Author: Lizzie Aitchison

“What do you call the best place to hold a funeral?” joked my daughter. “I don’t know, what DO you call the best place to hold a funeral?” I replied. Smothering a smile, she continued, “The crem de la crem!”. We both guffawed. A gallows guffaw since, at that moment, I was driving a rental car, a brilliant red Fiat 500 with wannabe-racing-car interior finish – the ultimate girly-fun roadster – to my aunt’s funeral. I sighed as I tried to contain my hilarity, wipe my tears and negotiate the roundabout next to Dobbie’s Garden World on the outskirts of...

There was a moment yesterday when the scattered pieces of my dwindling family collided. Sitting on the concourse at Paris Gare de Lyon waiting for a train to take me to northern Spain for a visit to my sister, I took up my phone and booked a ticket that, a few days hence, will take me to southwest Scotland for the funeral of my aunt. It was one of those moments of displacement. So much of life is conducted over the invisible wire of ether that distances and closeness sometimes get muddled up. Paris and the splendid Gare de Lyon –...

They stuffed me full of dirty washing – always the same on the way home. All that neatly-packed, fragrant load I had to carry on the way out exchanged for dusty shoes filled with socks or knickers and soiled tee-shirts on top. At least they’re not sweaty people, my owners. I’ve heard from friends on carousels or luggage racks what some of them have to put up with. So, I count myself lucky in a way. The lady at the check-in seemed OK. She put the sticky tag around my handle quite gently. I waved at my owners; I always do,...

We knew they spent part of the year here. But we had no address, just a vague idea of direction - somewhere far from the main town. Here is a small green island, high up in the Aegean, smothered with trees, dotted with pebble beaches, fringed with yachts and other small craft anchored in sparkling bays, surrounded by other, mostly empty islands large and small like green gems set in lapis lazuli, and lapped by a soft sea. Alonissos. We had thought, again vaguely, that we might try and track down our lost friends. when some other friends invited us to spend...