard fast memories of the lives we used to know.
The collection of pots that are going to Mum and the toy remnants that I can recycle, the skipping rope from the last days at primary, the mug tree from the old place when your Dad used to send us presents. It was all there, the things I’d hung onto just incase and under the fluff and muck and time I find our son’s first changing bag, battered with love with tissues in the front and I remember how it felt to push it over the handle of the pushchair, the tight fit and early shopping when we lumbered round panniered and loaded like the amateurs that we were. And it travelled with us to Grandma’s home, up the hill singing that song and she used it when she took over, when she cleaned and cooed when we lay in, in the Devon days when we were all young.

And behind it I found your old briefcase, the lock pinged up despite rust and it had lived in this cave since you placed it there, when the job encouraged less formality and you tucked it away with the things that I found. I peered inside like Pandora, half mesmerised, half petrified and found letters and slips of notes and documents that document things that have long since passed. I found a letter to William from your on going discussioned debate and you leapt from the old paper in an unformatted type with all the strength of your convictions and enquiry. I was grateful for this print, the hand written stuff was always a challenge to read, but this was neat and thought out and sent to him who struggled so much. Strange how the most religious of your friends couldn’t cope with the event, couldn’t deal with me or the service and for all his faith and intellect he crumbled and disappeared like the arguments he’d trounce you with, when you listened and learned until you found your own way. I found your dissertation too, unseen throughout our marriage but I found it today and skimmed through, the type of a world before me on a typewriter before we had Word and it was kept locked safely away, a part of you that time can’t touch.

And I started a new road today, long and complex but it rises up behind me gives me momentum, gives me torque. I can feel it pulling me to sort, to discard and to keep and I’m here on the carpet by our life, in the dust and moments holding on and letting go, respecting the transient and being with permanent. I move while I’m here, in time.
It’s only time.

February 28th

It’s cold outside although it looks warm. I get layered up and find my gloves. I’m continuing with the work I started yesterday but now I’ve gravitated to the garden and its jobs.

We were never gardeners. We got ‘men’ in even when our terraced courtyard became overgrown. I fiddled and failed with hanging baskets, tweaked on the surface but ran away from the bugs. You did the lawn and watched nature do its thing, studying the leaves from where I sit now in the sun. We weren’t really designed for outdoors, we liked the idea of it, appreciated seasons and force but hacking and pruning weren’t in our books so we paid out and sat down and looked on.

Our friend The Gardener took root, helped out in the days before I let the garden grow. We were keen to employ him and talked about it before that world stopped and I took over the jokes about the ‘staff’ and you’d have found it funny too if we’d have continued on that path.
I’m brushing up now, annoying beetles and soft brown worlds that I can’t see. These leaves seem to have etched themselves into the fabric of concrete itself and take all my weight and a coarse broom to shift them. There’s something quite respectful about clearing up from storms, renewing and breathable and I feel it as I struggle and fight with my gloves. The cold burrs my nose, my eyes runs and my hair gets in the way as I pick through sodden memories of where we used to be. The table we built the last snow shapes on had long since given up, its cheap coating sagging with the weight of mud and slick. We were out there me and our son, too early, the snow too powdery to do anything so we just made his school logo and photographed it before the thaw. His old wheelbarrow’s there that we picked up from ‘you know who’ at the car boot when you bought their book on Italy because we were heading out that way.
The bamboo is still in charge, forced back where I cut it last year. It’s relentless isn’t it? Nothing is still despite leaving it, it piles and seeps and mulches down, feeding the earth turning round. But while we’re here, we interact, we have effect if we choose, we work with nature not against it.
I like the sound of bristle on wet concrete, something determined, something focussed about it. I gather leaves. I notice their colours and shades, a glossed out collection of polished wood, deep and aged, crumpled in my hand.
I may clean the windows later…maybe. The patio is cold, chilled through from the saturation of winter. I’m cold but it’s ok.
I feed the earth, I’m turning.
Everything moves, including us.

11am – Today
Sun’s up, first time in ages after months of rain. Pools of white shining off our life, lighting up the places I need to look at. It’s warm, our son wakes – I’m waiting for a delivery.




February 15th 2014

As we float out again, me and our son, into these familiar waters, I see how we’ve learned to sail. It’s odd, the skills you learn when there is no choice, nothing but to hold onto the rails, to feel the rope burn in your palm, the saltwater bite your skin and your sea legs gaining strength because they have to.

It’s raining, it seems to have rained forever, as though the thought of sun on your face was a chink of memory from someone else’s life. But this grey ocean is known and understood, somehow the whip of wind is no problem, these gales can only hurl us as we steam out of port again. The salt scrubs our face and stings our eyes but we keep going. Our leathered skin maps our journey, shields us in the storm. We tap the compass, watch the needle twitch, looking back over our log book now that we are sailors.

October 9th 2013

I look out from my lump of carbon through the condensation, dripping white worlds upside down and watch the steady smiles peel down the window. Though my feet feel carpet I’m not here, I’m three years ago up high on our deck, I stand by the outlet pipe with our son and we squeal as the blasts push around us. My scarf and hair compete for position till we find seats in the warmth and watch the people and land get smaller. I remember standing down at Weston or was it Woolston in the years before we slowed and we perched on the edge of the jetty waving at the ships leaving home. And later or maybe earlier, leaning up a barrier in the skirt that doesn’t fit me now and my favourite white top, clutching my sunhat in the breeze, smiling into the lens with Enchantment or was it Independance behind us and we raced up by the old sheds, parallel with the water, bombing it in the Orion to catch one last glimpse of the beast.

But I’m back on board now, excited and scared with unknown storms ahead of us. I see us wandering, working things out, testing ourselves in our new glistening place. I’m there in the cold, in the anticipation, in the promise of the waves ahead while I sit behind these steamed up windows in a room where the floor keeps still.

And further underneath it all, I travel to my start, the first day with our son on my own, when all the help had gone. Proud of myself, washed and dressed before the midwife arrived though it rarely happened again and I positioned his kit on the bed armed with all equipment, playing solitaire around his needs. I learned to change a nappy kneeling into the bedside, him kicking springing legs on top because I couldn’t bend to the floor and my days and nights merged into an inching journey, in that room, by those curtains from this day and ever outwards. And I feel his soft new warmth, his smells and dribble, a comfort of heaviness in my hand and an ache I grew to live with.

And I live with different pain now,
moving things around to meet our needs, focussed on the job, the path ahead. I’m layered, waiting for the doorbell of the midwife, as I lean up railings looking out at blue and wherever I am, I am travelling, my luggage changing shape while I heave it alongside with us, muscles straining, strengthening in the weight.

We pull out of port,
the midwife turns up.
I need a drink in the present.
I brush the hair from out of my eyes across these three realities.

Plaited journeys – on my path.

Thursday October 10th

The light throws out strong contrasts today, the shadows are long and stretched in the low bright sun. I make shapes in the condensation till it liquifies the image out there. The tree ripples and drips, distorted in front of me like the shattering of its temporal signature.

I remain fragmented myself, back in an early visit, Mahler and the Celestine Prophesy on the day I took photos that didn’t come out.
I go outside now, called by a strangeness in the tree, I can’t make it out with the light and my eyes but I find it to be an odd clump of turned leaves, crisped and auburn amongst the green. I investigate its dryness, not quite brittle but almost, as I’m sandwiched between heat on my back and a biting breeze in my face.

Back inside the ancient timelines in a room where the bookcase was stronger, years before its current lean, I wander around watching her while this day is outrageous in bright with leaves twirling into windscreens, crumbling and dancing with no thought.
A shimmer of space time and I’m nearer to now, that grey heavy black morning, Voyager on TV and I’m rushing in a coat too big for me now.

And I drift on the air blown in and out of my places, curled and orange in the passage of time, my shape holding true despite elements as I am carried by the day and the season, leaves of moments, crunched loud colours, from the forests in my head.

The creases in the sycamore spore mirror the waves in my fingerprint. I hold it up in these unforgiving rays. Something cheeps over my shoulder like a creaking door as we leave your shack, packed up and heading out to plough new fields.

And in the distant fields I see from now the whirligigs twiddle and twirl, spinning silent circles at the edge of my view.


October 12th

I remember this day in Nice after the breakfast fiasco and the stressed rush to Cannes We stood high up on the curved road, looking down on white, bleached walls reflecting us in heat, markets that led to Matisse’s place and a beach, wide stark and alien. And while I tap the sand from my new trainers I feel me sitting by the bed on a Saturday evening in a different world, days and dates doing their thing and I leave them to it while I wash up by hand.
A novelty, like years ago when I stood by the sink, son roped in, in pushchair and me proud and resplendent in marigolds and suds as I’d managed to take my own weight on what remained of my back, for the first time in the strange land of motherhood.
I see the old dishwasher, that belonged to Mrs Mouse, that you started up while I looked after our son, and we got used to its clunks and forgot how to use bowls of water. Though you never really liked washing up bowls, too scanky underneath and I didn’t like a full sink, snorkelling for the plug through the debris of our meals.
And now this bit of back then has broken and I clean round in preparation for men, tomorrow’s job of welcoming something new and shiny into this changing place.
I remember leaving your early cave, at the start when you were at work and my mid morning trips home on Mondays. Tidying round everywhere but the kitchen, leaving jokes in the lounge while the dishes piled high
and tommorow I’ll pile them here in polar white, the old things, the chipped things and our son’s best Star Trek mug.

October 20th

I find the photo of our son in a sombrero, dates shouting out and the last frame I bought which clashed with the colours, in these old rooms with the smell of encyclopaedias, the preserved smell of childhood, the ancient book from his Great Grandad
presented eons ago in a different world before engines had grunt or TV on demand, from a slower, stranger time than my strange world now.
He can almost lift me now, growing solid, sinewed, with strength to come and the trees are heating up now in this late autumn sun, flaring Spanish colours as we pass by and somewhere on a distant sea of pitching waves we sway home, tired, travelled, bagged up washing and memories, sailing into new water, in our way with gifts yet to open, in the dregs of a journey, in the preface of the journey to come.


You know what it’s like when you travel – you always over compensate, take too much, forget something else. Lug heavy cases around full of ‘just incases’ and wherever you go, you find you had enough anyway. We pack with great care. The anchor is heavy but we can lift it, steering out with wind through our hair. We plot a new course and head out.





I remember the late days of pregnancy, the heat of summer evenings and the walks up to the ridge before my back went. It was the first season of Big Brother, a novelty – something to watch back in those days. I see our tiny house, the faded green carpet that we inherited, your rug from the people at work and our airer by the kitchen door, by the breakfast bar space that was just used for boxes.

I have boxes now, different ones, full of toys and years, the jobs in front of me stack higher than these memories, things to sort, to sell, to chuck and everything needs looking at. I’m overwhelmed by the work ahead but can only chip away, paying attention to the moments and moving towards now.

I need to find the old book I wrote in, in that other life, where I scrawled something in it every night, even if it was just a sentence and I kept it for months and months. Years later I would add to it on key dates. The book was filled up, evolved to become folded up A4 sheets, in a stash inside the cover, notes and thoughts of the world you’d passed through. I remember changing the style and the tone. I hadn’t worked out when I’d give it to him, maybe aged seven? Couldn’t imagine having a seven year old, what would that be like, what do they do? What are they into? what do they need? Or maybe I’d keep it till he’s ten? Still writing to a child, adapting memories to my perceived sense of what he’d understand by then.

Unresolved. Maybe it was best for an adult, a gift at twenty one, so it shifted and changed as our life moved and the hardback red book I originally wrote in moved from its home by my bedside to some box, in some cupboard waiting to be unearthed, tucked away by your old telly, the one you used to watch from the floor in your first home, a floor more comfortable than that settee.

So the words remain in the cupboard though I’m drawn to get them out, pour over that life and write up and neaten the things I need to. Looks like it’s heading for an adult gift then and by then he’ll have these chapters too. This other book that evolved from the sidelines, from out of nowhere, this record of movement and change, a permanence of thoughts in this constant flux. He will have your book too, the one that sits on your bedside table and the printed up version lying flat in the bookshelves. Collections of words that form us, tell this story, map the journeys as we move and through the ink splots and lines of print he’ll see it all, see the process, the patterns and the love.

Some time ago, in the old world, I bought a book. It talked about the power of Story, about gifts handed down through generations. Nothing tangible, wrapped in bows, or beautifully packaged like the slick layers of an Apple product box – but tales, stories, memories carved through eons, the sounds of a soul through its ages. It talked about a gift for a child, to write them a story about who they are, their qualities, skills and dreams woven through words, something you can’t buy. A story of them from the inside out.

Somewhere I made notes, had thoughts on the structure, tried to form it from a wondering of who he’d become. But I didn’t write the story then, I just bought things to wrap, life pushed in the way and we slipped suddenly between the worlds to this place now.

Looking back to that old red book about broken nights and full nappies
I see the start of this road. It feels high up here from this distance, like the top of the hills that we climbed and the stones we picked up, kept tucked away, safe in pocket, another solid something to look on, to hold a piece of that place. And I feel the gusts blow around me, make my eyes run as I look down on the town and fields, the life before us, down there, in the cradle of hills with the winding path up to this one.

It’s just turned September today, I was due to give birth back then but it didn’t happen and continued not to happen for another two and a half weeks. And that story was thirteen years ago – thirteen, really? I remember your words on that subject and now I’m here on a different page, writing it, breathing it with him.
I see all the strands entwined, the individual tales weaving one coat, worn by us all but hanging differently on each of us. I take a deep breath as I push out into this next chapter, I’ve written what I can for him so far. We’ve given him his own pencils and paper, I help him sharpen up the colours that he chooses, the colours that belong to him.

Sept 4th
Sat in that familiar space, the first day of term. Same yet different as the condensation obscures my view in my wooden place. The pigeons are close. I feel like I’m inside a flock, soft battering of feathers all around me. I could be anywhere on the planet in this sense of space-time and this feeling would wrap around me now. I brush my fingers down the glass, confused that the mist is on the outside, I don’t understand it. I stick my hand out of the window and draw shapes from the other side. It’s all different to what I’d expect but that’s how it is.

I’m cast back to last September and the moments that came years before when the fabric on the rocking chair was still golden and rich and the pine bed was new in its warm honeyed glaze.
And here now, by the pond in this gentle ripple of morning, under this cloudless sky, I see his book wide open, the parts we’ve written and the smooth pages calling him, (with these flutter of wings), calling him to fill them with his own words.

I remember writing in another world, in another place, that the spiders had reclaimed the swing. It’s a similar feeling now though I can’t see the swing from here. The pigeons are so noisy today, prompting me to move, showing me the way.

I feed the fish and go in.

September 14th
I’m in both places, aware of the act of memory, aware of the act of seeing.
I have an all permeating sense of my story and its sounds and shapes are jangling around me now.
I see where the stories start to merge, existing dependant on each other and I see their separate paths, letters and words forming new routes as his story evolves in parallel to mine.

I have a sense of sitting somewhere,
moving through time and experience, my colours changing and deepening. Paint loaded on the brush, nib shined gold under this sharp pungent pool of ink. The black blue drips onto the page as I stroke through it, forming lines and curves, this story in some guise – through time, being in the words.
I hand the pen to him, but he already has his own, he’s busy, focussed – becoming.

We write.

September 17th
The night whips around me, the trees sing in the storm. I remember the willowing calls, the pierce of lightning on my glass, the loud tick of clock as I slipped into sedation, in the late evening of my longest day to come.

I bring the presents in, in the present. The moon shuffles behind a country sky, its bluster fits the day. The night plays around me, peeling back layers of our world.
Everything tingles on the turn of this new wheel.