• Kate Clarke

Pictures and Paintings

Updated: Jan 4

It's an odd expression, isn't it, to 'get over' someone.

I don't really know what it means. Do you get over a beautiful view, a great painting, a city you love, losing a vital organ? There are characters in books I can still cry for if I think about them for too long. I suppose the thing about the city, the view and the painting is that they are likely to be here long after we are gone. And so will dear, delicate, feckless Pip.

When I go to the beach now I'm not just going there for me, I'm going there for Terry, too. And I'm still talking out loud to him all the time. I have no idea when this behaviour begins to be crazy. He used to do it - have conversations in his head with people he had loved and lost if we went to places they had been. He would go quiet and adopt a certain deeply-focused look and a steady step that I recognised. Terry was good at honouring people he loved, and he passed their stories on for safe-keeping. That's why some people really keyed into The Shelly River, and into his dad's stories on that album, I think. People's stories never lost their weight, for him, simply because time had elapsed and generations had come and gone.

It wasn't just family. Goodness knows Terry still talked with grief about the day Eddie Cochran died. Terry was 13 when it happened and his mother hid the morning tabloid so he wouldn't see the headlines before she could sit him down and break the news gently. Terry still talked of and wrote about Mario Fiore, too, his school friend from St James' Primary, who drowned at seven years old. The two of them collected and swapped picture-cards of film stars from bubble gum packs and cigarette cartons. I found a tin of these in the loft a while ago and wondered if they had passed through Mario's hands as well as Terry's. I do know Terry was adamant about keeping them, decades down the line.

I realise I have been rattling around in my own head for the past eight months, but I'm becoming a little obsessed with the knowledge that one day the photograph in the family album (do people still have those?) that nobody can identify or can quite put a name to will be a photograph of me - of all of us.



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