Friends and funerals

Back in the UK in June 2019 and based in Hastings so why book a ticket for the Elton John concert in December 2020 in Dublin, Ireland?

Friends. That’s the answer.

In 2003 I moved to Angouleme, France where I  met a fellow Brummie ( someone born/grew up in Birmingham)

Terri Stirling was a force to be reckoned with. We got on like a house on fire.

Later, I moved south, warmer, quicker, cheaper flights back to the UK for work.

Some years later Terri met a German guy and moved to Ireland.

Meanwhile, a mutual friend, Val Lydon ( nee Dowling) in Dublin was kindly proof reading my books.

In ….? I found out that Terri had died and was buried in Ireland on her 55th birthday but it was too late to attend.

Val again, kindness itself, sent me a letter and a CD crammed with photos and comments about the wonderfully irrepressible Terri. See below: Here in Ireland, always the big kid.

Terri in Ireland. Always a big kid.

So, when I saw that Elton was performing in Dublin, I thought great, I will visit Val.

Then the C word reared its ugly head and stopped us going anywhere. As things improved, Elton needed a hip operation and so the postponements continued.

Finally, last year, things were looking better. Still standing you could say. 

I had her address but not particularly trusting of snail mail I decided to check in with Val on facebook.

She was nowhere to be found?

Google provided me with the answer.

Val had died, age 61? ( cancer not the other C word) 25th August 2021.

Ironically, Elton had played in London and Sydney during that four year period and each time I was a stone’s throw away but that’s hardly the point.

Of course, as we age, not all of our friends do. That’s life and death.

Two weeks ago a reminder came up about the Dublin concert. 

I quickly looked at flights & hotels. Flights, cheap, hotels…three times the price of a similar hotel in Nice, France. Argh!

The whole trip seemed doomed and shrouded in sadness. Then I heard that a friend that was one of my first housemates in Hastings in 2018 had…yep…died!  Marcus Jones. He was 34.

His funeral was to be held in Hastings the same day as the concert in Dublin.

So many conflicting feelings! I slept on it. I offered the ticket on facebook. Two things happened. A wonderful French friend, Heloise offered to pay for my trip to Dublin as a birthday treat. I have to admit I jumped at the chance and forgot the usual, British…Oooh no…I can’t possibly accept…routine. 😉

But there was still the question of young Marcus’s funeral? 

The second thing was…’Marcus saying’ Keep living, have fun, make more memories.

So I went.

I am glad I did.

Before the concert I met Vera, one the security staff. We talked books. She was currently reading Ullysees I told her about my publications. She took one of my cards and promised to download one, soon.

If only I had a fiver for every time I have heard that!

Throughout the concert I struggled with my emotions. So much loss since I bought this ticket.

The next morning an email arrived from…Vera!

She had dropped my card but remembered my first name and the title of one of my books. 

Good old Google soon gave her the link she wanted. She had downloaded two of my books.

More tears from me (happy ones)

The point of telling you this?

As writers we are often told, show don’t tell.

The title Vera remembered was A Mouse in the Vinaigrette, catchy enough but I had actually acted out the poor little mouse, streaked in oil and vinegar and his attempt to escape the glass jar…

Sometimes a visual image is worth a thousand words!

Of course I replied immediately to her email, thanking her and briefly explaining my dilemma. The concert or a funeral?

I am so glad I did as her response was this. 

…I do believe that the secret to a happy life is to move forward and not continue to live in our sad moments. We are lucky to meet so  many wonderful people in our lives and if we lose them , then aren’t we better for having known them at all, even if we have never met in person ( she means Val) …

She signed off with this…

I wish you many years of making happy memories and also many years connecting with people around the world with your books.


A story with a happy ending. We all need more of those. Hence I am sharing this one.


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