Tuesday, December 22, 2015


This morning, I went to my first ever funeral! It's taken me forty years, but I finally caved in.

I have known many people who have died - friends, family, acquaintances - but I have missed all their funerals because:

  • a) I have been in another country
  • b) I have not been able to get away from work or
  • c) I just didn't like them very much

Today's funeral was for an old friend of the family whom I have known since I was a little boy. Her name was Eileen and it's so sad she is no longer with us. However, she was very pragmatic about things and liked a laugh, so I know she won't be upset about me blogging about it...

Mum was doing the eulogy, so we turned up early to make sure we got a good seat. Normally, when going to a show, I like an aisle seat, but seeing as mum had to get up, I magnanimously relented and gave her easy access.

It was quite a crowd queuing up outside the venue. It's kind of like speed-dating... you wait for the previous mourners to have their little soiree and then your crowd can pile in after. It was a bit like waiting for a ride at Alton Towers but without the crowd-control turnstiles. Whilst waiting, I was checking out the talent amongst the mourners. There wasn't a lot, but some lads do brush up well once attired in a suit... even Derbyshire folk!

Mum and I were allowed in first (a secret "Nur, nur-ne, nur-nur" went through my head to the others in the queue as I can be rather infantile) and we got front row seats. Normally I hate hate front row seats, but thankfully, this wasn't IMAX.

I was actually surprised at the little crematorium chapel. It was reasonably warm, but I imagine someone had lit a nice roaring fire somewhere for our convenience.

Once everyone was in, the service began. It was a short and sweet affair. Mum's eulogy was beautiful and touching, a letter from Eileen written before her passing was also read and it was charming, funny and moving. The host-chappie said something about Jesus Claus and the Christmas Miracle, or something... and then Freddie Mercury belted out The Show Must Go On. (He wasn't actually there, otherwise I might have to start believing in all that hocus pocus!)

We all paid our respects to Eileen as we passed through the exit (no gift shop - rude!) and then we got to speak to her husband, sons and family.

It was a tearful morning. All jokes aside, Eileen really was one of the kindest, gentlest, funniest, warmest, most beautiful women to have ever lived. She really was one in a million. She will be dearly missed.

As I am currently in a 'Will Young' phase when it comes to naming my blog entries, I have chosen 'Evergreen' as Eileen loved gardening and loved her allotment, I know that in our memories, her garden will be kept evergreen forever.

This isn't her garden, but I think it's pretty and Eileen would have loved it!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What's in Goodbye?

Today marks my final day in Australia (for the time being, at least). I fly out at 10:25 this evening and should arrive in Manchester just before midday on Tuesday.

I had originally intended to fly back on the sixteenth but, being unemployed and having already shipped my stuff, I was getting bored and decided to bring the flight forward. It was cheaper to do that than sit about eating take-out for three weeks and staring at a blank wall.

In the sixteen years of living in Australia, I have made some amazing friends, seen some wonderful things, and had some terrific experiences. As I look back on all that now, I feel a pang of sadness as I bid a fond farewell to this chapter of my life.

This was me in Queensland near the beginning of my time here.

As my fingers hover over the keyboard, poised with an anticipation of some profound words to type to express my oscillating feelings - some tenebrous, some bracing, all slightly overwhelming - I struggle to articulate myself coherently. Where do I begin? What do I focus on? Whom do I thank? Where do I go? How do I say "goodbye"?

Those friends who know me well will be fully cognizant of my feelings towards them. I am supremely grateful to those who have touched my life here in the past decade and a half. Some friendships have been fleeting, others more permanent, but all have shaped me in various ways to create the man who is writing this now.

Out of all the great things in Australia - the landscape, the society, the cost of living, the culture, the flora and fauna... - it is the people that I am going to miss most. I part the country with an ache in my heart.

But what's in "goodbye"?

It's not an ending, just a new direction (gosh, I sound like Oprah!) and it's not like I am never going to see any of these amazing people again. With travel and the supremely incredible land of the Internet, I shall be able to keep permanent contact with everyone. I still keep in touch with the majority of my UK friends, so I am sure the trend will continue (I'm a hard man to get rid of!)

OK, OK, I shan't waffle on much longer now for it is in danger of becoming maudlin and tedious.

Let's not be like this...

...but more like this!

P.S. I never did get to meet Ryan Kwanten, damn it...