It gets worse

It’s the funeral tomorrow.  I’ve no idea how I’m going to get through that.  Because the second week is a whole lot worse than the first one.

The first week you’re in shock.  And you’ve to got to deal with a whole load of arseholes, most of whom seem to be in the wrong job and go out of their way to make things difficult for you.

But the second week is when it really starts to sink in.  In between howling I’m raging mad.  We had plans, damn it.  They weren’t big plans.  We’d never asked for much.  We wanted each other.

I’d taken my redundancy, we were going to move house, buy a puppy and potter around arm in arm for another twenty years or so, enjoying some peace and quiet.  It wasn’t a lot to hope for.  But now, wandering around an empty house, Linda’s house, it’s all gone.

Unfortunately for me, Linda knew me too well.  So when she was still lucid she made me make some promises to her, knowing full well they’re the only promises I’ve ever kept.  I’m not to do anything stupid.  Which was her polite way of saying don’t top yourself because she knew that would be my first inclination.  Which it is.

I’ve not to start drinking again because that would lead inexorably to breaking the first promise.  I’ve not to be mean to her mother.  Which is easy because I’ll never speak to her again.  You know the witch who when an 11 year old Linda ran into the house, in tears, because their downstairs neighbour had grabbed her and felt her up slapped her in the face and told her not to be a dirty girl.

And, somehow, I’ve to be good to myself.  That won’t happen.  She knew fine well the only reason I got up in the morning was to try and look after her.  Something I failed at time after time.  The last thing she said to me as she faded into unconsciousness was “you always made me feel safe”.  But in the end I couldn’t.  I’m sorry Linda.



St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton

Uncle Tommy

So I went to see Uncle Tommy a couple of days ago.  He’ll be 91 this weekend and went into a care home at the end of May.  In fact he went in 4 days before we found out Linda was going to die.  I went to see him on the Thursday of the week he moved in.  Linda went into the Western General the following day and on the Saturday they told us she was going to die.

Uncle Tommy was her favourite.  I remember she told me when she was young she wanted Tommy to be her Dad.  His brother, her step-father was a drunken, bad tempered bastard.  But Tommy was always full of life, drink free and took time to spend with Linda.  So when his wife died a few years back it was Linda who stepped in to look out for him.  She took him to the doctors, hospital appointments, sent me to his house with food parcels and had him to our house as often as she could.  This was despite the fact he wasn’t actually a relative and his own nephews and nieces never went near him.

She only left the hospice twice – once to come home because she couldn’t remember what our house was like – and once to see Tommy in the care home.  Which she thought was great and helped put her mind at ease.  I organised a couple of escorted visits for Tommy to come and see Linda and his last visit was two days before Linda fell into a coma.

When she died I phoned the care home to let them know and asked them to break it to him gently.  I couldn’t face him that week as I was too much of a mess.  I still am but I knew I had to visit, for Linda’s sake.  So I chapped on the door and went in.  I was surprised when he just smiled and asked how I was.  Then I noticed he was looking behind me, down the corridor, and I realised he didn’t know.

So I had to tell him that Linda was dead.  God, he wept.  Nearly as much as me.  She was his favourite as well.  His pal.  She looked after him.  She loved him and he loved her.  He knows I’ll still visit but with her gone I think a wee part of him is gone as well.  Strangely, it was quite nice to be with someone who loved her as I haven’t spoken or seen anyone else since she died.  And I don’t know anyone who knew her anymore, apart from her family.  And they don’t count.

After the NHS fucked up the first time and she ended up partially disabled she really withdrew from the world.  She was in constant pain thanks to the botched knee operation and the misdiagnosed ankle problem and I was content just to be with her. After all, I didn’t have anyone to withdraw from. And as  long as we had each other, nothing else mattered.  So for the last six years it’s just been the two of us.

Here she is on Tommy’s last birthday.  My beautiful Lindy.



A day to forget

It was a dark and stormy morning.  As it should be as today was the day I had to register the death of my Lindy and arrange her funeral.

IMG_20170811_104713_1It was no surprise then when the registrars office turned out to be an utter shithole.  Well it is run by the City of Edinburgh Council. So no surprises there.  With the usual warmth and courtesy of a council official the assistant registrar never even bothered to introduce himself or even express condolences.

The last time I was there was over 25 years ago when Mrs H and I went to register our marriage.  And I don’t think it had been cleaned or tidied since.  It certainly looked as though someone had crapped the eighties all over it.  Bearing in mind there are only two reasons to go there – happy ones (birth/wedding) and sad ones (death).  The least they could do is spring a minimum wage for someone with a black bag and a hoover.

IMG_20170811_104653On the plus side I was in such a foul mood that I actually went into a caff for an all day breakfast – the first meal I’d eaten in 3 months.  It was alright even if it’s the first all day breakfast I’ve failed to finish.  But that’s one less thing for Linda to moan at me from on high.

Then it was off to the store to arrange the funeral.  Old habits, see.  My family always went to the store for a funeral because that way you got the divi added on.  And it was a nice wee bonus come divi day if you’d had a good few deaths that year.* (*the preceding paragraph will only make sense to Scotch folk of a certain age).

At least the woman there was matter of fact and professional, something the council staff might want to consider sometime soon.  The funeral was sorted within 20 minutes as Linda had given me quite specific instructions when she was still able to.  Private, cremation, a light wood coffin, bright yellow flowers (but not sunflowers as she hates them). She just wants me there as she arrives to ‘Run’ by Leona Lewis, then a few minutes contemplation before she departs to ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ by Willie Nelson, two songs I’ll never be able to listen to again after the day.

Here she is a girl of 16 and as a young woman.  She hated the thought of her picture being on the internet but her was a rare beauty.

Donations to St. Columba’s Hospice in her name can be made here.

My Lindy

My dearest Lindy is gone.  I’ve never felt so bereft and desolate.  For over 25 years it was always Linda and Stuart. There was no Linda. No Stuart. We were one of those annoying couples who were inseparable.  And now she’s gone.

I don’t know what she ever saw in me.  She was beautiful, funny, full of life and mischief. I was and and am a dour, cantankerous drunk.  But the second last thing she said to me before the brain cancer put her to sleep was “You always looked after me, no-one else ever did that”. And she meant no-one.  Because underneath the smile she was lonely and after we became a couple she told me how she would cry herself to sleep at night. That broke my heart.

Until she fell ill last Christmas I don’t think we’d spent a night apart in over a decade bar some hospital visits and once she ended up in St Columba’s Hospice I spent every night with her there until she passed. I was with her when she took her last breath and she was still the beautiful girl I met all those years ago.

She had a pretty shitty life. As she would say “there’s always a fly in the ointment”. Whether that was an evil mother ruining her childhood, a teenage wedding to an utter bastard, caring for elderly relatives with dementia and COPD or after the hospital fucked up her knee and misdiagnosed a damaged ankle so that she was never pain free for the last six years of her life.

We made grand plans last year. I took my redundancy and we were going to move out of town and get a dog as we wound down into later life. Even when she was diagnosed with cancer and underwent 10 lots of chemotherapy and 30 lots of radiotherapy, some of which hospitalised her again, we still hoped.

Then the final kick in the teeth.  Just a couple of weeks before the follow up scans were due to see if the treatment was successful we found out the cancer had spread to the brain. And there was nothing they could do. Her last few weeks were horrible as the paranoia and confusion had her in tears and if euthanasia needed any more justification spend some time with a brain cancer patient in their last few weeks. Sometimes she would forget she was dying and then the reality would sink in. It was only a fortnight ago that she looked and me and said “I’m never going to have a puppy now, am I”. And we wept.

There were a couple of good weeks in the hospice and the staff and volunteers there managed to put a smile on her face. But after weeks of torture she fell asleep and passed away five days later.  If you feel like it you can give some money to the St Columba’s Hospice charity here.

This was always her favourite picture of the two of us. It was taken a couple of months before we started winching and she always said that she knew back then that I was the one for her. She was my Lindy, my dearest and I don’t know how to survive without her. But she knew how much I love her. Aw the way to Morrisons. And back.


24 years of doom

Little did Mrs H know, way back in 1992, that she was doomed to spend the next 24 years married to me. It says a lot for her sheer bloody mindedness that she’s still hanging in there, or it could be that she knows when she’s on to a good thing.

After all, how many husbands would take a day off work, and jump on a 26 bus to the Toby Carvery for an all you can eat six quid buffet AND offer to pony up the extra 30 bob for a King Size. That woman’s got it made.

I’ve even offered to take her back next year for our silver wedding and splash out on a pudding.


Once upon a time Part 2

Continuing the notion that I used to be a real person, here’s a picture taken at Northallerton on some kind of corporate beano.  I can’t remember what I was doing, or who many of the people were, but it must have cost a fortune to ship us all there.

I’m in the back with the impenetrable shades.  The bloke two to the left from me was called Chris, the girl on the right at the back was Nicola.  Front row, far left was Catherine, and in the middle of the front row was Sarah Bellamy.  She moved to Cyprus, became Sarah Karmiotou and, last I heard (2015), was very poorly. Fingers crossed.


Once upon a time …

in a far and distant land,  the venerable Mr H was a proper person with a proper job and everything.  I know that children today find this hard to believe, but it’s true.  I was a high flyer with responsibilities and all sorts.  And here’s pictorial evidence that I once knew people who grew up to be fancy Dans.  Now I know it looks like I’m about to remove from the premises but they were actually almost friends of mine.

On the right is Tracy Keates (later Tracy Lerpiniere) and on the left is Campbell McCafferty.  Mr McCafferty went on to do top secret hush hush work for the Ministry of Defence, which was so secret and hush hush that he ended up in the Honours List, adding a CBE to his name.  Ms Lerpiniere ended up as Head of NATO and Europe Policy (MOD), which also sounds very important indeed.  I, however, abandoned such petty matters, instead concentrating on the nature vs. nurture debate, ending up as an emotionally stunted (thanks Dad),  mentally unstable (cheers Mum), unemployable jakey (both sides).  So we’re all winners.  Happy New Year.


Tracy Lerpiniere Campbell McCafferty

A Letter to Santa from Mr H, aged 6 years and 2 months

Quite why my auld Irish mammy kept this with her bits and bobs is beyond me.  But there it was, when I was going through her stuff, after she died.  Perhaps it was a reminder of the last proper Christmas we had as a family.  Certainly, it’s a reminder of when things were much simpler.  I hate to think of the catalogue that kids present to their parents these days.  Anyway, Christmas 1971 saw me composing an ode to Santa.

A letter to Santa

That’s a grand total of two things, only one of which I got.  And it wasn’t a bike!


PS – Santa – if you see this, I’ve flitted since 1971.  So, if you’ve got a bike for me this year, email for my new address.  Thanks.

Mr and Mrs H, aged 12 and a half

I didn’t think cameras had been invented back then, but lo and behold, what should turn up, but a picture of Mr and Mrs H, aged 12 and a half.  Of course, Mrs H wasn’t Mrs H then.  If only she’d known what lay ahead.  What a gorgeous couple we made.

Mr and Mrs H