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I have to be honest - I’ve been putting it off for months. I was going to do a big spring clean in April as soon as the garden furniture was hauled out, having spent the winter in the shed. “Perfect time”, I thought to myself. “to pull everything out, chuck away things that I’ll never use, give it a thorough sweep, put everything back in an orderly way.” I could see it all in my head, the perfectly swept floor, the neat stack of boxes, the clean tools hanging from nails, the empty bags of potting compost that can...

Autumn and the trees outside the house, the ones that frothed powder-puff pink with blossom in spring and sparkled claret-copper in summer, fall dark and damply amethyst. Especially on windy days like today. Something about the angle of the trees and how it plays with the direction of the wind makes the spilt leaves collect in loose piles along the front path and on the pavement beyond the fence - much more, it seems to me, than on other paths in front of other houses along the road. I try not to take it personally. Sometimes a spent leaf leaves an...

“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 –...