So yesterday we finally got to say goodbye to my youngest brother Mark. It’s been a long wait but he was laid to rest not so far from my mum and sister. And despite a couple of glitches it was a lovely service and committal. I was especially proud to see so many people turn up for the service and to talk to so many folk who knew him and just loved his kind gentle character. It was great to catch up with so many old friends and family, some of whom I haven’t seen in absolute years. Several family members had travelled half the length of the country (and I mean Britain) to say goodbye to the most decent chap I’ve ever known. But on a day which started out thoroughly miserable but brightened up beautifully for the interment, my fondest memory will be of my father Bob who delivered a stunning few closing words at the service. He chided those of us who had criticised Mark over the years for his ‘softness’ by declaring his utter pride for a son who had demonstrated nothing but goodness and selflessness to all throughout his life. He wanted nothing more than to be in that bloody heavy coffin rather than his beautiful boy. Poor Bob. We all felt wretched at losing a brother but heaven knows how he must have felt yesterday and these last few weeks. I can’t imagine his hurt and never want to experience it.
But life moves on. His kids were sad, of course, but full of life and his grandson, who we saw for the first time, was just beautiful. And you could see Mark’s lovely features in him. Here’s one of the shots of Mark selected for the service sheet. He was around 2 years old at the time and I must have been about 9 and my younger brother Dave around 5/6. I remember the day the photographer came round like it was yesterday and he must have taken 100 pictures of us. But this was the one and only shot that everyone remembers…
Last week in August we headed down to Italy for a week’s break to get some hard work done on the house before the winter. Regular readers will know there’s usually a bloody drama with our visits but this time there was no sense of looking back afterwards and smiling wistfully.
Yesterday was such a great day – my fabulous youngest grandson E had his naming/thanksgiving ceremony (so much more welcoming than all that ‘I renounce the devil’ nonsense) and my lovely daughter S and great son-in-law E threw a top party for him in Chiswick where we caught up with our family, S&E’s oldest friends (love ’em all) and lots of great kids. Super, super day. Oh and it was father’s day too which I’d quite forgotten about until my girls got me some lovely cards and pressies. I wasn’t able to try and get hold of my dad until later in the evening by which time I’d missed him, though I did catch up this morning and he was well and looking forward to his first break-away since my mum left us some 16 months ago. So I had a big smile on my face until I read that the actor Sam Kelly, who featured in Porridge and Allo’ Allo’, had died. I wasn’t a fan of the shows but Sam went through chemotherapy at the same time as me and we were on nodding terms in Ward 6 at the CX hospital when our treatment schedules co-incided. I guess somebody up there must have thought it was my turn to get the week-end pass. It made me realise I’m a lucky fella in so many ways.
Shocking news eh to learn of the death of James Gandolfini at just 51. I like this image of him in a classic Tony Soprano pose – that look of calm menace was just brilliant characterisation. Surely he was the finest actor in the most gripping TV programme of the noughties. A poignant line from his character Tony reflecting on life as head of the family….
“All due respect, you got no f—–g idea what it’s like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other f—–g thing. It’s too much to deal with almost. And in the end you’re completely alone with it all.”
What a sad loss of a guy.
The irony is I wrote a posting not too long ago on the subject and symbolism of cancer in one of the episodes. It feels a little prophetic on several levels now but for anyone who’s interested in a slightly darker posting about The Sopranos and the prospects for Tony himself, here it is:
Well it’s been a difficult week or so. My mum had left some directions about her funeral arrangements and I imagine there are always some family issues around the delivery of those very personal final wishes. The odd thing is how my mother’s death brought us together as a family after some initial difficulties over interpretation. We had a kind of shake-down and after that all went pretty smoothly in the planning. We even had the most positive and light-hearted interview with Michelle, possibly the best funeral director I’ll ever come across.
After the last posting I was feeling rather pleased with myself. A little too pleased as it turned out. First off, after two months of dicking around, we got a notice from the letting agency who manage our apartment informing us that it seemed the owners of the property wanted to sell up. We could sign a temporary extension or find somewhere else in the remaining few weeks of our contract. We love this place which must have the best views in London, and to leave it would be a real wrench. But what do you do? Register with a load of local estate agents and start the dispiriting process of finding somewhere new to live. Continue reading →
I mentioned in the last posting that I’d lost my uncle, Terry, just over a week ago. He was christened Frank Neville but he never fancied the name until perhaps his deep love of Frank Sinatra made him reappraise its virtues. Uncle makes him sound pretty old; he was actually only 62 when he died, just 7 years older than me. When I was young he was a big influence on me, the nearest I had to a big brother. He’d been suffering some heart heart problems like my mum for a few years and like her he had contracted cancer, which had only recently been diagnosed. He was undergoing a series of tests to assess how badly affected his lungs were. It must have been bad because this vile bloody disease had felled him as quickly as an axe might. Before two weeks were out he’d been taken.
I was naturally saddened to learn of the death of Phil O’Donnell who collapsed whilst playing football for Motherwell last week. He wasn’t widely known outside of the tight Scottish football community – he was club captain and local lad from Hamilton but it seems that he was universally admired and respected as a loyal, committed player who was very much a regular guy. Known affectionately around the club as ‘Uncle Phil’ because, unusually, he had a nephew playing in the same side. I guess too it was a nickname reflecting that at 35 he was coming towards the end of his career. Nobody anticipated that his career would end so abruptly; his life arrested by heart failure during the match against Dundee Utd.