(Pic is of Chris in 2003 just before his African adventure; the map behind him shows his route)
I can't remember it raining on his birthday before, but to be honest since he's been gone this day is always gloomy, even if the sun is shining (I know that Mum and Dad soooo appreciate everyone's thoughts on this day - the cards and flowers).
So anyway, instead of mopping around I thought this year it was about time that some kind of memorial (a rather formal word, I know) should be started to keep Chris's memory alive. I've been needing to do something about this for ages, but have never really known what to do: have a service of remembrance, a get-together or decide on a day and all raise a glass to him at a certain time?
However, two things have happened recently which have forced the issue. I received a lovely email last week from Al (Alistair) Smith, at Holmewood House and Chaterhouse with Chris, sent via my other blog - Round the Water Trough. He told me a funny story about Chris, which always made him 'chuckle' when he thought about it. And it made me laugh too, because I could see that it was such a 'Chris' thing to have done (see the first post above). It also made me cry. Firstly, because I miss Chris so much and want him to be still around, but also because I thought what a wonderfully kind thing it was for Al to have made contact (from Australia) and shared his memories of Chris with me. So that gave me the seed of the idea I've put in place today.
Secondly, I'm expecting my first child in January next year (so only three months gone) and I really want my baby, and hopefully more children along the way, to 'know' Chris somehow. They should know about their gorgeous, adventurous, infuriating, cheeky/naughty, kind and loving Uncle Chris.
Although I'm sure there will be many stories of Chris's 'loveliness', I would also love to hear the 'warts n' all' stories - the ones that would make Mum's hair curl! We (the family) I'm sure know only a little of what Chris got up too - please spill the beans. We know about him stealing the flag off the top of one of Edinburgh's hotels (please someone, write the whole story if you know it), stealing house signs from around the Sussex countryside (Cock Farm was one I knew about), walking along the arm of a crane (or was that a myth?) and being generally a tear-away. At some point, I hope we can compile his ‘9 lives’ because he’s had quite a few near misses along the way – I caused one when he was wee; but more about that another time!
I would also love you to share any photographs you have of Chris.
On a even more personal level (sorry, but this is good therapy!) I have two regrets, which I hope this blog will set right:
- that I emailed Chris before he left for Africa and he never downloaded it and read it...hopefully, what I told him in the email will come through in this blog.
- that he started boarding so young at school and was only around at the weekends, and latterly the holidays. Then I left home, went travelling to Oz and went to Uni and then he did exactly the same thing - only we kept missing each other. The last time we saw each other, I was up from Cornwall for a long weekend. I clearly remember Dad saying to us (we were in the garage doing something - perhaps Chris was pummelling his boxing bag - is that the right word?!) that we should enjoy the weekend because we (Chris and I) didn't see enough of each other: how prophetic.
So, Happy Birthday, Chris. I hope, my darling, that you will see this some time, but, in the meantime, if anyone would like to contribute a 'Tale' then please email me text and some pics (not too higher a res. please), and I'll post them up. And please leave comments, and pass the blog details on to anyone you can think of.
Bye for now.