Monday, 11 April 2011

A springtime christening in Yorkshire...

Yesterday, I went to a family christening in the most beautiful of churches, in the most beautiful of villages in one of the most beautiful counties in England. The weather was extraordinarily wonderful and the whole day was one of those that comes along so very rarely and can never really be engineered. Everything just came together and the result was one of the happiest, most relaxing and uplifting days I have had in a very long time.

The beautiful young lady who was christened was Neve, the daughter of Graham's niece and granddaughter of his sister. Graham's whole extended family were there and, although I'd met most of them individually before, I was still a little apprehensive about how they would feel about having me at a family event. I really shouldn't have worried at all as each and every one of them made me feel so very, very welcome and this just brought about a serene and calm feeling that has long been missing from my life.

So, by way of a few photos, I thought I'd introduce you all to the exquisite Neve, the quintessentially English village of Hooton Pagnell and to the Spencers...the family who have welcomed me into their midst and given me back something that I lost many years ago. I am beginning to love them all.

Neve with her uncles and godfathers..

What beautiful eyes..

Some photos of the church

Graham in a suit..he was soooo handsome :)

Walking through Hooton Pagnell to the pub for the reception

I LOVED the colours in this tree. I can feel a canvas print coming on :)

The pub. So beautiful.

A christening is VERY tiring work...

Graham's brother and sister in law...and his great-nephew.

Big brother, little brother...

....and middle brother...

Mum and Dad Spencer...he looks so much like my dad did :)

I was standing on a step...oh and look at ME all happy!

Such a beautifully relaxed day

 Oh look...a bubble. I adore this photo and the vapour trails make it even better.

His brither stole a chip from his mouth....and he only had one :(

My first ever chips and gravy..when in Yorkshire...

Graham and his sister, Diane...

Brither and sister in law..such lovely people

Neve and her grandma

Neve and her mummy :)

Me :)
 Us :)

Saturday, 8 January 2011


When my daughter Lara was ten years old she went away on a five day long school trip to Wales and while she was there she got herself her first 'boyfriend'. His name was Jamie and he was a quiet, shy and somewhat awkward young boy with a mass of often rather unruly blonde hair. He and Lara had known each other since they started school together at the age of four and had been in the same class ever since. She remembers how they would sit and hold hands and how their teacher teased them when she caught them doing so. These are the kinds of happy, sweet and innocent memories of childhood that we look back upon with a smile on our faces and the people who are a part of these memories always have a special place in our hearts, for the rest of our lives. For Lara though, that distant memory of a precious time in her life when she began to imagine a time beyond her childhood, where she began on the first tentative steps towards adolescence, has suddenly come to the forefront of her mind in a way that will change it forever. Because a couple of days ago Jamie, the sweet little boy with the shock of blonde hair, hung himself. Gone. Forever.

Of course, the shy blonde boy had long grown up into a twenty year old young man  but I'm sure that, for us all and his family, it is hard not to think back to that little boy and what on earth could have made him take such a drastic, devastating path so early in his life. I lay awake most of last night wondering about the tortures that must have gone through his mind before he tied whatever it was around his neck and decided that enough was enough. Whatever they were, those tortures have gone for Jamie now but obviously they will never, ever end for his family. His mum and I chatted at the school gate for many, many years and became quite good friends but I don't have a single clue what to say to her now. I want to send her an email but I know that anything I could possibly say will not even begin to scratch the surface of the pain that she and the rest of her family are in. I know that I will eventually find the words but not just yet. Maybe in a few days when the dreadful shock has begun to wear off just a little bit for them. As if it ever will....

I heard this morning that Jamie was found still alive and that he eventually died in hospital a day or so later. I felt comforted to know that he had his family around him at the end, rather than dying alone on the end of a rope, but that must raise even more questions for his family. Did he really want to die? Did he hope to be found? Did he just need help that he was unable to ask for in any other way?

I guess that the questions will largely remain unanswered and that the pain for those who loved him will go on forever. I hope though that Jamie will have found some kind of rest and peace though, for I can't imagine what a totrured soul he must have been those last days, hours and minutes before he took that terrible decision.

So angel on the right...I have no idea if you knew how special you were to so, so many people or how memories of you are interwoven into the memories of so many of your friends but know one the bottom angel on the left, you will always be an integral and treasured part of her life story...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Do-nut starts blogging :)

I am really, really proud of Graham because he has faced his fears about writing and has started his own blog, kicking off with his first post this evening. I know that it has been hard for him to get started but I am sure that he will go from strength to strength as his confidence grows.

DO pop along and take a look if you get the chance. The first post is about ME and I am rather fond of I am its author :)

Diary of a Do-nut....

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The man who taught me to sneeze...

Once upon a time I met a man and he hurt me. Many times. Very much. And then a little more. Many of my friends told me that enough was enough and that I should never allow him to be in a position to hurt me again, a couple of people wanted to do him physical damage and believed him to be manipulative and intentionally cruel and a few more told me to hold on. To give him the chance to put things right. To believe in my own judgement and to not give up on him. Eventually though, he even pushed them too far and then in the end there was really just one person who still saw the total good in him. One person in addition to me, that is. I knew the kindness and compassion that this man had deep, deep down in his soul. When I looked into his deep blue eyes I saw a whole range of emotions including love, kindness, pain, confusion, guilt, regret and, above all, blind panic in the face of an uncertain future that terrified him. He tried to move past the fear but it quite simply paralysed him and made an inherently good man behave in 'bad' ways that caused chaos and pain all around him. I understood this. I knew why it was that he treated me in the way that he did and because of this I never lost sight of the fact that I ultimately trusted my judgement and my belief that he didn't have an intentionally bad bone in his body. That deep down the man I knew he was was still there but he was buried so totally in his own pain that it would take more strength than I ultimately thought he may have to break free from it.

I'm not going to defend him anymore though. I don't need to and I know that he wouldn't want me to. Almost four months have now passed since the insanity of out three months of trauma ended and he would never, ever want me to try and excuse the way that he behaved. He is his own harshest critic and judge and I know that he still suffers on a daily basis because of what he put me, and others, through. He was incalcuably cruel. He was selfish. He was erratic. Most of all though, he was frightened. It was his fear that ultimately brought him out of the spiral of destructive and self-destructive behaviour....the realisation that the thing that he feared the most was losing me.

Things have not been easy in the past few months and the legacy of those early months continue to take a toll. We have both cried because of them, very recently, and I know that he sheds many a private tear too when he thinks back to them. I think it's time to move on though. The man who did the things he did doesn't exist anymore. He didn't exist prior to that insane three months and I know that he will never exist again.

The man I now know has proven himself to be even more than I initially believed him to be, more worth fighting for than even I knew. This isn't because of how he makes me feel about him but how he makes me feel about myself. To him I am beautiful. To him I am precious and treasured. To him I am worthy of all of the love and attention that I ever dreamt of having in my life. I could write for paragraph after paragraph of the things that this extraordinary man has brought to my life but I have flu and am rather too tired. I want him to read this tonight though. I want him to know that what he did for me today finally took almost all of the 'maybe' out of our relationship. I shall keep it there because we have both rather got used to our little 'maybe' now but I quite simply can't imagine not having it there anymore. This morning I dragged myself out of bed with a chest infection so bad that even walking upstairs at home meant being so breathless that I took at least ten minutes to recover. I had planned to go and see Graham on the train but I had no idea how I would drag myself there and almost cancelled the trip. I went though because, quite simply, I knew he would somehow not only make me feel better but actually make me better somehow. I first felt his guiding hand in the middle of my back as soon as I got off the train, a hand full of deep concern for how ill he could see I was. When I got into the house I saw that he had already put a duvet and pillows onto the sofa for me and had arranged a couple of little tables in easy reach for drinks, my laptop and the remote control. He had even put a pair of his slippers next to the sofa for me in case my feel got cold. He took my boots and socks off for me, covered me up and then sat and gently stroked my head until I relaxed so much that I felt my lungs working just a little easier. He then went off to work for a few hours and I almost immediately fell asleep feeling safe, loved and just very happy. There have been many times over the past few months that he has proven to me what a wonderful and unique man he is and he has spent many, many hours travelling up and down the motorways to take care of or help me, my sister (who adores him and calls him her best friend) or my kids. His behaviour has been totally immaculate and I trust him. Totally and without reservation. I know I am safe in his arms and, apart from randomly treading on my toes, sticking his elbows into my ankles and clumsily visiting all sorts of random minor injuries on me on a daily basis (clumsy does not even BEGIN to go there!) I know he will never hurt me. I need him to know that. It matters and it is time.

So, on 23rd December 2010 two special things happened:

1. I wrote a blog about Graham Spencer.
2. Graham Spencer taught me how to sneeze and I never even knew I didn't know how to sneeze before. I thought that the way I have always sneezed was the right way. Just shows what I know, huh? Come to think of it, I also never knew that when a man loves a woman it is absolutely normal for him to do the multitude of little things on a daily basis just to make sure that she knows it, feels it and believes it with every bone of her body. See...sneezing and love would appear, for Diane, to be rather similar things...funny the things that a girl still has to learn at the ripe old age of 46.

I can't think of the perfect way to end this but, as my chest infection turns more and more into a head cold, I think that there is only one more thing to say....says Diane as she releases one huge, beautiful and perfectly formed ATCHOOOO :)

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Poppies, poppies everywhere...

I went up to Yorkshire today to spend the day with Graham and we ended up driving through some beautiful countryside and pretty villages just as the sun was beginning to set. At the first village we came to, we saw the village war memorial covered in poppy wreaths that would have been left earlier today in one of the thousands and thousands of Remembrance Day parades that took place in every corner of the country and in every town in between. In total, we drove through five villages/small towns and we stopped at each and every one to take photos of the wreaths and individual poppies that had been left by schools, clubs, political parties, veterans associations and just about every other kind of group you could imagine. We may only be a small country and I often think that the fact that we tend to remember and commemorate in quieter, less obvious and altogether more low key ways than other countries is mistaken for not caring. Make no mistake though, we do care. Every bit as much as those who choose to remember in a much more 'bold' and obvious fashion. Sometimes reserved, dignified and proud is all that is needed. Not better, not worse...just different.

"At the setting of the sun...we will remember them.." and this was a perfect, fitting and beautiful Yorkshire sunset at the end of a perfect, and poignant, day.