A pause for reflection

40bends_graveyard

After all the euphoria of the Olympics, I felt it was perhaps time for a more sober (and non sport-focused) post…

For me, one important task that has required attention as a result of shifting countries with various dependents in tow is that of personal estate planning. As a result, over the last few weeks, I have been updating my Will and making sure that it complies with UK laws.

This is a necessary, but somewhat tedious process, but can also be rather an uncomfortable experience, stirring up issues around death and mortality.

As I have been going through this exercise, it also reminded me of a long-forgotten conversation I had in Sydney well over 10 years ago with an English photographer friend called Ken.

Ken was (and probably still is) a fashion photographer. He had a flourishing business in London and was tall, good-looking, straight and had both a twinkle in the eye and the gift of the gab. It is fair to say that he didn’t struggle finding female company.

Anyhow, Ken decided he was getting a bit stale in London and wanted a new adventure so he packed up his cameras and flew to Sydney for a fresh start.

At the time, I was single and we hung out a bit together. He was glad for a familiar face in an unfamiliar land and I was hoping to score an invite to some cool parties. Our relationship was a symbiotic one.

Ken seemed to be enjoying himself tremendously in Sydney, until one weekend it all changed.

He announced the week before that he fancied a road trip so hopped on his motor bike (yes, he had all the accessories too) and headed out of Sydney to explore the countryside and to document his journey on film.

When I met up with him the next week, something had changed. He seemed a bit distant and distracted. When I asked him about his trip, all became apparent.

He told me how he had been riding across the vast open countryside, marvelling at its scale when he chanced across a tiny roadside graveyard, many miles from the nearest house, let alone town.

Ken stopped to take a few snaps and ended up wandering around and studying the gravestones. He discovered that many were over 100 years old and also that many of the graveyard’s residents had originally come to Australia from the UK.

This had quite an effect on Ken as he thought about his fellow countrymen and women, leaving their homeland behind, travelling to the other side of the world and ending up being buried in the middle of nowhere.

He found it deeply unsettling and a few weeks later he was packing up his cameras and heading back to the UK. He may well have returned anyway, but I think his road trip was certainly a catalyst for him.

Over the last few years in Sydney, I have sadly had to attend a number of funerals myself and on some of those occasions, have similarly seen UK born friends being buried in another country, far, far away from their birthplace.

At the end of one such funeral, I even found myself thinking about where I would like to end up when my time finally comes. Where would my descendants have to go if they ever wanted to visit my tombstone?

The conclusion I reached was that maybe Ken was right and that when my number is eventually up, I want to end up back where my journey all began, amidst the green, green grass of home.

All a rather morbid topic I know, but I wonder if anyone else has ever had similar thoughts (or is it just me?).

And meanwhile, the sooner I get that Will finalised, the better.

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