Chris Ridell cartoonist. The Covid-19 virus – it isn’t over yet.

He’s right – this isn’t over by a long chalk.

We’ve probably got months of the virus yet!

That will be thousands of deaths!

There might be mutations!

There are the antivaxxers undermining herd immunity!

There’s Trump, Bolsonaro and Johnson!

Then it’s all going to have to be paid for and who do you think is going to pick up that tab?? You guessed it!!

Poetry – Over The Hill

Over The Hill

Up the hill, under low grey cloud,

A chill wind in the face,

Kicking leaves,

Hands in pockets,

Scarf wrapped tightly around the neck,


Walking steadily,

Looking, thinking.

Reaching the top.

Stood still.

Surveying the landscape spread below.

Fields still green with crops

In the midday twilight

Of late autumn,

But flat and drab,

Lacking vitality.

Many trees already bare,

Delicate skeletal branches against the sky.

Others defiantly green.

The long grass

Brown, lank,

Drooping into mud,

Into mulch.

The land is visibly dying.

The life draining away.

Opher – 24.10.2020

After the exuberance of spring and the vitality of summer the life is retreating. The birds no longer sing, apart from warning calls, to let others know that I, an evil predator, am lurking nearby.

We are heading for the chill of winter, for the months of frozen death, where much that lives either escapes or hides away deep in the soil, in crevices, dormant, waiting for the strength of the sun to return.

The land dies, then, by Easter, it is resurrected.

Poetry – On Holiday From Eternity

On Holiday From Eternity

We’re all on holiday from eternity,

So give us a smile!

We’re just visiting for the duration,

For a short while!

Out of the blankness of nothingness

We awoke into the world.

We looked around for something;

The universe unfurled.

What a wonder to find yourself in!

An endless delight!

The splendour all around us

To make us feel alright.

The planet puts on room service

Everything we need!

Like a glutton at a party

We consume it all with greed.

We’re all on holiday from eternity,

So give us a smile!

We’re just visiting for the duration,

For a short while!

Opher – 22.10.2020

Nothingness is not dark, it’s not empty; it just doesn’t exist.

It’s where we came from. It’s where we’re going back to.

We visit it nightly.

There’s no sadness in non-existence, no need to mourn.

Yet here we are, waking from non-existence into a whole universe of wonder. We are here on holiday, for a short while. I aim to make the most of it.

Poetry – Don’t be afraid of Covid

Don’t be afraid of Covid

Don’t be afraid of Covid.

Don’t let it dominate your life.

Work for America

Even if it kills your wife.

Don’t be afraid of Covid.

You’ll get the same treatment for sure

Don’t wear a mask

Covid won’t knock on your door.

Make America great.

Means more money for me.

Off your ass and work

For me and your country.

There’s two hundred and ten thousand

Deaths on my head.

Don’t take it so seriously.

You’d be better off dead.

So don’t be afraid of Covid.

Don’t distance or wash your hands.

Get the economy running

All across the land.

Don’t be afraid of Covid.

Don’t let it dominate your life.

Work for America

Even if it kills your wife.

Opher – 5.10.2020

Friends who are gone – extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

What’s the rudest word in the World? Could it be ‘don’t!’



And I sometimes think of Jeff who jumped into that train, and Pete on the motorbike, Jane who died of the brain tumour at the age of eighteen, and Loveridge, whose first name I’ve forgotten, who fell off the stack at the plastics factory and fractured his skull. I think of Shaun who was so full of life and would have done so much. I think of Mocy, who I only knew briefly. I think of my good friends Danny and Tony who I shared so much with. I think of how many others of my old friends have gone without me even knowing. I think of Jason who was with my sister for such a short time and was so brave and gentle, so bright and cheerful. All the ones I knew and are now gone. I talk of them to my students. I weave them into my lessons. I get them to illustrate my tales of life. They live in my stories and they live in my mind.

I think of my Dad.

I think about the universe expanding, the Big Bang, religion and politics, beauty and getting old.

I think about the pleasures and the pains.

I think about the travels and the meetings, the books and music, the doings and the things I missed doing.

The drugs and the drunks, the parties and the sex.

I think about Liz and our life together, our love, and the home and life we’ve built with all its myriad compromises.

I think about my mum and all the things she did for me. All that love that was lavished on me.

I think about my kids and I wonder about the lives and experiences they will have.

I dream about all the grandchildren. I hope I will be alive to see them grow. I hope they will know me.

I think about how life is so long, packed full of so much, and yet it is so very short.

These days I smile wistfully a lot and have great hopes for the world, the future and humanity.

I think about my stupid writing and wonder what other uses I could have put to all this time. What else could I have done? What else could any of us do?

Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get civilised and leave these dark ages behind, maybe one day we’ll understand a little bit more and be better people for it.

One day!


The end always comes – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

I sat in the chair and held his hand. He was adrift on his morphine sea occasionally raising himself up from the depths of some deep warm waters to surface in our reality for a brief interlude. His eyes would flicker open and he would see the ward and me. He would look around. Who knew how much he took in? I squeezed his hand and the eyes shut.

I watched him as he cruised the oceans of Morpheus.

The eyes sometimes swivelled round deep in their black sunken sockets. Sometimes they were still. The hair on his head had become thin a frizzy. The skull underneath was evident beneath the waxy stretched yellow skin. The bones on his arms and body were etched out starkly beneath the slack thin skin. The flesh had dissolved completely away so that the veins bulged and throbbed, dark blue and clearly outlined beneath the transparent jaundiced cellophane that served as a boundary layer, that was once skin, now a transparent film. He had wasted completely away to the point where you had to wonder how it was that he was still capable of life. Only his will and strong heart were keeping him alive.

“Good night, Dad,” I said, rising to go.

“Night, God Bless,” he said clearly. It startled me. I had thought that he was completely out of it.

“See you in the morning.”

He did not answer. I walked out and looked back from the door. I didn’t see my father. I could see traces of my grandfather in that emaciated body. His nose, that had seemed so normal, now stuck out in profile like a huge beak. The skinny chest rose and fell.

I went home.

In the morning I got up and was in no rush.

The phone rung. He had passed away in his sleep. They estimated death as about three in the morning. No one had been with him.

It was a shock. We’d known it was imminent. It was still a shock.

We went into the hospital. The ordeal was over.

There was the same unreality. We were in our bubble. Nothing had changed.

I stood in the room and looked down at him. He looked the same as last night. It was just that his chest no longer moved, his eyes no longer moved. Nothing moved. I walked over and touched his face. It was cold. My eyes filled with tears.  He had died alone. I hadn’t been with him. I had thought I would be. I had wanted to be. It was like closure. But now he had gone. Slipped away.

I looked out through the window. The curtains were drawn. It was another bright day. The tears slipped down my face. A man walked past on the pavement the other side of the fence with his dog. He ambled along and looked around. If he had looked my way he could have seen a young man with tears in his eyes standing by the bedside of an old emaciated corpse. He would have seen death.

He did not look. For him, this day was the same as any other. He was out there in the world living in a place where death was a long way away.

I was still trapped in this place where time ran differently. I was still in a place where that reality was unreal. Death was real and the world would never be the same again.


Poetry – Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales


Nobody ever dies!

They merely pass away

Becoming angels and stars.


We’ll meet again

In a future life

On a planet North of Mars.


They do not die

They merely sleep

And gently slip away.


They are up in heaven

Waiting for us

To come along to play.


There is no death.

They rest in peace

Shuffle off the coil.


Give up the ghost

Join the host

And never have to toil.


Opher – 4.5.2020



I hate these euphemisms, lies and fairy tales.

Death hurts. It’s a loss – sometimes so difficult to come to terms with.

But do we really need to sugar-coat it? It isn’t a sleep, a portal into an infinite blissful after-life. It’s an end.

Death comes. Our consciousness falls apart. We are no longer there. It is the end.

We will not meet again. It will not be a blissful reunion and ecstasy forever.

The idea seems absurd to me. It is just a defence mechanism we adopt to try to come to terms with the finality of it. Our loved ones are gone and we will never see them again.

It is so hard.

Our own death seems so unreal. But one day we will no longer exist.

The universe will go on without us until it too burns out.

Life is what we do in the moment.

The Death Diaries Chapter 3

The Death Diaries Chapter 3



So how would I like to die?

Peaceably in my sleep like my grandfather – not screaming and terrified like his passengers.

Well yes. I would prefer to die peaceably in my sleep without any long drawn out illness. I do not relish pain or the fear that comes from having to confront the end of everything. I’ve watched people going through the process of dying. It is not pleasant but perhaps it is worse for the spectators?

Heart failure is the best – at around three in the morning just after completing a pleasant set of dreams. The heart stops and the oxygen supply dries up – the brain shuts down. The various other tissues and organs follow suit in order of their oxygen requirements. I think the skin is the last to go – days later. That’s why you have to shave corpses.


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