human relations

standing alone

  We are programmed to reach for a person who makes us feel safe, loved, affirmed. This is human. Instinctual. Universal. It is in a toddler’s reaching arms. It powers decisions which we make deep into adulthood. During our years, this yearning will lead us into situations that can feel the most damaging of our lives. That can feel as if they are the end of us. Demolished. Standing alone. Then, we are forced to reach into ourselves. To consider […]

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Polly and Cliff

Polly dealt with the news of her husband’s illness as she had dealt with most things that threatened to blow her life off course. She did not think of her ship sinking. Just that the voyage had become more challenging.  She knew that it was too late to avoid this storm, and hugging her knees, rocking in tears in the small hull of her life’s boat would not help, either. She must draw further strengths from that hidden place inside […]

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brother and sister

Ian, my brother

Would you like to visit us in Hamilton? I have a cottage I do not use. I know this place is expensive: you can stay there. Our last conversation. A few months later, while I was contemplating booking the flight, your body was found in that same cottage. Just 48 years old. I had not heard from you in a while, something told me a bad star was over us. Let’s say you had no money issue: what would you do? […]

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it might have been us

The people in this photograph are neither me nor my mother. My mother was diagnosed with cyclothymia. All the family was dragged along in cycles of depression and fits of anger whose heights could last for days. The disease lasted years and its cycles too. I learnt the pain of objects which break on the skin, the sound of body against body, the fear of slammed doors and obscene words. I understood that life had to be the hard way​, the […]

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when it all goes wrong

It’s 1964. Somewhere in the South-West of England. An unruly Spring day appears before its time.  The insistent sun breaks through with a distant warmth and, partnering with sharp breezes, rouses life like sleepy children from their beds. Soon, lambs will come, shoots, blossom and blooms. Alice lets the fabric of the deckchair take her weight. In the warmth, for a moment, she almost forgets it all.  Almost. The business has failed. Her husband, a man of nearly 50 years, […]

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you are with me, always

This photograph was taken in Zaire – a sovereign state which lasted from 1971 to 1997 – in Central Africa, in the mid-1970’s. The souls pictured have stayed with me since the photograph first took my breath. They seeped into me and, in their way, played a part in pulling me toward Africa. But as a European, it took me years to gather and weave the courage to enter the continent. I had a Colonel great grandfather who was injured […]

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cyclamen and loss

Each Autumn, your tuberous roots stretch their arms after their long summer sleep. Your wooded stems become rich and strong with purples and green, with new life. And each year, as naked trees stand against darkening skies and evenings drawing in, your blooms rise above your heart-shaped leaves, bringing a bold defiant cheer to the leaking conservatory of my aging grandmother’s house. These past years, her arthritic fingers, in last vestige of their nimble past, deftly trimmed you of fading […]

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my huckleberry friend

It isn’t possible to promise those we love continuous health, happiness, prosperity or freedom from heartbreak. But In the end, all our loves need, is us. Our grace. We are the thread that binds them to life’s joys.

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the story of the antique ring

Do you remember? We’d given up on the high street jewelers.  The rings fit on your finger, but they just didn’t fit us. A few weeks later, we were in Portugal. It was beginning to rain and we ducked inside a tired little shop in that backwater town. It was a place that tourists, and even time, had forgotten. A wizened, arthritic old man moved slowly around the small space. An elderly museum curator, going about his well worn rituals. […]

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Desert bush

love knows no boundary

‘human relationships are as vast as desert’ ‘…stones, even, are smoother for the dust’ – Patrick White, from the novel Voss (1957)   The place in which we spend more time than any other, is our thoughts, our inner world. It is there that we constantly converse with ourselves, from infancy to death. It is there that we suffer; unspoken traumas, ancient anxieties and caustic self-blame – all dust storms in our deserts of heart and mind that shape and […]

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