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On 26th April 2007, my Granddad died. It was not a shock or surprise – I'd been visiting him in various hospital wards on and off since the October before, when he turned yellow and they said he was dying. My Granddad was 87. The death of an old man, I am told, is not a tragedy... and yet here I am, in one of a string of Starbucks branches in my life, on 14th November 2009, trying not to cry about it.

Whatever is about to follow, it is not sane or sensible like CS Lewis' A Grief Observed. I make no remark or comment upon religion or the possibility of God. I know what I hope for (rather than necessarily believe) and to be honest, it doesn't matter. The grief does not reduce if I say 'I believe in God' and does not dissolve if I believe I shall be reunited with any of my lost people in Heaven. The grief itself is what it is, and no spirituality has particularly lessened it so far, so I discount it from this ramble.

I feel that I am well-used to grief in its forms. I have to be, listening to the music I do. Just yesterday someone asked if I was ever going to find someone alive to listen to. “Find me someone good,” I replied.

The deep, lasting grief I have for my departed heroes is nothing to this. As ever, all sorts of little things have conspired to get me to this point. It was Remembrance Day on Thursday and all I could think of was my Granddad (who survived) and all his friends of the time (who didn't). He carried the physical and mental scars of the Second World War for the rest of his life, and not for the first time I mused that in fact, nobody exactly survived the War so much as didn't die right away.


It's also his birthday on Monday. He'd be 90. I got the day off to go see him, but my dad asked me to go with him tomorrow (Sunday) and I'm not so set on it that I'd say no to him, right? To add to that, it's the Lord Mayor's Show today (right now, in fact). When I was a child, I always used to ask my dad to come up for it from our home in Suburbia. He didn't always say yes. Truth to tell, I don't give a rat's arse about the Lord Mayor's Show, but I knew then that if we were to go to the Show, we'd go to Granddad's. The Lord Mayor's Coach used to be prepared at the brewery where my Granddad worked... the Lord Mayor's Show to me, is all about Granddad. For the first time in I-don't-know-how-many-years, I have come outside into the rain to see the Show. Certainly, it's the first time since he died that I've come out for it. We're not talking about a great deal of effort – I live what, five minutes away from the parade route? Like I say, coming to the Show was always about coming to Granddad.

Most of you know that I now live in the flat that was his home for 25 years. For the last two of those, he had a noisy, messy flatmate who didn't wash up properly and insisted on watching old movies all the time. Those days were probably some of the happiest I'll ever know. I had a deep old trough of depression partway through it, but I don't think (rather, I hope) it didn't show to him. It wasn't owt to do with him. I now regret, deeply, spending as much time on the computer as I did, or going back to Suburbia to the parentals as much as I did. I want to claw back every single second not spent in his company. I want doesn't get, as I have learned bitterly before. The truly terrible thing about death is that finality – there's no going back, no correction of mistakes, no redressing of balances. There is nothing now that can be done to atone for my shortcomings towards him and that leaves me bitterly, desperately ashamed.

Ah. The Show has passed by this way now, and Starbucks is now full of damp people requiring warm drinks and searching for seats. I am dry and drinking ice at a window table. In spite of wanting to cry, I am a little smug. A lot smug and planning to visit the Bank of England Museum soon...

I'm getting off the point, which is simple: It once more occurs to me that grief doesn't die. It just changes, or we change.

One More Recent Granddad Moment: I was just talking to someone at work on Friday about random things – she sold me my signed copy of Top Priority by Rory Gallagher – and we got onto the subject of the record store that used to be on *Redacted* Street, where I live. And she said 'oh, my bloke used to work at the brewery'. Well, you could've stopped my heart right there. I asked when that was. The right period of time to have known my old man, it turns out. I mentioned his name to her and asked if she might see if her fellow might remember my Granddad. I hope he does. How unexpectedly the world can twist and turn. Also yesterday, I got into a conversation with my friend at work, Phil, about the year my Granddad died. He said, unsolicited, that I seemed to cope with it all pretty well, especially for one of my tender years. I disagreed, so he said that it seemed that way. I admitted to him that I hardly remember chunks of that time. There's about six months' worth of stuff just missing. I mean, I just existed. I know theoretically that I watched M*A*S*H constantly. I could even look on Blockbuster.co.uk and tell you what DVDs I rented. I could read back on this blog for those times... but I don't really remember a lot of it. The bits I do remember don't always reflect much credit on me.

Lewis talked about the 'invisible blanket' between the world and himself in the second paragraph of A Grief Observed. Two pages later, he speaks of the laziness of grief. These two are my familiar friends. I was lazy enough to begin with, but in those days I hardly moved around at all. Everything felt like an effort hardly worth making. I know it took me months to move into the main bedroom, and even longer to clean out the bathroom cabinets of my Granddad's stuff – Imperial Leather soap will forever be associated with him – and I still haven't cleaned out the kitchen drawers properly. I mean, it's all stuff I probably need, but I haven't touched it, two and a half years later. Including the boot polish – and I really should polish up some of my shoes and boots... I'm not sure how useful I'll find the set of darts, but hey ho. The laziness of grief... that old friend which persuaded me to leave everything until tomorrow. Scarlett O'Hara's motto became my excuse, and I knew even then that actually, tomorrow would be much the same as today. I sat and waited for the tomorrows to pass until another day really did come along.

If my mum hadn't taken over things and redecorated the living room and the main bedroom (to my specifications, to be fair) in the months following the old man's deceasement, they'd still all look like they did in March 2007. I wouldn't have done it. 90% of my possessions are now at home – and this is my home – and the rest is unimportant stuff in my parentals' attic, but the phone number is still listed as GRANDDAD in my mobile phone. I wouldn't, incidentally, replace my broken phone until T-Mobile transferred the pictures (of Granddad) onto the new one. Fortunately, my brother works at my parents' local T-Mobile store and worked really hard to sort it out for me.

Speaking of that younger brother of mine, I also clearly remember now sitting at my Granddad's side at the hospice. When we realised he had died (it was very slow and gradual. I honestly think me and my brother might have been at lunch when it really happened), it was my brother who hugged me first. He was never as close to the old man as me (who the hell was?) but when it was important, he was there. I don't even just mean that day – I mean a day a week or so before. It was fucking glorious: one of his last Good Days, me and my dad and Mikey and Granddad sat there laughing, joking and the usual piss-takery that was our schtick. It was glorious and Mikey didn't have to be there: he chose to be. He's a good kid when it comes down it. It was a day to remember, man. Maybe that was really our Last Goodbye... one final moment in the sunlight before the dark shadows and clouds closed in on me.

The last week was agony of a sort: the bus from work to the hospice was almost the bright spot, the warm, stuffy hospice, the kind nurses, the uncomfortable chairs, the book of Linda McCartney photographs in the Quiet Room I clung to the second I found my favourite photo of Jim lurking there, the bus back from the hospice home, the quiet of the flat without him in it, the visitors, the rubbish food I didn't want to eat, the moments I marched into the hospice chapel to beg or berate God at turns. Please, just let him die easy. Why won't you let him die easy? Take him already, you bastard! The chapel of a religion I had disdained most of my life but which mattered to him, that was quiet and where I didn't have to put a brave face on or play the perpetual joker for everyone else for awhile. The hurried taxi ride from home early in the morning when the hospice called, the Last Rites administered to him while I was still barely awake, the way he came around to consciousness not long after, how he rallied. The look of surprise on his face when certain people actually turned up. The waiting. Sitting writing my stories but constantly looking up at his face, just in case. The chapel. The pipette I had to give him water because he couldn't swallow anymore. The rattle. The death rattle that I can still summon in my head and which chills me to the core of my being – whatever that really is. The bus rides. The stories my mum seemed able to finally tell me, good and bad. The exhaustion in my bones reflected in her face. The rattle, the rattle. The book with Jim in it. The text message I sent to my friends afterwards: He is dead. That was all. The soup is hot, the soup is cold. Marc Antony is dead. Taking the batteries out of the clock by his bed, because it reminded me of that moment in Fried Green Tomatoes when Ruth died because I wanted to think of anything besides my Granddad dead in the bed. How I was shuffled into the Quiet Room while they laid him out. Clinging to the book with Jim in it. Jim, it always comes back to Jim. How lucky I was that such a book should be there, waiting for me, as if someone planned it. What a prankster God is – to offer such a sliver of one grief to lessen the effect of another – what a pranking bastard it seems he is. The bus ride home, making fucking tea because that's what British people do, sitting in his armchair while The Women started going through his stuff. I suddenly can't remember what tie he was buried in. Being told there was no point having an open coffin so it wasn't to happen. Being glad I'd gone back into the room after the Laying Out to give him one last cocky salute. The dead yellow face of one of my greatest friends. Listening to Planxty that night because I didn't want to associate the bands I've truly loved with that day. The Lakes of Pontchartrain being described to me as a 'lament'. Sleeping on the sofa because the Women were there being practical. Trying to go to work the next day and making it all the way to the afternoon before wanting to run away home. Essex Road for flowers. I can't remember what flowers I got. White roses for Granny, I remember, but I don't remember for Granddad. Starbucks afterwards, with my glorious and wonderful and capable and most loved Mammy who told me more stories she seemed to be now free to tell but which might've been more useful in the years before. I don't remember the rest. The Women went to register the death, I know. The invisible blanket (and my mother) kept me away from the practicalities. The Crimson Pirate gave me other pain to deflect from the real pain. I remembered clinging to Vanity Fair's Hollywood at my Granny's funeral, but would have no such luck this time... how was I to endure? The two minute car journey from home to church which managed to take in sixty odd years' worth of my granddad's life. Speeding through a reading at the funeral like I was on the clock. Being back in a catholic church, that one I so vaguely remembered from moments in my early childhood, being two minutes away from home and still desperate to get back so I could burrow under my blanket and watch Errol Flynn movies until it didn't hurt anymore. The long, familiar journey from home to cemetery where our dead are buried. The hole in Finchley he put his Maria into thirty-five years earlier and into which I then put him. The kind faces of people who cared and who were grieving too. The journey back, the after-show party in which I played the perpetual joker while more people filled mine and Granddad's home than I remembered ever happening before. The moment when finally, everyone was gone and it was just me. Little Miss Sunshine was finally arrived from Blockbuster – seeing a little girl lose her grandfather on the night I buried mine. Finally being alone. The quiet. Not being prompted to go to bed at one in the morning. Being free, independent and autonomous. No more bus journeys to Hackney. No more warm, stuffy hospices. Free time and being alone.

Sorry, was that almost Joycean in its extended Stream of Consciousness? Won't happen again.

Grief doesn't end, it just changes. The invisible blanket has slipped: I no longer sit and just let time pass around me while pretending to watch shit movies that come from Blockbuster. I still waste too much time, but that's not because of this. I don't feel the need to cry every time I see photos of him, which is just as well, because they're all over the place. It is now my home, but it will always be his too. There's only one place in the entire world that I would leave it for, and that's forever linked to him too.

It may be that my Granddad was my great love. He was my grandfather, my hero, my best friend and my flatmate. We both liked Dean Martin records and old movies – although to him they weren't old – and even though we disagreed on Errol Flynn and Peter O'Toole (I was, and remain pro-both, he was anti-both), we agreed on other things. He was an old-fashioned sort of person. He didn't like the idea of gay marriage, but he didn't try to stop me having my differing opinion when we saw something about it on TV. He just said 'I'm sorry, but that's what I think'. He was old-fashioned but didn't expect me to be the same. He worried too much, because that's what our family does.

Seriously, we didn't generally have conversations, we had a double-act. I was Eric Morecambe, he was Ernie Wise; then I'd be Ernie Wise and he'd be Eric Morecambe. We were both jokers (apparently his dad was the same) and so would have to switch the straight man role occasionally, or surrender to the anarchy of two jokers.

There's not a person who ever met him that I've encountered who didn't think he was a funny, nice man. Even the guy who came to read the gas and electric meters a few weeks ago remembered him. The people who worked at the medical clinic came to his funeral in their lunch hour and brought flowers. People at the supermarket. The man had a way about him that I can barely hope to aspire to. I don't for a second claim he was perfect, but he was special, really something special and I don't think I say so just because he's my Granddad. This is a man who when he was dying slowly and painfully, just didn't complain. I mean, he was probably in agony, but I saw men who shared his room dealing worse with less. I don't know if it was just part of his generation to be like that – he was certainly older than the other patients – or what, but he was stoic and dignified. He remained embarrassed by having to be looked after even when he was dying. He kept joking with the nurses and staff. He said 'thank you' when they brought his meals or did anything for him.

Am I in danger of deifying the man at the price of the truth? I don't know. I saw him and knew him at a specific time in his life. I don't claim to know everything of him. I'm trying to cling to the truth of it as much as I can, but grief twists things, heightens them. The bad becomes worse, the good becomes better. He is now filtered exclusively through my own point of view, memories and opinions, without the benefit of his presence to challenge or question me. His face blurs a little in my mind, I have to work harder to summon up the sound of his voice, and then largely in select snippets.

Why am I saying any of this? Probably because it's easier than talking about how it feels now. Most days now, it's just there lurking, waiting. It emerges at odd times – maybe I'll see an old man who looks a little like him, or I'll pass somewhere that has a memory linked to it. Around here, that's most places. When at the London Metropolitan Archives recently I found a pay ledger for the brewery and he was the first name listed. For some reason, that made me pleased – our surname means that normally we're at the end of lists! From the same place I bought a copy of a photograph of the corner of our street, where his old house was. I'd never seen it before (it was knocked down when I was a mere baby). Occasionally I end up just staring at the picture, wondering what it was like forty years ago, when bellissima Maria was still here. I walk past the hospital she died in most evenings, and I must be retracing the route he took home from there. I know I am. It takes about three minutes if the traffic lights are with me. Everywhere around me is of the old man, my Granddad. The family history I've done so far indicates that my ancestors are all around here. We have been here a long time (the bits that aren't Irish, of course), my gang. We even pre-date the Industrial Revolution. While most people's ancestors were still in villages and working in fields, we were already here at the centre of things. I wonder if he felt the same way after his grandparents died, as he walked these same streets. I wonder if he felt the same strange dislocation I occasionally do as I realise how much the streets and buildings have changed even in the short time I've been hanging around here – some buildings in the immediate vicinity have been built, rebuilt or redone two or three times in my lifetime. I wonder how he felt, moreover, to return from the war only to find that he was living in one big bomb crater? That's what it was – I've seen the bomb damage maps. To return home after six years of war to find your parish knocked to dust and rubble... that's a kind of grief I can't begin to imagine.

I wonder how he felt when his old family home was knocked down and replaced with the flats that are now there? Part of the family had been there since at least 1881... did he feel the same way as I do when I see what is being done to some of the places that mean something to me?

Really the question I'm asking is this: did he feel the same deep grief for his ancestors as I do for mine? He unquestionably had deep and lasting grief as his close companion – you don't get to 87 without losing people you love – but did he feel the same wrench from his grandparents as I do? I suppose he can't have done: both his grandfathers died before he was born. Did he have grandmothers who doted on him? I don't know when Sarah or Alice died, but did he adore them as I adore my much missed Granny and long-gone Maria? Was it just different then?

Did the person I grieve for so deeply feel the same as I have? Would he, if he were here, understand and empathise with me? Would he be one of that group of fellow humans who knows, who has been there and come out the other side? Would he understand how the invisible blanket closed around me? Would the one who caused the pain be able to reduce it, if only he could be here, now? Is that the bitterest truth of this grief business?

I want so badly to sit down with those ancestors of mine and ask them their hopes and dreams. Actually, I just wish I'd plucked up the courage to ask him those things. I never felt that I could ask him deeply personal questions, not because I felt he'd not answer but because I felt somehow that he wouldn't like answering. It's not one of those 'oh it's not spoken of' things, just that I felt it wasn't in his character to delve deeply into such things – especially not with one's own granddaughter. I would though, love dearly to know more and the opportunity is lost. There is only one of his siblings left alive, Wonderful Uncle Fred. The opportunity to ask questions is lost, really. I could ask him questions, but again, I wouldn't want to make him uncomfortable. Wonderful Auntie Margaret always tells me whenever I see her, what a fabulous lady Maria was, probably because she's concerned that I never knew her and that there are dark things. As if they could make me not love her. Be disappointed? Sure. Not Love Her? No. I'm an Errol Flynn fan – you'd have to work extra hard to make me fall out of love with someone.

I asked even fewer questions of Granny before the arteries in her brain hardened and she could no longer recognise me. I went to the places she grew up in Northern Ireland recently and so dearly wished – wishing again – that she was there with me. More than that, I came to detest more than ever and more personally than ever, the dark stain of violence that prevented me from going there when she could've been with us. The so-called 'Troubles' robbed me of my legacy, man. Ties were severed with the passage of time, ties that might've done me some good. If I close my eyes I can see me, a little child, and my Granny on the beach at Magilligan. There I am, looking scruffy as ever, shouting too loudly and running ahead. There she is, the lady with the handbag, looking immaculately neat as ever, walking at a stately but firm pace. Yes, I can see it so clearly. She's got one of her self-made hats on her perfect silver hair and that hint of a smile that I got to see more than most people.

I really like walking, you know. I can walk for miles and hours as long as I've got the old iPod to provide the background noise. I am my grandmother's daughter in that respect, although I wasn't when I was with her – I remember giving up on a walk through Greenwich Park about twenty yards into the bloody park. She must've thought I was such a feeble little weakling and I now realise I probably missed out on a really cool afternoon walk through one of the nicest parks in town with my Granny.

All these missed opportunities must surely be part of the grief? The coulda, shoulda stuff that can surely only make a person feel bad but which I keep coming back to just the same. The Big What If that has haunted me for as long as I can remember. What if I did this, what if I didn't do that, what if I chose differently? Different secondary school, different parents even, in my case. What if Jim lived, what if John lived, what if Philip lived, what if Rory lived? What if I spoke up when I should've? What if I shut up when I should've? What if this, what if that, what if who, where and when. It seems largely wrapped up in the grief, if only because so much of it revolves around the glorious dead. The Big What If lets them live, if only briefly and theoretically. The Big What If lets me reach out and touch Maria, if only hypothetically. The Big What If puts me at the side of the stage for all those usual suspects. The Big What If puts me on the same streets I know so well, but when they were walked by the ancestors. The Big What If pulls me in every single time because it's all I have. It's like trying to build out of Scotch Mist, but it's all I've got for them.

Well, it's all self-pitying rubbish, isn't it? It should be terrifying to consider that I feel so badly, so deeply for 'just' a grandparent. What should happen to me if it was someone yet closer? The consolation I give myself is that actually: he wasn't just a grandparent and that it unlikely many people will ever be closer, or so uncomplicatedly, easily loved as he was.

How self-pitying and self-absorbed this is! I haven't said a word as to how my dad – Granddad's only son – felt. I don't know because I didn't ask. Or how my mummy felt, or my brother, or any number of other people who loved Granddad felt. How selfish and consuming it is to grieve, I think. I didn't share mine much and so did not try to share anyone else's. How terribly, arrogantly selfish. How did they feel? How do they continue to feel? Apparently, I care not. I do care, care very deeply, but cannot speak of it because it will bring my own grief back into too sharp a focus. How terribly, arrogantly selfish.

For all the self-pitying self-absorption, I ultimately find the grief almost – almost – comforting. After all, while one is grieving, one cannot forget. So I suppose that if grief is never-ending, so is remembering. That's a deal I'll take in the absence of anything better. I would hazard a guess that this is why I keep coming back to Jim and the boys. I can't let go of them and their music, and so the grief remains. The grief will always remain, but it will continue changing. One day I expect even that it'll just be there, a little shadow on the back of my soul. Just there, as much a part of me as sarcasm, talking too much and insomnia. One day.

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On 26th April 2007, my Granddad died. It was not a shock or surprise – I'd been visiting him in various hospital wards on and off since the October before, when he turned yellow and they said he was dying. My Granddad was 87. The death of an old man, I am told, is not a tragedy... and yet here I am, in one of a string of Starbucks branches in my life, on 14th November 2009, trying not to cry about it.

Whatever is about to follow, it is not sane or sensible like CS Lewis' A Grief Observed. I make no remark or comment upon religion or the possibility of God. I know what I hope for (rather than necessarily believe) and to be honest, it doesn't matter. The grief does not reduce if I say 'I believe in God' and does not dissolve if I believe I shall be reunited with any of my lost people in Heaven. The grief itself is what it is, and no spirituality has particularly lessened it so far, so I discount it from this ramble.

I feel that I am well-used to grief in its forms. I have to be, listening to the music I do. Just yesterday someone asked if I was ever going to find someone alive to listen to. “Find me someone good,” I replied.

The deep, lasting grief I have for my departed heroes is nothing to this. As ever, all sorts of little things have conspired to get me to this point. It was Remembrance Day on Thursday and all I could think of was my Granddad (who survived) and all his friends of the time (who didn't). He carried the physical and mental scars of the Second World War for the rest of his life, and not for the first time I mused that in fact, nobody exactly survived the War so much as didn't die right away.


It's also his birthday on Monday. He'd be 90. I got the day off to go see him, but my dad asked me to go with him tomorrow (Sunday) and I'm not so set on it that I'd say no to him, right? To add to that, it's the Lord Mayor's Show today (right now, in fact). When I was a child, I always used to ask my dad to come up for it from our home in Suburbia. He didn't always say yes. Truth to tell, I don't give a rat's arse about the Lord Mayor's Show, but I knew then that if we were to go to the Show, we'd go to Granddad's. The Lord Mayor's Coach used to be prepared at the brewery where my Granddad worked... the Lord Mayor's Show to me, is all about Granddad. For the first time in I-don't-know-how-many-years, I have come outside into the rain to see the Show. Certainly, it's the first time since he died that I've come out for it. We're not talking about a great deal of effort – I live what, five minutes away from the parade route? Like I say, coming to the Show was always about coming to Granddad.

Most of you know that I now live in the flat that was his home for 25 years. For the last two of those, he had a noisy, messy flatmate who didn't wash up properly and insisted on watching old movies all the time. Those days were probably some of the happiest I'll ever know. I had a deep old trough of depression partway through it, but I don't think (rather, I hope) it didn't show to him. It wasn't owt to do with him. I now regret, deeply, spending as much time on the computer as I did, or going back to Suburbia to the parentals as much as I did. I want to claw back every single second not spent in his company. I want doesn't get, as I have learned bitterly before. The truly terrible thing about death is that finality – there's no going back, no correction of mistakes, no redressing of balances. There is nothing now that can be done to atone for my shortcomings towards him and that leaves me bitterly, desperately ashamed.

Ah. The Show has passed by this way now, and Starbucks is now full of damp people requiring warm drinks and searching for seats. I am dry and drinking ice at a window table. In spite of wanting to cry, I am a little smug. A lot smug and planning to visit the Bank of England Museum soon...

I'm getting off the point, which is simple: It once more occurs to me that grief doesn't die. It just changes, or we change.

One More Recent Granddad Moment: I was just talking to someone at work on Friday about random things – she sold me my signed copy of Top Priority by Rory Gallagher – and we got onto the subject of the record store that used to be on *Redacted* Street, where I live. And she said 'oh, my bloke used to work at the brewery'. Well, you could've stopped my heart right there. I asked when that was. The right period of time to have known my old man, it turns out. I mentioned his name to her and asked if she might see if her fellow might remember my Granddad. I hope he does. How unexpectedly the world can twist and turn. Also yesterday, I got into a conversation with my friend at work, Phil, about the year my Granddad died. He said, unsolicited, that I seemed to cope with it all pretty well, especially for one of my tender years. I disagreed, so he said that it seemed that way. I admitted to him that I hardly remember chunks of that time. There's about six months' worth of stuff just missing. I mean, I just existed. I know theoretically that I watched M*A*S*H constantly. I could even look on Blockbuster.co.uk and tell you what DVDs I rented. I could read back on this blog for those times... but I don't really remember a lot of it. The bits I do remember don't always reflect much credit on me.

Lewis talked about the 'invisible blanket' between the world and himself in the second paragraph of A Grief Observed. Two pages later, he speaks of the laziness of grief. These two are my familiar friends. I was lazy enough to begin with, but in those days I hardly moved around at all. Everything felt like an effort hardly worth making. I know it took me months to move into the main bedroom, and even longer to clean out the bathroom cabinets of my Granddad's stuff – Imperial Leather soap will forever be associated with him – and I still haven't cleaned out the kitchen drawers properly. I mean, it's all stuff I probably need, but I haven't touched it, two and a half years later. Including the boot polish – and I really should polish up some of my shoes and boots... I'm not sure how useful I'll find the set of darts, but hey ho. The laziness of grief... that old friend which persuaded me to leave everything until tomorrow. Scarlett O'Hara's motto became my excuse, and I knew even then that actually, tomorrow would be much the same as today. I sat and waited for the tomorrows to pass until another day really did come along.

If my mum hadn't taken over things and redecorated the living room and the main bedroom (to my specifications, to be fair) in the months following the old man's deceasement, they'd still all look like they did in March 2007. I wouldn't have done it. 90% of my possessions are now at home – and this is my home – and the rest is unimportant stuff in my parentals' attic, but the phone number is still listed as GRANDDAD in my mobile phone. I wouldn't, incidentally, replace my broken phone until T-Mobile transferred the pictures (of Granddad) onto the new one. Fortunately, my brother works at my parents' local T-Mobile store and worked really hard to sort it out for me.

Speaking of that younger brother of mine, I also clearly remember now sitting at my Granddad's side at the hospice. When we realised he had died (it was very slow and gradual. I honestly think me and my brother might have been at lunch when it really happened), it was my brother who hugged me first. He was never as close to the old man as me (who the hell was?) but when it was important, he was there. I don't even just mean that day – I mean a day a week or so before. It was fucking glorious: one of his last Good Days, me and my dad and Mikey and Granddad sat there laughing, joking and the usual piss-takery that was our schtick. It was glorious and Mikey didn't have to be there: he chose to be. He's a good kid when it comes down it. It was a day to remember, man. Maybe that was really our Last Goodbye... one final moment in the sunlight before the dark shadows and clouds closed in on me.

The last week was agony of a sort: the bus from work to the hospice was almost the bright spot, the warm, stuffy hospice, the kind nurses, the uncomfortable chairs, the book of Linda McCartney photographs in the Quiet Room I clung to the second I found my favourite photo of Jim lurking there, the bus back from the hospice home, the quiet of the flat without him in it, the visitors, the rubbish food I didn't want to eat, the moments I marched into the hospice chapel to beg or berate God at turns. Please, just let him die easy. Why won't you let him die easy? Take him already, you bastard! The chapel of a religion I had disdained most of my life but which mattered to him, that was quiet and where I didn't have to put a brave face on or play the perpetual joker for everyone else for awhile. The hurried taxi ride from home early in the morning when the hospice called, the Last Rites administered to him while I was still barely awake, the way he came around to consciousness not long after, how he rallied. The look of surprise on his face when certain people actually turned up. The waiting. Sitting writing my stories but constantly looking up at his face, just in case. The chapel. The pipette I had to give him water because he couldn't swallow anymore. The rattle. The death rattle that I can still summon in my head and which chills me to the core of my being – whatever that really is. The bus rides. The stories my mum seemed able to finally tell me, good and bad. The exhaustion in my bones reflected in her face. The rattle, the rattle. The book with Jim in it. The text message I sent to my friends afterwards: He is dead. That was all. The soup is hot, the soup is cold. Marc Antony is dead. Taking the batteries out of the clock by his bed, because it reminded me of that moment in Fried Green Tomatoes when Ruth died because I wanted to think of anything besides my Granddad dead in the bed. How I was shuffled into the Quiet Room while they laid him out. Clinging to the book with Jim in it. Jim, it always comes back to Jim. How lucky I was that such a book should be there, waiting for me, as if someone planned it. What a prankster God is – to offer such a sliver of one grief to lessen the effect of another – what a pranking bastard it seems he is. The bus ride home, making fucking tea because that's what British people do, sitting in his armchair while The Women started going through his stuff. I suddenly can't remember what tie he was buried in. Being told there was no point having an open coffin so it wasn't to happen. Being glad I'd gone back into the room after the Laying Out to give him one last cocky salute. The dead yellow face of one of my greatest friends. Listening to Planxty that night because I didn't want to associate the bands I've truly loved with that day. The Lakes of Pontchartrain being described to me as a 'lament'. Sleeping on the sofa because the Women were there being practical. Trying to go to work the next day and making it all the way to the afternoon before wanting to run away home. Essex Road for flowers. I can't remember what flowers I got. White roses for Granny, I remember, but I don't remember for Granddad. Starbucks afterwards, with my glorious and wonderful and capable and most loved Mammy who told me more stories she seemed to be now free to tell but which might've been more useful in the years before. I don't remember the rest. The Women went to register the death, I know. The invisible blanket (and my mother) kept me away from the practicalities. The Crimson Pirate gave me other pain to deflect from the real pain. I remembered clinging to Vanity Fair's Hollywood at my Granny's funeral, but would have no such luck this time... how was I to endure? The two minute car journey from home to church which managed to take in sixty odd years' worth of my granddad's life. Speeding through a reading at the funeral like I was on the clock. Being back in a catholic church, that one I so vaguely remembered from moments in my early childhood, being two minutes away from home and still desperate to get back so I could burrow under my blanket and watch Errol Flynn movies until it didn't hurt anymore. The long, familiar journey from home to cemetery where our dead are buried. The hole in Finchley he put his Maria into thirty-five years earlier and into which I then put him. The kind faces of people who cared and who were grieving too. The journey back, the after-show party in which I played the perpetual joker while more people filled mine and Granddad's home than I remembered ever happening before. The moment when finally, everyone was gone and it was just me. Little Miss Sunshine was finally arrived from Blockbuster – seeing a little girl lose her grandfather on the night I buried mine. Finally being alone. The quiet. Not being prompted to go to bed at one in the morning. Being free, independent and autonomous. No more bus journeys to Hackney. No more warm, stuffy hospices. Free time and being alone.

Sorry, was that almost Joycean in its extended Stream of Consciousness? Won't happen again.

Grief doesn't end, it just changes. The invisible blanket has slipped: I no longer sit and just let time pass around me while pretending to watch shit movies that come from Blockbuster. I still waste too much time, but that's not because of this. I don't feel the need to cry every time I see photos of him, which is just as well, because they're all over the place. It is now my home, but it will always be his too. There's only one place in the entire world that I would leave it for, and that's forever linked to him too.

It may be that my Granddad was my great love. He was my grandfather, my hero, my best friend and my flatmate. We both liked Dean Martin records and old movies – although to him they weren't old – and even though we disagreed on Errol Flynn and Peter O'Toole (I was, and remain pro-both, he was anti-both), we agreed on other things. He was an old-fashioned sort of person. He didn't like the idea of gay marriage, but he didn't try to stop me having my differing opinion when we saw something about it on TV. He just said 'I'm sorry, but that's what I think'. He was old-fashioned but didn't expect me to be the same. He worried too much, because that's what our family does.

Seriously, we didn't generally have conversations, we had a double-act. I was Eric Morecambe, he was Ernie Wise; then I'd be Ernie Wise and he'd be Eric Morecambe. We were both jokers (apparently his dad was the same) and so would have to switch the straight man role occasionally, or surrender to the anarchy of two jokers.

There's not a person who ever met him that I've encountered who didn't think he was a funny, nice man. Even the guy who came to read the gas and electric meters a few weeks ago remembered him. The people who worked at the medical clinic came to his funeral in their lunch hour and brought flowers. People at the supermarket. The man had a way about him that I can barely hope to aspire to. I don't for a second claim he was perfect, but he was special, really something special and I don't think I say so just because he's my Granddad. This is a man who when he was dying slowly and painfully, just didn't complain. I mean, he was probably in agony, but I saw men who shared his room dealing worse with less. I don't know if it was just part of his generation to be like that – he was certainly older than the other patients – or what, but he was stoic and dignified. He remained embarrassed by having to be looked after even when he was dying. He kept joking with the nurses and staff. He said 'thank you' when they brought his meals or did anything for him.

Am I in danger of deifying the man at the price of the truth? I don't know. I saw him and knew him at a specific time in his life. I don't claim to know everything of him. I'm trying to cling to the truth of it as much as I can, but grief twists things, heightens them. The bad becomes worse, the good becomes better. He is now filtered exclusively through my own point of view, memories and opinions, without the benefit of his presence to challenge or question me. His face blurs a little in my mind, I have to work harder to summon up the sound of his voice, and then largely in select snippets.

Why am I saying any of this? Probably because it's easier than talking about how it feels now. Most days now, it's just there lurking, waiting. It emerges at odd times – maybe I'll see an old man who looks a little like him, or I'll pass somewhere that has a memory linked to it. Around here, that's most places. When at the London Metropolitan Archives recently I found a pay ledger for the brewery and he was the first name listed. For some reason, that made me pleased – our surname means that normally we're at the end of lists! From the same place I bought a copy of a photograph of the corner of our street, where his old house was. I'd never seen it before (it was knocked down when I was a mere baby). Occasionally I end up just staring at the picture, wondering what it was like forty years ago, when bellissima Maria was still here. I walk past the hospital she died in most evenings, and I must be retracing the route he took home from there. I know I am. It takes about three minutes if the traffic lights are with me. Everywhere around me is of the old man, my Granddad. The family history I've done so far indicates that my ancestors are all around here. We have been here a long time (the bits that aren't Irish, of course), my gang. We even pre-date the Industrial Revolution. While most people's ancestors were still in villages and working in fields, we were already here at the centre of things. I wonder if he felt the same way after his grandparents died, as he walked these same streets. I wonder if he felt the same strange dislocation I occasionally do as I realise how much the streets and buildings have changed even in the short time I've been hanging around here – some buildings in the immediate vicinity have been built, rebuilt or redone two or three times in my lifetime. I wonder how he felt, moreover, to return from the war only to find that he was living in one big bomb crater? That's what it was – I've seen the bomb damage maps. To return home after six years of war to find your parish knocked to dust and rubble... that's a kind of grief I can't begin to imagine.

I wonder how he felt when his old family home was knocked down and replaced with the flats that are now there? Part of the family had been there since at least 1881... did he feel the same way as I do when I see what is being done to some of the places that mean something to me?

Really the question I'm asking is this: did he feel the same deep grief for his ancestors as I do for mine? He unquestionably had deep and lasting grief as his close companion – you don't get to 87 without losing people you love – but did he feel the same wrench from his grandparents as I do? I suppose he can't have done: both his grandfathers died before he was born. Did he have grandmothers who doted on him? I don't know when Sarah or Alice died, but did he adore them as I adore my much missed Granny and long-gone Maria? Was it just different then?

Did the person I grieve for so deeply feel the same as I have? Would he, if he were here, understand and empathise with me? Would he be one of that group of fellow humans who knows, who has been there and come out the other side? Would he understand how the invisible blanket closed around me? Would the one who caused the pain be able to reduce it, if only he could be here, now? Is that the bitterest truth of this grief business?

I want so badly to sit down with those ancestors of mine and ask them their hopes and dreams. Actually, I just wish I'd plucked up the courage to ask him those things. I never felt that I could ask him deeply personal questions, not because I felt he'd not answer but because I felt somehow that he wouldn't like answering. It's not one of those 'oh it's not spoken of' things, just that I felt it wasn't in his character to delve deeply into such things – especially not with one's own granddaughter. I would though, love dearly to know more and the opportunity is lost. There is only one of his siblings left alive, Wonderful Uncle Fred. The opportunity to ask questions is lost, really. I could ask him questions, but again, I wouldn't want to make him uncomfortable. Wonderful Auntie Margaret always tells me whenever I see her, what a fabulous lady Maria was, probably because she's concerned that I never knew her and that there are dark things. As if they could make me not love her. Be disappointed? Sure. Not Love Her? No. I'm an Errol Flynn fan – you'd have to work extra hard to make me fall out of love with someone.

I asked even fewer questions of Granny before the arteries in her brain hardened and she could no longer recognise me. I went to the places she grew up in Northern Ireland recently and so dearly wished – wishing again – that she was there with me. More than that, I came to detest more than ever and more personally than ever, the dark stain of violence that prevented me from going there when she could've been with us. The so-called 'Troubles' robbed me of my legacy, man. Ties were severed with the passage of time, ties that might've done me some good. If I close my eyes I can see me, a little child, and my Granny on the beach at Magilligan. There I am, looking scruffy as ever, shouting too loudly and running ahead. There she is, the lady with the handbag, looking immaculately neat as ever, walking at a stately but firm pace. Yes, I can see it so clearly. She's got one of her self-made hats on her perfect silver hair and that hint of a smile that I got to see more than most people.

I really like walking, you know. I can walk for miles and hours as long as I've got the old iPod to provide the background noise. I am my grandmother's daughter in that respect, although I wasn't when I was with her – I remember giving up on a walk through Greenwich Park about twenty yards into the bloody park. She must've thought I was such a feeble little weakling and I now realise I probably missed out on a really cool afternoon walk through one of the nicest parks in town with my Granny.

All these missed opportunities must surely be part of the grief? The coulda, shoulda stuff that can surely only make a person feel bad but which I keep coming back to just the same. The Big What If that has haunted me for as long as I can remember. What if I did this, what if I didn't do that, what if I chose differently? Different secondary school, different parents even, in my case. What if Jim lived, what if John lived, what if Philip lived, what if Rory lived? What if I spoke up when I should've? What if I shut up when I should've? What if this, what if that, what if who, where and when. It seems largely wrapped up in the grief, if only because so much of it revolves around the glorious dead. The Big What If lets them live, if only briefly and theoretically. The Big What If lets me reach out and touch Maria, if only hypothetically. The Big What If puts me at the side of the stage for all those usual suspects. The Big What If puts me on the same streets I know so well, but when they were walked by the ancestors. The Big What If pulls me in every single time because it's all I have. It's like trying to build out of Scotch Mist, but it's all I've got for them.

Well, it's all self-pitying rubbish, isn't it? It should be terrifying to consider that I feel so badly, so deeply for 'just' a grandparent. What should happen to me if it was someone yet closer? The consolation I give myself is that actually: he wasn't just a grandparent and that it unlikely many people will ever be closer, or so uncomplicatedly, easily loved as he was.

How self-pitying and self-absorbed this is! I haven't said a word as to how my dad – Granddad's only son – felt. I don't know because I didn't ask. Or how my mummy felt, or my brother, or any number of other people who loved Granddad felt. How selfish and consuming it is to grieve, I think. I didn't share mine much and so did not try to share anyone else's. How terribly, arrogantly selfish. How did they feel? How do they continue to feel? Apparently, I care not. I do care, care very deeply, but cannot speak of it because it will bring my own grief back into too sharp a focus. How terribly, arrogantly selfish.

For all the self-pitying self-absorption, I ultimately find the grief almost – almost – comforting. After all, while one is grieving, one cannot forget. So I suppose that if grief is never-ending, so is remembering. That's a deal I'll take in the absence of anything better. I would hazard a guess that this is why I keep coming back to Jim and the boys. I can't let go of them and their music, and so the grief remains. The grief will always remain, but it will continue changing. One day I expect even that it'll just be there, a little shadow on the back of my soul. Just there, as much a part of me as sarcasm, talking too much and insomnia. One day.

apolla: (Default)
There's one small, very small, good thing about living in a place where, after the other occupant died, one didn't bother actively decided not to go through every single drawer and cupboard to clean out everything and get rid of everything one doesn't think one needs.

Ferinstance, a few days ago, my mummy bought me a blender/smoothie maker so I can make the kind of genius milkshakes that Shaken Udder make. Shaken Udder or whatever their name is, go to festivals and such and they make milkshakes with chocolate bars. Ergo, Aero Milkshake, Milky Way Milkshake. I don't know if other people do this, but I've never seen it before. I go out of my way at the festivals I attend to find them and then spend far too much money. At the Big Chill this summer I bought so many on the Sunday that they started talking to me and gave me one free. I was literally buying a milkshake every time I walked past, and I walked past many times on my working travels.

It turns out their secret is some ice cream in the mix, incidentally.

So today I decided to try making myself a Milky Way milkshake. I would've made an Aero one except... I ate the entire bar of Aero the other day before I had the chance. I got the ice cream, milk, Milky Ways and shoved them all in the new blender thing. Then once it was all blended up I wondered how best to drink this stuff. I wanted a straw but thought "Ah, I have no straws!" and didn't much feel like getting dressed and going out into the freezing cold just to buy bloody straws.

Then I remembered something in the deep recesses of my memory. Whenever we came here when I was young, I would always want whatever I was drinking with a straw. This must have been a big enough deal that my granddad bought straws and kept them on the top shelf of the cupboard by the cooker. I knew that then, and being that I was very young, I loved the fact he had bendy straws instead of your basic straw. Children are very into straw technology, as I recall.

So, I thought 'hey, let me check the cupboard' and sure enough, there was an open bag of bloody straws. Bendy bloody straws, come to that. I have no idea how long they've been there. It's where I keep the tea and coffee and sugar stored, so I have very little occasion to go to said shelf and it's too high for me to see easily anyway. But there were my straws, just waiting for me. They might be the last remnants of the first lot of straws Granddad bought to pacify me when I was a child. Twenty year old straws. Perhaps I shouldn't be using them, but I will.

If I'd gone through this flat with a fine-toothed comb a year and a half a go, I might have got rid of them. Maybe not, but you never know. Maybe the question was asked and I said to keep them, I don't remember. But every so often, something happens and I realise that Granddad had already thought of it once, a long time ago.

As Lauren Bacall said of being widowed: "Don't sell the house and don't get engaged to Frank Sinatra". The moral of the story is: Don't throw things away when you're feeling upset or otherwise emotionally vulnerable. Don't throw things away for the sake of it or because you think you probably won't need them. Once a thing is thrown away, that's it, but you can always get rid of things when you're certain you don't want or need them.

apolla: (Default)
There's one small, very small, good thing about living in a place where, after the other occupant died, one didn't bother actively decided not to go through every single drawer and cupboard to clean out everything and get rid of everything one doesn't think one needs.

Ferinstance, a few days ago, my mummy bought me a blender/smoothie maker so I can make the kind of genius milkshakes that Shaken Udder make. Shaken Udder or whatever their name is, go to festivals and such and they make milkshakes with chocolate bars. Ergo, Aero Milkshake, Milky Way Milkshake. I don't know if other people do this, but I've never seen it before. I go out of my way at the festivals I attend to find them and then spend far too much money. At the Big Chill this summer I bought so many on the Sunday that they started talking to me and gave me one free. I was literally buying a milkshake every time I walked past, and I walked past many times on my working travels.

It turns out their secret is some ice cream in the mix, incidentally.

So today I decided to try making myself a Milky Way milkshake. I would've made an Aero one except... I ate the entire bar of Aero the other day before I had the chance. I got the ice cream, milk, Milky Ways and shoved them all in the new blender thing. Then once it was all blended up I wondered how best to drink this stuff. I wanted a straw but thought "Ah, I have no straws!" and didn't much feel like getting dressed and going out into the freezing cold just to buy bloody straws.

Then I remembered something in the deep recesses of my memory. Whenever we came here when I was young, I would always want whatever I was drinking with a straw. This must have been a big enough deal that my granddad bought straws and kept them on the top shelf of the cupboard by the cooker. I knew that then, and being that I was very young, I loved the fact he had bendy straws instead of your basic straw. Children are very into straw technology, as I recall.

So, I thought 'hey, let me check the cupboard' and sure enough, there was an open bag of bloody straws. Bendy bloody straws, come to that. I have no idea how long they've been there. It's where I keep the tea and coffee and sugar stored, so I have very little occasion to go to said shelf and it's too high for me to see easily anyway. But there were my straws, just waiting for me. They might be the last remnants of the first lot of straws Granddad bought to pacify me when I was a child. Twenty year old straws. Perhaps I shouldn't be using them, but I will.

If I'd gone through this flat with a fine-toothed comb a year and a half a go, I might have got rid of them. Maybe not, but you never know. Maybe the question was asked and I said to keep them, I don't remember. But every so often, something happens and I realise that Granddad had already thought of it once, a long time ago.

As Lauren Bacall said of being widowed: "Don't sell the house and don't get engaged to Frank Sinatra". The moral of the story is: Don't throw things away when you're feeling upset or otherwise emotionally vulnerable. Don't throw things away for the sake of it or because you think you probably won't need them. Once a thing is thrown away, that's it, but you can always get rid of things when you're certain you don't want or need them.

apolla: (Queen Maeve)
This has been a pretty shit week. This week of the year usually is, because I'm sat here in England thinking 'this time x years ago I arrived in California'. I miss California a lot in Septembers, as the weather here really begins to get grey and grim. Sometimes I can taste the CPK barbecue chicken pizza if I think about it.

I think about how easy it was, how I just sat around drinking Frappucinos, renting videos and doing as little work as possible. Most of all, I climbed out the big hole there, because it's hard (though certainly not impossible) to be awfully sad when the sun is shining and the only thing you have to do is mosey on over to a class that consists solely of watching music videos.

I've also come to realise that, as much as I pretend otherwise, I'm not over my granddad. Not remotely so.

I find the nature and stages of grief quite fascinating. I'm no psychologist, but it's fascinating nonetheless.

When the dude got sick the first time, nearly a year ago now, I remember thinking how fantastically novel it was to have the home to myself. Like a teenager left home alone for a weekend for the first time - sitting in the cool chair, having control of the remote control, having dinner whenever I bloody well felt like it, going to bed whenever I felt like it... you know the drill, you've most all of you been there.

Of course, it wasn't quite like that, because every night after work I went to UCH to see my granddad. I didn't stay up all that late because I could almost hear him scolding me if it got past one am... I didn't leave mess everywhere because I never knew precisely when he was coming home... But it was somehow novel just the same.

When he was here after that, it was like before, but with a bit more help and not quite so much fun. When he got ill the second time, the novelty was gone. I suppose I knew, no matter how I argued, that he would not be coming home. I kept everything pretty well clean and tidy just in case, and so that I could be telling the truth when I told him I was keeping it all nice.

Even though I was here alone from the end of February, it didn't feel like it because I was going to see him at the hospital each night, then every other day or so at the hospice. That went on until the end of April... and then he died. I can still hear the rattle if I think about it, but I try not to.

Then he died, and for weeks, I wasn't left alone. Seriously man, there was always someone here, and it drove me crazy. There was the hassle of getting the succession, then of decorating, then of moving bits of furniture and stuff. I seem to recall May vaguely, and I remember not having very much rest in June - between the Isle of Wight festival and Glastonbury I had no rest. I don't think I had a decent sleep until August... just in time to have what I can only describe as a manic episode followed by a crushing low that saw me accidentally accuse my best friends of abandoning me.

Now in September, here I am on my own. I've observed that my evenings are very different now. I find myself at a loose end from about six to half seven/eight, because these were the times I always spent with Granddad. Dinnertime, movie/tv, random and very funny conversations. Even when he was very sick, he didn't go to bed until about eight. Early evenings were ours. These days, I don't feel right until The Daily Show comes on at half past eight. After that I can always find things to do, but for those first few hours, I seem to just  faff. I don't do anything. I eat whatever passes for dinner, maybe watch some of a DVD... but mostly I don't seem to actually do anything. I feel like I should be doing something with the time, but I rarely do.

Everything gets messier, too, and I wish it didn't really, because I did tell him I'd keep everything tidy. There's no chance of him returning, so I don't tidy as much or as well as I should. My heart isn't in it.

He still gets mail, all of it junk. I don't pick it up off the mat immediately. It stays there for a few days until I finally get bored and pick it up - it's always for ridiculous health nonsense and goes straight in the recycling. I don't know why I don't just dispose of it immediately.

Tonight, it came to something of a head for me. I invoked him as an excuse in the long running God Vs. No God argument, and I don't take it back - I believe in Heaven and I won't stop because I need to believe that I'm going to see him again. I'd give up Led Zeppelin tickets to see him again, well and happy and the rest, you know? Even if I read all the science, even if the rational part of my brain truly gave up the concept of a creator/designer/God/Benevolent Old Man/Alanis In Silver... the rest of me couldn't, not now. Right now, as I sit here, the hope of seeing my granddad grin his cheeky grin at me is what stops me from just curling up in a ball on the floor. I don't think I told anyone that before, not out loud, like.

Then, I got on the Northern Line home. Why? Because I didn't want to walk past UCH to get to the station for the other line. It took longer to get there, I had to change and I had a longer walk, but I didn't want to walk past UCH. Last time, I could practically feel the black cloud stalking me. No, far better that I got the Nothern Line. Of course, the walk from the station to home is absolutely filled with things forgotten or past between me and him, so that was just as bad... but that awful hospital gives me the freakydinks. I can walk past it of a morning to get to work, because I did that journey before, during and after the worst of it... but to walk past the front doors and even get an inkling of the stuffy, heavy air inside that place..... no thanks.

I did say it wasn't really rational, didn't I?

My Great-Uncle Fred is picking up my Granddad's chair tomorrow. It's an electric recliner that goes up as well, so you don't have to bend/crouch/strain to get in and out of the chair. I only like it cos I'm lazy, and he really will get excellent use from it. I give it up gladly... except that it's yet another thing of my Granddad's to leave here. One day there won't be anything of him here, except me. After that... he may as well never have been here.

I don't want to make this place some ridiculous shrine to my Granddad. That's why I redecorated the big bedroom so differently... but I don't want to remove all trace.

It took me months, not weeks, months to take his stuff out of the bathroom cabinet. There's a box in the cupboard of really random things that serve no purpose but were his. I have his telephone list by the phone even though some of the numbers are now out of date and the rest I'll never need.

When he was ill, he was here at least. When he was in hospital and the hospice, I could at least go and see him. When he was newly-deceased, I was made busy with things. Now I'm just sat here.

Me and my dad have an arrangement joke-wise. I ask him if he's all right, and he'll answer for my Granddad: "No, I'm half left." He'll ask me how I feel, and I'll answer for Granddad: "With my hands." These are not the greatest jokes in the world, but they've been handed down through generations of smartarse Worleys. But no one is ever going to scold me again for asking for a 'bit' of water when I should ask for a 'drop' - water doesn't come in bits. Nobody is going to shout at me if I'm still on the computer at 3 in the morning - none of that "You should be in bed, Miss Worley" stuff. He always managed to sound firm without being angry, too. Bemused, maybe.

If I'd known this was the cost of getting free reign over the remote control, I'd have stuck with suffering through Poirot and Miss Marple, Columbo and Walker, Texas Ranger a million times.

I can't stress to you how good my granddad was. I don't mean to say he was perfect, but this was a good man. He didn't complain unless forced - even in agony he didn't. He just tried to make people laugh, you know?

I know everyone loses their grandparents, and I know that's the way it's meant to be. But he wasn't just my granddad, he was my flatmate and my friend, and nobody apparently expected us to get on as well as we did when I moved in. I supposed they assumed I'd be too noisy and too messy, and he'd be too set in his ways. Well, you'd be amazed how tidy I managed to be, and you'd be amazed how flexible he was about mess - as long as it stayed in my room.

Some people thought also that I might feel constricted living with an old man. Well no, it was a privilege and an honour and most of all, a bloody good laugh. It was impossible to feel lonely with him a room or two away, even when he was feeling shite.

It's not to say I'm constantly unhappy now, nor that I find being here at home intolerable - not at all. But this evening, I found myself not wanting to rush home, and not just because I had cleaning to do. I always have the TV or the CD player on or something, partly because that's my way, but partly because I don't think I could stand the silence otherwise. It reminds me of the mornings I'd wake up and listen, quietly terrified, until I heard him coughing or moving around. I woke up very early one morning without realising, and couldn't hear him. It was just quiet, and I lay very still, wondering if his heart had stopped in the night. That's not what our destiny turned out to be, but it felt like my heart stopped until I heard him cough. Now, it's quiet unless I manufacture some noise myself.

I wouldn't even say I'm lonely, necessarily, but I wish he were here. I would just..... At the moment, the hope of seeing him again, and without age or pain or sorrow tangled up in it, that hope... it's one of only a few things standing between me and the deep end of the dark ocean.

That, and M*A*S*H, obviously.
apolla: (Queen Maeve)
This has been a pretty shit week. This week of the year usually is, because I'm sat here in England thinking 'this time x years ago I arrived in California'. I miss California a lot in Septembers, as the weather here really begins to get grey and grim. Sometimes I can taste the CPK barbecue chicken pizza if I think about it.

I think about how easy it was, how I just sat around drinking Frappucinos, renting videos and doing as little work as possible. Most of all, I climbed out the big hole there, because it's hard (though certainly not impossible) to be awfully sad when the sun is shining and the only thing you have to do is mosey on over to a class that consists solely of watching music videos.

I've also come to realise that, as much as I pretend otherwise, I'm not over my granddad. Not remotely so.

I find the nature and stages of grief quite fascinating. I'm no psychologist, but it's fascinating nonetheless.

When the dude got sick the first time, nearly a year ago now, I remember thinking how fantastically novel it was to have the home to myself. Like a teenager left home alone for a weekend for the first time - sitting in the cool chair, having control of the remote control, having dinner whenever I bloody well felt like it, going to bed whenever I felt like it... you know the drill, you've most all of you been there.

Of course, it wasn't quite like that, because every night after work I went to UCH to see my granddad. I didn't stay up all that late because I could almost hear him scolding me if it got past one am... I didn't leave mess everywhere because I never knew precisely when he was coming home... But it was somehow novel just the same.

When he was here after that, it was like before, but with a bit more help and not quite so much fun. When he got ill the second time, the novelty was gone. I suppose I knew, no matter how I argued, that he would not be coming home. I kept everything pretty well clean and tidy just in case, and so that I could be telling the truth when I told him I was keeping it all nice.

Even though I was here alone from the end of February, it didn't feel like it because I was going to see him at the hospital each night, then every other day or so at the hospice. That went on until the end of April... and then he died. I can still hear the rattle if I think about it, but I try not to.

Then he died, and for weeks, I wasn't left alone. Seriously man, there was always someone here, and it drove me crazy. There was the hassle of getting the succession, then of decorating, then of moving bits of furniture and stuff. I seem to recall May vaguely, and I remember not having very much rest in June - between the Isle of Wight festival and Glastonbury I had no rest. I don't think I had a decent sleep until August... just in time to have what I can only describe as a manic episode followed by a crushing low that saw me accidentally accuse my best friends of abandoning me.

Now in September, here I am on my own. I've observed that my evenings are very different now. I find myself at a loose end from about six to half seven/eight, because these were the times I always spent with Granddad. Dinnertime, movie/tv, random and very funny conversations. Even when he was very sick, he didn't go to bed until about eight. Early evenings were ours. These days, I don't feel right until The Daily Show comes on at half past eight. After that I can always find things to do, but for those first few hours, I seem to just  faff. I don't do anything. I eat whatever passes for dinner, maybe watch some of a DVD... but mostly I don't seem to actually do anything. I feel like I should be doing something with the time, but I rarely do.

Everything gets messier, too, and I wish it didn't really, because I did tell him I'd keep everything tidy. There's no chance of him returning, so I don't tidy as much or as well as I should. My heart isn't in it.

He still gets mail, all of it junk. I don't pick it up off the mat immediately. It stays there for a few days until I finally get bored and pick it up - it's always for ridiculous health nonsense and goes straight in the recycling. I don't know why I don't just dispose of it immediately.

Tonight, it came to something of a head for me. I invoked him as an excuse in the long running God Vs. No God argument, and I don't take it back - I believe in Heaven and I won't stop because I need to believe that I'm going to see him again. I'd give up Led Zeppelin tickets to see him again, well and happy and the rest, you know? Even if I read all the science, even if the rational part of my brain truly gave up the concept of a creator/designer/God/Benevolent Old Man/Alanis In Silver... the rest of me couldn't, not now. Right now, as I sit here, the hope of seeing my granddad grin his cheeky grin at me is what stops me from just curling up in a ball on the floor. I don't think I told anyone that before, not out loud, like.

Then, I got on the Northern Line home. Why? Because I didn't want to walk past UCH to get to the station for the other line. It took longer to get there, I had to change and I had a longer walk, but I didn't want to walk past UCH. Last time, I could practically feel the black cloud stalking me. No, far better that I got the Nothern Line. Of course, the walk from the station to home is absolutely filled with things forgotten or past between me and him, so that was just as bad... but that awful hospital gives me the freakydinks. I can walk past it of a morning to get to work, because I did that journey before, during and after the worst of it... but to walk past the front doors and even get an inkling of the stuffy, heavy air inside that place..... no thanks.

I did say it wasn't really rational, didn't I?

My Great-Uncle Fred is picking up my Granddad's chair tomorrow. It's an electric recliner that goes up as well, so you don't have to bend/crouch/strain to get in and out of the chair. I only like it cos I'm lazy, and he really will get excellent use from it. I give it up gladly... except that it's yet another thing of my Granddad's to leave here. One day there won't be anything of him here, except me. After that... he may as well never have been here.

I don't want to make this place some ridiculous shrine to my Granddad. That's why I redecorated the big bedroom so differently... but I don't want to remove all trace.

It took me months, not weeks, months to take his stuff out of the bathroom cabinet. There's a box in the cupboard of really random things that serve no purpose but were his. I have his telephone list by the phone even though some of the numbers are now out of date and the rest I'll never need.

When he was ill, he was here at least. When he was in hospital and the hospice, I could at least go and see him. When he was newly-deceased, I was made busy with things. Now I'm just sat here.

Me and my dad have an arrangement joke-wise. I ask him if he's all right, and he'll answer for my Granddad: "No, I'm half left." He'll ask me how I feel, and I'll answer for Granddad: "With my hands." These are not the greatest jokes in the world, but they've been handed down through generations of smartarse Worleys. But no one is ever going to scold me again for asking for a 'bit' of water when I should ask for a 'drop' - water doesn't come in bits. Nobody is going to shout at me if I'm still on the computer at 3 in the morning - none of that "You should be in bed, Miss Worley" stuff. He always managed to sound firm without being angry, too. Bemused, maybe.

If I'd known this was the cost of getting free reign over the remote control, I'd have stuck with suffering through Poirot and Miss Marple, Columbo and Walker, Texas Ranger a million times.

I can't stress to you how good my granddad was. I don't mean to say he was perfect, but this was a good man. He didn't complain unless forced - even in agony he didn't. He just tried to make people laugh, you know?

I know everyone loses their grandparents, and I know that's the way it's meant to be. But he wasn't just my granddad, he was my flatmate and my friend, and nobody apparently expected us to get on as well as we did when I moved in. I supposed they assumed I'd be too noisy and too messy, and he'd be too set in his ways. Well, you'd be amazed how tidy I managed to be, and you'd be amazed how flexible he was about mess - as long as it stayed in my room.

Some people thought also that I might feel constricted living with an old man. Well no, it was a privilege and an honour and most of all, a bloody good laugh. It was impossible to feel lonely with him a room or two away, even when he was feeling shite.

It's not to say I'm constantly unhappy now, nor that I find being here at home intolerable - not at all. But this evening, I found myself not wanting to rush home, and not just because I had cleaning to do. I always have the TV or the CD player on or something, partly because that's my way, but partly because I don't think I could stand the silence otherwise. It reminds me of the mornings I'd wake up and listen, quietly terrified, until I heard him coughing or moving around. I woke up very early one morning without realising, and couldn't hear him. It was just quiet, and I lay very still, wondering if his heart had stopped in the night. That's not what our destiny turned out to be, but it felt like my heart stopped until I heard him cough. Now, it's quiet unless I manufacture some noise myself.

I wouldn't even say I'm lonely, necessarily, but I wish he were here. I would just..... At the moment, the hope of seeing him again, and without age or pain or sorrow tangled up in it, that hope... it's one of only a few things standing between me and the deep end of the dark ocean.

That, and M*A*S*H, obviously.
apolla: (Default)
It has been some weeks now, since my grandfather died. Months, actually. April, May, June, July makes four. Add another two to that for hospitalisation and the hospice, we may accept six months of being on my own.

The being on my own is OK. I actually like it, being one of those people who exists outside the natural order of the world, being an Oracle and therefore destined to observe and comment upon the world rather than being a true part of it.

I have been bugged for some time about getting everything sorted out, and for two months I refused because as long as there was even the shadow of a maybe of a possibility of him coming home, it would remain his home as he remembered it. Since then, I've stalled for various reasons. Mostly because I just couldn't be bothered.

Today, I cleared out the bathroom cabinet. It's not something I ever used, because I kept all my stuff out of his way. I found denture cleaning stuff, practically -

And now there's an old Poirot on, and some bird is singing the Kashmiri Love Song, which is featured in The Sheik, which is the last 'new' motion picture Granddad and I watched together... The first time I saw Valentino and therefore the moment I fell in love with Valentino. The song Rudy sang himself, the one shard of his voice that remains for those of us who came along far too late. The woman in question is a better singer that Rodolfo (ie, she can actually sing) but it means nothing to me. For all the can't-sing, it's still dearest Valentino. If I close my eyes, I can picture perfectly the moment I first saw him on screen, sitting, crosslegged in the sand, cigarette in hand and deciding fates. There he remains, sometimes Arabian, sometimes Russian, sometimes Italian, sometimes Spanish and even once English. Sometimes a terrible man, sometimes an excellent one, sometimes just not all bad... but always Valentino, with his lazy-eyed, entrancing stare and the look in his eyes that says "Don't take it all too seriously, because I'm not" and reminds me of Errol Flynn. I was too late for him, too.

Anyway, back to whatever. I found a complete, never used Givenchy Men toiletry set that he didn't seem to have ever wanted and some Imperial Leather soap. I found silly little things that were somehow meaningful simply by being his. Most everything has been thrown away, of course, and I feel emptier for it.

One day, I shall open my eyes, and nothing in this flat will really be of him anymore. I suppose it's how it should be, and a memory of his smile or the remembrance of a trip to Fortune Street Park will be all that remains. I know it's the way the world works, but these days if I ask someone 'all right?' they answer 'yes' or 'no' or 'meh'. Nobody has answered 'half left' for so long, and I yearn for it, I suppose.

I have always been too late. I have always felt like I am trying to catch up. Whether it's to catch up to the much-mentioned Morrison, or Philip, or even catch up as far as Valentino and Flynn, it does not seem right that here I sit now, in 'this day and age' when I should be in their day and age. I should be with Rudolph, older then than my own grandfather, or with Jimmy, thirty years older than I am. Perhaps I'd hate it, perhaps I'd love it. Maybe I wouldn't last thirty seconds in the past (a foreign country, you know) with my modern ideas and expectations... or perhaps it would be home.

Of course, it's all very well to yearn for a foreign country. You can always go to a foreign country, especially if Ryanair fly there. The past is locked off to me, always and forever. I can no more go back to the past than I could perform self-brain surgery.

Still, it would be nice to see my granddad as he once was, a handsome, tall young man with a grin. To see him with my grandmother before life took its toll on her.

And it turns out I've just paid fifty-six pounds I can't really afford for a harp. A harp. Can I play the harp? No. Still, as Philip said, it's only money.
apolla: (Default)
It has been some weeks now, since my grandfather died. Months, actually. April, May, June, July makes four. Add another two to that for hospitalisation and the hospice, we may accept six months of being on my own.

The being on my own is OK. I actually like it, being one of those people who exists outside the natural order of the world, being an Oracle and therefore destined to observe and comment upon the world rather than being a true part of it.

I have been bugged for some time about getting everything sorted out, and for two months I refused because as long as there was even the shadow of a maybe of a possibility of him coming home, it would remain his home as he remembered it. Since then, I've stalled for various reasons. Mostly because I just couldn't be bothered.

Today, I cleared out the bathroom cabinet. It's not something I ever used, because I kept all my stuff out of his way. I found denture cleaning stuff, practically -

And now there's an old Poirot on, and some bird is singing the Kashmiri Love Song, which is featured in The Sheik, which is the last 'new' motion picture Granddad and I watched together... The first time I saw Valentino and therefore the moment I fell in love with Valentino. The song Rudy sang himself, the one shard of his voice that remains for those of us who came along far too late. The woman in question is a better singer that Rodolfo (ie, she can actually sing) but it means nothing to me. For all the can't-sing, it's still dearest Valentino. If I close my eyes, I can picture perfectly the moment I first saw him on screen, sitting, crosslegged in the sand, cigarette in hand and deciding fates. There he remains, sometimes Arabian, sometimes Russian, sometimes Italian, sometimes Spanish and even once English. Sometimes a terrible man, sometimes an excellent one, sometimes just not all bad... but always Valentino, with his lazy-eyed, entrancing stare and the look in his eyes that says "Don't take it all too seriously, because I'm not" and reminds me of Errol Flynn. I was too late for him, too.

Anyway, back to whatever. I found a complete, never used Givenchy Men toiletry set that he didn't seem to have ever wanted and some Imperial Leather soap. I found silly little things that were somehow meaningful simply by being his. Most everything has been thrown away, of course, and I feel emptier for it.

One day, I shall open my eyes, and nothing in this flat will really be of him anymore. I suppose it's how it should be, and a memory of his smile or the remembrance of a trip to Fortune Street Park will be all that remains. I know it's the way the world works, but these days if I ask someone 'all right?' they answer 'yes' or 'no' or 'meh'. Nobody has answered 'half left' for so long, and I yearn for it, I suppose.

I have always been too late. I have always felt like I am trying to catch up. Whether it's to catch up to the much-mentioned Morrison, or Philip, or even catch up as far as Valentino and Flynn, it does not seem right that here I sit now, in 'this day and age' when I should be in their day and age. I should be with Rudolph, older then than my own grandfather, or with Jimmy, thirty years older than I am. Perhaps I'd hate it, perhaps I'd love it. Maybe I wouldn't last thirty seconds in the past (a foreign country, you know) with my modern ideas and expectations... or perhaps it would be home.

Of course, it's all very well to yearn for a foreign country. You can always go to a foreign country, especially if Ryanair fly there. The past is locked off to me, always and forever. I can no more go back to the past than I could perform self-brain surgery.

Still, it would be nice to see my granddad as he once was, a handsome, tall young man with a grin. To see him with my grandmother before life took its toll on her.

And it turns out I've just paid fifty-six pounds I can't really afford for a harp. A harp. Can I play the harp? No. Still, as Philip said, it's only money.
apolla: (Default)
First things first:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4-7 sentences on your LJ along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest (unless it's too troublesome to reach and is really heavy. Then go back to step 1).
My books are all over the place at the moment due to decoration, so I went to them and held a hand out for the nearest. I ended up picking up two:

From The Celtic Book Of Living And Dying:

"One day, the bards of Ireland realized that they had forgotten the Tain Bo Cuailgne, the poem about the great cattle raid which pitted the men of Ulster against the men of Connacht. The saints of Ireland join with the poets to ask for God's help. So he revived one of the ancient heroes, who one last time recited the adventures of the men of Ulster, the fight betwen two magic bulls, the deeds of Cuhulainn and the wiles of Queen Maeve of Connacht."

From Philip Lynott, which is a collection of Philo's lyrics and poems and doesn't go as far as page 123:

"Don't believe me if I tell you
Not a word of this is true
Don't believe me if I tell you
Especially if I tell you that
I'm in love with you.

Don't believe me if I tell you
That I wrote this song for you
There might be some other, silly pretty girl
I'm singing it too [sic]

Don't believe a word
For words are only spoken
Your heart is like a promise
Made to be broken

Don't believe a word
Words can tell lies
And lies are no comfort
When there's tears in your eyes.

Don't believe me if I tell you
Not a word of this is true
Don't believe me if I tell you
Especially if I tell you
I'm in love with you."

and just because I can, from 'Fighting My Way Back':

"I'm tough, rough, ready and able
To pick myself up from under this table
Don't stick no sign on me
I got no label
I'm a little sick, unsure, unsound and unstable
But I'm fighting my way back

I'm busting out and I'm going in
Im' kickin up about the state I'm in
Looking to my future, not my pas
I want to be a good boy but how long can it last
Fighting my way back

This kid is going to wreck and ruin
I'm not quite sure of what I'm doing, you see
It all happened a little too soon
But it's all here in this here tune
Fighting my way back"

This surely proves that lying to oneself is a far great, deadlier crime than lying to everyone else. If only.... never mind.

Other Items of Disinterest:

The Doors are on the cover of Classic Rock this month. Last time the Old Bastard graced a magazine cover, the stupid fools at the magazine had used a black and white photo and added blue eyes for effect. Which is perfectly fine, but for one minor detail:

His eyes were brown.

I haven't read the entire article (OMG new interviews with Manzarek, Krieger, Densmore and Botnick, they say!) but I anticipate it being much the same as ever- Father Ray bigs up the Morrison Legend while trying to appear like he isn't, Krieger just doesn't disagree and Drummer John is rather more scathing about the whole thing. In fact, so far, the word 'normal' has been invoked so many times that clearly the current Doors trend is to Paint Jim, Normal.

Please. The man was normal like I'm normal. Which is you know, not all that much, but still more normal than people assumed. He was an chronically shy alcoholic and taker of many drugs (quantity and variety both). He was actually a total Cuddly Uncle Ned's Trio at his worst and a genius at his best. I wish they'd stop trying to analyse him, as if working out the root of Jimmy's problems is what would bring him back.

Nothing brings him back. If dreams could do it, if wishes could do it, if shouting, screaming and sobbing could do it, I'd be drinking tea with the Old Bastard about, oh say, now-ish.

There's nothing to be done. Nothing, that is, that doesn't involve high-level witchcraft, satanism or heavenly bribery. So let's stop trying to understand that which cannot be understood. I have learned one thing more than anything else in my study: The more you learn about Jim Morrison, the more you realise you don't know him at all.

*
Snoreworthy decorating stuff:

I now have carpet in the front room. In fact, both the front room and the bedroom are painted, they're newly carpeted and shiny white Venetian blinds are coming to be fitted very soon.

Very soon, it'll all be sorted out, and it will seem as if Granddad was never here. The chair will go soon, to Uncle Fred who needs a funky electric chair far more than me. A new sofa will come along, then my desk will come in and I'll get a chair for that. I'll get a new wardrobe and stuff....

And it'll be as if Granddad was never here. My dad even broke something off the mirror when he was moving it, so he wants me to chuck that out (regardless of whether it can be fixed, I haven't looked yet). That mirror's been in the hallway as long as I can remember through the course of my life. This morning I stared right at the wall to see if I'd brushed my hair. It took me much longer than it should've done to realise it was wall, not myself.

I don't have to be told that this place was in desperately dire need of redecorating - I'm the one that's been living here for nearly two years. I don't have to be told that this is my home now, because I've been here on my own since February. But see the thing is, I have no particular desire to erase everything from the place that was his. See, I like old things, everyone knows this, so why am I being told to 'go modern' and all that nonsense?

This place isn't really Clare's, it's Granddad's, you see. It's been Granddad's for twenty-five years, and five months does not change that. Another twenty-five years might not change that. Perhaps the new paint and the new stuff don't really make a difference at all, but one of these days I'm going to look around, and it won't bear any resemblance to the place he knew, or I knew.
apolla: (Default)
First things first:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4-7 sentences on your LJ along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest (unless it's too troublesome to reach and is really heavy. Then go back to step 1).
My books are all over the place at the moment due to decoration, so I went to them and held a hand out for the nearest. I ended up picking up two:

From The Celtic Book Of Living And Dying:

"One day, the bards of Ireland realized that they had forgotten the Tain Bo Cuailgne, the poem about the great cattle raid which pitted the men of Ulster against the men of Connacht. The saints of Ireland join with the poets to ask for God's help. So he revived one of the ancient heroes, who one last time recited the adventures of the men of Ulster, the fight betwen two magic bulls, the deeds of Cuhulainn and the wiles of Queen Maeve of Connacht."

From Philip Lynott, which is a collection of Philo's lyrics and poems and doesn't go as far as page 123:

"Don't believe me if I tell you
Not a word of this is true
Don't believe me if I tell you
Especially if I tell you that
I'm in love with you.

Don't believe me if I tell you
That I wrote this song for you
There might be some other, silly pretty girl
I'm singing it too [sic]

Don't believe a word
For words are only spoken
Your heart is like a promise
Made to be broken

Don't believe a word
Words can tell lies
And lies are no comfort
When there's tears in your eyes.

Don't believe me if I tell you
Not a word of this is true
Don't believe me if I tell you
Especially if I tell you
I'm in love with you."

and just because I can, from 'Fighting My Way Back':

"I'm tough, rough, ready and able
To pick myself up from under this table
Don't stick no sign on me
I got no label
I'm a little sick, unsure, unsound and unstable
But I'm fighting my way back

I'm busting out and I'm going in
Im' kickin up about the state I'm in
Looking to my future, not my pas
I want to be a good boy but how long can it last
Fighting my way back

This kid is going to wreck and ruin
I'm not quite sure of what I'm doing, you see
It all happened a little too soon
But it's all here in this here tune
Fighting my way back"

This surely proves that lying to oneself is a far great, deadlier crime than lying to everyone else. If only.... never mind.

Other Items of Disinterest:

The Doors are on the cover of Classic Rock this month. Last time the Old Bastard graced a magazine cover, the stupid fools at the magazine had used a black and white photo and added blue eyes for effect. Which is perfectly fine, but for one minor detail:

His eyes were brown.

I haven't read the entire article (OMG new interviews with Manzarek, Krieger, Densmore and Botnick, they say!) but I anticipate it being much the same as ever- Father Ray bigs up the Morrison Legend while trying to appear like he isn't, Krieger just doesn't disagree and Drummer John is rather more scathing about the whole thing. In fact, so far, the word 'normal' has been invoked so many times that clearly the current Doors trend is to Paint Jim, Normal.

Please. The man was normal like I'm normal. Which is you know, not all that much, but still more normal than people assumed. He was an chronically shy alcoholic and taker of many drugs (quantity and variety both). He was actually a total Cuddly Uncle Ned's Trio at his worst and a genius at his best. I wish they'd stop trying to analyse him, as if working out the root of Jimmy's problems is what would bring him back.

Nothing brings him back. If dreams could do it, if wishes could do it, if shouting, screaming and sobbing could do it, I'd be drinking tea with the Old Bastard about, oh say, now-ish.

There's nothing to be done. Nothing, that is, that doesn't involve high-level witchcraft, satanism or heavenly bribery. So let's stop trying to understand that which cannot be understood. I have learned one thing more than anything else in my study: The more you learn about Jim Morrison, the more you realise you don't know him at all.

*
Snoreworthy decorating stuff:

I now have carpet in the front room. In fact, both the front room and the bedroom are painted, they're newly carpeted and shiny white Venetian blinds are coming to be fitted very soon.

Very soon, it'll all be sorted out, and it will seem as if Granddad was never here. The chair will go soon, to Uncle Fred who needs a funky electric chair far more than me. A new sofa will come along, then my desk will come in and I'll get a chair for that. I'll get a new wardrobe and stuff....

And it'll be as if Granddad was never here. My dad even broke something off the mirror when he was moving it, so he wants me to chuck that out (regardless of whether it can be fixed, I haven't looked yet). That mirror's been in the hallway as long as I can remember through the course of my life. This morning I stared right at the wall to see if I'd brushed my hair. It took me much longer than it should've done to realise it was wall, not myself.

I don't have to be told that this place was in desperately dire need of redecorating - I'm the one that's been living here for nearly two years. I don't have to be told that this is my home now, because I've been here on my own since February. But see the thing is, I have no particular desire to erase everything from the place that was his. See, I like old things, everyone knows this, so why am I being told to 'go modern' and all that nonsense?

This place isn't really Clare's, it's Granddad's, you see. It's been Granddad's for twenty-five years, and five months does not change that. Another twenty-five years might not change that. Perhaps the new paint and the new stuff don't really make a difference at all, but one of these days I'm going to look around, and it won't bear any resemblance to the place he knew, or I knew.

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