annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary



It's a full year today since my brother died. I don't really know what to do with myself - I should probably go to bed. I don't know how to mark it - he doesn't have a grave to visit - in fact I think his ashes are still on the mantelpiece at his home. I think that's what I'd like to do, go and sit with him somewhere. His wife is away, staying at her sister's. This is what I read out at his funeral - I was asked to speak as his sister, which is why I don't say much about his family - his wife and both his sons spoke too, as well as several friends. I know I usually change all the names and places, but I can't be arsed. This is us. If you know me and I wouldn't like you to be reading my blog, please stop. Thank you.


Our childhood in the 1950s and 60s was a long time ago - all I have left are vague impressions, so here goes.
Swindon, Jan 1958, Sally and I sat in a massive steamy bath, someone comes in and tells us we have a new baby brother, Andrew. The rest of our time in Swindon is a blur of nappies hanging, dogs chasing buses, and hurry hurry hurry.
Then Highworth, a house on the edge of the village, with a garden leading onto fields, the fields where we rambled free, Andrew still in nappies: “He needs changing again.” “It’s your turn to take him home.” “No, you do it!” We climbed giant trees, imaginary pirate ships with a crow’s nest each, according to age. Andrew was youngest so his was low down but still he fell out. He fell a lot, out of the tree, off his bike, down the stairs at night, bump bump bumping to the bottom. Scabby knees, “Oh look at his lovely curly hair, those beautiful blue eyes!” Listening to the Beatles, Christmas 1964, sat on the floor round the record player, Andrew’s first record, bought when he was 6 years old, I Feel Fine played over and over, and the B side we preferred, She’s a Woman “People tell me that she’s only fooling, I know she isn’t”
Later, in Sussex, still clumsy, catching himself in the back with a four pronged fishing hook, putting a gardening fork through his foot, but always there, my little brother, just the other side of Sally, my little sister, a bit out of reach, bumbling along, slowly growing until suddenly he shot up, taller than us all, and we were grown ups, or thought we were, young adults out in the world, part of the same tribe, into music and festivals, pints of beer, whole food, veggie, that kind of thing. Giving me a lift to sign on, on his little motor bike, both barefoot, hatless, long hair blowing free as the bike struggled up the hill by Hove Park, laughing. Squabbling with Sal in the front of mum’s mini when they’d both learned to drive and both knew best. Lending me his suit to wear to a gig, mending his bike in the back garden.

As we grew into real adults, with bills to pay and children, we became good friends as well as siblings and remained so, apart from a few proper nasty fallings out. When I scrolled back through our emails recently I was stunned to find how vile we could be to each other, but reassured at how we let it go again. We were friends because I liked Andrew a lot. He was funny and kind and clever and good company. In those days he could be unbearably pompous from time to time, but on hearing an indignant, “Andrew!” from Sharyn, he’d say, “What? Oh. Yeah. Sorry.” and never became a pompous person.
He gave great presents – when I was skint for all those years he bought me clothes for my birthday, clothes that I would never have chosen, stylish clothes that gave me a different view of the person I could become. He took up painting and made Sara a lovely picture of Pooh Sticks Bridge. He made cakes and cooked and hung out with us mums when his boys were small.
When my daughter Sam was diagnosed with MS, Andrew trained and ran the London marathon, raising money for the MS Society. His continued visits to Sam, who he unfailingly called Samantha, were a source of comfort and pleasure to her always.

I’m so glad circumstances brought us together on Friday mornings, these last few years, me to Preston Park, on the day Andrew worked from home. After art group I’d go round and he’d make us lunch and we’d chat and laugh and share what we’d been up to lately. Art, politics, walking, photography, books, music, family, friends, dancing, films, dogs.… symptoms… tests… diagnoses… appointments… diets… and then silence. That terrible silence.
He was always interesting, often funny, always great company. You did good, Andrew. You were a good man. We love you. Rest in peace, little brother.

1:07 a.m. - 15.03.19


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