Losing your mum is a big thing; I can only imagine what losing a wife of 53 years feels like. I am so impressed by how Dad, Bruce Nicol, has risen to this most challenging of life events.
Ecological crisis is a dour subject. It takes a lot to make a novel with this as one of its main themes enjoyable. Still less, ‘fun’. But Hastings-based Amanda Nicol achieves this in Dead Pets Society. Even direct personal grief is handled with humour, and it is such grief that leads the protagonist to conceive of the Society of the title.
Inspired by walking on the South Downs, repainted endlessly while Mum was ill and dying, this is the only painting I have done this year. The merging of matter into spirit – the indefinable place where the two meet. A completely inadequate expression of the experience of the death of the woman who brought me life, who supported me through that life and who I miss more than I can say.
This painting is to be donated to St Michael’s Hospice, with thanks for their tireless work, compassion and dedication.
A friend told me I should send Ken Loach a copy of House of Bread. The central characters share a name and have more in common than that. Both up against an intractable system where kindness and humanity are the exceptions, not the rule. Sanctioned, sectioned – strangely similar words for what feels like punishment; for non-compliance to some constructed norm.
On any other day I might have cursed and said, ‘Typical,’ but when Pat and I turn up at the Fishermen’s and find it closed I’m relieved. It was a stupid idea anyway, borne of the madness of grief and I don’t want to get involved. With anyone. Unless they’re living on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean or anywhere separated from here by a good few thousand miles.
Most of these drawings done in various classes in Hastings Art College as it was a decade or so ago. Not great, but honest attempts to wrangle with the complexity and beauty of form.
When I was 22 in 1989, I had a job restoring Old Master Paintings, I was in love with the man I worked for and life, on the surface at least, was good. On my return to London after a trip to India, I discovered that he wanted to end our relationship, and was seeing someone else.
As a child, I wrote diaries. I loved January 1st, that new page and all the promise of a New Year. I always tried to make my handwriting neat, before it descended into a hurried scrawl by mid-month. I didn’t realise it until I looked back, but that bedtime habit really helped me through some difficult times.