17-366

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’m not saying that for felicitation purposes. I’m saying it because it will be my first birthday without Erika.

In a way, I’m almost dreading it. Wanting a message or a poke from her and knowing I’m never going to get one. Again.

Woman’s Hour had an article this week on bereavement, focussing on when a friend dies. And how it feels different from when a relative dies. It really does.

When you click with someone, when you choose them as part of your family, the pain from them not being there is searing. It is different to the pain I felt when my Grandparents died (well, three of them anyway, the fourth and last one that died can simply go forth and multiply).

As I got closer to Saturday; all week my thoughts kept returning to Erika. I hope wherever she is, she flicks me the bird, shoves against me in the mosh pit of life, or comes to visit me in my dreams and knows that I love her.

October Thoughts

I started this year full of hope and dreams. Excited about my surgery – planning to recuperate, recover and smash out a half marathon as a goal to keep me motivated. I wanted to read 100 books this year too.

I guess you had other plans for me.

Like learning patience, compassion, kindness. To myself and others.

I got back to work after my surgery, just in time to leave for a new role. I stood in front of colleagues with a prepared speech highlighting the friends I’d made through working with a buffet of people; but Erika had just gone into hospital and already, her prognosis was slipping. The only way I got through that speech was to mention her in passing. Because if I shared just how important she was to me, I’d never get through it. A few short weeks later, I’d have to go into more detail about the depth of our friendship, standing beside her casket. Aged P and Wiz holding my hands.

Since then, Erika and I have had a couple of chats. She shows up mostly through music, poking me to remind me she’s there on the radio. But drifting off one night late last week, I asked for her forgiveness for not being there for her when she was at her lowest. I said that I hoped that by looking after Ian, she’d be able to forgive me for not realising how low she was. A few days later, Imagine Dragons On Top Of The World played in Coles; this was the song that was playing as I boarded the plane in Melbourne to fly back to the UK. Followed by Roxette, The Look which seems to be the claxon call for Ian and I that Erika is playing around with the radio ago.

You can read what you want into anything. But if my phone has been linked to the car and I’ve been playing a podcast, if I’ve swiped up and closed off the app music will start to play, on random. There have been times I’ve reversed out the driveway and collapsed into giggles, other times I’ve had to hurriedly press ‘next’ lest I start weeping. If I carry on listening to music; all the while it’s apparently on random, unless I get the message and acknowledge it, another song from the same artist or album comes on until I do.

Like Barbra Streisand’s album Guilty Too. That album was my soundtrack to recovery from separation. I’d play it in Mon Bears’ spare room as I decluttered my life; bags of possession going down the stairs and off to charity. On Thursday last week, I’d skip one song from the album then another one would come on. In the end, I just gave up and listened to the whole album from start to finish. When that was finished, I put it back on random for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to pop up with By The Way.  

By the way, I tried to say
I’d be there, waiting for …

Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Loud and clear darling girl. Loud and clear.

Since I had the flu, I’ve had to stop. Rest. Go to bed early. Recuperate. My reading has increased, head in my phone decreased. Won’t be many more memes coming on my timelines as I’ve left Imgur behind me. In the past few weeks I’ve read two books, one in two sittings. Slowly I’m inching back to myself. Coming full circle to reading, exercising and eating better.

Recognising no matter if it is gluten free, if I have too many carbs, my IBS will flare up and I’ll be ‘noisy’ she said enigmatically.

Recognising if I have alcohol, the wave of self-loathing that follows is not worth the numbing of whatever I was trying to avoid. Eight days sober and counting. I’m sleeping better, my skin is less flushed, I feel lighter in myself too. I’ve still got to work through whatever I’m avoiding, but I’m not scared of what that will be now.

I am more scared of me drinking.

I know that even though I’m not going to read 100 books this year, or complete the half marathon. I’ve done much more, something intangible.

I’ve learnt to love myself, forgive myself for some foibles and mistakes and be accepting of what I can’t change.

Dear Uterus

It’s been six months since you left me. Or I left you. Either way, you went up in flames in a medical incinerator, for which I’m glad. You were the bane of my life for around thirty years and I fought so hard to have you severed from my body.

So how am I doing? Pretty damn good actually. Although, all the self-care I spent revving up to get rid of you; was undone by a bereavement wobble, meaning the sober start to the year went out the window. And all the carbs I’d also cut carefully out my life, sped back in again.

Here I sit, probably the heaviest I’ve ever been, but for the first time in a month – thank you flu. I’m fizzing with energy, which was what I was like immediately after surgery.

Tomorrow, after a nachos meal with the boys tonight, I’m off carbs. And the booze. Again. Part self-medication and part self-medication – I need to work out what I’m avoiding dealing with. I had a couple of nights on my own last week, and funked sitting there in silence to let it bubble up.

I am fed up of hiding.

Six months out, three and a half since Erika died, she visited me this week; shook me up and out of myself. It’s time I put me number one again. Maybe over the coming eight weeks, I’ll understand why I go so far, then self-sabotage. Wonder why I feel I’m not worthy of looking after myself consistently.

It’s a recognised part of depression, not taking care of yourself. But after my epiphany when I was barfing the other week and I realised that actually, I didn’t want to die. Despite another part of my brain telling me that it would be easy to fall down the stairs with vertigo, it’ll be an ‘accident’.

Here we are uterus, a line in the sand. Nachos and red wine blow out. I’m officially fully recovered from my surgery where you were dragged out my body. Aside from the odd leak when I sneeze, because to be fair you were a lot bigger than you had any right to be *cork popping* I’ve had no other issues.

There are three months left of this decade. I’m going to use them to my advantage, and hope that the orange cheeze-weasel doesn’t blow us all up in the interim…

Stream of consciousness. Typos are mine….

For Erika

Before I start, a bit of housekeeping: if there are any people with children here, let them be noisy – don’t shush them and take them out. I can wait and work around you. That being said, I am likely to swear a little bit and I will cry, you will also have to work around me. If anyone wants to come and stand beside me while I do this, thank you. Lastly, this looks long, but it is only really spaced out, so I can read it through my tears.

When Ian asked me if I wanted to speak today; he said I could send my words to Jane who would then read it out for me. But if Erika taught me anything; it was to get up and get on with it, even when you didn’t want to. Just keep going. 

For many of you, the past few weeks would have been a blur. I’m all over the place, I’m only here from Melbourne for a week. I don’t know my arse from my elbow, although I know it is Tuesday but only because I’m here in a dress talking to you. I started a new job the week before Erika died; I’m still in that learning new processes, period of confusion and breaking in a new boss limbo. We’ve also only just got Archie back to school after his two weeks winter holidays. Add the fact it is bitterly cold in Melbourne at the moment, is not helping my confusion on this beautiful day.

None of that matters though, because I simply cannot fathom I am never going to see Erika again; that she won’t get to meet Archie; that I can’t post Princess Bride quotes on Facebook while I’m watching the movie, that she’ll like every single one of them and volley them back at me; or that whenever I see a rabbit, kitten or Metallica video, I can no longer share it with her.

In fact, it’s inconceivable.

But I don’t want to stand here and rattle on about how awful it is, as every one of us is feeling that, the Man in Black reminded us that ‘Life is Pain Highness, and anyone who says differently is selling you something.’

‘Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I love well. Here is my proof that I paid the price.’ That quote is from Glennon Doyle Melton. 

Most of the poems on bereavement I found, are awful and not Erika. Death is nothing at all? Bull shit. Death is everything. I know it is only technically the opposite of birth; but it also the full stop at the end of a sentence in a paragraph that many of us were still writing. That quote was me. 

We celebrate births, then dither about what to say when someone dies. What I want to try to do today is celebrate Erika, to try and share with you how daft we were together, how much she shaped and helped my life over the past fifteen or so years.

We met in the early 2000s at a clothing company based in Andover, specialising in selling clothes to grumpy old women who would complain, vociferously, about anything and everything. Helen and I sat opposite each other in customer service; Erika was in an office next door. Before I go any further, can we also acknowledge that Helen’s beloved Dad passed away a couple of weeks ago, his funeral is on Thursday, let’s all give our love to her and her family too?

James Meade clothing was all hideous print blouses, high waist trousers and mostly polyester. If you walked too quickly through the warehouse, you could set it on fire. 

Customers would phone up and complain about buying a hideous print blouse, for it to be on sale after they’d brought it. They wanted their money back. Their parcel hadn’t arrived. They wanted their money back. The colour in the catalogue of this blouse was red, you sent me scarlet. They wanted their money back. 

A never ending stream of vitriol and bile which was not helped by calls being held in a queue for us to answer. If you answer a call and put people on hold to tell them their call is in a queue, it costs them money. The customers would only hear a phone ringing and ringing and ringing; they didn’t understand, or care, that we were all flat-chat on calls until we got to answer theirs. They wanted their money back.

Erika was away when I started, I bustled into the lunch room one day and saw her sitting there. I told her she looked like she needed a hug. So I gave her a hug. She then told me that she’d just got back to work after burying her Dad and she needed that hug. I probably gave her another one just to make sure.

We had an archaic vending machine in that lunch room, where you’d put your money in and hope you’d get what you asked for. One day I asked for Maltesers, but they got stuck. I went to find the key to open it, in the meantime, Helen had also asked for Maltesers and, of course, got two packets for the price of one. Helen just thought ‘Result!’ and promptly shared them out. I got back to the lunch room and shrieked ‘You Bitch-Troll-From-Hell!’ to much hilarity and the name stuck. I was re-christened Maddie-lion and Erika was Furriner.

We all took the day off one day to have a Bar-B-Que at my house. We went to the butchers in Ludgershall, then the supermarket, and ended up with enough food to feed the five thousand. Over the day, Helen and I bombarded Erika with British culture, including Bagpuss, and Monty Python’s Meaning of Life which she watched in either bemused horror, or bemused amusement at our hysterics. We’d also all got firmly stuck into cider, which made Helen’s task of making a dress to wear for an upcoming night out more difficult than it needed to be. Feeling slightly shady, she was worried it was a bit too short after she’d got carried away and tried to even the hem up. Sending Erika out to her car to get some fancy shoes to see what the dress looked like with heels on, Helen wiggled into the dress while I refreshed the ciders. Erika tottered back with two shoes. They were both black, but not a pair and both for the left foot.

I am so blessed with my close friends; I call them my coven for all the cackling and mayhem we create. In truth, I have many best friends, those people that when you meet up with them, it is like no time has passed.

Before the age of smartphones, Erika never had her phone on. It was either off all together, or on but on silent at the bottom of her bag, or on but had no charge. To get around this, I would text Ian, then ring him, he’d pass his phone over to her, we’d chat for hours. 

Then my world collapsed. My first husband decided he was leaving me. I can still see this day so clearly, I left my desk at work with my phone and called Erika. Her phone was charged, on, and sitting on her desk when I rang. 

Erika sent Ian to come and get me. Initially I stayed with them for a couple of nights. When I was told I had to move out of the house I had lived in with the ex-husband, she told me I was moving in with them. She wasn’t going to have me living in a council flat on my own. They helped me pack up my stuff, going backwards and forwards to try and collect everything over one weekend.

Amanda who I worked with at Sandhurst was on the phone with her sister Sara one day. Did Amanda know anyone who wanted to work as a PA in the Chairman’s office at Cable&Wireless? Amanda knew of the situation I was in and suggested I would be ok, and that I needed a new opportunity. Mum brought me a suit for the interview as I’d lost so much weight, nothing smart enough I had fitted me any more. When I got the job, I surveyed my wardrobe. I had precisely four outfits to wear to work. Getting worried about my severe lack of clothes; Erika reminded me that as they had dress-down Friday, I would wear jeans. That, when I got paid in a couple of weeks, I could buy a top or two. Now get out there and do it.

Erika and Ian let me stay rent-free while I got my life together again. I’d buy the groceries when we all went to the market, or treat her to John Freida’s Frizz Ease, as she’d never buy it for herself. Other times I’d be home, the front door would open and Ian would say ‘I smell cleaning products’. He’d also have to announce ‘I am coming up the stairs’ after he scared me shitless that many times by apparently just apparating into my bedroom.

Mon Bears took me to France for a weekend away. It had been a long day driving over, I decided to take my contact lenses out in the carpark of Carrefour as my eyes were itchy and dry, I was using disposable ones then. But before I could put one into a tissue to throw it away, it flew off and got stuck on a windscreen. Ian and I have been reminiscing over phone calls and messenger, he reminded me that ‘I had to separate the two of you before you could stop laughing’. 

Erika, Wiz along with the rest of my coven, nursed me back to health, back to life. 

Wiz, Erika and I would have tat competitions. Trying to find the worst thing we could as a holiday souvenir. The only caveat was it couldn’t be an outright souvenir, like a fridge magnet, or shot glass. It took some effort I can tell you to find things. I have a variety of memories from all over England, but my favourite is a tray from Montreal that would maybe hold a tea-cup, but only if empty. Truly useless.

Erika asked for the recipe for my sticky rice, not realising that I’m just hopeless at cooking it. She made a soup for Ian and I from the left over veggies after a roast dinner, whizzed it up, then realised she’d left a bay leaf in – so painstakingly sieved it all out. We’d bake for hours to make scones, biscuits and cakes to raise money or to take to offices for birthdays. Leaving the kitchen in a trail of destruction, and Ian to do all the dishes. One day Erika and Ian were coming over for lunch with Dan and I in Portsmouth. I was on the phone to Erika trying to navigate them in to the car park under our building when they drove past me walking to the store at the end of the block, as I’d just found a huge, surprised grasshopper in the bag of salad. 

I moved to Australia in 2008 to be with Dan, Erika gave me a Jasper thumb stone, auspicious for long journeys. Dan and I married in 2009, with Wiz and Erika arriving at the ceremony with wedding tat from the same Clintons range. A truly shitty wedding frame and a cake slice that was so plastic you’d either break it entirely, or fling the cake across the room if you’d attempted to use it. Erika put a wedding album together for us, and even with our official photos, we’ve never needed to put together another one. Then our Archie arrived in 2011, the Jasper stone also came into the theatre when I had to have Archie by emergency c-section. Erika sent a package of love to him, with post-it notes on everything, painstakingly telling me what, why and when she’d found things for us.

Our friendship slipped a little for a couple of years; life got in the way for all of us.

I’ve come back to the UK twice before this trip. Once for my brother’s wedding, again for his 40th. On my last trip here, Mon Bears came and got me from Wiz and Jim’s house, we drove around, not sure where to go and ended up at the seaside. We walked along the prom, eating ice cream. We went to lunch and talked and talked and talked. The bridges that were broken were mended.

I knew I’d be coming back for a funeral at some point, but I never thought the first one would be for Erika. Again, it’s inconceivable.

Ian, being Ian, apologised he had to break the news to me over the phone that Erika had gone. He has been humbled and amazed at the messages he’s received. Ian has told me that people he didn’t even know existed have sent him messages, and he knows they knew Erika because of how they describe her.

From her lary leggings at zumba, to her stamps and crafty buddies, to Charli at the Wakkie Hair company doing her hair, given free reign with colour and cuts. From Erika’s love of the sublime to the ridiculous, including, but not limited to: Harry Potter, heavy metal, rabbits, kittens, sci-fi books, Stargate, Dungeons and Dragons, Red Dwarf, The Hairy Bikers and Nigella, chicken wings and chee-bor-gays, both our fridges groaning with condiments, the airer that she hated me hanging washing on, but she loved me so accepted it; she taught me how to fold a fitted sheet instead of rolling it up into a ball and hoping for the best. Her absolute love of self, the endless selfies, she truly was “This is me”, I’ve so many memories. Such a long receipt of love to show everyone. 

It only remains for me to say, “As you wish”

concentrate… concentrate… I’ve got to concentrate… concentrate… concentrate…

I started crying at work today, then found I couldn’t stop.

It’s a funny thing, when the seal gets broken, all hell breaks loose. I do know where it came from, but holy moly the force of it took me by surprise.

BossLady was mortified she’d upset me. The girls in the office were great; one took me out to get birthday cake for our early afternoon tea; another brought chocolate knowing I wouldn’t be able to eat the cake; another offered me some aromatherapy oils.

My packing is progressing. I added a bikini to the pile over the weekend, much to Hubs surprise. But if there is a chance of sun; it being the UK summer, that chance is small, but if there is a chance. I’m sitting out in it doing SFA.

I ordered two new pairs of jeans yesterday. I often wear black jeans to work and ironing them yesterday morning, I realised they were getting a bit tatty. I also ordered a matching pair in Indigo, which for some reason, I’m inordinately excited about.

Other than that, we’re quiet. I washed my make-up brushes over the weekend, caught up on washing and need to get some groceries tonight. I’d have gone last night, but some eejit decided to go round a roundabout too quick and topple his truck over; which was full of logs, so not exactly light weight. I joined the back of the queue and inched along. It took me over an hour to get home last night.

Poor Archie is in the middle of a growth spurt, we’ve dropped his medication down to 1 tablet a day over the holidays, only down from 1.5 (the .5 at lunch), but he’s eating us out of house and home. This morning he was complaining of a sore back and legs, but they had an off-site trip to a big indoor playground he’d been looking forward to with his holiday program. By the time he got himself going and outside his breakfast, he was feeling better in himself, and decided he’d go and make a decision about what he played on when he got there. I told the educators to call me if he wasn’t coping this afternoon and I’d come and get him. But either way, we’re having an early night tonight.

Thanks for spending my lunch break with me.

There’s just no stopping in a white zone.

I dug out a suitcase from under the house today. Brought a clear wallet with some empty bottles to decant smellies into. Tried to find another pair of yoga pants for the flights, and failed. Admittedly, I only tried one shop, but I don’t want running tights, and I don’t want tracksuit pants, I want in between, none of which I could find.

Still doesn’t feel real though.

Trawling through Erika’s photos to find my favourite one of her that showed her sweet and kind nature, was not a good hour or so. I was a complete mess to be honest. I was doing the ugly cry, and my head was so congested at the end of it, ugh.

Still, in amongst the snot and sobs, I had several laughs at our shenanigans, so it wasn’t all bad. As Glennon Doyle Melton says, “Grief is the receipt you get for loving someone.”

In other news, we had Archie’s 8th birthday this weekend. He had a great day, although we managed to get to Ben and Jerry’s too early to get his ‘Pupil of the Week’ reward, that remains in the bank for another day. We had a family dinner in the evening, all the meals were lovely and we had a good conversation too.

I’ve also been pottering through my clothes and bags. I brought a new bag, which means an old one needs to go. I ended up putting two bags into the charity pile, Archie’s old welly boots and some other clothes that I do like; but every time I put them, on I take them back off again. Times change.

As I pack for the funeral, I am going to review what I’ve got in the spare room. Do I need it? Do I use it? Would I buy it again at full price? If not, it’s going. I have a weight on me I’m trying to shift.

Tomorrow, I’m taking my running stuff to work. It’s time to get back out there again.

It’s an entirely different kind of flying, altogether.

Goodness me. My post yesterday blew up a bit – I’ve had a few messages to check in on me. Honestly, I am fine. I process things better when I write, so you’re gonna get this journey, warts and all because if I write about it, then I won’t stew on it. In turn, if my waffling helps someone else, then I have done my bit to leave the world a better place.

We have a date for the funeral, 23 July. I’m booking flights this week to land at Heathrow and spend the week with Ian, heading back home to land over the weekend so I can keep a OBGYN pants off appointment on Monday 30 July.

Ladies, the things we do.

I can’t change that appointment, I’ll be waiting for ages to get in again – it’s my second review after surgery to check my stitches.

I’ve also had to pull out the 10km run I was doing (Run Melbourne) with Kath as I’m either going to be mid-air coming into land, or on the way home from the airport.

Today BossLady took me for lunch, we both had a list of things to talk about, but instead we just went for lunch and chatted. It was nice to get out the office and other than my interview, it was the longest time we’d been able to spend together on our own.

As an aside, I’ve not been there a month and my mailbox is full. To say I had a sense of humour failure about that would be an understatement. Not least because, whatever they’ve done (aside from giving us microscopic mailboxes) when you archive something – you can’t search for it in Outlook again. I’ve got some training and a meeting tomorrow, but in the afternoon I’m going to have a chat to IT to work out WTF.

I dialled into Book Club last night, in bed with a cup of tea. It’s all glamour. It was good chatting to everyone, although not the same as being face-to-face. When it was time for me to leave home I thought ‘Well, I could drive there ok, but when it’s time to go home – I’ll be too tired’.

Poor Hubs, last night I asked him to pass me my splint (like a custom mouth guard so I don’t clench my jaw overnight), he was watching the end of the Grand Prix, so I popped my eye mask on, ear plug in – again glamour puss. The next thing I remember is him shaking me awake to say goodbye as he headed off to get the bus and train to work.

I think the Valerian worked!

Valerian, the herb, not the movie

Last night it took me ages to get to sleep again. Then I woke up. Fretted. Got cross with myself. Fretted some more. Got back to sleep. I had bad dreams last night too, images I can’t shake even now. I staggered out of bed at 6:20am; bleary eyed, unbearably sad and with less than an hour to have a shower, finish lunches, get Hubs to the station, Archie to school and me on the road.

Things didn’t get done over the weekend, like Archie’s reading diary. We read every day with him, but have to justify it to his teacher by completing it. I sent him to school with three blank spaces in it, so can look forward to ‘????’ in there tonight when we get home.

I got in the car ready to whizz the wee man to school and got an alert on the dash ‘Key mechanism not working’ I only needed to get the battery changed, but it freaked me out somewhat as I’m transferring the car to my new job.

I’m tired, cranky and honestly, shell-shocked. I am not fully in my body. I have to start taking better care of myself, otherwise I’m going to fall over. I need to do some exercise to help tire me out and get me to sleep, but tonight I just need an early night. I’ve also brought some Valerian for good measure. I am making myself eat, as I have no appetite and when I do eat, I feel sick. To top it all off, my stomach is churning. Looking everything up online, so far so normal. I know it is a process I’ve got to navigate, my compass is a bit faulty.

I am so glad that I’ve got people on the end of the phone for me. I’m also grateful that Ian and I are messaging each other. Cat photos, nonsense, updates on our days and laundry. Anything and nothing. He told me off for drinking, having seen me obliterate feelings and pain before, he knows the depths I can sink to. I’ve reset my sober date to today (24 June).

At lunch time, I went to Box Hill Central – that has changed a huge amount since I last was there. I was only just pregnant with Archie, so over eight years ago. I dropped the dry cleaning in, found a pharmacy for the aforementioned herb extract. Walking round to find somewhere to get the battery changed, I got completely lost; asked for help, got misdirected out of one building and into another. Then giving up altogether, as I was heading out (in a huff) to get back to work, I walked right into the stand and got the battery replaced.

Then … I got lost coming out the car park, had to do a U-Turn on Elgar Road.

I should be able to book my flights tomorrow, Ian is off to the funeral director now. That might help, as I feel a bit lost and in limbo still.

I’m not ready for this

Whenever we are going away; I herd clothes as they either come off the ironing pile or Mt Foldmore, to the spare room. I also add ‘stuff’; spare chargers, tea, coffee, gluten free food. I’ve just been grocery shopping and picked up some snacks for the flights, as I’ve got form of getting delayed back to the UK.

Today I’ve started putting things on the bed; a dress, boots and bag for a funeral.

I’ve typed those words, and still it doesn’t seem real. Especially not for Erika.

Bereavement doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Most of the weekend we’ve been in party mode for Archie, so I’ve just pottered on getting the house ready. Ticking things off a list kept my mind busy.

Today we went to Werribee Zoo to see the dinosaurs they had on exhibit there. Archie told me a story the whole way down, we parked up, avoided the puddles in the car park, I got a coffee then we walked around the dinosaur models.

After we’d been on the bus and had lunch, I was peopled out. Archie asked to see the boat by Hippo Beach, we ended up going round the rest of the zoo, my anxiety growing. Sitting in the car at the lions, it was all I could to hold it together. I tried not to be too short with Archie as he took his turn in the car. We headed back to the exit and toddled around the maze, which made me laugh and relaxed me.

I drove home, he played in the back of the car, then got car-colepsy, I listened to Kermode and Mayo’s podcast. Dropping him off at home, I turned around and went back out to get lunch accoutrements.

I saw someone I knew at the shops and funked talking to them – I didn’t have the head space. I explained why I’ve needed to increase my anti-depressants to the pharmacist, just about holding it together.

I’m home now, getting ready to start meal prep for the week. I’m going to have a bath and an early night tonight. We start all over again tomorrow, we also should get a date for the funeral, I can then book my flights. And finish my packing.

I don’t know what to say

This is the bit I hate. When people do the head tilt and say ‘I’m sorry.’ Both of us feeling inadequate because we have no language for grief any more.

In a way, I’m glad I’ve changed jobs. I now sit in an office with ten people, instead of over a hundred. I don’t think I could cope with lots of people coming up and doing the head tilt at me.

I’ve been in constant contact with Ian, messaging each other about shit. Inanities, funeral plans, what, where, when, cats. I said to him today I was worried about upsetting him, he told me off – “Not going to happen” as he reminded me, “We lived under the same roof for goodness knows how long and never had a cross word.”

We had a giggle last night about the amount of selfies Erika took. Literally every where she went, she took a selfie. No shame, no fuss, no bother. “This is me in outer Mongolia. This is me with an ice cream. This is me with everyone. This is me!” We laughed at the montage of photos that could scroll through for hours without repeating itself.

I’ve got her last selfie saved in my phone, she knew she was heading into hospital so got all her hair cut off. She looks calm, adorable with a pixie crop, stoic almost.

I miss her giggle.

BossLady was very sweet last night and said, ‘Don’t rush in tomorrow’. So when L messaged me and said ‘Want to meet up?’ I jumped at the chance to say ‘Yes, let’s have a coffee’. Best laid plans were foiled when we found the coffee machine had gone phut, but we coped and went to the other cafe.

I am so blessed, I had so many hugs from friends this morning. Our house, Archie’s school and where I used to work are within 50m of each other, meeting L and A for coffee meant a steady stream of colleagues coming for their morning cup of Joe fix; and a steady stream of hugs for me. I didn’t put my make-up on, there was no point, I knew I’d cry.

After a good natter with my girls, I drove to work listening to Tim Ferriss talk to Amanda Palmer. I listened to his interview with Neil Gaiman yesterday. Amanda and Neil are two of my favourite humans, they are so of themselves, by which I mean – they are Amanda Fucking Palmer and Neil Gaiman. Amanda talked about how Patreon (of which I am one) gives her the freedom to do WTF she wants to do with her art; including making the most intimate, hair-raisingly good album I’ve heard in, well, ever There Will Be No Intermission. I can’t tell you how good it is, you just need to listen and wallow in it. She is talking with Tim Ferriss and telling him how much of a relief it is to be able to do this album, and not have to go to Steve and say “I’ve made an album, it’s got songs on it about miscarriage, abortion and death. By the way, the first track is 11 minutes long” (I’m paraphrasing), but with this funding model, she can do what she wants knowing that thousands of people around the world can support her. Each month, we contribute money to enable AFP (and others on the same platform) to create their art, whatever which way, knowing that we won’t always like it, understand it, but that we want to hear what she says. And, (Brucie Bonus) as we’re cheering her on through our monthly funding, if you can’t afford to pay $$ for her album, on BandCamp, she can release the album for $1. Because the Patreon community have already paid for the recording studio, mixing etc. It’s a safety net that gives artists flexibility and autonomy like never before. Which is why the record companies are getting worried…

I digress, have you watched Good Omens yet? have you seen that a fundamentalist Christian group have petitioned Netflix to not make any more? Never mind that Amazon made it? If you’ve not watched it, please do. Apart from anything else, it looks amazing, the colour scheme of the characters, the texture of their clothes – sublime. It also has a fabulous combination of the original BBC radio adaptation actors with a stellar cast, as in Josie Lawrence and Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Derek Jacobi – the list is endless. Michael Sheen as Azriaphale might be my latest crush. Might be. He’s totally adorable as the old fuss-bucket. David Tennant as Crowley camping it up is delicious.

It’s faithful to the book, raw, and as Neil was show runner, that it’s not been tweaked to ramp up the suspense to eleventy-stupid is great. I don’t know about you, I do like a bit of tension, but stringing it out over episodes while you finish off other storylines – yawn. I loved it. I love that the book is also galloping up the charts again too.

Picture Credit