One of the good ones gone………

A friend of mine died last week.

He’d been round my house on Thursday night. Wednesday night for that matter as well. He talked more on Thursday evening than I’d ever heard him talk. He was animated and what he said was vivid.

He work up Friday morning vomiting. An ambulance was called. He lost consciousness and never regained it.

He was a quiet man. He was a gifted saxophonist. Solid, never showy. He had a deep and real faith in God. He liked people but he was smart enough about human nature that he didn’t take everyone at face value. And he was a friend to many.

I shall miss Reuben

Time passes quickly…. here in the mountains

Life goes by too fast. Over the last few weeks a friend of mine has died, my daughter got baptised, another friend spent way too much time crying (and I don’t know what to do about that) and they began to mess with my favourite cereal. Is nothing sacred?

Human life doesn’t seem to be. An old lady in my care is resident in a nursing home now and I went to see her today. They say that in her day she was brilliant and determined and achieved much. She even had contacts with the royal family…. but, hey, I’ll forgive her that. Now her memory has gone. Today, talking to her I could only find two people she remembered from the recent past and I was one of them and she couldn’t quite figure out my name.

The trouble is with her spectacles. Four months ago, she was transferred to her nursing home. Her glasses were broken and the frame was held together with a sticking plaster (band aid). Four months ago, they said that her glasses would be sent away and repaired. Each time I visit they can’t find her spectacles and then when they do, they still have that sticking plaster holding it together and there are the usual round of excuses and we go through the pantomime of placing the glasses on her nose. Each time they say that they will be sent away to the opticians for him to do their work … but they never are. And I know they will be missing next time… And I know that when they find them they will still have that sticking plaster holding them together. Trouble is they never find them on the floor or under her clothes or on her chair or in her bedroom….. they always find them somewhere where the nurses have put them for safety. On a shelf or behind a desk. Somewhere safe where the broken glasses won’t get broken.

To add to this conundrum, all of the nurses seem reasonably dedicated and professional. The optician tried to test her for a new prescription but she won’t co-operate.

It seems there’s no-one to blame except the passage of time that has robbed her of the capacity to arrange these things for herself and the passage of time that has laid waste to all of her close family. And the passage of time that means that there’s nothing can be done and by the time it is, she’ll probably be dead.

There’s a lot happening at the moment but I know that sticking plaster is going to haunt me for a long time to come……..

Steely Determination

Friends not only die – they get you through situations like this (you know who you are!).
As well as friends I’ve had a lot of music along for the ride. Some of these bands have been with me for thirty years now so I know that music is an important part of my life.
One important thing on my player at the moment is a box set by Donald Fagen (he who is lead singer of Steely Dan). The box brings together the three solo albums Don has recorded in his career – 1982’s The Nightfly, 1993’s Kamakiriad, and 2006’s Morph the Cat. If you know these albums you’ll know just how good they are. If you don’t know them and can’t imagine liking Steely Dan or anything associated with it, why not give one of them a spin? Look at how broad my musical tastes are on my profile, you might just find something here. These albums are jazz, they are rock, they are adult and articulate, they are spiritual and sexual. They are restrained energy personified.
Now if you know the three albums and agree with everything I’m trying to say, you might still not want the box set but you’d be making a mistake. The albums are presented here in a variety of musical formats – enough to make anyone’s amp and speakers come to life if you choose the right one – across 6 discs with videos and out-takes and the whole smorgasbord. Still not tempted? There’s a seventh disc. The unimaginatively titled “Trilogy – 10 extras” is a masterwork all on its own. It has a cover of Al Green’s Rhymes, it has a jazz piece that Fagen wrote for an accomplished player, it has three live tracks and singles that didn’t make the albums. You can’t buy it on its own and it’s not to be overlooked.

The Nightfly Trilogy has something for you and music can get you through the tough days.

Death, the last enemy


Death is a bastard. Because of the nature of my day job I seem to encounter it a lot more than the average man on the street but don’t let that fool you into thinking you ever get used to it. You never get used to it. Losing someone you’re caring for and helping others through is hard, but losing someone you cared for before they became ill is harder. I never want to get used to losing friends and loved ones and if I ever do I’ll know that I have become less of a human being than I want to be. People matter more than most everything else and friends are top of that list. Tell me if I stop caring…..