A goodly number of FiOP people attended a reception at the Scottish Parliament on 30th October, to mark the launch of ‘To Absent Friends: A People’s Festival of Storytelling and Remembrance’. It was a very pleasant event indeed, safe in the calm and creative hands of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief. Mark Hazlewood, Chief Exec of that small but exquisitely formed organisation, chaired the day. Marks’ talk is on the Age Scotland blog,
Mark coined a new term that day – ‘flambolic’. He was talking about the Mexican Day of the Dead, and I think it just came out wrong but I bet it sticks. What a great word! I will use it regularly.
As well as Mark’s entertaining and informative talk, we were treated to an exhibition of photos by Colin Gray (currently on display at the North Edinburgh Arts Centre) which gave a quirky and moving account of family life with his late parents.
Then, straight from the poet’s mouth, we heard ‘A Recipe for Whisky’ by Ron Butlin – currently on the Scottish Poetry Library website. The first line – ‘Wring the Scottish rain clouds dry…’ sets up a beautifully understated Scottish metaphor for grief, and ends in another Scottish expression – ‘Another glass for absent friends. Pour/ until the bottle’s done./ Here’s life! Here’s courage to go on!’
Finally we were invited to write messages on pennants to remember people we had lost. A photographer was on hand to catch the moment and as my photo has been sent to us, and is a million times better than any photos I ever take, we’re including it here. This is me, toasting my absent friend Tillie.
Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief have been using this method for a while of enabling people to speak/write their loss, and I’ve seen displays of these and found them very moving. But this was the first time I had ever made my own pennant, and I have to say it was a very satisfying experience. As the old saying goes – ‘We don’t get over our losses by forgetting people: we get over by remembering them.’
On 18th November, our associate Joan Adam and I are running a day event in Edinburgh on Understanding Grief and Loss, aimed primarily at pastoral visitors. I believe we still have a few places available so do get in touch if you fancy it. We will strive for the flambolic, but it may just end up shambuoyant!