Yellow Chairs


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Have arrived alone at a hotel in the country, on my way to somewhere.

Walked into the room – which is split level and with a balcony outside overlooking a lovely green valley – to be confronted with two beautiful yellow (greeny-yellow) chairs, standing side by side.  The chairs have brought on some weeping.  Impossible not to be thinking how it should be me and him sitting in them, not just me alone.  A dreadful awareness of loneliness and grief – especially because it’s so quiet and rural, with wind in the trees and birds of prey circling overhead.

I must force myself to focus on living in the present, and enjoying the here and now.  There’s nothing I can do about his absence, so I will just take in and enjoy things myself – the yellow chairs, the shiny curtains, the balcony, the view, the wind.  The daffodils, the primroses, the palms.  The swimming pool.

I’m becoming a connoisseur of hotel swimming pools – I’ve been away quite a bit and I keep choosing hotels with indoor pools, as it gives me a chance to get some exercise in a nicer environment.  I’ve been using local public pools also, one of which in particular is modern and nice, but hotel pools are a different experience.  No groups of noisy schoolkids, generally fewer people, and often with nice facilities, like jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.  I do tend to find such places relaxing and escapist, which I suppose is the idea.

The one in this hotel has a spa pool with these sort of metal beds in – you lie on them and it bubbles up strongly under you.  Wonderful!  A new experience for me.  I had four goes!

In the changing rooms, like in most places I’ve been, there’s a spin drier, to remove water from your costume.  The other day when I tried an inner city gym, I asked a woman whether there was a spin drier anywhere, and she gave me such a bemused and incredulous look, like such an idea was quite ridiculous.  I felt embarrassed but incredulous myself that someone had never come across a spin drier in a swimming pool changing room before.  I guess maybe I’ve been spoilt by private pools.

After my swim and a wonderful shower, I return to my room – but have to try not to look at the two yellow chairs, so demanding of two people.

Sea Pie and Cobweb


I’ve been engaged in a long and major sort out of ‘stuff’, and am now opening boxes of things from my past, which all (well mostly) seem very dear to me.  (When you first lose someone, all things seem worthless, because you would’ve given every last possession to save someone’s life; but now I feel like my possessions are precious – I haven’t got him any more, but I’ve still got my things.)

I’ve found lots of old children’s books and have just re-read one called Wish For A Pony.  I can tell from my own handwriting in the front of it that I read it very young, yet the writing style seems so adult and highbrow, you can’t believe a child would have understood it all.  Look at some of this vocabulary:

“The girls’ eyes paid silent homage to…”
“…no room in their burdened minds…”
“…with hearty determination.”
“…until it was abruptly terminated…”
“…wallowed placidly forward…”
“…handing over the disreputable parcel…”
“She rummaged obligingly…”
“Tamzin trailed dejectedly…”
“I’ll guarantee them as absolutely immaculate.”

So I’m reading this, when in my kiddy handwriting I’ve misspelled ‘white’ as ‘whight’?  I guess that’s how you learn the language and become literate, though, by learning new words from the context.

Maybe it’s just that the writing is old-fashioned, compared to today:
“’I say!’ breathed Rissa on the threshold. ‘This is smashing!’”

Anyway, there are two girls in the book and they ride two ponies at a stables on the beach – one called Sea Pie (bay), the other Cobweb (grey).

On the same day as I found the book, I also came across two little souvenir ponies/donkeys from Corfu, made out of leather.  One is brown and one is grey, so naturally they have become Sea Pie and Cobweb.

It’s sad how I’m reverting to childhood.  It’s something to do with needing/getting comfort wherever you can.

Scratch Messiah


I sang chorus in a Scratch Messiah before Christmas, and found another one just before Easter, so went to that also.  It’s about occupying my mind, and being drawn to familiar things.

I found an amazing website for choral singers that plays you all the parts separately, to help you learn them.  How times have changed – what a wonderful resource.  Easier than trying to pick out all the notes on a keyboard yourself (especially when you no longer have any sort of keyboard).

Some bits of it are so beautiful – I was struck by some of the wonderful answering phrases between the parts.

It’s a long time since I’ve sung in choirs, but these recent experiences have reminded me that the absolutely vital thing is to COUNT to yourself as you follow the music – it’s the key to cracking it.  Now I’m sure everyone who sings in a choir would say; er yes, of course, how else to do it?  But I’ve rediscovered the importance of counting, and what I mean is – as opposed to trying to follow another line and get your cue from that (confusing when the music is so often syncopated), and also as opposed to trying to picture a conductor’s beat, ie beating time with a down beat on the bar (I was doing this at first in my head but kept losing the pattern).

My tip is just to really concentrate, look at each bar as it goes along and count the beat in your head really strictly – one two three four, or one two three.  You need to be absolutely sure of where you are, then you can be confident of coming in correctly.  (Easier said than done of course.)

My personal objective each time was to sing the thing through and be 100% accurate, ie not get any notes wrong or miss anything out.  I reckon both times I was around 95% right.

One thing made me laugh to myself on the train home.  There’s a chorus which goes ‘Great was the company of the preachers…’ and I was so tired in the evening after rehearsing since noon, that once I sang ‘Great was the company of the creatures…’  Mental image of a vast number of camels, cows, deer, rabbits etc standing on a hillside.

Handel’s Messiah meets The Animals of Farthing Wood!

St John’s Passion

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Went to a performance of St John’s Passion in a lovely big church in Kensington recently.  The choir was very good, well worth listening to, with a lovely rich sound.  I wasn’t that impressed with the tenor though; I thought his diction wasn’t clear enough, and also there was no engagement with the audience.  It’s such a central role, ‘The Evangelist’, such a focal point for the piece, I would have thought it was an opportunity to really make your presence felt, and deliver it in a way that keeps the audience’s attention on you and on the story.  Basically, I don’t think the Evangelist was Evangelical enough.

I enjoyed it all though.  The penultimate chorus is a piece that, rather morbidly, I sometimes have to stop myself singing because I’ve always thought I’d have it played at my funeral.  I sung it years ago at school and it’s got itself deep in my soul.  I’ve always known it as ‘Lie still… (oh sacred limbs lie sleeping, and I will lay aside my weeping…)’.  But in this translation it was ‘Sleep well’.  Oh dear.  I don’t think ‘Sleep well’ has anything like the power of ‘Lie still’ in that context.

I went on my own and of course it was impossible not to think about my partner (and his absence) the whole time.  When I go to things like this I’m experiencing what they say about how people can be lonely in a crowd.  There were loads of people there who were all obviously interested enough to listen to a serious classical piece like that, and I felt like I had something in common with them, and I belonged.  At yet of course everyone is in couples or family groups, and though you sort of look at people with a smile on your face in the hope of striking up a conversation, no-one spoke to me at all.

In fact the whole of that day, my only attempt at interacting with someone was to make a comment to a guy walking a little white dog just like the one that’s recently won Crufts.  I said something like, ‘Oh look, it’s the Crufts winner!  Any relation?’  He didn’t really respond and the dog just pooed right in front of me.


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Now I am definitely NOT going to get myself a dog.  I have no experience of having had pets like dogs or cats in my life (only budgies and goldfish).  It’s too much commitment.  It would be cruel in the inner city – I’ve always thought I would never consider it unless I had some sort of huge country farmhouse with outbuildings.  And no way am I doing the poo collecting thing – seriously not me.

However, I don’t see what’s wrong with speculating about what breed of dog one might have IF one was going to have a dog.  I love dogs – aesthetically.  I like some better than others.  Hence my decision to go to Crufts; in order to visit the area where you can see and ‘meet’ different breeds of dog (200 according to the website).

I really enjoyed it.  I saw it as an opportunity to maximise hands-on dog experience.  I amused myself by considering what my top three favourite breeds are.  In fact there are two different top threes – one for the dream/fantasy scenario (said huge farmhouse), where size isn’t an issue.  And another more realistic shortlist.  One that I just might conceivably, if I moved out of London and was living somewhere by the seaside where I could take a dog out for walks, consider as a possibility.

Fantasy top three breeds: Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Australian Shepherd, Golden Retriever.
Realistic top three breeds: Lancashire Heeler, Swedish Valhund, Pomeranian.

Last time I went to Crufts (on my own, some years ago), I fell in love with something called an Irish Water Spaniel, because of the way it FELT rather than looked, such lovely soft cuddly fur.

This year, of all the dogs I saw, I would make my personal overall winner a (I think it was) German Shepherd with a beautiful all over deep grey coat, which was doing amazing tricks and generally being charming.  He won me over completely.


Rocky Mountain Horse


I’ve just had a new experience, bidding for something on ebay – and winning!

I thought I had got the item I wanted – a Breyer horse model that I had particularly been looking out for and knew was difficult to get hold of – as it had been telling me for a while I was the highest bidder, but luckily I thought to be online at the last moment.  Suddenly, literally in the last few seconds, not even minutes, someone bid against me and the price leapt up to double what it had been.  I bid back twice and won.  Very exhilarating, I must admit.  Having that real time interaction with someone somewhere who also wanted the item, but reacting quickly enough and getting what you wanted.  Sort of like gambling I suppose – I’d better watch out I don’t get hooked and acquire another addiction.

Do I really need another Breyer horse?  Of course not.  But I want him!  He’s mine!


Me And My Teddy Bears


I’ve got two selected teddy bears in my bedroom.  One is from the Splendour of the Seas cruise we went on (he has a t-shirt with the name of the ship on it), and his name is Splendid.  He represents the past.

The other is from the Isle of Wight last year.  His t-shirt says The Needles so (needless to say) I call him Needless.  Since he dates from after my life-changing event, he represents the future.

I sometimes pick one or other of them up, depending on my mood.  Sometimes I cradle Needless and say to him something like, ‘well it’s just me and you now, you’ve got to help me face my new future on my own’.  But sometimes I grab Splendid and say, ‘don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you, you (ie the past) are always going to be precious to me, and will stay with me always’.

That’s the sad story of me and my two teddy bears.

New General Blog


I was writing a ‘Bereavement Blog’ on this site and also, for a while, ‘John’s Blog From Heaven’.  Now that time has moved on, I have decided to include all those entries within my book ‘A Widow’s Words’, and start a General Blog here instead (though I’m sure some comments relating to my recent experience may still slip in).

I will try to illustrate the blog, though some of the images may be gratuitous/unrelated. (They will all be my photography though.)

Your comments and feedback on anything on this site are very welcome.



New Year

It has occurred to me that this is probably the first time in my whole life that I have spent a Christmas or New Years Day entirely on my own.  We would always have shared them together, and before I’d met John I would have been with family.

I did spend Christmas with family, but today I’ve been all day at home alone, trying to treat it like any other day, and getting on with things like sorting and washing.

But it’s not any other day.  It’s the first day that it’s already that he died last year, not this year any more.  Everyone comments on the passage of time, my life is racing on.  But I feel utterly adrift with a completely uncertain future.

I didn’t stay up for the new year.  What’s everyone celebrating anyway?  The fact that the world has kept on turning?

I don’t think I’ll ever be singing Auld Lang Syne again, not without John to sing it with.



I had to look something up in my old diaries – when I previously went on a particular course, turns out it was eight years ago.

I didn’t like the experience of having a pile of old diaries in my hand and thinking, for every one of the days here, he was alive (well that’s the good and comforting bit) but didn’t know he was soon going to die (that’s the nasty bit).

I particularly didn’t want to look up the day he died in previous years, but I couldn’t help glancing at a couple.  I was sort of afraid it would be something nice and significant that happened, which would then have an awful tinge put on it, to think that at the time we didn’t know that x years later, he would die on that day.  For the two years I looked at, it (22 January) was an insignificant day, nothing particular noted down.  But I’m still thinking – that day passed and I didn’t know it was the day that…

So I’m holding those diaries and thinking – one of these days, these dates, will be the date that I die.  And maybe someone (but probably nobody) will be looking through these diaries and saying, oh how poignant, she ended up dying on the day that such and such happened.

I expressed this sentiment to someone and was told it was unhealthy thinking.  Quite true, clearly.  Everyone on the planet lives through the date they’re eventually going to die on – but you don’t know which it is and there’s nothing you can do about it.  You have to forget about it and just live.

I’ve always thought my over-profoundness is an affliction.  Seems it’s at its worst now.