McCarthy, Wyatt and Bigley

“Pete’s books caused seismic public laughter on suburban trains, transatlantic planes, storm tossed ferries, in cheap student accommodation and very definitely on the London Underground.” says Adrian Mealing, friend and tour manager of author and presenter Pete McCarthy in an interview today. 

Very true, as fellow Jubilee passengers will attest having watched me snort and laugh my way to work and back this week whilst reading The Road To McCarthy.  As I am halfway through the book, I was surprised and a little saddened to find two column inches in The Guardian announcing his death whilst supping my Sunday morning coffee just now. 

McCarthy’s death is not the only one to have registered with me this week.  I found myself moved by particular images of Charlotte Wyatt and Ken Bigley.  Putting aside the enormity of the decisions made regarding her future this week, to me it was Charlotte’s wide eyed but blank expression that brought a lump to my throat.  In an instant, I realised that, if the doctors’ prognosis is correct, this tiny blank face masks an world of pain inside that is beyond my comprehesion – that I and millions of others were staring at the face of an infant that, in all probability, was experiencing unbearable suffering at the very same moment. 

In stark and desperate contrast, Ken Bigley’s tired, drawn and seemingly resigned features spoke wordlessly of an almost certain knowledge of what was to come.  A face with downcast eyes, set against harsh orange overalls and heavy chains, is bisected by the wire cage to resemble some diabolic jigsaw.  These separate instances have reminded me how dislocated and remote we have become from the human lives behind the sound bites and the images that flash before us on the television each day. 

Whether by the ravages of terminal illness, the hands of an executioner or the deliberations of doctors and judges, the finality of an impending and untimely death is a reality that we hope is never visited upon ourselves, whether a child of 11 months or 62 years old, whether a family man or a solitary soul.

my lo-fi ears are listening to Little Friend/Nickelback

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