Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Okay; it's peel-me-off-the-ceiling time. I'm jetlagged and buzzing on caffeine and all sorts. Not quite sure what to do with myself at the moment, other than take a page out of my 3-y-o second cousin Freddie's book and race around the room, climbing the walls, before collapsing in a limp heap.

Just got in from the airport after a roller-coaster of a week on home soil. Joy. Pathos. Rock and roll. I lost my cousin Daniel, but he gave me back my cousin Jason, whom I haven't seen in 30 years. I never thought I'd next be returning to England for a funeral - let alone for the funeral of my creative, cheeky, observant, gentle, playful cousin Dan, who died way, way too young (I shake my fist at the heavens and feel a prickle behind my nose) - but I also never thought I'd have such an incredible experience of reconnecting with all my cousins, aunts, uncles and extended family...and particularly the stellar Arctic Fox, who opened his home to me and turned out to not only be a wonderful host, but a kindred spirit.

When I'm feeling more grounded I may touch upon the experience of saying goodbye to Dan, but for now, I just want to roar with delight and gratitude for the opportunities and adventures I've had over the last week: laughing and tale-telling with Jo, Tom, Sam and Jase, meeting Tom's Natalie, Jo's Ian and their small person Oskar (a new second cousin!), spending a too-short time with Sam's Rob and meeting their small people Freddie and Milo (two more new second cousins!) and meeting Jason's Dawn, who's just lovely: her face -- no, she lights up when she smiles; having a too-brief time with Aunty Janet and Uncle David; visiting with Jen & Fred and sitting under Missy, Dibble, Grub and Cuthbert (sometimes all at once), whose cat-hairs have now travelled farther than they themselves ever will; visiting the Mother Ship (aka Rowan Yarns' head offices) thanks to Jen's kind arrangements; curry-eating with Jason and Dawn; robin-blue tit-dunnock-finch-blackbird-rat-watching from Jason's kitchen window; talking for hours about life and perspective, playing Guitar Hero and making late-night shop runs for teabags with Jason; almost-winning at the bingo/quiz night at Sam's lawn bowling club with Sam and Jen; treading the streets of Leeds once again (also with Jason); listening to various weirdnesses on Radio 4; experiencing virtually the entire first season of League of Gentlemen in one sitting (are you LOCAL?); collecting newly-laid hen's eggs for the first time; discovering Andy Goldsworthy and Frank Sidebottom ('it's a free download/costin' absolutely nothing...'); and countless more things besides.

More tea, Mrs. Nesbiiiit?
Jiggety jig.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Daniel Edward Pitchforth, age 33

My cousin died today. He was only 33, and he hasn't been well for quite a few years, but I had no idea he was so ill. I found out only minutes ago, and the shock is setting in. This is devastating. But it's no way to introduce him to you.

Dan was one of the kindest, loveliest people I've ever known. Out of all the cousins, we were the closest in age, and used to write to one another about life, music, and whatever else was going on. He introduced me to the Stone Roses and the Inspiral Carpets. I last saw him in 1997, and we slid all the way down the hill beneath the giant chalk horse on the hillside at Uffington. Sounds basic, but the hill was a ridiculous incline, and it takes a couple of minutes to slide down after spending half an hour or so climbing up to the horse. We had to boil-wash our jeans to get the grass stains out. When we were 3 and 4, we went to the park near grandma's house in Huddersfield. There were men working on the road, and Daniel put his finger in the hot tar they'd laid down, which of course made him cry. I remember looking at the tar on his finger. The tar had a particular smell that was somehow different from the usual tar-smell; I only ever smell that exact scent every once in a while, and I always think of Dan.

I was thinking of him today, actually, and imagining how great it would be to see him and all the rest of my cousins and family, little realising the sadness unfolding thousands of miles away.

Sorry I missed you, Dan. Love and ham sandwiches, as always. x