Thursday, 6 February 2014


I appear to have half a small allotment.
The garden here is a shallow layer of topsoil over what looks like landfill. It's going to take forever to sort out and will be back breaking to do. And it's semi-permanently swamp-like and flooded. I keep looking at it and planning to dig, clear, and get parts ready for planting, but it never gets done.
Meanwhile, in the next village the community garden has run out of funding and has to make ends meet and they have a set of large raised beds they are renting out as small allotment/veg plots, and a friend and I have one between us. It needs clearing and digging over, but it's big enough to produce some veg this year!
The plan, amongst requests from the kids, is for a few potato plants, lots of carrots, a pumpkin, some onions, sprouts, courgette, garlic, chard, beans, lettuce, and peas. At home we'll grow soft fruits in the garden; peppers and maybe tomatoes in pots. I already have a blackcurrant bush and a few raspberry canes in the ground from last year - need to trim and tie those; and a red gooseberry and tayberry in pots. We've had an offer of a few strawberry plants too.
I'm already looking forward to the sun on my back and fresh produce on the table.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Is someone there with you?

Back in late October 1995, I can't remember what I was doing, I'm not even exactly sure what day it was, but I do remember the phone rang. You know that feeling when you know something is wrong? When your stomach drops through the floor? Then the first words you hear are, "Is someone there with you?" and you know that the news isn't just bad, it's the worst, that your world is about to fall apart.
My brother and I hadn't been close in years, he lived in Bristol, as did I, but I rarely saw him. I know so little about his life as it was at that point. He was 22, a good looking young man with so much going for him. But, for some reason, he decided that this world wasn't for him. No-one knows the reason, but at that point in his life he chose to take his own life.

When the phone rang, it was our parents, having to tell one of their children that the other one was dead.
He's been gone 18 years now, and today would have been his 41st birthday, and I can honestly say it doesn't get easier, you just learn to cope with it. It gets better, but it doesn't ever really go away.
It tore my world apart. It changed who I am forever.
We played Metallica at his funeral. It's a beautiful ballad. Not exactly ruined for me now, but I can't listen to it without that edge of memory, the knowledge of where, when and why it was played.
I'm the survivor, is that the right word? The one left behind. The one who has to live with the aftermath of suicide. I will live with it all my life.
I'm the one who has to tell my children, when they ask about other members of our family, why don't we have Uncles and Aunts on your side, Mum? I have to tell them they had an Uncle but he died. I have to decide how much to tell them, what to tell them.
Suicide born of depression, from desperation, from isolation and fear, affects so many lives, sends ripples through so many years. I hope none of you have this as part of your lives, but if you do, then please take a moment to talk to someone. A friend, family, your doctor, or one of the helplines available. Someone will listen.
Papyrus - Prevention of Suicide in Young People
Survivors Of Bereavement by Suicide
Happy Birthday Simon.