I’m in South America, a long way from family and friends, and not entirely sure what I’ll be doing for Christmas yet. It’s not really important to me – I miss my mates and my family all the time at the moment, Christmas won’t change that. I’m pretty glad to be out of the UK and avoiding what I’m sure will be a non-stop barrage of rubbish pop songs, TV advertisements for sales that end boxing day, tacky decorations and ‘meaningful’ messages from fusty old clergymen, along the lines of ‘Most of The World is Having a Rubbish Time This Christmas So Just Think About That’. Christmas for my family this year will be a muted affair anyway.
Earlier this year, my cousin Kathy died of cancer, aged just 37. She was a gifted artist, a good friend and confidante, a gorgeous girl and great fun, with an infectious giggle. I managed to make it back to the UK to see her before she died, a very weird month I’d rather forget – her death left a gaping hole in my family.
One thing that made life a lot easier during this time was the St Elizabeth Hospice where she stayed at the end. The nurses were caring and patient (particularly with my entire family and several friends around), and Kate was well looked after. When she died, they were an amazing blur of hugs, trays of tea and sympathetic words.
You may not know me or may have another place to put your hard-earned this Christmas, but if you like you can donate a gift to the hospice that took care of Kate through this web site. Certainly don’t bother getting me a present!
More soon – I’m in La Paz, Bolivia, after surviving the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, altitude sickness, copious quantities of soup and witnessing the death of a perfectly healthy guinea pig.