footnotes one


text to my sister’s email…

we went home to mum and dad’s house. Poured stiff g and t or two and felt relieved.

sounds terrible but the stress of all those years and anger and sadness for all the loss of contact for the family took their toll.

you’d cried the day before at his hospital bed.  It was the day I arrived from Vancouver and we went to see him.  You broke down and talked about the lost years and how unnecessary all the suffering was for everyone.

I think you were also relieved I was there and you could relax a bit…

…pub the day he died?

we continued there and ate dinner. Maybe it was fish and chips?

We did talk about taking mum out of the care home but I think you’d already decided and it was more of a discussion about how difficult this might be.


you were going to try as you always promised you would bring her home.


she was often asking you how long and saying don’t forget me and don’t leave me here. 

music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Alone by Akash Gandhi, Claud Debussy’s Clair de Lune performed by Caela Harrison, Pink Flamenco by Doug Maxwell, Auld Lang Syne performed by E’s Jammy Jams, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies by Tchaikovsky, uncredited, all tracks bar Clair de Lune courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties


this is not the official Mavericks video for the track mentioned in the road trip with my daughter… 

…but it’s shot in Cuba and the dancing’s terrific, and the novel I was driving south to work on was a cuban story…so I thought you might like to hear the actual track…


..especially given that I approached the Mavericks for permission to use the song in the podcast and got no reply…twice, but hey, no hard feelings…


France and Phil’s region  of languedoc rousillion in glorious colour…never too hard to make the south of France look rather wonderful, and the man himself, angle grinding something vital whilst I stand by and take photos…when I was supposed to be helping out…

an early idea for the front cover of the book I was in France to re-write, again…a boy’s own story based on real events and set during the Cuban revolution of 1958. The illustration is by the rather marvellous Jeremy Jones, click on the image to see his fine art at Saatchi’s 


music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Miles Beyond by Quincas Moreira, Boom de Boom by Aaron Lieberman, Drops of Earth by Aakash Gandhi all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties.

farmhouse terrace
the soulmates table
the local swimming hole



music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Yonder Hill and Dale by Aaron Kenny, Wind Marching for Rain by Puddle of Infinity, Clair de Lune performed by Caela Harrison and written by Claud Debussy—all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties unless otherwise stated


music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Waterfall by Aakash Gandhi, Jazz Piano Bar by Doug Maxwell, courtesy of Media Right Productions, Where Am I by Text Me Records, Gymnopedie No 3 performed by Wahneta Maxwell and written by Eric Satie, Cuban Sandwich, Doug Maxwell and Media Right Productions, also Pink Flamenco by Doug, Mysterious Sorrows, the wonderful Aakash Gandhi, and Miles Beyond, an old favourite by Quincas Moreira—all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties unless otherwise stated

I thought it only right to provide a link to the quoted work of doctor Earl Nauman…I should also say he is an expert in marketing and business…other titles by the good doctor include Customer Satisfaction Measurement…the equivalent, I’m guessing, to that perennial lovers question, ‘how was it for you?’

  • Nearly two thirds of the US population believes in love at first sight.
  • Of the believers, more than half have experienced it.
  • Fifty-five percent of those who experienced it married the object of their affection.
  • Three quarters of these married couples stayed married.
an article, backed by apparently kosher scientific referencing, about falling for someone who resembles a parent...the science says birds do it, fish do does the song go?

there are modern examples of the eyes averted pose…Modigliani’s Female Nude 1916 for example, a favourite painting… there’s a link above where you can see the painting as part of the model’s wiki page…meet the remarkable Iris Tree, English poet, bohemian, adventuress, wit…ironically given the pose, her life epitomises independence and utter freedom from convention or stereotyping…

Iris Tree apppeared as herself in Fellini's Dolce Vita, click on the photo to buy ManRay's similarly posed portrait of her
La Scapigliata, by Da Vinci, painted in 1508, click through for more details on Wikimedia Commons
Andy Williams sings of boys who watch girls and it looks like it can have a detrimental effect if the facial expressions of these two fine artists are anything to go by...Salvador Dali and Man Ray pictured in 1934 by photographer Carl Van Vechten, 1880-1964, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

here’s a selection of Audrey from Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck, (remember the missing arm scene?), and Sabrina with William Holden mixed with mum in various guises…

enjoy, compare and contrast…fond son syndrome


music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Temptation March by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Our French Café by Jimmy Fontanez and Media Right Productions, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, uncredited, Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 by Franz Liszt, uncredited …all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties


Ambrotype of Fanny Brawne, lover of John Keats, taken circa 1850 (photograph on glass).

Keats’ financial situation precluded marriage to Fanny. Ironically, Keats had an inheritance due to him that he was never to know about, an inheritance that would have allowed him to marry her, lost in arcane paperwork and overlooked. A life changed utterly by an administrative error.

his last request was reportedly that his gravestone should be inscribed, “Here lies one who’s name was writ in water,” and make no reference to his given name. The words—intentionally or not—echo this line from Catullus, “Sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti / in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua” (What a woman says to a passionate lover / should be written in the wind and the running water). But Catullus did not reckon with a woman like Fanny who was to prove constant, even after death. She was in mourning for six years and only married twelve years after Keats’ had passed away. She went on to have three children and to outlive the poet by forty years.

In passing, it’s worth noting that TB—the cancer of its day—was sometimes known as ‘the romantic disease’. This is from Wiki: “Major artistic figures such as the poets John KeatsPercy Bysshe Shelley, and Edgar Allan Poe, the composer Frederic Chopin, the novelists Charlotte BrontëFyodor DostoevskyThomas MannW. Somerset Maugham,  and Robert Louis Stevenson, and the artists…Edvard MunchAubrey Beardsley and Amedeo Modigliani either had the disease themselves or were surrounded by people who did. A widespread belief was that tuberculosis assisted artistic talent, as witness the number of great artists who were affected. Physical mechanisms proposed for this effect included the slight fever and the toxaemia, (blood poisoning), caused by the disease, which allegedly helped them to see life more clearly and to act decisively.

life mask of John Keats by Benjamin Robert Haydon (1816) and next door, a rather spooky video manipulation of a portrait of Keats reading the letter to Fanny


I was indeed prodigal in lying to my mother about her husband's passing, shame on me

still from the American western film The Prodigal Liar (1919) with William Desmond and Betty Compson

we could each of us take our pick of celebs with relationships that raise more questions than they answer, or come to that, relations and friends in couples whose behaviour one to another is hard to fathom and sometimes hard to sanction or witness…but how do we judge right from wrong and how do we respond when the lovers choose to go on and to repeat the same old, again and again…and is it love, or something altogether other?

…but look, love doesn’t have to be a trap, there must be fifty ways and many of us choose one because the strains are too much. Indeed, there’s an argument that with longer lives, staying together is just not possible for many, if not most of us, despite the fall out for families…which is why dating sites are seldom a ‘once only’ option…check out the latest figures by clicking on the smart graphic of 2012 figures…to find divorces are actually going down, though the reasons are not clear and may relate to finances (it’s expensive) or even to the demise of marriage as an institution…the only exception is same sex couples, where the rate is rising, but given same sex marriage is so new (2014)

Beneath Egon Schiele’s 1911 pen drawing, ‘Couple Embracing’, lies an article that purrports, (wait for it, the joke comes at the end…) to throw some light on the matter of what love really is…which is laudable, if ambitious…one wonders what songwriters, poets and novelists, film makers and all old romantics will do once the cat is out of the bag (yep, not really worth the wait I guess…)

music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Clouds by Huma Huma, Marching for Rain by Puddle of Infinity, Solo Cello Passion by Doug Maxwell and Media Right Productions, Peace by Hovatoff, Getz me to Brazil, another Doug Maxwell creation (how can we thank him enough?) Dinner for Two by SYBS—all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties unless otherwise stated






plenty of fish, and though the catch is on ice as season one concludes…there is hope. 

this photo was taken in Guadeloupe on holiday with my ex-girlfriend, the year, 2010…which makes me nostalgic for all things past, though with as little regret as I can muster, because, as my dear nan was wont to say,

 “tout passe, tout lasse, tout casse, et tout se remplace (Everything passes, everything wearies, everything breaks and everything is replaced)

Dante sees Beatrice for only the second time in his life, at age nineteen, though he looks older in Henry Holiday’s 1883 oil painting of the encounter on the ponte Santa Trinita, with the river Arno and the ponte Vecchio in the background, a scene recognisable even today. Boys watching girls and girls watching boys has been about forever I guess, though courtly love may be less obviously the guiding principle of dating websites, we all live and hope


music credits: One Dog Down title music by Wes Hutchinson, Tango de la Noche by Wayne Jones, Symphony No 5 by Beethoven, uncredited, Chopin’s Funeral March is also uncredited, the marvellous 7th Floor Tango is by Silent Partner, Lord of the Land by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( and the haunting Desert Caravan is by another favourite collaborator, Aaron Kelly, the last track is by Leah, an original piece written and performed by the author’s daughter —all tracks courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties unless otherwise stated.

season two


waits for you


footnotes two


music credits are now included in the closing credits of each episode—all tracks are courtesy of Youtube’s Music Library, free to download and use without copyright restrictions or royalties unless otherwise stated, except original music, written and performed by Leah, the author’s daughter.

once again, heartfelt thanks to all the artists who so generously make their work available to us poor producers. Me2mama would be very much diminished without your talents. All hail to you all and Youtube too…


the orchid on the windowsill of mum's room in the care home
"...bags are packed and I'm ready to go..." name the tune and the artist?

photos were taken on the day, just as the live action was recorded on the day. For the techies out there, here’s a little shot of the zoom H2n that does all the audio heavy lifting…fine technology indeed


poppy fields on the banks of...
the vidourle - sun ice cold water...
the summer dress...
the village, and...
the sea, the sea...





Music credits: Title music is by Wes Hutchinson, with incidental music by Kevin Macleod, Jon Sayles and E Jammy Jams, Long Note Two by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

‘Fings ain’t wot they used to be’.

Lionel Bart, writer and composer, he of Oliver! fame, who took so much LSD and was in such debt he sold the rights of the hit musical to Max Bygraves for £350 who re-sold them shortly after for £250,000…Bart died in relative poverty, despite his genius. 

‘Everything is but for a day, both that which remembers and that which is remembered.’

Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome and philosopher, played by another marvellously bad boy, Richard Harris, in Ridley Scott’s film Gladiator, a thoughtful stoic, disappointed by his son Commodus, (who thought himself a god), and doomed to spend his entire life making war.

‘The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet.’

Cyril Connelly, critic and author of Enemies of Promise, a three-part account of why he failed to become a great writer; dissecting your own failures is never an easy task. I know from experience.

‘Mais où sont les nieges d’antan?’

(But where are the snows of yesteryear?)

 François Villon, fifteenth century poet, thief, brawler and all round bad boy who, five hundred years after his presumed death in a dungeon, was cited as an inspiration by Bob Dylan, quoted by Truman Capote and Hunter S Thompson and deliberately misquoted by Joseph Heller in Catch-22

…that’s men for you, always with the regret thing…but what about women? There’s certainly a poetic spin to the material gathered from these writers…

‘Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind.’

Virginia Woolf, Orlando

‘If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.’

JANE AUSTEN, Mansfield Park

‘Always take responsibility for your past. It is your only collateral in life. Unless you despise yourself now, you cannot despise yourself then. Everything you did is a part of the process that brought you here. All your past is as alive and real as your so-called ‘present.’

Janet Morris, author and advisor on ‘non-lethal weapons’ to the US government…now that’d make a change from drone strikes…

This beautiful portrait is by the photographer Dominique Nabokob, famous for her 'portraits' of the inner sanctums of cultural more about her and her work by clicking on Zadie's image...copyright Dominique Nabokob

‘If someone asked her just then what memory was, what the purest definition of memory was, she would say this: the street you were on when you first jumped in a pile of dead leaves. She was walking it right now. With every fresh crunch came the memory of previous crunches. She was permeated by familiar smells: wet woodchip and gravel around the base of the tree, newly laid turd underneath the cover of soggy leaves. She was moved by these sensations.’

Zadie Smith, White Teeth 

…you didn’t really expect me to resist did you?




…well, I didn’t, couldn’t, though like many people, I personally prefer piaf’s real theme, la vie en rose, but isn’t this scratchy recording rather wonderful? 



Music credits: Title music is by Wes Hutchinson, with incidental music by Aakash Gandhi, Kevin Macleod and Josh Lippi and the Overtimers.  

Healing by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

Long Stroll by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

and for both…


click through on the image above to find some easily digestible information on the reality of care for carers

Check out this Guardian piece on cities that want to be age-friendly and what designers and architects are starting to think about for the future…if we have the vision, we can build the reality, all it takes is the will…


…and lest we forget, 42% of carers in the UK are male…surprised..?

Zara thinks it’s rare, but not so much according to the figures…that’s three million men

cutting the mustard, day in, day out, just like the 58% of carers who are women…and whilst we’re doling out stats… 

…376,000 carers in the UK are young folk between 16 and 25

The Amazing Village in the Netherlands


Music credits: Title music is by Wes Hutchinson, with incidental music by Audionautix and Kevin Macleod.

Percy French’s Come Back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff is performed by Leah, the author’s daughter. Written in 1912, French died in 1920, thus I believe the song to be free of copyright restrictions after best endeavours.

Minor With Cricket by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (


Long Note Two by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (



…there might have been a good reason why I decided that putting the photographs into a cheesy film strip background was a good idea for the Celebration of Life invitation cards.

However, you live and learn, and the photos themselves are none the less for being seen together like this, telling, as they kind of do, the complex story of a life…

Please note Rupert the Bear, centre top…rather fetching?

…here we are, green strip, sweaty after what I choose to remember as a victory, me dead centre, standing, together with the Beahan twins, Kevin and Kenny, their older brother Stephen, Chris McCormack and…well, maybe Huey Stonehill…memory, memory…circa 1968/70

…and the photographer? I’m sure I recognise that distinctive shadow…Dad?

My father, aged around eighteen, at the piano with another of my cousins…I’m guessing this photo was taken in Limerick at my father’s brother’s home, some time in the mid nineteen-fifties 


Music credits: Title music is by Wes Hutchinson, spoken contribution by Leah

Here's an extract from Nicci's book, printed in The Guardian

click on the logo to learn more about nicci gerrard and julia jones’ ‘john’s campaign’, encouraging institutions to welcome and involve carers alongside patients

The story of Fearless the Earless One Eyeless Dog

I promised last time that I would relate the story of Fearless the Earless One Eyeless Dog and reveal whether he is one and the same in the two photographs…

The fact is, both are Fearless but in different incarnations. If you’d like to know more, and I can see many reasons why you might not give a fig, please read on..

Fearless’ first incarnation is the fine piano player you see above. He came into my life when I was at a jumble sale with my daughters when they were mere bairns of twelve and six.

Times were hard. My wife had fallen in love with another man, her business partner, and out of love with me, though she said then and still does, that the in and out of love was not in any way connected. I had given up my work as a television producer in London and become an itinerant painter and decorator in our hometown sixty miles outside the city.

I was not a very successful painter and decorator. I set fire to one house and three fire engines attended to sort things out, though to be fair to myself, it was only a bird’s nest lurking behind some tiles that had begun to smoke alarmingly. No actual flames, I mean.

Unlike the house where I caused a mild flood, where actual water began to spout from the radiator pipe and the actual radiator I’d been standing on to reach the top of a window, lay prostrate on the floor. I stuck my finger in the pipe to stem the flow and tried to reach for my mobile phone, tantalisingly just a few metres away. In the end, I had to remove my finger from the pipe to reach the phone, producing the flood, but meaning that a plumber was on his way to help me clean up and fix the damage.

Anyway, as I say, times were hard and a trip to a jumble sale was a good outing for the children and I at the time. I discouraged any kind of outing that cost money, but a small spend here would do no lasting damage.

Fearless, who had no ears and only one eye, cost a mere fifty pence. Neither of my daughters much like the look of him at first, though they’ve since come to love him greatly and to assume, as I do, that he has magical powers, especially useful in times of crisis.

Fearless has always chosen to travel with me – to set up home in France for example – to keep me safe, and here I am, living proof of his powers to protect.

When others have found themselves up against challenges or brought low by the vagaries of life, I’ve lent Fearless to them for moral support and naturally, for his magic. Believers have always reported back that Fearless worked his spells. I know of no non-believers because you have to have a certain capacity to suspend your disbelief to take him in your arms and thence to your home, oftentimes to share your bed, to accept my offering in the first place.

Melanie, who features in the Love and Care podcast, was one such beneficiary. Fearless lived with her for some weeks, even months, when she needed him.

Another beneficiary was one of Mum’s carers. Let’s call her M. She was wonderful with mum, respectful, gentle and sensitive, but she was hard to get to know, very private. One day however, in desperate need of a friend and only when she knew I was changing care agencies, she asked to visit to see Mum one last time.

I said yes, of course, and over tea and biscuits, she suddenly revealed that her husband was mistreating her, physically abusing her and forcing her to take anti-depressants to ‘calm her down.’ She showed me scars.

M took Fearless away with her and he lived with her through a painful separation that involved M leaving the family home and her children to find refuge.

Much later, when my sister came over to help with Mum’s care, I had the chance to take a break. I was planning a bicycle trip in France and there would be no room for him in the tiny amount of space on the bike, but M thought I was simply being brave and not wanting to take Fearless from her.

I reassured her, but she was concerned. As a believer, she wanted to be sure I would be safe as I cycled from Biarritz to La Rochelle, all the way up the French coast.

On the day before I was due to leave, she drew up outside the house with a good luck card and a special gift. She did not wait to see me open the gift and before I knew it, she was gone.

I unwrapped a two-inch miniature Fearless, handmade by M down to the last detail and with the interesting new capacity to swing from a key ring.

There was only one minor difference between Big Fearless and Little Fearless. Tiny but significant. Little Fearless had two eyes.

He came with me on the bicycle, kept an eye on me and an eye on the road ahead and so we came back safe. As I travelled the 600 kilometres from one end of France to the other, I would take a picture of Little Fearless and write a note from him to M describing his adventures on the bike with me.

The shot of Little Fearless on the beach is one such, taken at Biarritz as I set off.

So, both pictures are of Fearless, one a smaller brother but both with the same magical qualities to protect and defend. Twins you might say, except in terms of size.

I offer this story and the combined protection of Big Fearless and Little Fearless to all of you in the time of corona.

He, they, are magical, trust me, I know.


ps you’ll be glad to know that M subsequently gave Big Fearless another eye too, bringing him up to the requisite two…we’ve stopped short of ears for the moment as none of us want to alter his (their) appearance so dramatically and anyway…what kind of ears? floppy, sticky uppy? black/white? He is (they are) not sure and neither are we, and besides, Fearless(s) hear perfectly well without outer ears and can converse normally.

Me and Michel Chapter Three

‘There is no remedy for love but to love more.’

Henry David Thoreau

Ours is a swish campsite, and we have a spacious tent. We have two ‘bedrooms’ separated by a bit of canvas, a hob to cook on and a fridge. We have our own little concrete terrace outside, and we’re only a few minutes walk from the beach… Continue reading “Me and Michel Chapter Three”

Me and Michel Chapter Twenty

‘To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.’

Bertrand Russell


I’m sitting cross-legged on a beach. It’s almost seven o’clock in the evening and the sand is already wet with dew. The huge sky above my head is purple, almost black, and the air is cool, borderline cold. I’m wearing layers, including a t-shirt, shirt and my only sweatshirt. It’s astonishing how the weather has changed, and astonishing to have become so aware of the changes by virtue of being outdoors for the past six or seven weeks. Summer has become autumn as `I’ve travelled the coast path, the passing of time has become tangible in the temperatures, visible in the changing colours of the leaves on the trees, and the shortening days. Continue reading “Me and Michel Chapter Twenty”