Book Review: Unspoken by Luke Allnutt

This Kindle single is an intensely personal story of death and loss. The writer’s father is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the book deals with him coming to terms with this and also his expectations of what the loss will be like.

Allnutt discusses how attitudes towards death have changed as has the idea of what a “good death” is like. He talks about how we’ve started to expect profound, meaningful conversation as part of the process. This expectation weighs heavily and slightly sours the time they have, with Allnutt uncomfortable trying to engage and his father’s condition eventually robbing him of the ability to have that kind of talk.

It’s extremely honest and open about the whole process and Allnutt doesn’t shy away from times when he is self centred or feels left out.

All in all it reads well and raises an important point that we need to embrace and experience events, and not worry they don’t fit how we expect or think they should be.

Emotionally powerful and an interesting read. It’s rather short though and Allnutt has a tendency to use a lot of sources about philosophies surrounding death. It perhaps would be more powerful if it remained focused on Allnutt’s experience.


Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Would You Rather? Part 4: Caves, Clowns and Climbing Trees

Would you rather be the best in the world at climbing trees or the best in the world at jumping rope?

I think I would go for the trees, because that’s probably something I’d enjoy more. I could be a nature photographer or something, climbing up to get pictures of the critters and whatnot.

Being able to jump rope well wouldn’t help as I’m not a Victorian schoolgirl or a boxer.

Would you rather live in a cave or a tree house?

Tree house. Aside from people terrified of the slightest height, who would pick the cave? Especially as some tree houses are pretty awesome.


Would you rather have everything on your phone (browser history, pictures etc.) accessible to anyone who Googles you or never use a cell phone again?

The inconvenience of not having a phone would be pretty annoying, especially as I like using my phone as a distraction. But at the same time, would I rather lose that and have my personal stuff shared?

I guess I’d have to sacrifice my phone. Because while it’s highly unlikely people would be Googling me, I’d rather not run the risk of some random getting my emails and text messages.

Would you rather be accidentally responsible for the death of a child or accidentally responsible for the deaths of three adults?

If I’m picking one or the other surely the “accidental” part is out the window? Because you’re choosing one of the options to happen?

This is a really tough one, because like most normal people killing a child is utterly beyond the pale, but it’s rather hard to condemn three over one. Logically you should pick the kid, but there’s that emotional aspect that just messes with you.

This is a rough one. I guess I’d pick the kid, because I think the loss of three adults would have a much wider impact on the world, and the guilt over three lives is bound to be more intense, surely?

Would you rather all plants scream when they are cut/picked or animals beg for their lives when killed?

I imagine that animals make a lot of noise anyway, but as I’m not responsible for killing my own food I don’t have to face that. On the other hand, with plants I do cut the grass occasionally and pick blackberries so the screams would impact my life more.

So, I’d rather animals beg for their lives, simply because I don’t have to hear them.

I wonder if we did have to kill our own food more of us would be veggies?

Would you rather lose your best friend or all of your friends except your best friend?

I don’t really have a best friend, more like a circle of friends who are at the same level. So, I’d probably pick to keep that little group at the cost of everyone else than the other way round as I’ve been mates with them for years, and can probably do without the more distant friends and acquaintances better.

Would you rather have the police hunting you for a murder you didn’t commit or a psychopathic clown hunting you?

I hate clowns.

At least the cops would have to abide by certain rules and hopefully could be convinced of my innocence. But a psycho clown? Probably not open to reason.

And I’d be freaked out the whole time. So, I’d take the police option. Unless I thought there was a chance I could take the clown.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Farmer Giles looked up in the sky, just as a bird pooed in his eye, said Farmer Giles “Thank goodness cows can’t fly”

My grandad died the other week, after a short spell in hospital. He was 86, and when he was admitted it was clear that his time was coming to an end.

The poem at the start is something my Bampa told us when we were kids and in the days after his passing popped into my sister’s head.

Memories are what we are left with when a loved one passes on. Memories which define how we carry on the person inside us.

My grandad and I didn’t always get on. As I grew into a lazy, geeky teen he must have felt that we had little in common. Bampa had worked since he was 14, and was a traditional man in many ways, he could make things, he could fix things, and I suspect he saw me as soft. My long hair annoyed him and he’s often tell me that “two years in the army” would sort me out.

But I know he loved me. And all of his family. He didn’t say it, I don’t think he knew how. He came from a time when men didn’t talk about their feelings, or even admit they had them.

But we knew. It was there in the fact he always asked how we were doing, in the small kind moments and the way he was with us. The pride he had in the achievements of his kids and grandkids. He was never soft, but there was warmth and gentleness there.

He and my Nan were married for over 50 years, and they seem to have spent most of that time bickering. If there is an afterlife they’ve probably started back up again.

I choose to remember Bampa in his house with my Nan. Winking at us as he deliberately wound her up or teased her. Of telling us the same jokes over and over, but his delight in them and the delivery always raising a smile even if you groaned first. 

I remember him telling stories, either of his childhood mischief, no doubt exaggerated, or made up yarns which kept us hooked and begging for a few more minutes before bed. Stories of magic and ghosts, which we lapped up.

I’ll remember him whenever I watch football. 

Remember the wooden goal he built in the garden so we could play, of his coaching in how to pass and head. Of his criticism of divers and talk of how it had been “in his day”, when the ball was heavy and the rules more relaxed. 

His patience when I bounced around on the sofa jabbering away, trying to copy the players I loved. I’ll remember sitting next to him and my Dad at the Vetch when they took me to my first Swansea game. It rained, but I didn’t care. We won and I loved the noise and feeling grown up.

I’ll remember him and it won’t matter that he’d believe and jump on every health far the paper told him. Or that he gave me grief about my long hair.

I’ll remember him for the hero he was to me as a kid, and the man I understood better as an adult. I’ll love him for being my Bampa, and a central figure in countless happy memories.

RIP Bampa.

A belated thank you to Dr Heimlech

This weekend saw the passing of Dr Henry Heimlich, famous for his life saving technique. I’m not going to lie reading his brief obit from the Beeb there were two things that hit me (a) surprise, as I thought he was already dead and (b) shock, as I’d assumed the manoeuvre had been around a lot longer.

1974?! It took us longer to work out how to stop someone choking than it did to get to the moon! 

The manoeuvre being used by Mrs Doubtfire

Anyway, I felt bad that he had only just died as I should have probably written and thanked him because without the good doctor’s invention I wouldn’t be writing this post.

Back in the early nineties I was on the yard at primary school eating an aniseed ball and reenacting the death of a minor film character when the sweet lodged itself in my throat and began to choke. Panic rose in my friends and I but we hurried inside and found a dinner lady.

They may have almost killed me but I am now massively craving some

The dinner lady, her name sadly forgotten, kept a cool head and several abdominal thrusts (as the manoeuvre is known as by many) later the red sweet hurled from my mouth, skittering across the school corridor.
So, thank you anonymous dinner lady and Doctor Heimlich, for saving my life and stopping me from being a playground legend and warning against sweets.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

In memory of Alan Rickman. In defence of Emma Watson

This week saw the passing of Alan Rickman, a truly great actor who appeared in many great movies like Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Love Actually, Galaxy Quest, Dogma and Sense & Sensibility, where he oozed dignity and decency as Brandon.


To a younger generation he will always be known as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series. Leading the tributes were his former costars, including the former child stars of those films.

Emma Watson tweeted several times, one of which included this image and quote.


It made sense for Watson, a vocal campaigner for women’s rights to post this but she was soon under attack from various tweeters who felt she was out of line for “pushing her own agenda” and exploiting Rickman’s death.

Frankly these comments are utterly daft and disrespectful. These strangers are attacking someone who actually knew Rickman for years for how they grieve and remember him. As fans it hurt us, but for those who knew him it must have been far worse.

Also, why shouldn’t she post this?

All of us can comment on his acting abilities, and I’m sure Watson will praise his skills as a performer. What she’s doing with this quote is showing that as well as being a marvellous talent he was a decent bloke with sensible views.

The quote shows him in a good light, it shows a man who believed in a equality and unlike many online knew what feminism is about.


Watson probably chose this message because it echoed her views and also because it’s statements like this that are part of the reason she admired and now mourns Alan Rickman.

Exploiting his death? No, just showing why she respected him.

The sad thing is that people felt the need to attack someone and  object to an “agenda” which is about equality and fairness. Read the above definition, that’s what Watson and Rickman support, equal opportunities and rights for everyone.

If you attack that you’re basically coming out in favour of a system which places some above others just because of their gender, and that’s a crap thing to defend.

So, I think Watson did nothing wrong and those objecting come from a position of ignorance or hostility.

In closing, I just want to say Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman, you were a great actor, I never tired of watching you and thanks for all the great work you left us.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


I don’t know when I first heard David Bowie, but I have a good idea that it was in my Dad’s car. I think a lot of us get some pop music education from our parents and I’m lucky that my Dad had some decent taste. The Stones, Dylan and Neil Young were all artists I heard first on cassette on family holidays or when my Dad gave me lifts.

My Dad had the first half of The Best of David Bowie. It collected the 60s and 70s stuff. My Dad was an old school Bowie fan.


To me the album was utterly unique, different from anything I’d heard before. A lot of the songs had a weird, spacey vibe which as a budding geek I was onboard with. I loved that cassette.

There were great story songs like the tragic Major Tom adrift among the stars on “Space Oddity” or “Ziggy Stardust” where Bowie took on numerous voices to tell the story of a band falling apart as their guitarist gets caught up in his own hype. To this day both songs captivate me after uncountable plays, and when the opening chords of “Ziggy” kick in I get a smile on my face.

There were the dystopian lyrics of “Diamond Dogs”, the surreal beauty of the imagery in “Life On Mars?”, the iconic “Changes” and my personal favourite “The Man Who Sold The World”.

Over the years I got to know more about Bowie, the showman with the knack of changing style yet remaining distinctly Bowie. I was less fussed on his later songs with a few exceptions (“Golden Years” and “Heroes”) but he remained an interesting and singular talent.

Other stars of the seventies fell from grace or faded away, either becoming old men of music or else trying to maintain an image they couldn’t pull off anymore. Bowie avoided both of these by keeping going, retaining some of his mystery and in the process cementing his position as a pop culture icon.

Bowie was cool, there’s no other way to put it. But not the cool of a fleeting trend, a distinctive coolness that stemmed from the fact he was courageous in his individuality. He didn’t chase trends, he was just David Bowie.

His music will endure and continue to be loved and inspire.

Bowie’s death hit me harder than I expected, not just because I loved his music and realised that we’d lost a true legend, but because Bowie had become linked with my own life, his songs had become what I sing to myself, the things that remind me of places and times.

That’s why musician deaths hit us so hard. It’s because their music goes beyond what they’ve made, it becomes entangled in our lives. They become the soundtrack of our lives, so David Bowie is more than just a guy who made great pop music, he was the third passenger in the car when my Dad told me daft jokes, old stories I’d heard a hundred times and talked about movies.

He was there on nights out when I danced like a muppet to his tunes. And he was there on countless bus trips or essay writing sessions when I needed to tune out and daydream. He may be gone, but the music will still be there, and in a way that means Bowie will never die.


I’m rambling a little now so i’ll just leave it by saying, rest in peace David Bowie.

Top 5 Bowie Songs

5. “Starman”
4. “Life on Mars?”
3. “Space Oddity”
2. “Ziggy Stardust” (the line “making love with his who, Ziggy sucked up into his mind/ like a leper Messiah” is one of my all time favourite lyrics)
1. “The Man Who Sold The World”

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


I woke up this morning to the news that Lemmy had died.

Despite the rocker having lived and partied hard for his 70 years, it came as a shock. Lemmy just felt like one of those faces who had always been there, and you kinda felt always would.


Like most folks my first experience of Lemmy was the burst of fast paced rock genius that is “Ace of Spades”. I can’t remember when I heard it first, but I know I’ve loved it since. That frantic, dashing riff just feels like what rock music should be like, and it’s damn near impossible not to nod along to.

I used to throw myself about to it in rock clubs, air guitared to it in my room and turned it up when it came on, wherever I was.

The lyrics spoke to me and embodied the reckless spirit if rock-

You know I’m born to lose and gambling’s for fools
but that’s the way I like it, baby,
I don’t want to live forever

After the song I discovered Lemmy, an undisputed rock god and legend. His distinctive look, reputation for excess and gravelly voiced charm made him a fascinating character in the pop culture landscape.

I learned about his time with Hawkwind before starting his own band, Motorhead, which is why he became most well known for. Motorhead were a band I fell in love with after seeing them live, supporting Alice Cooper.

They played no-nonsense, head down rock ‘n’ roll with furious pace and Lemmy centre stage. I was lucky enough to see them twice more and enjoyed myself immensely each time, even when Lemmy appeared worse for wear at one Download.

When I decided to get my first tattoo I chose the band’s logo, the monstrous face that appeared on their merchandise, album covers and stage backgrounds.


My iPod boasts a few of their albums and they’re one of my go to bands when I want a bit of bus headbanging or am just in a bad mood and want something to play really f**king loud.

Lemmy was one of a kind. There was nobody else like him, and I doubt we’ll see anyone else like him again.

Lemmy embodied rock at it’s my best- tough, a little bit dirty and bad, charming and fun. He carried himself like he didn’t give a damn, and was enjoying himself immensely. As music became increasingly dull and pop stars neuteured, sanitised shadows of their forebears, Lemmy was like an enhanced version of the rock star.

He wasn’t the best looking, and others surpassed him in talent, but in terms of attitude, persona and raw rock power, few could match him.

Simply put, Lemmy was a rock star. Possibly one of the best of all time. He’ll be greatly missed and the rock world will be duller without him.

A fitting tribute would be to put on some of his tunes, crank up the volume and go nuts.

Might I suggest “Ace of Spades”, “Eat the Rich”, ” Orgasmatron” or “Killed by Death”. Or Motörhead’s cover of “Louie Louie” and Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl”.

If you feel like something more subdued, I always loved “I Ain’t No Nice Guy”

RIP Lemmy. It just got louder in Heaven.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

The role I’m dying to play

Like a lot of people I have a bucket list (see the link at the top of this page), but rather more unusually I have a post-death ambition as well.
Yes, this topic might be a tad morbid, but it randomly came back to me this week.
I’m not a gloomy person normally, but I have planned for my funeral (songs and stuff) and what I want to be done with my mortal remains (MWG has strong objections to sky burials, donating myself to science and being mulched, so at the moment I’m thinking buried with a tree planted atop me).
However, while most of my body goes underground I have bigger plans for my head. You see, inspired by the pianist Andre Tchaikowsky, I’d quite like to appear posthumously in Hamlet as that fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy, Yorick.


Tchaikowsky in action with David Tennant

I think that would be kind of cool. My acting career as a live person hasn’t been that amazing (shepherd, the angel Gabriel, a zombie, a king in panto, a giant and a sinner in a Biblical play) so it would be quite cool to grace the Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage or a movie.
Unlike Tchaikowsky, however, I’d want a good billing:

And introducing Chris Page as Yorick

I might not be around to see it, but if there’s an afterlife I’d get a kick out of that and I think some of my more macabre friends and family would too.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

Mixed Bag: Holy Hypotheticals, Batman

All of these are courtesy of The Daily Post’s Daily Prompts. Prompts paraphrased so I can get this posted by midnight.

Back In School

In a reversal of Big, the Tom Hanks classic, your adult self is suddenly stuck in the body of a 12 year old. How do you survive your first day in school?

I think this might not be so bad because like Rod Stewart said “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger”, I think when I was 12 I wasted far too much time worrying about what people thought about me and was quieter and shy. I’m still awkward in some situations, and I don’t think anybody is ever completely unaffected by other people’s view of them, but I’m definitely a lot more confident.

I think I was back as twelve year old Chris I’d enjoy it more, although I’d probably wind up in more trouble because I’d probably back talk teachers more. When I was at school there were plenty of times when I had a sarky comeback ready for a teacher but kept quiet, and I’d kinda like the chance to shut a teacher down on their crap.

I think I’d also be nicer and chat to the outsiders and kids who looked like they were struggling, just to let them know someone’s noticed them and maybe make them feel better.

Man in the Mirror

You wake up in a world without mirrors. How is your everyday life effected by this?

At first I thought it would make no difference, but then on further thought it would. I’m not the vainest bloke in the world but I still look in mirrors a fair amount, this is mainly to check for stray food in my teeth, lament the fact that my beard growth is still patchy and, my major use of mirrors, pulling faces. I think making silly faces at myself while I dry myself or brush my teeth would be the thing I’d miss most about mirrors.

Take This Job and Shove it

In honour of Labor Day in the States, tell us the one job you could never imagine yourself doing.

Well, I know I couldn’t be a nurse. I think two jobs I definitely couldn’t do are being a lawyer or a carer for the elderly.

Lawyer is a moral thing, I don’t think I could defend someone I thought might be guilty, or live with letting down someone I knew was innocent.

Elderly care is just me being weak. I couldn’t handle the bodily fluids, the death and the depressing sight of someone fading away. I know that sounds grim, but for me the elderly are depressing. I’ve only seen a few people very far along and the knowledge I may wind up like that strengthens my hope that I die before I get old. Forgetting who I am, losing control of my body and all that scares the crap out of me, and I couldn’t watch other people go through it without getting seriously down.

Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum

Captain Picard drank Earl Grey, the Dude had white Russians, what would be your signature drink? And how did it achieve this status?

It probably used to be cider. I used to drink gallons of the stuff throughout uni, and still indulge now, but as I’ve got older it’s too sweet and gassy and so I’d probably say that for an alcoholic drink it’s a simple rum and coke. Dark rum, preferably (Sailor Jerry’s or Captain Morgan’s). I like it because rum has a nice warm taste which isn’t as harsh as other alcohol and it works well with the sweetness of the coke.

Non-alcoholic it’s probably tea, milk, no sugar.

Do Nothing

If money was obsolete, would you still work? How would you fill your time?

I thought this one was gonna be easy, but if money’s out of it completely then a lot of the stuff I like doing won’t be possible- without financial incentive there wouldn’t be Costa Coffee, or movies, so my plan of being constantly high on caffeine, reading books and watching flicks doesn’t work.

So I have no idea. I guess if I could get all the food and shelter I needed I wouldn’t work and just bum around a lot, but if not I’d imagine I’d be fighting for survival.

A little pointless today, I know, but I had a bit of blogger’s block and wanted to write something.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

Book Review: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

In this book Mary Roach addresses the question of what happens to us after we die. Not in a “is there a heaven? Or are we reincarnated?” way but in a more literal sense. What happens to our bodies after we die? It turns out, that a lot of stuff can happen, especially if you decide to donate your body to science.


You could end up being cut up in an anatomy lesson, or sat in a car to help improve vehicle safety. Or you could just be left outside in the sun so that they can study decay, which will help them work out how long bodies have been dead.

It’s a fascinating, if morbid book, and provides plenty of “well, I never!” moments as Roach reveals little secrets and facts that the regular Joe doesn’t spend much time thinking about. And she does it all in vibrant, engaging writing which is full of wit and humour. Roach is always able to see the surreal or absurd moments in the processes she investigates and her mind goes off on weird tangents which are highly amusing.

It won’t be for everyone. Death is something a lot of us find hard to talk about, let alone read a whole book about and we probably don’t want to think about what might happen to us, or has happened to people we know, after we shuffle off this mortal coil. And there are a few moments that the more squeamish might struggle with.

Personally, I loved it. Roach goes through all the different ways donated bodies are used, including organ donation, which focuses on one patient who’s organs are collected to aid others. As a card carrying organ donor, I found this to be an inspiring and positive section of the book, with Roach sharing my view that organ donation is the way to go. I also found it odd that the term “organ harvesting” has been dropped because people thought it sounded too celebratory, when really it should be celebrated, as lives are being saved.

Some of the sections are just weird- eating human flesh and juices as medical cures, not only in history but more recently was a touch odd. And the bodies converted into art works was a little bit creepy sounding.


She also investigates new ways of getting rid of bodies, not cremation or burial but a form of composting, where the body is frozen and then mulched, buried in a biodegradable coffin in order to replenish the world around it. Personally this sounds pretty good to me, and let me go on record that this is what I want to happen to me after I stop being Chris and become the Body Formerly Known as Chris. Mulch me up, plant an apple tree over me and let me live on as delicious cider.

The book ends with Roach discussing what she wants to happen to her body after she dies. It’s interesting, she’s pro-donation and giving her body to science but she raises an interesting dilemma- how far should we go in honouring the wishes of the deceased? If the idea of dissection is painful or unsettling to the relatives is it fair to continue? Should we put more emphasis on the feelings of the living as opposed to the wishes of the dead?

It’s a tough one to call, especially when it comes to how the body is disposed of. In terms of organ donation I think it should go with the dead person’s choice. Apparently around half of families refuse to consent to heart transplants, which is sad as that means we’re only aiding around half of the people we could be.

It’s a book that made me laugh, that shocked me and most importantly made me think. We don’t dwell on death, which is probably healthy, but it’s coming and we should probably think about what we want to happen to our remains after we pop our clogs. There are plenty of ways that even after death we can aid others, and I, for one, think that’s pretty damn cool.

Verdict: A fascinating and wonderfully entertaining book about something we don’t often talk about but will all have to deal with. Roach finds the humour throughout without being disrespectful and it revealed a lot of new stuff to me. Quality science writing that the average Joe can understand. 8/1o.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.