This plaque on Hanover Street marks the death of Amanda Telfer six years ago. I snapped the photo in passing because I intended to look her up when I wasn’t standing in the freezing cold. I was surprised to learn who she was because Amanda’s death was one of those tragic London stories that often haunted me.

Amanda was a successful lawyer on her way to work, walking with a banana in one hand and her entire happy life ahead of her when a gust of wind knocked three huge storefront window frames from a construction site onto her, crushing her to death in front of bystanders who desperately tried to save her.

The randomness of her death was tragic enough, but the reporting of her death was criminal. Why did the articles mention the banana she was eating as though it was pertinent to the story? Not only did this very accomplished lawyer die in an avoidable accident (the site manager was convicted of manslaughter), her death was reported without sensitivity. Who cares that she was eating a banana? The image of the yellow fruit is often paired with jokes and humour, like slipping on a banana peel, primates with bananas, condom application practiced on bananas.

This same insensitivity was seen in the reporting of the death of a woman on Oxford Street who was run over by a red London bus. The unidentified woman was old, so the papers called her a pensioner, which like the banana conjures images of frailty, scarf covered heads, and walking sticks, instead of just a woman out shopping and sadly unaware of oncoming traffic. When her identity became known the next day as a Dame and wife of a recently deceased billionaire, pensioner was dropped from the articles and accolades took its place.

How we are represented in the media can make or break us, especially when it comes to our deaths. Everyone deserves to be remembered with sensitivity and respect, whether we’re pensioners, Dames, or lawyers too busy to stop for lunch because the job is calling and we’re eager to get there and save the world.

Thankfully I happened upon this plaque yesterday and now feel as though I have a proper conclusion to Amanda’s story. Quoted on the plaque are the words from the second stanza of Yates’ poem, Sailing To Byzantium.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

I will never think of that banana again when I remember Amanda Telfer’s tragic death. Instead I will see her beautiful face as her soul sails away, and in my mind she is at peace.

White Chrysanthemum has been shortlisted for Best First Novel by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. I’m honoured to be selected along with two wonderful writers Guy Gunaratne (In Our Mad and Furious City) and Nicola Mostyn (The Gods of Love). If you have time over the holidays, pick up their books and give them a read. If you haven’t read mine yet, what are you waiting for!?

Happy holidays and happy reading!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and family and readers who are eating turkey (or tofurkey) tonight. I’m thankful for this beautiful life I’m so lucky to navigate each day–even for the rough bits. They toughen us up, make the lovely moments memorable, and remind us we are alive. During the holidays when everyone seems happy with their perfect lives, it’s important to remind ourselves that some people are suffering, and moreso during the holidays. Missing all my friends and family who have passed away, remembering them with love and gratitude that they came into my life, today and everyday. Life is beautiful and tragic and worth the effort. Keep going. Keep loving. Keep living. ❤️

A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and its War with the United States

Sometimes research for a novel can take over a writer’s life–especially if that writer is me bc I love learning about everything. I had to share this book by Timothy J. Henderson, published in 2007, and one I picked up randomly from my son’s school library. It’s fascinating! Mostly because I grew up in Texas and the history I learned about Texas’ independence from Mexico was written with a victor’s slant, but also bc Henderson focuses on the players behind the buildup to the war and gives so many personal details about each one (Santa Anna, Austin, Houston…and more) that he makes them come to life. It’s definitely non-fiction but feels like I’m reading a novel filled with fascinating characters whose lives were destined to be remembered in history. If you’re interested in American, Texan, or Mexican history, read this book! ❤️

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Politics is so tiring to those of us who stand on the outside looking in. Politicians seem like such a mess, and the conflicts they focus on against opposing parties reminiscent of kindergarten playground tussles numb us towards apathy. But that’s what they want, and when I say they, I mean those in power who have no interest in the little guy (aka, you and me). Lobbyists have taken over the political process because we the voters who don’t show up have allowed them to by not voting. I know so many people who didn’t vote in 2016 ‘because they didn’t like the candidates’. Honestly, I rarely like the candidates, it’s the issues they stand for that make me continue to vote. The US elections are all completed and the votes are tallied. So why am I posting this after the fact? Because even after the 2016 election results, so many people still didn’t show up to vote yesterday. The presidential election is in two years. That’s all the time we have to reach those who didn’t exercise their right to vote, who don’t understand what a privilege it is and how necessary their voice is to our country. 100% voter turnout. Imagine what that would look like–what our country would look like if 100% of our citizens cared about participating in this one process that gives them a voice. In my mind it would look magnificent. #Goals

%d bloggers like this: