charity, Uncategorized

Hope in Soap on a Rope ……

Some clever dick once wrote that women are from Venus and men are from Mars. I would never have believed this until the other day Husband when started speaking Martian. I couldn’t understand a word that came out of his mouth. I must have looked at him oddly because his Martian grew dialect and began to twist and and grow spikes. I still couldn’t understand him which made me frustrated, and before I knew it, I began to speak Venutian. Husband took to his cave. He has been there for a while now. He sometimes comes out to check we are all waiting outside, keeping vigil. He comes out to swing his club – his golf has improved I hear, or to cast a fly that lingers on the end of his rod tied on with an almost invisible yet extremely strong line of nylon. Last night he caught a fish.

I do believe that marriage is a road that sometimes runs out of tarmac. It happened to my sisters’ marriages. One day they were trundling along the marriage path way – bumpy in parts, exciting in others – enduring both fair and inclement weather and then, stop. No more road left for them to travel down. So they bid their spouse goodbye and ventured to new life pastures to graze on the leaves of liberation until, one day (for one of them) a new path appeared.

An unhappy marriage or one that ends is a nasty Earthen condition. So I busy myself finding material to make some harmonious and robust marriage road for the both of us. This isn’t the first time this has happened, so I go to my stock pile of hope and what-the-hell, to see what I can do. I don’t want things to end or even grow badly. I don’t want things to end at all. And I wonder maybe, it is best just to not want things to be nice and happy and harmonious? To stop wanting all things altogether might be one way of coping and accepting that things are, just the way they are. Maybe I should not want him to come out of his cave and leave him to his granite hollow.

This thought reminds me of a lady I once worked with, Gill. She didn’t want anything. I know this because one day, in work when I was dreaming up lessons and she was sharpening pencils, she told me that when she was younger her Quaker parents wouldn’t let her have anything. She had one toy and that was enough, She had one bike and that was enough. Her cousin had a horse that she could trot on so and that was enough. She had wanted other things to complete her childhood, like a tea set, a party dress or a stick, but no. Her parents refused everything and her ‘wanting and desiring’ for the silly little things drove her almost to distraction. She soothed herself by having the brilliant idea of just choosing not to want anything, ever again. And that is how she lived – until the day when there was a social gathering on the horizon. She had told me, she didn’t own a dress. I looked at her, “You don’t own a dress?” No, she said, she did not own and dress and she was very happy about that too. “What about a skirt?” I ask her. “You could wear a skirt for the social gathering in the calender that indicates making oneself look pretty and happy to be a part of the celebration.” And then she told me. “I don’t own a skirt!” I looked at her. “You don’t own a skirt? Not one?” And she replied in her best North Yorkshire chant of “noooooo”, this also insinuated that I should stop asking her questions. When she had finally exhaled her long and lingering negative affirmation, I pushed on and asked her in all seriousness, “Gill, if you don’t have a skirt, what do you wear when you do skipping?” She put down her clutch of pencils and pressed them hard into the table as she looked at me. “I don’t own a skirt, I don’t own a dress, and I don’t to do skipping!” she piped. And then put her face to her pencils, pushed her specs up her nose and hummed. I offered to take Gill shopping and then she, offended that I thought that she didn’t know how to shop, declared that she would shop for a skirt and that this would make us both happy. The following week, Gill skipped into the staff room swinging a bag on the end of her right index finger. Her hair had been washed and she was wearing a smile. She had bought a skirt, herself. A very expensive skirt. She went to the ladies and tried it on to show me, she lifted up her navy fleece jumper to expose the waste band and low and behold, the woman had a small waste and looking down her milky legs, I notice the most sculpted ankles. Gill! I declare – you have the most amazing legs! Are you sure you don’t do skipping? She did not. I will put money on the fact that Gill still has this one skirt, has never wanted to own another and still has not experienced the joy of one skip followed by another.

Reflecting on Gill, brings me to consider Kate Winslet. The famous Kate never stops wanting and never stops getting. Do you know, she has three wedding day albums and three children and three rooms filled with awards, that’s not to mention her time pieces. Where does she find the time for all these things, all these films, all these children and husbands, long dresses, wrist watches and awards? Does she spend her currency of time or waste it? Does she use her time to accumulate more experiences and things that stretch her existence in some way? And what about Kate’s stock pile of ‘hope and what-the-hell’ needed to build marriage road tarmac? Did she ever have a pile to begin with? Three marriages in, I’m not sure she did. I can’t decide.

I call Cousin John to discuss. Cousin John is the cousin of my late mother. Which makes me his second something or other. It’s a good thing to be, I have decided. He is the one of the few men who knows every word and verse to “In My Liverpool Home” and can sing sea shanties with the voice of an opera singer. He is diversity in socks. We talk on the phone. He tells me he has escaped his beloved Irene who is in the kitchen talking to her sister. He is on a bike ride and has just stopped at the meadow by the river Trent to lie in the grass and drink a secret can of Guinness. The sun is shining. Oh delicious, I tell him, cold Guinness in tall meadow grass. I like his choices. We discuss stressful situations. John deals with his stress by putting it in a drawer and forgetting about it. Like a wasp or an angry boss. If you ignore it, eventually it will go away. He tells me stories of his mother and my grandmother. They would visit each other every day and talk and talk and talk until – as a boy – he questioned them. Surely you can’t have anything else left to talk about because you are always together talking – what is there left to discuss? The sisters had lived through the second world war and the Battle of Britain when Hitler sent his planes over to Liverpool and bombed their chippy. They had everything to talk about and still would never be finished. I recalled the story of when Nana Lilian was having a date with the Norman she would marry when a bomb dropped in Bootle which sent John’s mum to the ground. She wasn’t far from where it fell and had been on her way home from work. When she got home she found Lil and Norm sat on the sofa, both with soot on their noses and their heads and shoulders from when the house had shook with the blast. They were still carrying on with their date. still on the sofa, still nibbling on sandwiches. Bomb or no bomb they carried on. This experience didn’t rock them. Not long after this they got married. I am glad they did. They were wonderful grandparents.

In Lockdown it helps to talk to wise family and see friendly faces. I see Mark and Ceri’s faces across the garden a couple of weeks ago. They seem calm if liberated by the whole lockdown experience. They have been given their daughter back from the clutches of school. She is free to prance with petals and puppies and skip into imaginary bubbles of fragrant playtime that can come and go with the clouds or when she decides and not be dictated to by the ticking clock of any establishment. She can rely on her own innocent whim. We discuss words, loved ones and blow outs. These friends are like flowers that stand socially distant on the grass and then leave with the evening breeze, taking their baby home with them. We are warmed by the glow of funny memories and the comfort that comes with sharing a page.

We have all been locked down now for weeks. Husband has actually been locked down since the 27th February which makes his cave dwelling understandable. He works from home, washes from home, digs his cave from home. No wonder he is speaking Martian. He is afraid of the Covid Curse – he saw how it floored me – and so I decide to help him. I start to by making soap that has messages in it like “Fuck off Covid 19” and “2 meters” and “stop the world I want to get off”. I hope that these soaps will cheer him up – contribute to the pile of ‘hope and what-the-hell’ to get him back on happy tracks and draw him out of his cave. Then I make some to cheer myself up, too. The lemon soap with a conker in is called, William the Conkerer. They all go to the isolation station. And then I attempt to make soap that has the message of hope that is attached to a rope. A tricky business, putting a message of hope in some soap attached to some rope, but I get there in the end. This inspires me to make some more Man Hands Moisturiser which is a hard moisture bar that Husband likes, but for this, I need more Bees Wax.

I don’t take bees wax from the hive in the garden because we are the worse bee keepers in Yorkshire – Husband and me – and every time we open the hive we have an argument. And yes, it is actually possible to have an argument over 40,000 angry bees, believe it or not who try and sting you for pissing them off – opening up their colony, dousing them in smoke and then stopping to bicker while they choke and panic. Thankfully these moments which also involve a few bee stings, are always short lived. So instead, we drive to see the Bee Man who sells me the expensive golden sweet fragrant wax, which he fetches from his own hives… no doubt in a calm experienced manner……… most likely without his wife. When we get to his house and out of the car I wear my mask. The Bee man laughs and leaves the wax on the wall for me to take. I hand over the money and ask him, “What are you laughing at, I didn’t laugh at your car registration plate I just noticed now on your van that reads B E E?” “You, you in your mask”, he says, “That’s what I am laughing at”. This is fair enough, it doesn’t suit me. And then he does that Yorkshireman thing. He delivers his opinion, like a rehearsed sermon with immovable faith. “Listen” he starts. I can’t not listen, this is a Yorkshireman with over fifty hives and an strong point of view. I adjust my mask and open my ears and nod for him to commence, which he does. “This Covid thing” he starts, “there are only a handful of cases ‘ere in North Yorkshire, in a population of over three HUNDRED – thousand and those that ‘ad it brought it up from London which is so disappointing….. (a pause here) But everyone has gone over the top, wi’ masks and gloves and all. It’s just madness. Over the top madness!” And he has finished. Quite a short sermon I feel. And to the point. Succinct, even. I nod. And blink. I want to tell him about the funerals I have been officiating, the brick in my chest that is finally dispersing after 9 weeks, our old friend Hugh who is in hospital for the second time with breathing problems, the fear my friend Louise had for her mum who had to battle the virus alone at home, aged 79, not to mention the pain and fear left with people I know as well as thousands of others I don’t, after losing loved ones too soon, knowing that they died alone. But I don’t. I don’t say a word. My mask helps. He can’t see my expression of WTF!!!! and so insteasd to the Bee Man I do say, “Thank you very much for the wax Mr Bee Man and goodbye to you!’ He is a Yorkshire man with an opinion. You have to leave them to it. Like a scouser with a joke, or a taxi driver with a life story, one mustn’t interrupt. I get back in the car.

Husband and I drive home past a kebab shop. We buy a dirty stinky greasy kebab and sit on the hill not far from the house in his car and talk about our children. He asks me, are you going to write about this moment in your next blog? How we sat and had a laugh and a beer together in the car and ate a dirty kebab, on a date. “I might do, I say. But what is so interesting about this?” But he is right, any thing nice is worth talking about. We eat kebab and talk about how we hope that one day soon, we might be feeling relaxed about things, we might be carefree and happy once again with family and friends filtering through the house. We hope this Virus will one day be gone for good. We hope that his mum will not get too depressed being in complete isolation in Wales. We hope my brother Steven doesn’t become ill while he is being shielded in Lancashire. We hope Hugh comes out of Southport hospital soon and is able to breathe easily, we hope Susan is coping with the death of her mother and the feelings of grief and despair. We hope that my chest X-ray will show nothing nasty. We hope I raise enough money to start Alison’s bereavement charity. We hope sister Becky will get through her divorce unscathed and once again travel on a happy track of love. We hope one day we will have forgotten to speak Martian and Venutian as it does us no good and as we look out over the hill to the dry quarry that sits in the lush landscape in front of us we hope that one day, all this will be something we remember with wise nods and knowing frowns. And as we know, hope is the last thing to die, we continue to hope and later we are reminded of the power of this little word as it sits in a soap suspended on a rope. The Beatles said that Love is All You Need, but I think that love is nothing without a little bit of hope, hope that the love keeps growing and that it doesn’t all come to an end, like a road that stops.

I am making lovely gift sets of bath bombs and soaps that can be bought for £14:99 and posted anywhere in the UK. Sets have the limited edition of Hope in the Soap on a Rope (because it is too good for the isolation station and I have only made six) so if you would like a bath or shower gift box donate at least £14.99 to my fund raiser and message me details of where you would like it to be posted to and any message you would like to include (Post in the UK) and I will send it for you. I have 47 days to go and still a lot to raise! And you see! Soap has its benefits! Let’s all hope I get there!

Thank you dears for reading my ramblings. I am still trying ever so hard to raise money so that I can start the Alison Bereavement Society Charity to support those who are bereft. If you feel generous right now, click on the linkety link and give us your money. Or tell your friends and they can give us theirs.

Now off you pop to be alert and socially distant and happy. Love your spouse, call your parents, send some flowers, stroke the faces of your children, tell those you love that you really do love them, say sorry for your wrong doings, forgive those who have hurt you and enjoy your time on planet Earth. And remember, hope is the last thing to die.

Until next time

Mary xxx


Blog 9 Funerals and Soap

Hello dears, how are we all? It has been a strange kind of week. I have heard from my sister Elizabeth in Italy who can’t sleep since lockdown has eased and face masks are in place. I don’t think she is drinking enough wine, I tell her. Drink more. This might help. And sister Rebecca has decided that instead of buying a poodle she wants to be a cowgirl. A cowgirl I ask her, I am intrigued? How do you do that? “You go for a week to Texas herding cattle with real cowboys, do you fancy it?” I think I do, although not sure how happy husband would feel if I take off for a week of horses and cowboy boots when not long ago I came back from New York New York. (More about this later) But who wants to travel anywhere soon, anyway? I think of Rebecca skilfully swinging a lasso above a rhinestone studded powder blue stetson mounted on a white stallion – its tail swishing as she clings on with her slim denim thighs. I try to think of myself on a horse behind her but I don’t have the same vision. My hair is in my face and my stetson has fallen off, my horse is stumpy and has poop at its rump, and probably some foam at the bitt. She is lean and sparkling and I am untidy and wobbly and bumping up and down. I question how much I might get out of herding cattle in Texas, apart from saddle sore. Rebecca probably wants to fall in love, again, I think. With a cowboy. Not a bad idea. Send me a link, I say. I will ask Oliver.

And the AHHH – or rather the ‘R’ which Boris has come up with is not worth the power point it is printed on as according to a skilled mathematician I heard on the radio, ‘R’ doesn’t really exist. Ahhh, that is such a shame! And to think that the Rolling letter that can be delivered with such exprrressive spit is unrrrreliable when deciding who is greatly threatened by Covid-19 next? It’s not funny. But it is still in place. I watch with trrrrepidation.


I talk to my beloved godson Henry. He is my personal young doctor practicing in the Midlands – he calls to find out how I am doing. We talk about breathlessness, coughing fits and time. He thinks I should go for an X-ray but when I tell him that the doctor just keeps telling me on the phone to give it time though she can’t say how much time as we don’t know enough about the virus and its aftermath. Henry declares the doctor is naughty. I can think of another word to describe the doctor but don’t share it with him, as I take my godmotherly duties seriously. We waltz around the conversation again about coughing, bricks in my chest and time and come to the same conclusion about X-rays and naughty doctors for not sending me for a scan. On our last turn with the same words and this time laughter I realise, I may never find the answer to the question, am I ever going to feel ‘normal’ again? You will Mary, but it can take ages, he reassures me. We decide the breathlessness can also be attributed to anxiety at not knowing when I will feel normal again. It appears I am in a vicious cycle. The next day, I can breathe freely. Covid recovery is lengthy, annoying and worrying and it makes you really sad. I am now an expert in tears.

As well as being busy with anxiety and coughing I have began to covet my neighbours pizza oven even though the good book says that I shalt not! It’s the stuff of dreams. Rustic and built with reclaimed sleepers and some horse poo, a bit of field and found bricks. I love it. I socially distance my way up to see Stuart and his beloved wife Rachel who live atop a hill surrounded by musical notes and butterflies. Stuart was the one who built the oven – a beautiful clay dome on legs and we discuss the challenges of slicing into ancient railway sleepers. We admire the space where once the timber was attached to a rail track and I think of people travelling freely, in a distant steam filled decade, well dressed and deserved of the finer things in life – like potted shrimps and the freedom to travel in carriages above railway lines. I admire Stuart’s legs – he screwed them together himself. Not that long ago I tasted the goodness that came out of this pizza oven and to have one in our own garden makes perfect mozzarella sense. Delicious hot pizza. Ahh.

I brake the good news to Oliver who is elated to find that he can now, once again, go to the river to fish. I am going to build a pizza oven, do you want to help me? Not today my darling honey bunny he says, I am going fishing. When are you going I ask? Five o’clock, he says tightening his rod with the face of a 12 year old looking at a new BMX. That’s wonderful I say, please can you bring me some clay from the river bed. He looks at me. Que? For the pizza oven, I remind him. I need to mix clay with sand and poo and stuff, you find it in the river. Blank look again. It’s for the pizza oven, I say. The one I have been coveting, remember? Sure he remembers, and on his way out he forgets to take the bucket for the clay. Rrrrrr!

As well as chasing sleepers online I have been busy with making soap and bath bombs for my charity. We can’t get away from the fact that although this virus restricts movement, hinders hugs, instills fear and rattles teacher unions, it is still killing people. A lot of people. And this is the sombre reality. Many more people are still very ill and may not make it.

This week I took a service for a friend whose lovely mum went to hospital for a hip replacement and was swept away by the disgusting covid. Her recovery was ripped away along with her life. What keeps ringing in my ears during this pandemic apart from the words ‘daily death toll’ is ‘underlying health conditions‘. And it makes me mad. No one is ever ready to die, and especially no one is ever ready to lose a mother, no matter what the underlying health conditions might be. There were still days to be lived, lessons to be taught and learned, words to be spoken and hands to be held, no matter how thin the skin or how many underlying health conditions someone might live with. Lives are still worth living and saving.

Claire had a beautiful coffin laden with spring colours and flowers and we said goodbye to her under the sunlight accompanied by birdsong. I knew Claire, and she was funny and feisty and underlying health conditions or not, she was taken too soon and without warning. She has left a silence in what was once her home and a void in the lives of her husband and family. So very sad.

As we came away from the natural burial sight the funeral director Adam showed me his leg. He pulled up his trouser, it was black and blue after he had been butted by his billy goat. That might learn him. He then showed me the far section of the burial ground which was lush with trees that mark each resting places. I would like to be buried somewhere like this, I said. ‘Ahh yes’, he said ‘and we will know which plot is yours won’t we Mary, it will be the one with the little stall at the end of it selling soaps and bath bombs.’ “Haaaaarrr, you are so funny, Adam”, I say. He agreed with me.

On the drive home I think of the new fragrances which have been delivered – lime, basil and mandarin, ahhhh, and parma violet. Grapefruit and honeysuckle, ahhhhh! And once home, I get to down to some proper work. Mixing oils and luscious ingredients and forming shapes, moulding, bagging, tying, pricing and driving down to the isolation soap station at the bottom of the road to lay them in their places for sales. A ten pound note waits for me. Ahhhhh wow! I am building up a customer base. I consider selling them online.

That night I get a call from my twin friends. Sarah and Paula. They are in lockdown in Dubai and we have missed each other since our trip to New York New York in January. We are on zoom together and reminisce about the city that never sleeps that is still being crippled by the covid curse. We talk about the workers in the diners, the tour busses and the theatre who will all now be out of work. The hotel we partied in will now be deserted. The roads will be quiet, the vodka bottle that filled our glasses will be sat covered with dust in a shuttered bar on 5th Avenue. The waiters that served us in Central Park will be out of pocket, the streets empty, the people silenced, the viral fear hovering above everyone. How we took for granted the freedom to walk amongst the locals and hum Paul Simon songs as we trod the pavements that hosted tall and beautiful buildings. As we drink our Zoom spritzers we laugh about Paula suffering from alcohol indulgence and my midnight wanderings in search of rooftop discos so that I could dance, but I could never find. We ‘ahh’ at the perfect burger we ate that time, and the stillness of the Twin Towers Memorial park where there were little pockets of snow in the flower beds. We talk about how one day, we will see each other again after the covid curse is lifted and begin to make plans to once again walk some city streets, probably Liverpool in October. Paula sings Coco Cabana through the phone screen to my daughter and we giggle like children. We are all still children, I decide.

After making one last batch of grapefruit and orange zest bath bombs yesterday I speak with another lady whose husband has passed away. She tells me through her tears, there was no one like him, he was such a gentleman. He was taken too soon and I couldn’t be with him at the end. All his life he made me happy. and I couldn’t be with him at the end. I feel so awful she says, he was the most wonderful man. I believe her. After the service next week I hope to introduce her to the idea of getting together with others going through the same pain. I shall tell her about the Alison Bereavement Society and hope that this might shine a little bit of light at the end of her dark tunnel of sadness.

Until next time darlings, thank you for reading, thank you for donating and thank you for caring. I have now raised £5845 which is pretty amazing! Just £1155 to go! I am sure we can get there. Please share this blog and keep alert, keep your face masks on whatever you do don’t stand or sit next to anyone who is coughing, like I did!!!!!

Lots of love,




Blog 8 – Love in the Time of Covid

Hello dears. How are we all? Well, I hope. I am almost fully recovered although it has taken longer than I ever thought, we are on week 7 and I still sometimes struggle with breathing. But I am so much better than I was. I am back to work too which helps keep the focus.

When I feel full of oxygen and hope, I go the garden with husband who has become very handy lately. A proper Percy Thrower. He was getting tired of me asking him to fire up the chainsaw so he bought me a hedge trimmer online. Apart from thrice severing the lead I now have a very tidy box hedge. And a healthy yew bush. Anyway, enough of my topiary, how are you?

I suppose like me you are getting very good at face time and using distinct intonations when talking on the phone, which takes up so much oxygen, don’t you think? And never again in my life will I take Oxygen for granted. Never.

So today I thought I would write about love which I believe is as essential as oxygen and yet not as readily available. I spend my days in such quiet contemplation in this lockdown isolation and recently it is love and those in my heart that continue to come to mind. I can think of worse things to think of. So I don’t. Love love love. Here we go.

The other evening whilst pondering the kitchen skirting boards I had a video call with my Uncle Phil. He had upgraded to a smart phone and so pressed the little video recorder under my name and then there he was, in the kitchen with me, on a screen, in my hands. Phil! What a nice surprise. I wondered if he was wearing an ill fitting belt? Turns out he was wearing a guitar strap attached to a guitar which quickly changed our conversation from the ethics of furlough, to Pink Floyd. He then sang a song, Wish You Were Here. It was nice. Although I couldn’t see him as he played. Due to his stage fright I had to be placed on the floor. I got to see something that looked like Uncle Philip’s kitchen skirting boards. There seemed to be a theme developing.

I love my Uncle Philip. When I see him, I see my mum. Her blue eyes and soft mouth. They are from the Warburton clan, which is made up of gentle artistic wise people, who are passive and loving. Years ago, after my mum died, I couldn’t look at him without crying, he is so like her. He is so precious to me, Uncle Philip. Maybe because when I was very young he used to let me steer his green VW Beetle down lanes with tall hedges. He was probably my only older relative that never sent me away to look for four leaf clovers. I used to spend hours looking for four leaf clovers at the bottom of the hill not far from the kitchen door. I was always so keen to please. And I found loads – to my relatives’ surprise and I found them so quickly too! It only took me forty years to realise they were just trying to get me out of the house for some peace, no doubt. I honestly thought they wanted a four leaf clover. Anyway, they are out there, four leaf clovers, you just have to look really hard for them.

The Beetles, ACDC, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and motor bike chains in roasting tins coming out of Nana’s oven, more or less sums up my childhood memories of Uncle Philip. He was never that great at the guitar though, still isn’t. He was always kind though and he genuinely cared. I have him to thank for my musical taste and my love of old Volkswagens. At Christmas he was the only uncle who brought us all a present. Usually a video of something he found funny or an album. And then one Christmas he didn’t bother, again. Maybe that was when he considered us all grown up. I say all of us, because we were six and then later, seven children. We had a big table and a big aga and a big barn that had a big beam to run across with nothing underneath it but a big circular wood saw that would scream when it was fired it up and sawing wood. Loads of fields, tonnes of horses and a stream.

During this Covid lockdown, I reflect on those years of growing up. I consider my childhood as though it was a life time ago yet here I am, living the same life. And now that my parents are passed and our family home is someone’s boutique hotel, I sometimes query whether it actually was real or not. Because it’s not there any more; the home, the large table and the barn with the exposed beam for running across, twelve foot in the air. It is as though it has all gone away. And it has gone. All of it. And in its place are these little snap shots called memories of when days were so loving, I can almost taste their sweetness.

I ask Uncle Phil after his sing song, have you read my blog? I have, he said. What are you doing it for? Well, I tell him, I am trying to raise money for those people who are sad and lonely after their loved one dies, I have been inspired by my late friend Alison, do you remember her? Yes, I do remember her, he says. Well then. You should donate Uncle Phil, you really really should. Hahaha. Ok, he doesn’t say to me, I will give you loads of money to help raise enough dosh to make a registered charity. And we laugh some more and joke about his grey hair and then after he is gone from my screen in my hand, I reach for husband’s guitar and for the next forty minutes I am a really awful Taylor Swift. I sing the song Lover. I love it. You know Taylor Swift is a gifted songwriter.

But love, is a wondrous thing don’t you think. The love we have for family the love we have for friends, the love we have for lovers it is wonderful. And now we have time to think, we can think about all those we love, and all those we have lost. Those that are alive, those that stopped living. All those relationships that went wrong, the ones that didn’t even get off the ground. The dates we went on, the ones we declined and we think – well I do anyway – how different things might be now had I said OK, I will go on that walk with you, instead of, no way. What might have happened had I accepted that invitation? Would we want anything to be different from what we have today? I discuss this with husband as his guitar gently weeps. You know what we need, Mary? What I ask? We need a capo, he says. He isn’t wrong.

I speak to my sisters. My youngest sister is having a tough time – she is without a loving relationship and finds it difficult dealing with things on her own and she has a lot to deal with. How things might have been for her, had she just made a different decision than the one she made? I tell her, look as soon as this is all over we are going to take off in campervans and see the coast and be like Neil Oliver, understanding coastal conservation and the archeology of caves. Who is he she asks? We laugh.

We join in to the conversation brother Steven who appears in another little square and has recently had a serious fall so has two black eyes and a very swollen face. He is now in further isolation because he had to go to A&E for stitches to his forehead. He is surrounded by people in masks and plastic aprons but this doesn’t stop us from laughing and reminiscing about our childhood that now seems real, as its confirmed by those I shared it with. We remember the strangest of things. Like when we killed Uncle Johnny.

Our Father, had taken us all on a Mediterranean cruise on the QE2. His work with the dock board had earned him some quirks and he managed to get a corporate rate from Cunard. My mum who was very excited to be sailing in style bought a large red leather trunk in which she would pack all of our clothes and then, following this one trip, the red trunk would be used for housing Christmas decorations and kept in a cupboard under the stairs for the rest of its days.

The QE2 was a magnificent ship. An elegant leisure vessel, with teak decks, black funnels and too many steep stair cases where I would always find myself, lost. I was six. We would eat breakfast at a table adorned with sticky buns and crystal glasses atop white linen and were flanked by mustached waiters. I imagine we made a handsome sight, lots of children, two young parents and one red leather trunk in the cabin.  

The QE2 would be the first time I ever attended a funeral. I was six – although I had to pretend to be 4 so that my father got the full family discount. I used to complain daily to my mum as she tried to have me locked in the nursery – I am not four, I am six. No Mary, she would say, you have to be four. Just for this holiday and then when we get home you can be six again, ok?

On a daily basis we would all run to the ship’s theatre and scream with excitement to be entertained by the children’s entertainer whose stage name was Uncle Johnny. Uncle Johnny was a tall and lean man in his early sixties with a generous mop of grey hair, heavy jowls and a magic wand. He wore a velvet jacket of claret and black dress trousers and he would entertain us all twice a day, one matinee and once again before dinner at the large round table.

We would scream to him UNCLE JOHNNY from our theatre seats and my feet would swing above the diamond patterned carpet. Uncle JOHNNNYYYY! Uncle Johnny would perform magic tricks with cards and water jugs and pull flowers from his sleeves and at the end would get us all to chant his name whilst clapping before he performed the grande finale of pulling a white live rabbit from a black top hat. “Uncle Johnny” Clap clap clap, we would chant over and over and louder and louder. Uncle Johnny Clap clap clap! UNCLE JOHNNY ! UNCLE JOHNNY clap clap clap, clap clap clap. He was great.

He looked pretty exhausted most of the time did poor Uncle Johnny up there on stage under the warm lights, and his hurried march across the stage in black patent shoes was well trod.  He never underperformed, though. Never. Uncle JOHNNYYYYYY we would scream and scream throughout his performance. Mum and dad left us to it. They must have watched the clock all day for the Uncle Johnny Show when they could enjoy cocktails on the deck, without any kids.

And then suddenly, half way through the holiday, there was no Uncle Johnny Show. I was distraught. What do you mean Mum? No Uncle Johnny Show? I was a stubborn as a young child, I have been told, and apparently, I liked to get my own way. I imagine I kicked up such a fuss my mum felt compelled to take me to what would be Uncle Johnny’s true last performance. His burial at sea.

The deck was quiet and I remember clinging to a corner of fabric, sharp in my hand, it was probably my mother’s skirt. I held on to. The ship was not moving and there was a breeze blowing my hair into my eyes. A tall man dressed in black and wearing a white dog collar read mournfully from a red leather book – almost the same colour as Uncle Johnny’s dinner jacket, the one that had the flowers and row of small flags tucked up the sleeves. The vicar was stood in front of a long wooden box that was covered in the Union Jack flag that furled at the edges in the breeze. After a few minutes a sailor dressed in a neat and pressed uniform with white boots played some noises on a trumpet and then there were some very loud and short bangs, no doubt a gun salute. The coffin was then titled and slid over the side of the ship into the dark blue water beneath. Uncle Johnny’s final trick was that he slipped away from under the flag and the flag got to stay where it was, like magic, I thought. And then slowly, people started to move towards a lady dressed in black who had been near the coffin who was holding a very small hanky up to her nose. She wore an elegant black pillbox hat that didn’t blow away in the wind. My mum looked down at me, let’s go back to our cabin, she said. Who is that woman? I asked her pulling at her hand. I didn’t want to leave just yet, Uncle Johnny might have another trick to bounce back out of the water, I thought. That’s his wife, said my mum, his widow. Oh Wow Mum! Lets go and see Mrs Johnny! Please! Please. Please?

My mum was in no way a forceful parent, she was the most gentle and passive of parents – the good cop shall we say. But that morning after Uncle Johnny’s burial at sea, she pulled me up and away from Uncle Johnny’s widow so my arm hurt and my feet left the deck. It was no use. Uncle Johnny had gone and with him, the delight he brought to us all.

I spoke to a lovely widow yesterday. It was a week since I took her husband’s funeral service. It was a desperately sad day. With no thanks to Covid 19 social distancing restrictions, she had to sit alone during the service hugging only herself. We had a nice long chat on the phone about her husband and how much she loved him. She still loves him, even though he no longer lives. When this is all over Mary, she says, we can meet up and I can get to talk to other widows. Yes we can, I said, I have raised over £790 and £100 of that is from soap that I sell at the end of the driveway. That’s amazing she said, I just want to get out and meet people who are in the same boat as me. She tells me again how much she loved her husband and how there was no one like him. I believe her. Love is such a force.

Well that’s all from me folks. If you feel inclined to help the bereaved then help me raise some money for my charity The Alison Bereavement Society that would be wonderful. Thanks for your support and help but most of all, thank you for your love. All of it, as it comes through the airwaves unto me. I love you too.




Blog 7 – In the Camper Van with Mary

Sarah, Mary and Alison Isle of Arran 2017

Welcome dears, to Jed. Here we are in a little old VW camper van. You know the one, the tired white thing on wheels that houses a flippant battery and makes long lasting acquaintances with rust. It smells like an old car your father or great uncle might have driven you in, once – a memory that only shuffles forward in your mind when its remnant fragrances greet your nose. Jed sits obediently on the drive behind the house, waiting to be ignited with the turn of its key. Waiting to squeal with joy at being started up once again. You may think that this is the slipping fan belt that makes such a high pitch when Jed is started, whereas I am sure its the sound of delight. A squeal, a screech, a scream of release. Think of When Harry Met Sally, the cafe scene. This is what I’m talking about. I love this smell. I love this van. I love the fact that I finally feel well enough to come out to play in it. Covid 19 it seems has left left the chest wall building. Yay.

Jed was bought in 2017 for a bag of beans. It is the only vehicle I know where the sound level inside stays at a constant, whether the windows are down, or not. And it doesn’t matter what speed you travel at, or what time you leave, you are only ever going to get to your destination when you get there. Of this you can be sure. It houses, amongst a few spiders and redundant sachets of ketchup the wonder of possibility. It houses hope and dreams of where to go next? You get behind the steering wheel and you don’t see the miles that need to be eaten up, you see the smiles on the faces that are waiting for you. You don’t worry about the stores in the cupboard, you dream of the what might be on the pub menu, if you find one open, when you finally get to the place you are going to. You will eat at a pub table and later sleep in the quiet of the pub car park. In your little parked up van. Always with snoring friends. Amen to that.

When I was 15 Jed was born to Volkswagan. Fifteen was such a good year for me. I loved school, had some great friends and could ride my bike, smoke a cigarette, drink a can of coke and give my friend Siobhan a seater, all at the same time. Now, that is multi tasking. When I was 15 I felt free. Just two more years to wait before I could drive. The following year 16, was going to be even better. I was certain of it.

So when I sit in Jed (aptly named after my dad whose name was not Jed but he liked to refer men he held in high esteem as Jed) I think about all the things we have been through separately and now we are together. We can pool our experience and enjoy some life together. Whoever had Jed before me and before the man who swapped him for a bag of beans, clearly loved this little van. He runs like a dream and when you drive along you feel as though you are in a carriage. There is a bounce to Jed that only some royals may be familiar with. A true bounce.

Our first family trip in Jed – the very day after we exchanged beans – was to Scotland. We were on our way to Harris, and we made it. The scenery to Skye via Glen Coe can only be described as moving. Overlooked by immovable giant munros staggered with waterfalls, we passed soaring peaks which are now memories’ friends when searching for something soothing to think on. But you have to see them to have them. You have to fall in love with them to be able to recall them. I never can understand why people in the UK might go South for holidays when really, the gorgeous stuff is all up North. Trust me. It is beautiful.

We made it all the way to Skye in our helpful Jed, with one night in Glen Nevis and one dinner from a greasy burger van. And from Skye we had to complete our journey on foot thanks to all the over zealous wanna be pioneers, in camper vans, all on their way to the isle of Harris, having booked their ferry ticket early… …. Hmmm. Anyways, luckily for us we had friends Calum and Karen to meet us. And we had family accommodation awaiting us with smiles and love where their two young sons could amuse our two young daughters. When we arrived at Scott and Margaret’s house that looks over the coast we were met with the sweet siren of Scott’s bag pipes as they were played with skill, heart and a tapping toe. We had arrived, albeit in their car, and we were welcome. So very welcome.

If you haven’t ever been to harris I urge you to go. Though if you do go in a camper van make sure you book the ferry from Uig in advance, so as to avoid disappointment. On Harris the ground is thick and rolling with fertile peat and the waters are like stewed tea; dark and honest. The beaches that tempt you with their sublime sands, cast lights low and subtle over lunar rocks. There are no trees yet the place is lush with green cushioned terrain dotted with cleansed sheep who own the right of way. And just when you think you can capture the beauty of the light and the scenery and get the children in an orderly fashion to pose for a photograph, the picture changes. The wind conjures a fury and a meteorological dimmer switch moves everything from blue white to a sombre grey. With or without rain drops. Only to light up once again, eleven minutes later and burn your nose.

On Harris there are a few restaurants and we found one of them. It was open from six until 9 and fully booked. I wondered after we left the restaurant into the sea warm winds towards home, why do they have to close so early? And in the sound of the nothing as it tinkered above the grass I found my answer. Those that worked there, if not serving a fully packed restaurant, were permitted to go home, coorie up and just …. think. You have some lovely thoughts in a place such as Harris, its a place for dreaming up words to be said or dreams to be lived, you just have to give yourself to the tempo. Yet, ironically the time on Harris can hurry by, faster than the train that isn’t there.

Another great trip done in Jed was later the same year when I took Alison away for a while to give her a break from her gruelling cancer treatment. I met her directly from the London to York train and hurried her into the front seat. Right then I said, no excuses, you can now have a mini break. We drove straight up the M1 then we did a left to pick up Sarah from Carlisle and made it up to Dumfries to spend the night laughing that the name Dumfries – which does not represent daft chips – and wondering where the nearest toilet might be. And what to do if someone came and asked us to leave. We had parked the van in a lay by just a meter from a sign that said, ‘no overnight parking’. After some thought and googling for the nearest police station we decided that the only way we might get moved on would be if there was a busy body out and about in the morning. We decided if someone challenged our parking options, we would all be from a very foreign county, unable to read or speak English. That should get us out of a sticky situation, we decided.

The next day we crossed to Arran on a ferry that had enough space for us. And whilst driving around the perimeter of the heighty mighty Isle we discovered the joy of stopping and putting the kettle on. Just because we could. A kettle in a big car with a bed, could you want for anything more than this? Everything was going fine until the following morning I washed the breakfast dishes in a puddle next to the beach. Alison certainly was a stickler for hygiene. Don’t worry I protested, as soon as we get to some hot water, I will give them a proper wash. When we stopped for lunch we found seals and I saw in the still bay a submarine that came up and them went down again. I looked at my friends. Did anyone else see the submarine that just came up for a bit and then went back down? No, they said, we would have noticed that! But might they have? Sadly therefore, I can’t say for certain that I did see the top of a submarine and even if I did, it’s best not to be too sure of it. For British Intelligence sake.

The last time I took Jed for a stretch away was last summer. My sister Marianne and me went to St Andrews via the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. What a riot Edinburgh is during the Fringe. Bursting with bevies of extroverts – mostly in knickers – trying with all their might to push theatrical boundaries and entertain anyone. In contrast, St Andrews is saturated with hopeful academics earnestly aiming to fit the mould and please their parents. We cooked fillet steak and drank red wine, Marianne cooked green beans in a tin cup. We talked about our parents, our children our loves and friends. We camped next to the old pier and were awoken at dawn by fishermen leaving early to catch the tide.

On our return journey over the boarder and down the A1 we decided to try the road to Lindas Farne Holy Island. A couple of miles down the road we found ourselves in a queue. Perfet timing! We just had to wait for the water to go down and then we could make our way to the island which was usually cut off by the tide and time. And so we waited and waited and ate some chocolate biscuits until I had the brave idea of just going for it. Are you sure, asked my unsure sister. There are a lot of people watching us. Look, they waiting for the water to go down, they will see us.

Marianne, I say, do you think I would be driving Jed with such aplomb if I cared that people are watching? I started the engine that squealed with joy and off we drove, careful and considerate not to drown. Jed is higher than other cars and the timetable says we can go now, I told her, we will be fine. But what about the hole, asked Marianne? And then, a friendly chap with a generous face put his head through the window and hindered our acceleration. I pulled the handbrake. You are going for it then? He asked, you gonna’ do it? Hmmm I thought. Go away, I didn’t say to the strange head at my window.

Yes, we are but Mary has a hole! Yelped Marianne to the wide mouth stranger. There is hole, so we might get wet! she told him.

Marianne, I said, stop telling everyone about my hole and it’s not a hole so much as a space with some van missing.

Mary, she tells me in a very elderly sister kind of way, You have a hole over the wheel on the drivers door. She has a hole! She sings to the stranger in the window once again. I wind the window up, bid the stranger farewell, get the revs up, release the handbrake and make the journey. Marianne, I say, stop going on about the hole! Think of other things. Like the height of the water, it looks low enough to make it. Why do you have to tell that strange man about my hole it’s none of his business?

We clenched our knees and slowly drove into the flow of the cause way. Look, you see! I said, It’s not coming in. And so on we went. A journey that can not be turned back from, in a van with a hole, over water, with folk watching. What could go wrong?

Sister was right, the hole was going to play a part in the crossing as the water was so much deeper than we had anticipated. Salt water came through the hole and drenched my galoshes and we screamed along with the fan belt. And when the fan belt stopped its screeching we continued ours, until we reached the dry part of our destination and then we cheered. Yes, we made it, even though we had a hole on our way to Holy Island. What do you want to do first I asked Marianne as we parked in a huge and spacious car park with so much choice of parking spaces. I want to eat something she said, all that excitement has made me hungry. So we walked to the nearest cafe, me with a wet right foot, and Marianne ate a dressed crab salad with real salad cream. And a cup of tea. A perfect day, hole or no hole.

Its all times like these I think about the places we have visited and how each destination was reached with such ease and joy. And even though we can talk to family and friends on the phone it’s just not the same as firing up an engine and burning some fuel to get to their smiling faces. Smiling faces in the flesh are something to behold and enjoy, just like a dressed crab salad and a proper cup of tea.

Until next time


Forgot to say, if you want to help me raise money to start a charity to help our fellow humans through grief then please do click here and make a small donation. I have raised so far £630 which is amazing! Thank you every one for your wonderful support but above all, for your love and smiling faces.



BLOG 6 – Brother Steven

Steven Caddick

A blog to help raise money for the Alison Bereavement Society

Well Sunday 5th April was a good day. I made it from the edge of the bed to the garden chair. Sat for a while covered in blankets and was driven out buy Husband in the car to look at the daffodils at the side of the road. I now know how it feels to be ninety nine a hundred. I also now know why the elderly don’t like to drive fast. Going fast in a car takes energy, just to hold yourself still as the car speeds around corners. This, believe it or not, makes you tired. I am not thankful for this knowledge.

How are you ? I hear you ask. Well let me tell you. One minute you feel normal and have a conversation with your sister who sends you videos of wild boar roaming the streets of Padova and the next minute you are in bed nursing an aching chest.

Also, I had made a promise to myself not to watch the news but curiosity got the better of me last night and I watched some. What a harrowing time for the world and its human occupants. I am so sorry for everyone.

The good news is that my fundraiser has now made £600! How good is that! Which means that when I get back on my feet I can keep fundraising and putting the money to good use. But don’t click on the link just yet, stay with me a while. I have a story.

            Not watching the news is a wonderful way of putting on ‘blinkers’ to help protect the mental health of the household. Everyone has imaginary blinkers, they shield you from seeing things that make you feel afraid. It’s up to you whether you put them on or not.

            Lots of horses wear blinkers, for good reason. Which reminds me of when a horse broke our house due to not wearing his blinkers. This happened a long time ago.

When I think back to my childhood, it is divided with a marker. The time before my brother Steven was hit by a car on the way to school, which left him physically and mentally disabled, and the time that came after my brother Steven was hit by car, on the way to school, which left him physically and mentally disabled. So life has always been divided with; before Steven’s accident and after Steven’s accident. BSA and ASA, if you like acronyms. I never use acronyms. 

            I can’t remember exactly when the horse broke our house, the precise date, but I was young and it was certainly after Steven’s accident. We lived in a red brick farm house surrounded by fields and stables, barns, and outbuildings and a huge riding school that had a heavy door that almost took sister Rebecca’s thumb off. It was the perfect place to bring up six children. Five girls and one boy, Steven.

He was a wonderful, kind brother. Steven. He was gentle and always up for a game of rolling down the hill or playing chase around the sofa. And when he got a scalextric set for Christmas, he let me share. He had big blue eyes and thick dark hair, olive skin and a wide smile.

It’s not easy to write about what happened to Steven that morning when his life was changed forever. I know there are some people who may be reading this and have by now closed the tab because they can’t face remembering what happened to his beautiful twelve year old body as it got thrown up into the air on the A59 and then found it’s way back to the road again. Head first. Whilst on his way to catch the school bus. He had been hit by an off duty police officer. He was on his way home in his own car.

I had been eating a hard boiled egg at the breakfast table and squashing the yolk into the toasted soldier with the back of my spoon when my sister Marianne ran through the kitchen door, looking up and crying to my dad. It’s Steven, she said. He is on the road.

My father, ran out of the house and vaulted over the stone wall putting his hands to the left and swinging his feet the right. I watched him through the kitchen window. He ran up the small lane that connected our home to the A59 dual carriage way in just his socks. I carried on eating my egg that stuck in my throat.

After the tears and crying with confusion in the kitchen I wandered off to find my sister Deborah with Marianne in our parents’ bedroom.

Did Steven have blood coming out of his ears Deborah asked Marianne? Did you see blood in his ears? Marianne cried. I think so, yes. I don’t know, I can’t be sure. I listened to them and played with a hairbrush that was sat on top of the white fireplace. Well, that means that he will probably be brain damaged, said Deborah. And when he was lying on the road were his eyes opened or closed? Did he blink? Asked Deborah. His eyes were closed said Marianne. Closed. Well that means he isn’t dead then, said Deb. How do you know that I asked her? I just do, she said, I saw it on the TV, if there is blood coming out of the ears it’s serious. But don’t you worry Mary, ok. Go and play. Go and play.

So I left the house, crossed the drive and went to talk to Paula in the tack room. She was so cool, Paula. She managed the livery stables. I told her whilst looking at the bright ribbons of the rosettes hanging against the dust on the white stable wall, my brother has been run over by a car.

I hope he is OK, she said. He will be fine I’m sure, she said. Do you know if he is ok, she asked?

I think he has a broken leg and blood in his ear, I reply. There is a box of Mars bars on the corner of the windowsill, left over from the last horse show. I want one.

Paula looked at me. She was only about 20. She drove a motorbike, wore a leather jacket with tassels, smoked thin rolled cigarettes and smelt of petunia oil. She stank. Do you want to help me mix the sugar beet and feed the horses? I looked at her narrow face, her silk straight dark hair and the minute silver stud in her nostril. I admired the cigarette smoke as it streamed thick and curling from her thin nose. Yes, ok, I said, and off we went to feed the horses.

The morning following Steven’s accident, the phone didn’t stop ringing. Was he alright, people asked? They had heard it on the news, they said. Was he dead, they asked? I heard my mum talk into the phone and she told them that he had died, and that he had been brought back. Resuscitated. This had happened to him twice. She kept saying, he’s a fighter. He’s a little fighter. He is so, so strong. And as soon as she replaced the receiver the phone would trill again. Ring ring ring ring…….

I would sit on the stairs picking at the wool carpet, out of sight and listen to my mother’s soft voice. We just have to keep praying, she said. We just have to keep praying that he will be pull through. He’s a fighter. She sounded so calm. She wasn’t racing around howling and throwing her arms in the air, as you might imagine one would on finding out their only son, not yet a teenager, has been hit by a car that has left him with a broken skull and shattered bones and been resuscitated, twice. No. She was calm.

And that was the day that put the marker in my childhood. All that was wonderful was now behind us.

Just like that, a whole world changed. Everything went from good to bad. Nothing was ever the same again. Not that I can really remember that much up until that point other than, riding bareback over stubble fields, skiing down a hill and laughing at my frozen gloves and watching my dad dig and build a swimming pool and engraving my name in the setting cement between two stone flags, on his instruction. Put your name and the date, Mary, he said. And I did. Mary Caddick I etched with a twig into the setting concrete, 1976. And Steven wrote his name, too. We all did, I think. That was the year of a fantastic heatwave and family and friends were getting tired of lying around in the field, so Dad built us all a pool to keep cool.

My brother Steven was in a coma for months and moved from Ormskirk to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. I wasn’t allowed to go and see him or take him sweets. I wanted to see he was ok, now that he had come back from being dead, twice. But I wasn’t allowed. I missed him. When my nana Warburton went to see him in Ormskirk hospital, I was excited that she would come back with some happy news. But she just stood in the corner of the kitchen crying into her thin handkerchief. What’s up Nana I asked her? She looked at her sister, my Aunty Dot. Oh Dot, she said, his head was like a balloon.

A balloon, I think. That’s strange. I thought of my brother in a hospital bed and in place of his head and beautiful face, was a red balloon attached to his body. With a ribbon. That didn’t make much sense. I left them to their tears and embraces. And tried to figure it out. But I couldn’t.

A balloon?

When I finally got to visit my brother it was many months later – I don’t know how many -and he was in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. I walked down a blue corridor and was so excited, I was going to see Steven. I saw two women walking towards us, both holding on to each other crying. It looked a very sad thing to see, two women crying together. Maybe they have got cancer, I thought. That must be what has made them both very sad at the very same time. I knew that cancer was something to be sad about, but that was all.

When I got to see Steven he was in a ward and he was awake. I never saw him in his coma. I never saw my dad put headphones to his ears and play him cassettes of harp music and another recorded tape of Liverpool football players who had all recorded messages of support and encouragement for Steven, to wake him up. Which had worked its magic. I got to see my brother only when he was up and awake and ready to face the world.

But when I looked at him he didn’t quite look back at me. I said hello and gave him a hug but he just dribbled. My mum was trying to feed him scrambled eggs. Hello Steven. Hello, it’s me Mary. I wanted him to look at me and smile but he didn’t. He sniffed as he tried to swallow some of his breakfast. I began to cry. This isn’t like him. He was changed. He was different. He had a huge white cast on his left leg and his arm was contracted to the side of his body in a spasm. He had suffered damage to his brain with the impact of his accident and his big blue eyes were sunken with dark shadows under them. My Aunty was there and she comforted me. I know it’s hard, she said, but he will get better. He has to learn to walk again. She took me outside. And talk? I asked her. He didn’t say, hello. Yes, she said, he has to learn to do everything, all over again. This was alarming and, this was the reality of the rest of his life. Damaged. Disabled. Altered. Hurt.

A few years later, when a horse broke our house, I wasn’t alarmed. The horse’s owner, a lady with comically thick face make up, who wore large tinted glasses which made her eyes look like they were swimming away from you, was the reason behind the catastrophe.  She had tacked her horse up to a trap in the stable yard, and was training it to get used to bearing the weight.

The thundering sound of the hooves that came galloping towards the house away from the yard as it tried to bolt from the contraption behind him, didn’t frighten me. It made me wonder what was going on but I wasn’t afraid. She followed the horse waving and screaming with her arms in the air.

And when the house shook with the impact of the carriage as it flung into the corner of the house where the washing machine was kept, and we heard snapping wood and neighing and bricks falling. That didn’t alarm me, either. No.

What frightened me was that the woman, who was a skilled horse person, who had been talking for months about introducing her beautiful bay horse to a trap, it was she, the owner of the four legged beast who almost brought down the side of the house, she, had forgotten to put the blinkers on him. That’s what had frightened me.

Blinkers first, then the rest of the tack and then the contraption to be pulled. Everyone knows that.

But she had forgotten to put them on.

That is what scared me the most. That one person can be so responsible for the destruction and pain and suffering of one animal, one side of the house. One young boy on his way to school. It just takes one person. One decision. One slip of the mind and all things can be altered. All things can change.

The blinkers that would have hidden the fact that the horse was physically attached to something would have prevented the horse bolting. The horse – I remember being told he was OK – I never saw again. But that was my mum telling me, that the horse was ok. The adult me today, can guess that the horse probably was not, ok. The blinkers would have saved the horse, too. For sure.

So, what is the point in all this? Well here it is.

We all have a lot of scary stuff behind us and sometimes it helps to apply our own emotional blinkers. You aren’t denying the bad things are there by using blinkers, you are merely channeling your focus and not paying attention to sadness in the past or fear in the present. It is ok to limit information that may frighten you and make you want to run, like a bay horse, into the side of a large red brick farmhouse. It’s the same when choosing not to watch the constant Coronavirus news bulletins. And don’t confuse blinkers with putting your head in the sand, it’s not the same thing. Blinkers can help. Burying your head is just daft.

I speak to my brother Steven most nights, he calls me from the Brain Rehabilitation Unit in Haydock, where he lives. His voice is soft like a pillow and as gentle as sable. It is low, slow and considered when he says, Hello Mary how are youuuu?

We talk about whether he has had a nice day? What he did. I went to Physio today, he purrs. Oh nice I say, I would love to go to physio. Would you, why? Because I have got an aching back from this bloody Coronavirus, Ste. I hope you haven’t got it. You haven’t really got it have you, Mary? No brother. I don’t have it. I just have an aching back and then we both say, Ahhhh and chuckle.

We talk about the weather, our sisters, what we had for dinner. Lots of things. I tell him I love him and speak to him tomorrow. He doesn’t have a cough and he is well. All is good in the world. And he is happy.

Don’t watch the news, I say, before I hang up. Ok, I won’t. Why not?

Because it’s just full of very scary stuff. Promise me you won’t watch the news. Put you blinkers on.

Blinkers? What are you talking about now Mary, and he laughs. Just take care I say and don’t watch the news. Ok, I won’t. He says. And then he calls my name, Hey, Mary!

Yes Steven.

 I’m going to go now ok, goodbye darling. Goodbye darling, I say. I love you, he says.

And I love you Steven Caddick.

Until next time readers. Blinkers on and, walk on.