15 August 2014

For Biscuit

Dear Biscuit,

Hi, little one. I really hope you're okay, wherever you are. I'm so sorry you're not here with us any more. I know you were really scared that day, but I also think you knew we were there with you. You seemed to relax once we had hold of you, so I like to think that eased things for you a little bit. I'm so sorry we couldn't do anything else for you, I would have given anything to help you if I could. If we had known, we would have done everything we could to prevent it. November was a really horrible month, I was and still am heartbroken to have lost you because you really were very special.

I realised the other day that we've been without you for longer than you were with us now and that it's coming up to exactly a year since we brought you home on August 24th, and breaks my heart all over again. I think about you and miss you every day, there was never a dull moment while you were here, clumsy! I really miss your nuzzles and purring and sharing my pillow with you at night (your pillow, really, let's face it!) and having you toddle over to see us when we came home. Thank you for always being so affectionate, your kitty kisses were the best. I'll always treasure that photo of us asleep on the sofa nose to nose, it helps me to remember that you were happy and comfortable here - and you loved me too!

I'm so grateful that we got to know you even for a short time, even though I wish so much that you had got to grow up into the big handsome cat you definitely would have been! Everybody commented on your lovely markings. I hope someone up there is looking after you for us and that there are lots of bottle caps and screwed up pieces of paper for you to play with. And cardboard boxes to climb in, too!

Love and miss you so much, little one. And don't worry - no cat, or any other pet we might have in the future, will ever replace you. You left little Biscuit pawprints all over my heart.
We'll always be your humans!



14 August 2014

If There's Love

I was so very shocked and sad to hear about the passing of Robin Williams earlier this week. I'm not normally one to really mark celebrity deaths, but this one really did get me. Instead of writing a long post and getting my words all muddled, I thought I'd just share a small piece of his work that will always stay with me. I watched many of his films during my childhood and loved them, but I first watched Mrs Doubtfire with my dad not too long (if I remember rightly) after my parents separated. This is the end monologue of the film, which will always make me cry big fat tears, but was exactly what I needed to hear at the time.

'You know, some parents, when they're angry, they get along much better when they don't live together. They don't fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies for you. And sometimes they get back together. And sometimes they don't, dear. And if they don't, don't blame yourself. Just because they don't love each other anymore, doesn't mean that they don't love you. There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mummy, some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country, and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months... even years at a time. But if there's love, dear... those are the ties that bind, and you'll have a family in your heart, forever. All my love to you poppet, you're going to be alright... bye bye.'

Rest in peace, Mr Williams.

4 August 2014

Lest We Forget


Today is the centenary anniversary of the start of the First World War, for Britain, and I feel very much like I should be wearing a poppy. As I was a history student for my entire time at high school, the facts, figures, places, dates and events of WW1 have long been drummed into me. There was the essay on Field Marshall Haig, the coursework on the causes of the war, horror stories and documentaries about the reality of life in the trenches. Hearing the name Franz Ferdinand will always conjure up an image of the Archduke for me first, and the band of the same name second, so my history teachers can sleep soundly in the knowledge that they taught me well! But what really brought it home for me and made me think about all the personal loss and individual stories, was visiting the battlefields and cemeteries as part of a visit to France and Belgium with my school when I was in Year 10.

I find it so strange to think that I've stood in the field where the Battle of the Somme took place. I remember our tour guide asking us to stand and just look, take in the vastness of the wide open space. He then asked us to imagine being a soldier, going 'over the top' of the trenches and facing the open field. There was quite literally no place to hide, not a single tree or bush to hide behind to dodge oncoming bullets and attacks. It must have been terrifying. Visiting the cemeteries was really emotional too. I remember very clearly thinking that no matter how many times you could hear the figure of how many lives were lost, you can't truly appreciate the sheer scale of loss until you see all the graves lined up and knowing that each one represents just a single person. Tyne Cot cemetery was the biggest one we visited, I think. There are 8907 British soldiers buried here, and that's only the individuals who were found and were able to be buried.

The most poignant and moving experience of this trip for me was hearing The Last Post played at Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium. This was the bugle call played to mark the end of each day of service during the war and it's played here every night at 8pm.

History is something I've always been interested in (OCR, I know it was a valiant effort on your part to squash my enthusiasm at A-Level, but you did not succeed!) particularly both World Wars, and I think it's really important that people continue to learn about them and the sacrifices that were made. I decided to share my experiences here by way of commemorating in my own way and if I can, I'd like to encourage anyone reading this to take a minute or two to reflect as well.

If you're interested, a Twitter account from Sky News is live-tweeting the events of the First World War as if they were happening today, which I think is a great idea! It's usually one tweet a day, but for today only they have been 'live tweeting' all the events leading up to the declaration of war here in Britain. You can follow them at @SkyNewsWW1 and there's lots of information online too.
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