2007 — 28 November: horribly grey-looking Wednesday, so far, too

Time (09:24) and a couple of lovely bits from Carmina Burana on BBC Radio 3. Breakfast has already been loaded, the crossword mostly solved, and a couple of emails sent on their merry way for that matter. It's interesting to observe that the volume of my email has diminished quite dramatically since the day of the funeral, but I guess that's natural. I still love to receive and send notes, of course. Please don't be put off by thoughts of "intruding" on my grief.1 Grieving is important, vitally so (and it hurts and is unpleasant) but Christa never ever wanted me to be sad and miserable you know. It simply wasn't in her nature. There's a heck of a lot of life to be carried on with. I'm not being "brave" about this, or "strong". I'm just trying to be as realistic and pragmatic as she would have been. (I really don't want to end up like dear Mama, who [in my personal opinion] has made a sad, but fulltime, career as an unmerry widow since 1975.)

If you feel you just don't know what to say, don't worry! Just say something, even if it's a simple "Hi, How'ya doing?" I'll soon tell you!

I'm not sure I would know any better than anyone else "what to say", but I do know I now long desperately for a return to some form of normality as my life assumes its new vector after losing my dear Christa. And normality for me has included a healthy rate of interesting email exchanges for more years than I care to enumerate.

A sense of acceptance grows, and while life will never be the same again, it can once again be lived in a normal, healthy manner.

Paul Harris in What to do when someone dies

Fresh air

Next task: finish sinking the cup of tea,2 clamber into an outdoor set of trousers, and then pop in to see a bank about one of these ISA thingies that Christa knew all about, but which are largely mysterious to me. It "matures" on 1st December, and I gather I therefore have Decisions and Options to consider! I bet they want me to buy something, though the thought of investing money in money (as it were) is a curious one, to my mind at least. Specially after listening to a business programme on NPR earlier that was all about the growing likelihood of a recession in the American economy in the wake of these sub-prime mortgage loans.

More to come, no doubt. But now it's nearly time (10:02) for that morning toddle. I must say, I hate banks nearly as much as I hate going to the dentist, but don't let's go there. Must just finish this bit of Scarlatti.3 (Procrastination can be wonderfully soothing at times.)

Is this a tentative green shoot of recovery...? department

While I wouldn't claim (or, at least, admit) to being as extreme as CS Forester (author of those rousing Hornblower4 tales) who used to countdown his estimated remaining spoonsful of soup while simultaneously making chit-chat with unaware hostesses, I found myself thinking of him when the final mini-tomato I'd lined up (and earmarked, as it were) to accompany my final planned mouthful of quiche and ham exploded on contact with my knife a few moments ago and splattered rather annoyingly, just missing the keyboard.5

It's fair to say that a) it would have made Christa giggle (yet again) at my oddness, and b) it might well have provoked a tear, rather than today's giggle, from me, even just a week ago. As it happens, Monty Python's "Always look on the bright side of Life" was actually one of the pieces of music I considered, briefly, for Christa's funeral! It was as succinct a summary of her personal philosophy as I could imagine. So different from me, and yet such a perfect match.

Beside the river Itchen navigation
18th March 2007, alongside the River Itchen



1  One of my chums put it very neatly last night: Ironically, e-mail — that most impersonal of communication mechanisms — makes it easier. It soon becomes obvious from the (lack of?) response whether one is intruding or not. And one can choose any subject under the sun (or at least on the internet) to 'talk' about, knowing that the other party can respond or not at will and convenience. Damn' right!
2  Yes, I picked up a new carton of tea bags, thanks, while walking back with Peter having also picked up Christa's ashes yesterday morning!
3  Oh, my burning ears! It wasn't Scarlatti, but someone called Quantz (who he?) with what the Radio Times states is "Flute sonata Badinage". Sounded like a harpsichord to me, what can I say?
4  I think the statute of limitations will permit me the following anecdote. Horatio Hornblower was, as I say, the fictional creation of CS Forester. Author C Northcote Parkinson (he of "Parkinson's Law" [work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion]) wrote a spoof biography of Hornblower in 1970. (I still remember buying the hardback as a birthday present for my Dad.) In 1984, while I was trying out a somewhat less nautical IBM book (the CICS Application Programming Primer) that I'd co-written with Carol Shanesy on a bunch of IBM customer batch COBOL programmers in Dallas, Texas, I encountered an IBM Systems Engineer called Fred Hornblower, who hailed from San Francisco. He was proud, he claimed, to be a descendant of a great British naval hero from the Napoleonic era. He was utterly shocked when I mildly pointed out that the "biography" he'd devoured was a spoof, and I suspect he has yet to forgive me.
5  But not (thank you, Murphy) my trousers, dammit.