Archive for the 'Family' Category

Boiled eggs

On Saturday 6th January 2007, my granddad Dominic McDonnell passed away, after a mercifully brief battle with cancer.

On hearing the news, I jumped on a train home so I could be with the family. My grandmother and most of his children (including my mum) had congregated at his house in Woking: we spent the evening celebrating his life, reminiscing and sharing our favourite memories of him. It was very much the right thing to do.

A week and a half later, I headed back down south for the funeral. I’m not sure why, but I felt almost emotionally detached during the service. The church was absolutely packed with friends and family, many of whom I hadn’t seen for years. It wasn’t until we left the church and I had my arms around my younger sisters that I broke down, as we watched the hearse carry Granddad away. The cremation service the following day was lovely, with his children, Justin, Claire and Stephen all reading pieces about him.

It almost feels wrong to say it, but the parties we had after each service were great. It was good to catch up with all of the people I only ever see at the really big family events.

You may still be wondering why I’ve titled this piece “Boiled Eggs”. It’s because that’s my favourite memory. I don’t think I voiced it at the time.

When we were young, Alice & I would occasionally be dropped off at the grandparents for a weekend. Our mum & dad were usually off doing something silly like The National Rally on their classic bikes. Anyway, breakfast was always a highlight: Dominic had perfected the art of the soft-boiled egg. It came from the chickens they kept in the garden. It went in for four minutes. It never cracked prematurely. The soldiers were toasted to perfection. There’s probably an element of rose-tinted glasses, but that’s the way I remember it. Good times.

Obviously he was a lot more to me than just the man who taught me how to boil the perfect egg. It was my mother that pointed it out to me: I was probably a lot closer to him than I might have been if my father hadn’t died in my teenage years. Granddad was always a man I looked up to. He was so bright, talented and worldly wise, without ever being condescending.

I was looking through my collection and could only find one photo of him. I’ll have to get some more from the family. My little sister’s got a nice photo of the whole family from the day of the funeral.

People are still shopping!

Just going through my old text messages and came across this one from Alice, my sister. I’ve been reluctant to delete it for some reason.

SMS From: Alice Mob
07.07.2005    11:04
Oliver they are
blowing up london
the whole of zone
one is shut. im ok
though. im in 
selfridges wierdly
people are still
shopping! Alice x

It was quite a relief to get that message, I can tell you. Quite insightful too. Despite all the chaos going on outside, these people were trapped in huge department store. What else were they going to do?

Happy Birthday Little Sister

Abigail Hodgson, Avebury, 8th May 2005

Hello Abigail. Yes, you, in the pink.

Your big brother (that’ll be me) has been spectacularly useless, and failed to get you anything nice for your birthday (that’s today, as I’m sure you’re aware).

This could be something to do with not having a clue what you’d like. He thought about another game for the ‘cube but he would appear to have already bought you all the good ones. The he thought about a CD, but what does an Abbie listen to, if anything? The chocolate, sweets and book/music/beer token options all seem like a bit of a cop-out.

It could also be down to sheer disorganisation on his part.

No doubt he’ll give you a call later and see if you know what you’d like [1]), have a think, buy something and put it in the post. Maybe he’ll come and visit you at some point in the near future? He can’t plan his life beyond tomorrow so who knows when that might be…

Anyway, he hopes you’re having a good one and that you’ll forgive his uselessness – you really ought to be used to it by now!

[1] The reader might be interested to know that this question usually results in an “erm…” or something very very expensive indeed.

Birthday Bits

A couple of birthdays to celebrate:

First up, Happy 30th to Leon McD! It was a week or so ago but I quite cleverly forgot all about it. Quite worryingly he seems to have been playing Half Life 2 since early in December last year. I hope he’s not trapped in there somewhere…

Secondly, Happy 22nd (?) Birthday to Tommy Tubbs Westbrook! He’s not to be confused with the extraordinary gent of the same name, though some would say he’d fit right into Royston Vasey.

That will be all for now.

The Easter Collection

The Easter Collection

Who’d have thought they’d have Zebras, Monkeys, Lions and Leopards just up the road from here eh? Pictures in The Gallery.

Oh, it was the Cotswold Wildlife Park. I spent a couple of years working a few miles down the road, drove within spitting distance of it on the way home, and never once registered its existence. It took my mother (who lives about 130 miles from me) to a) point out that it exists and b) drag me there. Glad I went though – its not every day that you get to see White Rhino and eat/drink slush puppies.

I should point out that Great Grey Owls are very sinister looking creatures in real life (as opposed to the quite friendly looking specimen on that page). They seem to belong in some sort of gothic horror film. Perhaps that’s not too surprising, considering their native habitat is the dark and remote forests of Alaska and Lapland.

The Christmas Collection

Thumbnails of The Christmas Collection

Here’s a selection of pictures I took over the Christmas period. You’ll find friends, relatives and turtles amongst other things. Hope you enjoy them. View the pictures…

A Great Service

Phone rings. Its Alice.

Hi, we’re in Sainsbury's, in the beer section. What would you like us to get in for you for Christmas?


House of Sand and Fog

House of Sand and Fog Poster

I joined the Cheltenham Film Society a couple of weeks back. I went along with some friends of mine and was surprised to meet a few other people I knew there, including my aunt and uncle Helen and Stephen. Its a small world isn’t it?

Anyway, tonight’s film was House of Sand and Fog, starring Jennifer Connelly (who always surprises me by actually being a good actress) and Ben Kingsley.

It was very clever, in that throughout the film, you never quite decide where your sympathies lie. A large part of me wanted Behrani [Kingsley] and his family to win out, yet I didn’t want Kathy [Connelly] to lose out at all (even if she did bring her downfall upon herself somewhat). The only person that you really end up disliking is Lester [Ron Eldard], who starts out as the friendly policeman but ends up being a bit of a psycho nut job.

Its a fantastic film, but its really not the most light-hearted in the world. In fact it verges on being downright depressing. I got to the end and thought “What the hell is she going to do with her life now?”

Myself and Ben [not Kingsley] were discussing it on the way home — is it even possible to make a really good happy film? Its just that the really good films always seem to be gritty, intense psychological dramas (or that seems to be the way at this film society). Is it even possible to portray shiny happy intense gritty realism?