GENETICS by Sinead Morrissey
My father’s in my fingers, but my mother’s in my palms.
I lift them up and look at them with pleasure –
I know my parents made me by my hands.
My Mum and Dad's wedding, 1963
They may have been repelled to separate lands,
to separate hemispheres, may sleep with other lovers,
but in me they touch where fingers link to palms.With nothing left of their togetherness but friends
who quarry for their image by a river,
at least I know their marriage by my hands.I shape a chapel where a steeple stands.
And when I turn it over,
my father’s by my fingers, my mother’s by my palms

demure before a priest reciting psalms.
My body is their marriage register.
I re-enact their wedding with my hands.

So take me with you, take up the skin’s demands
for mirroring in bodies of the future.
I’ll bequeath my fingers, if you bequeath your palms.
We know our parents make us by our hands.


We’ve followed the mechanics of death, the corporate paperwork and the guy at the funeral parlour advising us that after cremation we could wash out the urn and put it in the recycling bin. Really? Is that appropriate?

My brother and I did what we had to do, booking the wake. Walking into the club, like stepping back 20 years in time. Possibly 30 – needle skidding on record.

David and I have been pulling together thoughts for a humanist funeral. Dad loved Neil Diamond and country, Johnny Cash etc. So we’ve had to pull back from some of the obvious which admittedly caused some inappropriate laughter. Three songs – the intro will be Song Sung Blues (cause everybody has one), the exit will be Crackling Rosie.

But the mid hymn is the hard one. And we are English. So a very english song, Abide With Me. The Emile Sande version. This:

Abide With Me

(Would have posted vid but WP was being a bitch grrrr).

Life Support

I  start this post with both an apology and a disclaimer. The views and expressions within are my own, entirely, and other folk may have their own belief systems that are equally as relevant to them. I live my life within a humanist framework and believe we are all star stuff. And today I am struggling to articulate the impact of sudden grief.

You may have on occasion wondered what your reaction would be, if it were your responsibility to call time on a life. If the consultant placed the decision to remove life support squarely in your hands, there are so many shades of grey that could colour your reaction. Then you swiftly move away from such thoughts and hope that such a decision will never come to be your duty.

Today it became my decision. And there was no hesitation. No need to second guess the wishes of the patient, because he was my father and he had made his views and his fears about living a life of dependency very clear to me.

The consultant told me the diagnosis, the prognosis, the options.  Multi organ failure. A blood starved of oxygen for several hours. An old man, frail and with little chance of a meaningful recovery.

It was easy to turn the life support off.

It was not easy to then sit by your side and hold your hand until you died.

THAT should never be easy. But I was given the opportunity to say goodbye and to tell you I love you and that it was ok for you to go. To go and not suffer. I don’t know if you could hear me, but you slipped as gently and as peacefully away as any of us could wish to go. You were treated with dignity and love throughout the process, and you were with Paul and I, who love you.

The last time we spoke on Tuesday we each told the other we loved them, and in the end that is all we can ask for; to know that we are much loved.

Farewell to Trevor: raconteur; petrol head; publican; chemist; maverick father; terrible man-flirt; and occasional hell-raiser.

25th June 1937 – 13th February 2014

Miss Havisham

Women of a certain age that have not had children should be prepared for the consequences. So quoth my generally lovely doctor when confronted by my now lengthy wailing about issues in my pelvic area. Yeah, right dear – I’d just have had a nervous breakdown from the overwhelming responsibility of screwing up someone else’s life. Some people really shouldn’t have kids. Trust me.

However, it took chronic anaemia to force the issue. A couple of physical collapses helped. You know, that grinding, fist clenchingly awful pain in your groin that has you walking like there’s a grotesquely full nappy sack suspended between your legs. First I tried the pills. Mefanamic acid was a delight – did everything it said on the tin. Sadly, it also did a whole lot more and when my vocal chords began to swell somewhat alarmingly, the pharmacist had the heebies, demanded I stop taking them immediately and sent me packing back to the GP. Result: allergy to ibuprofen confirmed. Not good for an asthmatic.

I have odd reactions to medications. So I switched to limited doses of codeine. This worked well. Too well. Dear god, it works so well.  I live in a very happy place on codeine. Shame I’m incapable of coherent thought or anything remotely normal on even the smallest doses. But oooooooh so haaaaaapppppyyyyy! Fluffy! There is the slight issue of it’s addictive nature of course, but I suspect my disorientation is more likely to have me flattened by a truck.

So the good Doctor packed me off for an ultra sound. Fine…I slurped the litre of water, clenched my bladder for an hour and then wheeled in to see a delightful Irish lady who had me laughing so hard she had to pause the scan. Mind, she did threaten me with an internal, which clenched my humour up rapidly. That and the search for my ‘missing’ right ovary. After a fairly graphic conversation that would have the male half of the population running gibbering for the hills, the diagnosis was official: Miss Havisham and Estella have set up home in my womb.  Miss H being a big, womb curdling cow bag of a fibroid, full of malevolently mutated oestrogen apparently thwarted by a life of childlessness. Estella being the dinky one off to the right. No wonder that ovary had gone into hibernation with those two evil bags on the horizon.

Exactly what I see in the mirror when Miss H grabs my short & curlies

Exactly what I see in the mirror when Miss H grabs my short & curlies

Next week I meet the good Doctor to discuss action. Now if it were up to me, Miss H and her little leech would be lasered off until eternity.  This being the NHS I will have to work through the various useless alternatives and barbaric methods of treatment that had to be devised by a bloke. Hot wax to the womb anyone? (Don’t believe me, then google endrometrial ablation). And the apparent saviour of all pre menopausal women everywhere – the mirena coil.  Oh no, mate. That ain’t happening. I’ve been told by too many lady doctors that my various parts are ‘shy’, ‘hidden’, ‘bendy’. No one – but no one – is attempting to implant something with sharp edges in my dainty lady areas. I appreciate the good Doctor will repeat the phrase ‘I’m on transmit but no one is receiving’ at me in his plaintive way as usual. Mate, as a doctor, you’re a damn fine human being. But you are also very conservative. And I am not having anything I cannot control myself stuck anywhere up my nether regions. Call me a control freak, call me stubborn – I don’t care. I’d rather keep Havisham, a hot water bottle and the codeine than have your plastic parts emitting their radiation inside me. Or harpooning a fallopian tube. If they can ever find one.

Isn’t encroaching cronedom grand? I’m now off to hide under a mound of feather pillows for eternity. With my hot water bottle.