January 2006 Archives - wibbler.com

That’s all, Folks

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There’s something very difficult about having to accept a senseless death. The last few days have been a blur of activity – informing friends, cancelling bank accounts, organising the funeral and coping with the waves of grief that still flood through when reality comes knocking.

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Flowers have continued to arrive at the accident site, and on our many visits we bumped into several people who knew and liked him, wanting to show their respects. The reports in the local papers were surprisingly surreal. The clearing out of his bedroom is a severe hardship – especially as we’ve discovered he’s a very fine hoarder of everything he could get his hands on. Scanning through his digital camera pictures showed his sense of humour and sociable life, with no expectation of it ending so soon. I think many people are still expecting Paul to poke his head around the door and explain that it was his most elaborate practical joke ever – or at the very least spend a few minutes explaining why it happened and say goodbye.
But slowly the realisation sinks in that he will never come, a fact that hit home yesterday afternoon when the funeral took place.

Paul Cooke
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We all tried to keep busy in the morning, but by two o’clock events were becoming increasingly difficult to avoid. By three o’clock we arrived at his house with the rest of the family, and at four o’clock reality dawned. The black parade of hearses arrived outside, and the most difficult of hours had arrived. We travelled behind the black cars, negotiating the frustratingly uncaring cars through to pull away in front and in the middle of us all the way to Guildford Crematorium. On arrival, the sheer amount of people that had turned up stunned us. Over 300 mourners had arrived, and within a few minutes would be trying to squeeze into a room designed for no more than 150. We joined the front of the queue, and at that moment Matthew, Michelle’s brother, decided that he wanted to carry the coffin. We rallied round in support, and so it was that in the midst of all the emotion of the packed room, Matthew, Glyn, Oliver and I paced slowly down the aisle, a wooden coffin baring down on our shoulders and dusting our suits.
For the rest of the service I stared mostly at the floor, trying to ignore the vicar’s words. After twenty long minutes, we wandered out to view the flowers that had been sent – and then,

Paul Cooke
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not wanting to prolong the anguish, we headed for the wake, which was taking place at his local pub. It was probably the best night the pub had ever had – a full pub, enormous rounds of beer and sandwiches being consumed and speeches and stories of Paul, including a rendition of Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life which summed him up to a tee. The celebrations died down as the pub started to close its doors – but there was no doubt Paul would have approved. Even the taxi driver knew Paul, remembering the many times he took him from the pub to the local nighlife. “He was full of life, top banana. He’ll be missed.” And don’t we know it.
All this, and I’m not even a member of the family. The things I see, feel and decribe are only a tenth of what his immediate family are going through. So what now for them? Tying up of loose ends,

Paul Cooke
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then getting on with life, I suppose. Now the hustle and bustle of morbid planning is done, maybe the reality will hit in the coming days and weeks. On the other hand, maybe now things are more or less over it will be easier to move on. The most useful part of the whole experience seems to be that it brings life’s troubles into perspective, reminding us to make the most of things while we can. The worst part, for me at any rate, is that he never knew how much his family (and specifically his children) loved him. In fact, *they* never knew how much they loved him. So make sure you appreciate and show your appreciation for your nearest and dearest – before its too late.
(A small photo gallery is available here. If you have any photos to contribute, let me know)

An unexpected loss

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There are some things that make all of life’s little problems pale into insignificance. There are some things that happen without warning and without reason.
At 6.55am yesterday morning, Michelle’s dad Paul Cooke was knocked down by a car and killed near the Stoke crossroads in Guildford.
At 7.45am yesterday morning, I was in a slow-moving queue near Stoke crossroads, cursing Monday mornings and oblivious to the cause.
At 9.15am, I got a call.
Watching bad news move and spread through a family is one of the most moving things you can witness. The fact that it was so unexpected only served to multiply the anguish. When I arrived at Michelle’s mum’s house – a mere 400 metres from the accident scene which had closed a main road for five hours – I prepared for the worst. A police vehicle was parked outside, causing neighbour’s curtains to twitch with curiosity. Entering the house I was first struck by the quietness, followed a few seconds later by an explosion of grief as the events are explained. A police officer waited patiently for the next opportunity to be supportive. As the minutes passed, I began to be aware of every word I said, in case it conjured up unexpected mental images and set grief rolling down people’s faces again.

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Throughout the day the family travelled between houses, informing the remaining relatives and reliving the morning’s events. Little things became weighted with huge significance – writing notes to go with the flower tributes became one of the most difficult tasks of the day. Visiting the accident scene to lay those flowers was made even more difficult thanks to its position outside the local newspaper offices, where journalists approached with multiple questions on the day’s events. And all the while Michelle’s three year old niece Sophie, oblivious to what had happened – asking where grandad was and why everyone was crying – did her best to lift everyone’s spirits with giggles, balloons and bubble makers.
I had only known Paul for four years. From what I could see, he was determined to enjoy life and was always well-known and liked wherever he went – a fact confirmed this afternoon when we met some of the many colleagues he worked with. His sense of humour broke through the occasional dreary periods of life, and he always had a cheeky smile ready for you. He was especially keen to learn geeky stuff from me whenever I went over, plying me with enthusiastic questions about computers and websites.
“Get busy living, or get busy dying”, a film once told us. This morning was supposed to have been just another Tuesday morning – I myself was due in Edinburgh on business. Instead, today is the day the family face the reality of autopsy, donor cards and funerals.
The world keeps on turning – today there’ll be another accident and it will be a different family’s turn to grieve. As someone once said, “Life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”
(A small photo gallery is available here. If you have any photos to contribute, let me know)

Mariaaaaaaa, you’ve got to see her…

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Looking through the logs over the last month, it seems that there is one thing that visitors are fruitlessly looking for on this site. No, not the insane conversation Jac and I had on Messenger (or Melinda, as we like to call it) four years ago. Not even the two most popular posts of all time – “Friend on Young Posh and Loaded” and “The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off” (just look at the comments on those critters) – can dislodge the top search item of all time. The word that drives more traffic than anything to this site is… wait for it… “sharapova”. Specifically Maria Sharapova, a photo of whom used to hang in my Funny Files section but had to be moved because of bandwidth costs. So, for all those Maria appreciators, let me tell you that it’s currently sitting in the Photos section of the Fun Media Files section. Enjoy, you frisky visitors.

A Zen in IPod clothing

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I’ve been toying with the idea of an MP3 player for a while. My assumed role of Chief Geek within my friends and family circle means that everyone assumes I’ve already got one – creative.jpgbut I have been holding out. Mindful of the mantra that’s been drummed into me as since I was very small – and those who’ve seen me will know that must have been a *long* time ago – I hate following a crowd. In my mind, the Apple Ipod has been far and away the best MP3 player for a while, a fact that meant I cannot get one. My recent trip with Nick to the Best of Stuff Show showed, however, that nothing matched up to it in any way. However, I have finally discovered what may be the zenith of my affections – the Creative Zen Vision:M. It isn’t out in the UK yet, but as you can see it’s very similar to the IPod but can do a whole lot more – a fact that warms my cockles. This review is certainly complementary. And it means you’re not tied to iTunes, or following the crowd. In short, it won’t make you a chained-up sheepy lemming.
But hey, I know there are more geeky people than me who will read this. Anyone got any other recommendations?