Remembering 21 September: bereavement 31 years on

Kate & Dad's Grave9/11 is a difficult date for thousands of people around the world.  For our family, it is 21 September, today’s date.  It was 31 years ago today when tragedy struck: whilst driving the family home from a cousin’s wedding my dad suffered a minor stroke. He was on the motorway.  My 17 year old sister died, my father suffered a serious head injury, my mother injuries to her spine, my brother’s minor injuries. I first wrote about it 3 years ago in ‘September: seasons of mist and mellow sadness’

So it’s hardly surprising this date is seared into my family’s collective memory as one to endure, mark, recoil from or simply struggle through, depending on one’s mood.  For the first 10-15 years, we did all of the above, but usually quietly: my father, having a compromised memory would often not even be aware of the date, and so we would be left wondering how much to remind him, caught between the importance of marking it as a family or diplomatically sweeping it under the carpet. Continue reading

Now you are ten…..

Now you are 10Our second-born, our only son turned 10 today.  And so I find myself ruminating on a decade of a boy who has brought us deep contentment, laughter, cajoling to eat fruit and the buying of many footballs.  My time-strapped week has meant I had no time to pen a post to him, but then I recalled this post I wrote two years ago for when he turned 8.  I wanted to repost it not just because its a particularly precious post, but because it says much of what I’d say today.

For sure, he may be that bit more street wise and want the latest haircut/gadget/football kit, greeted with varying degrees of ‘Maybe’, ‘No’ and eventually ‘Yes’. He has an increasing eye for hypocrisy or unfairness, pointing out truths about ourselves that are often a little too candid for comfort….. Yet we love this – the fact that he feels safe and free enough to tell us certain truths, holding us to account in the ways that we hold him.  His humour has become drier, often side-splittingly funny, and despite having an ever increasing affection for screens, he still loves nothing better than us reading to him.  Although older and cooler, he still stands on the child side of innocence, and so much of what I said in this post still stands.  Enjoy.

‘You are Eight: a eulogy to my son’

I dreamt last night of you.  A strange and slightly haunting dream that lingers longer than normal.

We thought we had lost you in a large, strange hotel.  On finding you, you had transformed into a baby.  I took you in my arms and cuddled you, my heart warming to the memory now being relived, of the treasure that you then were.  It sounds trite that word ‘treasure’.  Naff even.  But it is true.

Contentedness. That’s what you brought to my heart.  Unexpected contentedness.

Continue reading

Everyone Else is Normal goes on air!

Today, my blog had the honour of being featured on national radio.  OK, UCB isn’t exactly mainstream, but it is one of only two Christian radio stations that broadcast in the UK and has a decent following.

UCB contacted me last week after reading my post for LICC about the summer holidays being a time for throwing out the clock and giving our kids and ourselves much needed time to chill out and day dream.  They wanted me to join them on a live interview for their Current Affairs programme to talk about the topic for a full 8 minutes.  Being live, I was a tad nervous, probably more about the fact that my two children and a puppy were lurking around the house and could at any moment cause a small disturbance! But I know my kids and dog, and could count on them to not do such a thing….

Anyway, it went very well, thanks largely to the interviewer, Vicky Gibbens, who was very professional and relaxed, putting me at ease right from the start.  My friends who managed to catch it (one in the car en route to her holiday destination) said I came across really well, “very eloquent and natural”, and ‘balanced”.

To listen to the 8 minute interview, click here and fast forward it to 2hrs 42 mins. Only available till Wednesday 3 August.

Thank you UCB radio for giving me and my blog this airspace!


Becoming a regular writer for London Institute of Contemporary Christianity

I’m very pleased to have been asked to become a regular writer for the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, a highly respected Christian think-tank and training centre on all matters to do with making faith relevant to the workplace.  Their weekly feature, Connecting with Culture, is a short commentary piece on a current issue in the news or media with a Christian faith perspective.  The other regular writers are people I have a lot of respect for – Brian Draper, Jennie Pollock, Nick Spencer to name a few.

The subject I chose for my first post for last Friday was about embracing the no-agenda, day-dreaming time that holidays offer – for ourselves but particularly the children.  If you liked this, you might like to read this post I wrote a few years ago which unpacks this issue a little more for what it means for children, and looks at the Greek concepts of time, ‘kairos’ and ‘chronos’.

To my delight, UCB Radio picked up my post on LICC website and contacted me this week asking for a live interview about this on their Current Affairs programme which I gave today on UCB1.  Click here for the interview, available for the next 6 days, fast forward it to 2hrs 40 mins in to hear me.

How to talk to your kids about #Brexit upset

Since last Friday when the results of the EU Referendum on Brexit were announced, the TV, radio, internet and adults seem to be talking about nothing else but Brexit. No matter which way your household voted it is highly likely that your children will be used to furrowed brows, heated discussions, maybe anger or elation, and possibly a fair bit of strong language.

“What’s going on??!!” wrote one friend of my 12 year old daughter’s on her iMessage thread last Friday morning. “Everyone’s going crazy :-(”

Upset & Relief signs Indeed. Many children, both young and teens, are confused, anxious and worried about what this all means. The older ones are angry that they never got to vote yet are all too aware that the older generation voted a different way from how they would have done. The younger ones are genuinely confused:

Mummy,” said my friend’s 8 year old son. “If we do get separated from Europe, will we feel it? Will it feel like an earthquake or something?”

So what do we do or say to allay their fears? Continue reading