God save the King is not a phrase that has been said by my fellow countrymen for over 70 years except for a Cavalry regiment in the British Army who toast the King of Sweden. It is a sad day for my country, and the Commonwealth.
For obituries I’m sure the press has had them written and prepared for the last 15 years. We will hear the obvious references to good innings as we do when ever an elderly grand-parent dies. But Her Majesty was a kind of grandmother to the nation, keeping us together when everyone was losing their shit. She went through war, the loss of Empire, I think 15 prime ministers, or was it 17? Correct me in the comments.
Even though at 96 she may have been closer to death than some of us, her loss to the nation is really like losing a a figurehead that belonged to everyone in this nation. She will be sorely missed by all of us. We will mourn. We will cry. We will comment on what a great Queen she was. We will look also to the future.
The King, is somebody who was born into the job, and was one of the longest servicing apprentices in any firm! His life and the life of his mother has lead him to this moment. Many think he will not be a good King. I beg to differ. Anyone who follows Her Majesty is bound to be overshadowed by her 70 years on the trône.
He will be a different King. By definition he will be a different King. He is a different person. I think he will do a pretty damned fine job of it. We’re in completely new territory here.
Yesterday I looked death in the face. Whilst at work, yesterday at around 10 am, crossing from one building to another, I suddenly looked up and saw a big flash of yellow in front of me. A forklift truck was just 3 feet away from me. I was between the two forks. Three feet between me and potential death, and a prison term for the driver.
The driver has a certain “reputation,” and the guys from the workshop where he can be found the most say it’s just a matter of time until he actually kills someone.
When it actually happens to you, it makes you think how much you would actually enjoy living a tad more. Not necessarily an epiphany, but (going for the understatement of the year prize, 2022) definitely a bit of a shock. Three feet, that were the difference between my wife with whom my first date took place 30 years ago to the day, becoming my widow!!! My children were three feet from losing their father.
Fortunately, my plus 2 saw the whole thing and came storming out of his office saying that it was unacceptable that I should have to suffer being in such danger, and that the colleague would be suitably bollocked by plus 2 and the 2 plus 1’s that he frequently comes into contact during the day. My plus 1 and the driver came to my stores, to say sorry, with smiles on their faces. It was like being told by the teacher to see the child that they had just bullied and apologise. I said that I would send them the cleaning bill for my underpants that I had just soiled. There’s no point in going full frontal and yelling at them. Be the better man and all that… Also, I’m English in France, I’m fifty, I have a gammy knee, and despite everything, this job pays the rent!
Clocking in this morning, I saw the driver who had nearly taken me out and asked him if he wouldn’t mind not trying to kill me today. When Plus 1 said good morning to me, I said that I was just glad to be alive and that I was hoping not to be killed today either. I also reminded them that had I been killed, then there would have been prison not only for the driver but for the driver’s boss. Strangely enough, the driver has stopped driving so fast and seems, for the moment at least, to take his responsibilities on board.
I will be the better man, I will be the better man, I will be the better man, and with the help of God, remain glad to be alive for a little longer.
I’m not going to talk about the new film with Anthony Hopkins, where we see the effects of Alzheimer’s on an elderly man. No, I am going to talk a little bit about my own father, as everyone in the family knows, is destined for the Sainthood. I have been made to swear by my mother not to talk about private lives of family members, so I will try not to give too much away.
I phoned my parents on Friday and everything was great at home, my mother going out to play golf, and my father going out to play bridge with the boys. I said I would phone them later during the week. I hear people complaining that they haven’t seen their parents for x months over COVID. I haven’t seen my parents since August 2019, so please, for the love of God, stop complaining and count your blessings!
On Tuesday night, after work, I called home. My mother answered the saying how they had had a bit of an“eventful weekend”, and that my father had had a heart attack. So having stolen my father’s thunder, she said she would pass him over; John do have the phone upstairs? He did, and we started talking.
As you may know, I live in France, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away saying that my parents live in the UK. In some respects it could be on the other side of the world, seeing as how we can’t see each other. But over lockdown we have “heard” each other. But what about the now ubiquitous “Zoom” meeting I hear you saying. You can “see” each other with that. My mother, bless her, is a technophobe and zoom is something from the realm of science-fiction.
So, I was allowed to talk to my now thunderless father, and asked, what did I just hear? Have you been trying to be interesting again? I was given the low-down and got all the medical details. I still don’t get it. He was a high level athlete as a young man, not a huge drinker, nor a total abstainer, we seem to mistrust them. He is not what one could call a “big lad” as I am. He eats very healthily. It was just bad luck, and blocked arteries.
It’s the kind of situation that puts you right up against your own mortality, and I have friends of my age who have lost their parents, and not in the fishing aisle in the sports shop. I am constantly aware of how far I am and how helpless that makes me feel. I love both my parents with all my heart, and dread “that” phonecall and hoping that althought enevitable, I will never have to face it. I asked as politely as I could if he could possibly refrain from dying please, until I actually manage to get over to the UK for my next visit, next summer. He said he would try and I hung up, knowing that everything was fine with him. It was as if the weekend had been less eventful, verging on the boring. But it does give you a bit of a scare. It’s not always nice living so far away.
Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
A certain Ben Franklin
The envibility of death is ompnipresent in our world, some being closer to it than others. Do I want to die? Not really. Am I ready to die? As a Catholic I woud prefer to get to confession first. Some see death as a deliverence, and I think it was Voltaire who said, “The man who, in a fit of melancholy, kills himself today, would have wished to live had he waited a week.” I think he also said it was the only real way to say Merde, to God. Death is part of life and I think not to be feared. But I would prefer that certain people would hang around for a little longer so they can share even more of their wisdom, their sense of justice, and above all, their love!
My old friend melancholy is back with avengeance. She’s a bitch and knows exactly what you don’t want to hear. She reminds you that you are in a sexless marriage, that you are useless to everyone, and that you would be better off dead.
If I look for sex somewhere then I’m the shit, but it’s not the “done thing” to impose oneself. And sex is not just the only thing lacking in my life.
I want out. I want to die. That’s why I’m slowly killing myself. When I’m not good I eat, which will only bring me closer to death, and yet, in an ironic twist of fate, if I don’t eat the same fate awaits me.
At least as a fat guy, society has decided that I’m not allowed to be a sexual being. Who would to have sex with me anyway? Not even my wife does, so why would anybody else?
It’s not just about sex despite what society might say. It’s the connection that sex can give its protagonists, or even the intimacy. Since the advent of Covid we have been told to be wary of everyone else. We all have masks on. We are told that we have to socially isolate. We are social animals and this lack of physical contact is ruining all of us. It will leave scars on all of us for years to come. The problem is that I love my wife deeply but it’s as if there’s a gulf between us. Maybe through death I will be able to set her free.
I feel lonely every day. I am on my own every day at work and work on my own, and it’s the same at home. Solitude can be a blessing, but it can very quickly become a great burden. I even feel resentment every time that people ring me at work. I have my work to do and it’s as people are just interrupting my day. How inconsiderate of them.
I will not be missed. There may be slightly fewer photos on Instagram but people get on with their lives. Life continues despite death of one the protagonists. Eventually people cope and “get over it” and the person really is “laid to rest.”
I just don’t fancy dying in France. I want to die at home. It might have been a fashion in 1914 to 1918, And my grandfather had a couple of brothers eho were killed and buried over here. I want to die at home. I’ve been here for 26 years and I’m fed up of it all. Boris may have ruined my country’s future, but it’s still home.
As a Catholic I try and offer my suffering up as a sacrifice for my many sins. That’s what Ste Thérèse de l’enfant Jésus told us. She was dead by the age of 30 and was a Doctor of the church.
I’m not suffering from despair, I just want this situation to end. I know I should just suck it up buttercup, man up, and stop feeling sorry for myself. Easier said than done. That’s what I was told by my form master when I was at prep school. My mother would say the same.
Some would go and offer sympathy on Facebook, as if a message on a virtual notice board would help. I’m not putting down peoples’ intentions, but you have to get real. It’s like putting a black square on social media. It doesn’t help.
Some would say, go and consult. That doesn’t help either. The head shrinkers are madder than me, except they know they are. I just have a small inkling that they’re even more full of shit than my intestines after eating a whole load of fiber.
I don’t hate any of you. I just hate myself. I am told that God loves me. I am trying to believe that, but it’s not easy every day.
Time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana. This is why I hide myself in my bedroom as soon as I get home. It’s why I do photography. At least when I’m out with a camera I’m doing something instead of thinking. That helps sometimes. Anyway. I’m not dead yet so you’re going to have to out up with for a little while longer.
Here is a selection of photos from last Saturday. Long exposure, shitty weather. I was going for minimalism and maybe a couple of shots I managed it. In some I caught ghost figures due to people not caring and wondering into shot.
Please have a better time of it than me. I’ll get slightly better with a little more time. As I said, I’m not looking for sympathy, or for help. I’m just sharing what is on my mind. Thank the Lord that Adele isn’t singing on the radio…
In my last article I talked about Normandy and the battle to take Pegasus Bridge, and in this article I want to talk about the soldiers that didn’t come back. Ranville is a town, not too far from Pegasus Bridge and the men that fell in that engagement are buried in the Parish Churchyard. Just next to the chuchyard is a Commonwealth War Cemetery.
The cemetery contains predominantly British soldiers killed during the early stages of the Battle of Normandy. A large proportion of those interred were members of the British 6th Airborne Division. These places are always very moving, even more so when one looks at the ages of some of those that died in June 1944. My son is 20 and the same age as so many of those soldiers.
Even when dead they are still on parade in ranks with perfect dressing. They died as soldiers and even in death they remain soldiers. When you look through the photos you will notice certain anomalies. One was a tank crew that was buried together, as a crew. One is a grave of a German Jew who escaped to join the British army, and was given a pseudonym so if he was captured his name wouldn’t betray him, One grave is of a parachutist and his dog who were buried together.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.
We’d both decided that before we even got here we would have to visit this Churchyard with many of Edinburgh’s famous and infamous residents who decided to stay on permanently… JK Rowling used some of the residents’ names for her characters in the Harry Potter books. See if you can spot where Tom Riddle is buried…
It’s a very “haunting” place and is supposed to be one of the most ghostly cemeteries in the UK. As you get closer to the (now closed) section where the Convenanters were imprisoned you can really feel the ominous pain and suffering that they endured at the hands of Mackenzie, and the hatred as you pass Mackenzie’s mausoleum.
Elsewhere there was a feeling of calm. The sun was just coming up over the hill and Edinburgh castle was so warm in the golden hour light.