Please take care – this post contains news you may find distressing.
Tears of rage, tears of griefBob Dylan, 1967
Why must I always be the thief?
Come to me now, you know
We’re so alone
And life is brief
For ten years, this site has enabled me to publish research, books and occasional reflections as blog posts. Like its companion sites, Regular Marvels and A Restless Art, it concerns my professional work, and I have largely avoided talking about personal life. By age and temperament, I avoid social media, hoping to live in a different world. Sometimes, as when my life was upturned by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the line blurs between professional and personal concerns, and some posts reflect that erosion.
On 27 December 2021, Carol Crowe, my wife and companion of almost 35 years, died in a Nottingham hospital. Although she had been receiving cancer treatment for several months, her death was sudden and devastating. By now, our friends should have learned this news privately, but there are those I cannot easily inform. I am sorry if that includes you, and sorry to share such news in a season of rest and hope. Carol was a community artist and my most profoundly influential mentor. More importantly, she was the kindest, wisest, bravest and most principled person I have ever met and I owe her everything. One day, I might tell some of her story.
Today, I just need to say what has happened—what is happening—because these personal events will affect my work. I will fail to meet commitments in the coming days, weeks and months. Deadlines will be missed, emails will go unanswered. Mistakes will be made. Much as I dislike that prospect (because it tests my self-image), I accept its reality. I know what I’m now living. If my failings or omissions affect you, I ask for your understanding and patience. To be honest, I’ve no idea what is coming, or how I will manage, though I don’t doubt I will. Carol and I are rich in family and friends, and I have all the support I could wish for: nothing further is needed.
My other reason for writing this post is honesty, though I write with apprehension, in case this is one of the mistakes I foresee. But any value in writing depends on the writer’s commitment to truthfulness. Grief is a universal experience. About 600,000 people die in Britain each year, breaking the hearts of millions who loved and depended on them. Covid-19 has added the anguish of separation before death for many thousands (though thankfully not me). We see bereaved people every day; we sit beside them on the bus. We work with them. But we know little of most people’s lives.
Grief is not to be hidden. It is not a subject of failure, shame or embarrassment. In my experience, it’s a time for being real, for facing life, and death, as they find us, as they are. Right now, I hope simply to be open with professional colleagues and friends about where I am, and ask for the space that I need to grieve. It will be a while.
I do not want to talk about it. I might write about this again. I might not. What’s said is said.