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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Conversations on the End of Life, Father Dominic and a Marmite Sandwich.

I will not keep you long this week.  You will only have time to sit down and eat half a marmite sandwich, before you have read it all, so be prepared.

This week's tragedies


  • I broke my best little teapot in the sink.  I have another, but the tea cannot taste the same.  It is hard to believe my little teatime friend is no longer with me.  I have lurched to the other small teapot in a state of heartbroken resignation, but we are not used to each other and this relationship will take time.  It is good to know that if this teapot too is taken away from me, I have a third and final small teapot and take comfort from knowing that even if I do suffer another loss, it is only a traumatic emotional loss.  On a practical level, I will still actually have my tea.

This week's triumphs

  • I began my role at the Hospice as a Companion, sitting with people who need someone with them.  I am grateful to the people I sit with.  Thank you.

This week's surprises

  • Giant Boy is jolly.  He has everything to live for, he has a new girlfriend who doesn't seem fazed by his eccentricities. It seems, and it is early days, that she has not noticed them.  It seems, and I am impressed if this is true, that she simply accepts them all.  Giant boy is chirpy and has played her some Debussy (loudly) on the piano, and has not taught her much MMA.  I think he would rather gaze into her eyes and he can't do that if he has her in a headlock.   

This week's plans

  • Organising the next Conversations (Conversations on the End of Life, Finding Time to Think in our Busy Worlds). These Conversations are simple and effective.  I am very happy to see where they go, and how they pan out, the joy of them is that they can go anywhere that is necessary.  Here is the poster for my next one, come along and see us




Other plans for this week are to finish God's Kitchen, a painting of God's Kitchen as God has just popped out to answer the phone.  This is what I think we would see if we passed by and glanced in;  and I aim to start the last painting for the A Graceful Death exhibition, of my brother Dominic.  Dominic is living with serious cancer and is enduring the treatment  that goes along with it.  Dominic is a Catholic Priest, and has a wonderful, simple and articulate way of talking about this disease that has struck him seemingly out of nowhere, at the age of 51.  I have been avoiding having to deal with this painting, but now I feel I am able to do it.  When I see Dominic, I see myself.  I will see what happens when I do it, I will see where it takes me.


Things I did not think I would say

  • I might go for a run.  I might.  Ten years ago this year, in 2004, I completed the London Marathon running for the Samaritans.  Good Lord, I am still recovering.  I did enjoy most of the day.  It is true, the atmosphere really does carry you through.  People lined the route and if you wrote your name on your hat as I did, they all call your name.  Everyone loves me!  You think, They know me! until they start calling your name wrong and you realise the rain is making the tippex name on your hat melt.  One of my memories is the kindness of people trying to feed you as you went round, handing chocolate bars, sweets, biscuits to the runners as they passed.  I passed one lady in the Isle of Dogs who had set up a trestle table with bread and margarine and marmite, and was trying to help the runners with chunky sandwiches.  You would have to stop, eat the sandwiches and then lie down to digest them, so no one was stopping.  Lovely idea though.  Back to this week;  if I do go on a run, I will take my own marmite sandwiches just for old time's sake. 

Things I did think I would say 

  • It is time to bring the A Graceful Death exhibition to Bognor or Chichester.  And it is time to find a place to show it permanently, time to bring it home. I am looking for a place to set it up so that it is ready for viewing for the general public permanently.  It has a serious place in the awareness raising of end of life matters, with 52 paintings, poetry, videos, interviews, essays, memories and books in which to write.  It helps people talk about what has happened in their lives, what is happening in their lives, and what is to come.  It has inspired people to find out more about what they can do for themselves, and for others, around dying in their families and communities.  

And so, to end, a photo of Father Dominic, my youngest brother.  I will be working on Dominic from a selection of images, so if I don't get it right, you can tell me so.



Dom has a pic line attached to a kind of plastic ball filled with chemotherapy medicines, the ball is kept in his pocket.  I will paint him with the ball visible.