Thursday, 27 September 2012

Beautiful Kerry

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos We're off to Ireland for my birthday, this weekend. This is the hotel in the Kerry Mountains. We discovered it 12 years ago, had our honeymoon there and have been back umpteen times. It's a beautiful, peaceful spot. This trip is important to me. When we are there I always remember my late Dad in a particular way. He introduced me to Guinness when I was a baby, sucking it off his finger. I love a pint but can't do more than two, these days. Anyway, at some point on the trip I shall go to the bar in some remote pub and buy a round. There are four of us going but I will buy an extra pint of Guinness. When we leave I'll write PB, his initials, in the head and leave it on the table for him to drink later. I've done it for years. It makes me very happy and my wife thinks it makes me who I am. I don't know about that but I know that this trip is important to me. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos It's especially important because of my Dad. That's him, at my 21st, in 1977. He looks great, happy. His Derry eyes are smiling and he looks well. Which is deceptive. He'd already lost one kidney and, less than 4 years after this photo was taken, he would be dead from cancer in the other one. On this night, he was 51 years old. He'd been grey since the age of 19, so we always thought of him as "old". I am Peter Brannigan's second son and, like all 6 of his children, I miss him terribly. So, this trip is important to me because, on Sunday 30th September, I will wake up and be able to say something my Dad never could. "Today, I am 56 years old." Slainte PJB.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Grief is not a competition.

Yesterday was the announcement of the findings of the Hillsborough Panel. A day of shocks, of sober reflection, anger and respect. Respect for the families and what they have gone through in the last 23 years. Respect for our system, much-maligned though it may be. Without it, the freedoms it brings and the eventual accountability, we might never find out when these kinds of injustices occur. We might as well be living in a suppressive, totalitarian state.

Social media was full of anger, some calm reflection and some links to great writing about the day, 23 years ago, when so many lives were needlessly tossed aside. Some friends and people I follow on Twitter wrote beautifully on their blogs about their thoughts and how the announcement had touched their lives. I went to bed last night, having re-watched the ITV documentary 'The Search For Truth', and found that it took a long while to clear my head and sleep.

This morning I checked Twitter and found a comment from someone stating that it was interesting that some regular tweeters had been very quiet yesterday. I followed the thread for a while. One of the replies noted 'there was a lot of Southern opinion missing.' At that point, I turned it off.

I had kept off Twitter on Wednesday and I live in the South. I kept off Twitter because I was too busy taking in the news, reading as much as I could and gathering my thoughts. I kept off Twitter because it seemed trite to vent my spleen on a day when the world I know and love had tilted off its axis, just a bit.

Grief is not a competition. The fact that Hillsborough was inflicted on people from Liverpool is irrelevant to me. I would feel the same if it had been people from Reading, Southampton or Tottenham. It was inflicted on football fans because they were an easy scapegoat. It was inflicted on football fans because that's the way they were treated, what they were used to. It was inflicted on football fans because they were football fans.

Grieving, caring and loving aren't part of some emotional It's A Knockout event. As I say, grief is not a competition.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Close to tears.

I've been close to tears for a long time. I first noticed it after my Dad died in 1981. I don't remember it being something that happened before that but, once the grieving had ended (if it ever really does),I could cry on a regular basis. The great American cop show, Hill Street Blues would set me off every week. Films, great photos, music and live concerts would have the same effect. As I've got older they have been joined by the paintings of Caravaggio, great tv documentaries and The Kerry Mountains, Ireland. This last few weeks has been a blub-fest as the Olympics and Paralympics have inspired, amazed and thrilled me. I suppose, at heart, I'm just a sentimental old fool. That doesn't make me a bad person. In fact, if there were a few more of us about, the world might be a less harsh and angular place. Here's one that gets me every time. A scene from 'Almost Famous' with Elton John's Tiny Dancer.