Saturday, 30 July 2016


If you are in the armed forces, you are expected to make a will, for obvious reasons. This is about someone who did this and named a friend and fellow soldier as his executor, an action which has since had unforeseen and disastrous consequences. He had talked about changing this arrangement and naming a family member as executor but unfortunately, didn't get round to it before his untimely death.
So, fast forward to last year, when it was discovered that large amounts of money were being drawn from the account, to the extent that the bank concerned became suspicious and the police were alerted. What made it worse, was that this so-called friend was giving various  excuses as to why the money was needed, for example,  to repair damage caused to property by the child whose trust fund he was responsible for, all of which were, of course, complete lies.
Over a period of several years, a large amount of money was gradually syphoned out of the account, leaving only a fraction of the total, and was apparently spent on a variety of things to benefit this criminal and his family.
Yesterday, after sterling work by the police, he was brought to justice and given a custodial sentence.
Don't read too much into his assurance that he intends to pay it all back.
If that were true, he wouldn't have taken it in the first place and it's all too easy to be remorseful when you've been caught.
It's hard to imagine a more cynical betrayal of trust. Comrades in the army, who at times may well have depended on each other for their safety, even their lives, know a depth of solidarity and  friendship unlike that of many of the rest of us, and of course, that makes the actions of this man all the more despicable.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

August 28th

Wednesday would have been Hugh's thirty fourth birthday. As it was, it was the fourth anniversary of his funeral and it was also the day we had arranged to meet up with Claire to take Paul out for the afternoon. Choice of film was 'Despicable Me 2'. (It says much either for my ageing memory or for the quality of 'Despicable Me 1' that I remembered not a thing about it!)

However, we all enjoyed this one and, of course, Paul made a beeline for the mini arcade straight afterwards.  
Claire was going to Liverpool afterwards and made time to visit Another Place at Crosby Beach, where  Hugh's ashes are scattered. She had talked of letting off balloons but wasn't able to get helium filled ones, so this was the next best thing. Very effective, I think.

Hugh would definitely have approved!

Friday, 16 August 2013


Monday will be Hugh's fourth anniversary.  One thousand, four hundred and sixty one days since that morning in 2009 when I came out of a counselling session with a client to have Keith break the news to me.  That's a lot of days and it is said that the passage of time is healing. In some ways, it is and in others, it really doesn't have much effect at all. Hugh is still gone, his passing has left a huge hole in our lives and I am still beating myself up with the 'coulds' and 'shoulds', which any good counsellor will tell you, are unhelpful to say the least.
I am his mother. Mothers are meant to protect and help their children. Why couldn't I do that? How did I not know the state of mind he was in? 
The funeral was on what would have been his 30th birthday. In between is my birthday. I wasn't very enamoured of birthdays anyway but now, I count it a blessing if I can get through the day without any mention of it. I know it's not very logical, but I don't welcome cards and certainly not presents and this seems to be difficult for some people to understand. One friend even fell out with me over it, but while I don't wish to hurt anyone's feelings, I am hanging on to the right to deal with these few weeks of the year as I wish.
No cards, no presents, no flowers ... please.
But do please take a few moments to remember Hugh and let him live on in our hearts.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The school report

"Hey, just a quick message to keep you updated on the boys, Paul's report was exceptional, all exceeding the expected level for his age in all subjects, just a bit of a chatterbox (but we know that) and was congratulated on his fantastic homework throughout the year and his solo singing performance in assembly that made his head teacher cry.  And Nathan's  predicted straight A's across the board in his gcse's..... Both had a fantastic year :)"

This is the text message Claire got from Paul's mum last night and which she forwarded to me.
My first thought was relief that the behaviour problems which seemed to dog him last year, have apparently been resolved and have not prevented him from making progress.
My second thought was about how proud Hugh would be that he is doing so well.
My third?
Of course, my third was such regret that Hugh is not here to share it with us all.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The three amigos

In honour of Kathy's recent appointment as consultant in Care of the Elderly, Claire had this photo enlarged and printed on canvas for her. (She had to be reminded that the reason she wasn't in it was that she was only two at the time and so not yet at school!)
So this was Kathy and her two brothers, Hugh and James at the respective ages of seven, six and five and, yes, the jumpers were all knitted by me.
A poignant moment when Claire presented it to her yesterday at our meet-up with Paul and Nathan.
"Which one do you think is your dad?" Kathy asked him.
Without hesitation, he pointed to the boy on the right. "That one's Dad," he said.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

No other words needed

This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to those in our armed forces, past and present. Hugh is in our minds and hearts now and always.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Little boxes

In my head, I have a couple of boxes filled with things that are stored away and only to be taken out when the time is right and I feel I want to look at them. This morning, taking Paddy out for a walk, I spotted a car parked on the top road, with someone slumped over the steering wheel. Unlikely but predictable thoughts ran through my mind. I couldn't just walk away; I had to satisfy myself that all was well with the occupant of the car, so I knocked gently on the passenger window. To my relief, the youth sat up and it appeared that the car had run out of diesel and his friend had gone off to get some, so all was well indeed and I continued on my way.
Down in the valley, I sat down by the lake for a moment, to contemplate the beauty of the morning and to take a brief peep inside Hugh's box...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


This photo was taken yesterday at the end of our day with Paul and Nathan. As you can see, Nathan is not keen on having his photo taken!
Afterwards, Claire took them home and had a worrying conversation with their mum. It seems that Paul has been in trouble at school recently. After Hugh's death, he obviously went through a tough time but the staff at his school were made aware of what had happened and he got support in the form of counselling, although he didn't take to his counsellor. Since he moved up to his new class in September, it seems that his new teacher was unaware of his history and his anger has been getting him into trouble. His mother and the school have since worked together and he now has a mentor and can have time out to diffuse the situation when things get fraught. 
Paul knows only that his dad was ill and died. Whether he will ever know the details is a debate for the future, but  it is clear that Hugh's death is casting long shadows. 
At present, my anger is directed at the school. Moving Paul up to a new class, without making the new teacher aware of his situation is inexcusable - and that's my polite description!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

In the genes

Working on my family tree, as I have been over the last few months, I have found myself focusing on my paternal great grandfather's family. Charles (Frederick or Ernest- take your pick) Perkins, who joined the army as soon as he could and, once there, proceeded to find himself in constant trouble for drink-related issues. Eventually, the penny dropped that maybe he wasn't acting in his best interests and could do with calming down a bit and toeing the line, which he did and emerged twenty one years later at sergeant rank.
Ever since I can remember, Hugh wanted to join the army. He could have had a place in Wellbeck College, the army's sixth form college, and gone from there to Sandhurst, but he decided against that. He was very intelligent and well read but had had enough of school, which was, perhaps, somewhat short-sighted as he didn't suffer fools gladly and sometimes found himself in frustrating situations where, as an officer, he could have had more influence.
I somehow think that Charles and Hugh would have got on pretty well.