This remarkable account is probably the single most significant item on this website. It is a collection of personal memories written by Geraldine Chapman, Chris Acland's cousin, between 1992 and 1998. It includes an interview of Chris (more like a private conversation) done by his cousin in October 1996 just two weeks before Chris took his own life, and her recollections of the aftermath; the devastation it caused, letters from her family, and her conversations with Miki.

This comes from Geraldine Chapman's Geocities website, and she has graciously given me permission to reprint it here.

To Chris
(wherever you are)
These excerpts are taken from "vivisection",
a collection of episodes from my life.
This is here because I miss him.

By Geraldine Chapman



Part 1....
australia, blue skies and beginnings

A Postcard From Chris
Melbourne, November 1992

Dear Betty and Gerry,
Gran gave me your address - as you know we're coming to Australia in December - we play in Melbourne on the 11th December - I'm not sure where - but it would be nice to see anybody who wanted to come along. I don't know if we're arriving the day before - or how we're going to be - but I have both your telephone number and Gerry's - so I'll call you when we're actually in Australia and have a better idea of what's going on. Everybody's looking forward to the trip as none of us have ever been before and it will be nice to see some sun! Look forward to seeing you soon! - Chris


First
Melbourne, December 1992


He calls you at work. The call comes down and you're just relieved that you can get out of work for a few minutes. You don't know it's him yet, but when you pick up the phone and he speaks you know instantly, and you fall into the southern English brogue as easily as if you were still there.

"Oh, I'm glad you called. I was going to go to that record store and try and catch you there."

"They got it wrong," he says laughing. "The papers got the date wrong!"

"Oh, that's typical! Geez, I would've gone all the way in this heat....so what's your plans for tonight then?"

"Well, are you coming down to the show?"

"Aye, we have to get tickets yet, but I expect we can buy them t'nite..."

"Nah, don't worry about that. I'll put you on the door. How many do you want?"

I have to think hard. I've not been asked this before. "Oh god," I say doing a quick tally. "Maybe five. Aye, that should do it."

"Alright then."

"Chris? What are your plans for before the show?"

"Well, I don't know. The others want to go to this fun park down the way...."

"Oh, that'd be Luna Park... Listen, do you want to come to dinner at our place? It's close to where your at?"

"That sounds fine. I'll give you a call later then, at home? What's your number?"

So I give it to him. "I'm home after five," I say. "Thanks for calling. I look forward to seeing you tonight...."

After dinner, after you've all drunk a few rum and cokes, you head out, into the heat and dusk ["This is fuckin' wonderful, this heat," he says.], and you decide to catch a tram to the venue. ["Did you catch a tram up here?" you ask. "Nah," he says. "I was too scared!" "Well, we'll remedy that!" you reply. "It's easy, and a great way to get around. It'll give you a chance to see some stuff as well..."] At the venue, he rushes you through the entrance. Punters grab at him, begging a few moments, begging autographs, and he obliges, slipping into some kind of automatic mode, pulling down a hard edged protective shell around himself. You wait awkwardly wondering at the duplicity of his nature. Years later his confides to you how much he hates these times, hates the attention afforded him by his "rock star" status. And then back stage. The shiny laminate pass safely in your hands, your "all access" privilege that you sets you apart from the mainstream. The first of many. By the end of the night you're so drunk you can hardly see. You're all sitting back stage, winding down, trying to figure out what everyone's going to get up to now. Emma wants to sleep, she's going back to the hotel. Phil and you are talking about the necessity of wearing 15+ sun block in Australia. You can hear Sean [How the fuck did he get back stage anyway?] talking at 100mph. [Will that guy ever shut up?] Miki and Phil want to go out. You and Chris and Liam have discussed getting a pizza and coffee at this neat little cafe you know down the road. And then there's this really odd argument going on - about the worm remaining in a near empty bottle of Mescal Tequila. Chris and Phil are each determined to get the other to swallow it whole. Sean Bowley's trying to convince them that he will do it if they'll only let him. Then they're asking you.

"Ugh!" you say faking disgust. "Not me! If you're so fuckin' keen, you eat it!" An hour later - god it's already 2am - you're ordering pizza and drinking coffee at Topelina's on Fitzroy street. Sean came with you after all and he's still talking. How he got invited no-one will even claim responsibility for. Your opinion of Eden is really lowering fast at this point. It's a pity, you used to really like them. Sean disappears to the bathroom.

"Does that guy ever stop talking???" Chris asks as soon as Sean is out of earshot. In the morning your head hurts like fuck and you never can remember who swallowed the worm.

A Postcard From Chris
Melbourne, January 1993

Gerry,
Finally writing - sorry it's taken so long to reply but I've been fairly busy/a lazy sod - believe what you want. Hope you and Liam are fine. As you can see I'm on holiday - we're in the Canaries, having a fun time, lying on beaches, exploring on mountain bikes - Oh, it's a hard life! It's not a wild resort -just laid back and very relaxing - just what you want after four months in London. Take care.
Chris



Part 2....
America: The Home Of The Brave; The Land Of The Free....

Lush - Prelude
Kenosha, Wisconsin, August 1996


"Cellar Door...." says the PR receptionist who answers the phone.

"Uh, hi," I respond. "Um...I'd like to speak to someone who's dealing with the Lush tour?"

"That would be me!" she says brightly. "I'm Cathy. How can I help you?"

"Well, this is probably going to sound like something you've heard before, but Chris Acland, the drummer in Lush, is my cousin, and I just saw in the paper that they were touring here and, like, I'm from Australia and the last time we saw each other was when they were out there about five years ago, and I saw that they were coming here and I thought it would be really cool to catch up while we're in the same country! So, I was wondering, is there any way I can get in touch with him?"

"He's your cousin? Wow! That's cool! Well, can you fax through a letter to this office? They'll be coming in here tomorrow so I can give it to him then..."

"Yeah, that would be great, thanks!" I say.

 "Just make sure you include your number, okay?" says Cathy.

"Yeah, no worries!"

"Pardon?" she sounds confused.

"No worries..." I repeat lamely.

"What do you mean?"

"It means 'no problem', fine; good...."

"Oh! Well, I'm glad I could help!"

"Thanks for your time, Cathy," I say and hang up.

 

Lush - Prelude #0.5
Kenosha, Wisconsin, August 1996

"Ger-ry!" Paul's voice reaches me outside where I'm hanging out my washing.

"What?" I yell back, clothes pegs falling from between gritted teeth.

"There's a guy on the phone for you!"

"Okay..." I leave the washing and wander back in the side door to the apartment, collecting the phone off Paul in the kitchen.

"Who is it?"

"Chris?" he answers. "Sounds English..." Paul shrugs, saunters back down the hall to his room.

"Hello?" I say.

"Gerry? It's Chris! I got your message which was a nice surprise. What on earth are you doing here?!"

"Hmm. Well that's a question and a half! I'm working with a band here, we live about an hour down the road from where you're at! I'm glad you got the fax - I wasn't sure if the PR company would pass it on. You know how they can be. How have you been anyway?"

"Good, good!" Chris responds warmly. "How about you?"

"Yeah, great thanks! I nearly died when I saw you guys were touring!"

"Do you want to come to the show tonight?" he asks "It would be good to see you again!"

"Yeah, is that okay?"

"Sure, sure! How many tickets do you want?"

"Oh just two, thanks. What time does it start?"

"Uh, we play at seven thirty."

"Whew!" I respond looking at my watch. It's five thirty. "Okay. Can you leave passes for us?"

"Sure. Just come out the back to our bus after the show; it'll be great to see you again!"

"Okay, I look forward to it! Thanks for calling Chris!"

"See you then!"

Paul and I have about five dollars between us. He stirs me up, making me wait nearly an hour before agreeing to drive me to Milwaukee. He doesn't even think he'll like Lush but I bribe him with the promise of free beer.

"There'd better be, Gerry. We better get back stage, or I'm going to be so pissed at you!" he answers darkly. This is the crux of our relationship; the continuous struggle for power over each other, punctuated with emotional blackmail; a feeding frenzy.

 

Lush
Milwaukee, August 1996

I peer in the window of the ticket office at the middle aged lady sitting there. Paul slouches against the side of the booth beside me, looking a little bored, a little angry, for all the world an old school punk, both of us out of place amongst the neat, fashionable kids hanging out the front of the venue waiting to see the bands.

"Uh, my cousin put my name on the door," I say, adding, "He's in one of the bands."

"Which one dear?" asks the ticket lady good naturedly.

"Lush." She flips through some sheets turning up the band's guest list.

"And what was the name?"

"It should be under Gerry Chapman," I tell her. "Plus guests."

She scans the list carefully, thoughtfully. This is the moment I always hate, like, it would be so embarrassing if my name wasn't there.

"That name isn't here," she says, and I have to repress an involuntary shudder, then "There is a Gerry but it's a different surname..." She looks at me expectantly.

"Uh, try Acland...." I say.

"No, that's not it." She says. "Can you think of any other names he would have used?"

"Oh yeah! Try Stubbings! That's my grandmother's name!"

"That's it," she smiles warmly and slips the tickets through the window to me.

At the door we're stopped by security who are adamant that Paul can't take his studded leather jacket inside. We argue mildly with them for a few minutes before Paul reluctantly agrees to put his jacket back in the car. I wait nervously at the front of the venue while he walks the block and half back to where he parked his car, feeling self conscious and out of place in my all-black clothes and bright red, dreadlocks, wearing a full face of make-up even though it's still daylight, conscious that my knees are showing through the rips in my jeans. I don't think I've ever seen so many freshly ironed white t-shirts and blue jeans gathered in one place. Inside it's even worse as they glow in the dark, highlighted by fluorescent overheads, standing out like glow-worms. I can't believe it; some teenagers are here with their parents. Fresh faced kids who look like they drove in from the surrounding suburbs and farming communities. I can hear Lush; Miki's stunning vocals and Emma's sweet jangly guitar strains - and I hurry through the foyer into the main auditorium, sidestepping stock-still standing bodies to get to the front. Hardly anyone moves. Many more are sat in the tiered theatre seating at the rear of the auditorium, ankles crossed, hands in laps. Lush are well into their set and after a few songs Paul whispers over my shoulder, "Well, I've got to tell you Gerry, I didn't think I'd like them, but they're pretty cool! That singer is gorgeous!

"Yeah, you and all my other male friends!" I reply wondering how many times I've heard male friends of mine declare their lust for Miki Berenyi. After their set, it takes us the best part of an hour to get a message to the band and get backstage, leaving us watching the disgustingly cock-rock Goo-Goo Dolls. Paul is livid. I know he wants to leave, but he remains silent, letting me continue to wait for salvation. Lush's tour manager rescues us after one of my many messages sent back stage finally gets through to the group, apologizing profusely for the delay. "Chris is out there somewhere!" he laughs waving a dismissive hand at the audience as we pass through the back stage barrier.

"He went looking for you!" We step into Lush's luxurious tour bus - all cream laminate and blood red velvet fittings - and we slot into seats in the tiny lounge area with the rest of the band who I introduce slowly, to make sure I remember them properly, to Paul.

"Isn't Chris with you?" asks Miki.

"He's still out there," says the tour manager. "We didn't see him."

"Would you like a drink?" asks Emma.

"That would be good, thanks," I reply breathing a sigh of relief.

"There's beer in the fridge," says Phil pointing to a small bar unit. "And lemonade and stuff. Help yourselves."

Paul almost dives into the bar fridge - making me consider again that he is becoming alcoholic - and chooses an expensive German import, before looking at me speculatively.

"Rolling Rock," I say and he retrieves one for me.

"That was a great show; thanks for having us up here!"

"Well, we're glad you could make it!" responds Miki just as Chris appears in the bus door.

"Ah! Gerry! You made it! I've been walking all over looking for you!" he says spotting me where I'm perched next to Phil.

"Hey," I say cheerfully. "What's up?" I stand to meet him and we embrace. "Well you look good!"

"Yeah, likewise! How have you been? How's Ewan? How long have you been in the states?"

"Whoa! One thing at a time!" And I laugh.

Paul gets drunker and drunker as the night progresses, going through beers like it's his last night on earth. The rest of us chat about the absurdities of being in America - an experience we feel we can share. Stories of cultural idiosyncrasies abound - not least the warped definitions of lemonade, cordial, fizzy drink and soda that the Americans have and I recount various pub experiences. Sometime Chris asks me,
responding to a query from Miki, "Hey Gerry, do you actually know how we are related?"

"You know, I haven't got a clue!" and we dissolve into laughter. "We have a shared great-grandparent or something like that. Or your grandmother is my mother's aunt...I don't know!"

I have to ask them if they played When I Die or Ciao saying in explanation, "We were running late and I missed the start of the set."

"We don't do those live," says Miki.

"Oh! That's a shame," I reply. "I love those songs! I'm surprised you don't do Ciao..."

"Well, it's the male vocals you see!" says Emma.

"Couldn't Chris or Phil do them?" I ask cheekily. Chris actually blushes.

"No way!" says Phil.

"We tried that," says Miki.

"Ah, I'd love to see those played live...."

"Well, when you come to London, we'll play an acoustic set for you!" says Miki

"You're on!" I respond.

When we leave, Chris sees us out to the backstage gate, ignoring pleas from fans who want his autograph, and we hug, me saying, "Well, thanks for a great night! It was really good to see you again!"

"Yeah. When you come to London give me a call and we'll catch up again then! Thanks for driving her all the way up here, Paul!"

"Sure!" Paul slurs. Privately I'm wondering if he's okay to drive the 70 miles home.

"Take care Chris. I'll see you in a few months!"

On the drive home Paul and I descend into one of our deep, intense, 'bonding' conversations. He's drunk and happy and he says, "You know Gerry, I'm really glad I came with you tonight."

"Yeah, me too," I stare out the window at the passing lights on the edge of the highway. We slip into silence for a few minutes. About half way down the I-94 I see this  acre block with 3 rows of about 6 trees each all lit up in the hazy northern summer dusk with fairy lights wrapped round and round their limbs. Just like the trees in Collins street. "Whoa! That was cool!" I breath.

"What's that?" asks Paul.

"There were these trees back there all covered in lights and it just looked so pretty!"

"Gerry, you're dreaming!" says Paul.

"I'm not!" I protest knowing he's fully winding me up.

"All those drugs you took warped your mind girl!" he laughs. We lapse into silence again.

"Paul, can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"Why did you agree to take me up there tonight?"

"Because I knew how much it meant to you...."



Part 3....
Something We'd Been Meaning To Do For Ages....

Last
Chicago, 3rd October 1996

[This interview originally appeared in the online Jitter Magazine in November 1996]

- Just to throw a "difficult" question at you for starters, what do you wish most people would ask you about?

- Uh...what do I wish most people would ask me about? Oh god....fuckin' 'ell! Oh god, I don't know! [stifled giggles from both of us] "What's it like being in a touring bloody Indie band?"

- Okay, so what would you tell them?

- It's hard work when you get older! Alot of people think it's really glamorous and it's a great way to earn a living, but it would be nice to, you know, earn money and buy a house and live comfortably......

- Well Yeah.....[Laughs]...But You Know, Your Tour Bus Was Okay, From What I Saw, That Was Pretty Luxurious!

- Oh, the tour bus was okay! But we always have to pay for that in the end, it always comes out of our big tour deficit. I think, at some point it would just be nice to......you know, I think people see a band, they see the tour bus, the see the records in the [stores], and hear them on the radio, and ultimately think, "God, they must be doing really well". I just don't think people realize that there's a lot more goes into it than that, there's a lot more scraping.....

- Well, you were saying to me when we last met up that you need to still work for a living, so what do you do as your 'day' job?

- Oh no, I don't!

- You don't?? I must have drunk more beer than I thought!

- No, no. We get a wage and everything....

- Oh really?!

- Yeah, we've had the same wage for about the last eight years, something like that. There's always been money because we've been quite careful with it which I think is important. If we'd started off with day jobs and such, it means you can't put as much commitment into things - it gets difficult when you're touring and stuff....

- So what do you do with all your free time? I mean, are you spending every day writing music, or in the studio, or at rehearsal?

- No, not really. I guess at the moment we're just sitting back, you know. I mean, I'm looking for a flat at the moment, that's the main thing....and we're going off to Europe in a couple of weeks. And then next year it's pretty much quite solid writing and stuff for about three months. There is quite a lot of free time, but it is concentrated into bits and bobs really.....

- You've spent a lot of time on the road over the last few years. What's been the strangest experience?

- That Gin Blossoms and Goo Goo Dolls Tour! [laughs] It was sort of "Why? What are we doing??? Why are we here??? Why are we playing to a sort of load of white trash who aren't sort of bothered about an alternative band???" You know, we're playing alternative music and the front person's got red hair and everyone probably thinks she's a real freak! It was such a demoralizing experience! It was a total fuck up as far as everyone was concerned. We had reservations before we went in and all our reservations were proved right.....

- What would be your most ideal show in that respect?

- Ah....after that we went on to tour with bands called Imperial Teen and Muzzle, and that was good, we had good shows. I think the ideal situation is when you tour with bands you actually like, whether you support them or they support you, and there's alot of people you can get on with, including the crew. And just have fun, you know? I think that last tour we did, we just had such a shitty time in the beginning it just knocked us for six and we just felt disillusioned with the people around us, the record companies, people like that, and all the agents saying "It's a great thing". They'd just look at you like, they can send you out on the road and say "do this" and "do that", but it's not actually them who have to be there every day and get around and get worked up about it all. And then they say, "Oh, well it didn't work", and six weeks of that can really take its toll....

- They really try and pull the wool over your eyes?

- They did! I mean, we're not stupid. We've been doing this for eight years and it's like, they were actually saying, "You don't know. This is a hot ticket, blah blah. All the bands are doing really well. You'll win a new audience". And it just didn't [work] - it didn't really do that. Even if it would've done, it would have still been a pain in the arse really. If it's not fun there's no point in doing it, especially something like this, where you think, "I'm doing it because I enjoy it". I mean I know it's going to be hard, and I know there's going to be difficult times, but initially I should be enjoying it. As soon as it becomes mundane and stressful, well.....I mean, we're going to Europe, and Europe should be fine. Europe should be "us", playing lots of different places, lots of variety. America sometimes seems to be.....you know, we've been there three times this year already - you always seem to end up in the same places, the same hotels, you get a day off and the only thing to do is walk around a shopping mall, and you don't want to go shopping or anything and it's like, "Oh..." [groans] I think what happened was that our management got really excited about America, but it was premature really. We got new management, and it went well in Britain, but they get this spark of something in America, and they just think, "Oh my God! Oh my God!"....And we've had it before. It's just a lot of work for not much return....

- Yeah, I kind of get overwhelmed by the size of the place here. It's just mind boggling sometimes!

- Exactly.

- And it's so straight here too, it's just so conservative, say compared to Australia or Europe or the UK. It's like what we were discussing earlier, you know, when I went to see you at the Milwaukee show, I was about the most alternative person there!

- Yeah. That audience was.....you know, I've never seen so many straight people concentrated in one place!

- You know what you were saying, that everyone thinks that being a rock 'n roll star is really glamorous and all that, and you get people coming up to you and they want to talk to you and they want a piece of you....do you ever find that weird?

- Oh, I don't really get that! [laughs]

- Yes you do! I've seen you! [giggling]

- Well....Miki gets that more definitely. We went out last night and people there were just coming up and saying "It's you isn't it? You're in Lush!" and getting things signed and stuff like that. I do find it weird, yeah. I can't deal with that stuff but I don't have to deal with it that much.....Miki and Emma get the more sort of obsessive types.....

- Because they're at the fore front of the band.....

- Yeah, and they are the main songwriters as well...

- Ewan said that, if I interviewed you, I had to ask you this question....

- Go on then.....

- He wants to know if you're still the most eligible bachelor in Britain?!

- Oh god! [laughs] Where did he hear that?!

- I don't know. Probably some mag....he just said I had to ask you!

- Uh....I think it was in some teenage mag...Seventeen? Something like that. Wherever they got that idea from, I don't know! They did like a list, you know, of all the eligible bachelor rock stars, and I was in it. It was ridiculous really! [laughs]

-Well, it's a good thing! It's good for your ego! Did you get lots of fan mail?!

- Yeah, I got some. It kinda freaked me out a bit. I'm not used to that. Miki and Emma usually get all that...

- Well, I'd better wind this up. I'll send you a copy in a couple of weeks okay?

- That would be great. I'd love to see it....you said in Milwaukee that you were coming over to the UK? When is that?

- Oh, maybe in the next couple of months, but definitely by May - it's gran's 100th birthday so I want to be over for that.

- Really?! Wow. That'll be great. We'll have to get together for dinner or something....

-Sure. That would be great. Well, I'll get this done and send it over. Thanks for everything Chris, I'll talk to you again soon.

- Okay. Thanks for doing this. Take care of yourself.........



Part 4....
Endtime....

Dying
Chicago, October 1996

17th October 1996
You and Max. At a club. Down town Chicago on a Thursday night. The building deserted. Just you, him, the barman, the DJ. Playing Chess, drinking beer. They play Lush, and you're rushing on the sheer sound of the music.

And earlier tonight you watched a movie and it made you cry, and you hid yourself on the fire escape stairs, sobbing in the blistering cold because you didn't want him to see you cry, and all because of a movie.

And later, after the club, you both sit drunk, drinking coffee and eating pancakes in a diner just down the road from home. And you're telling him.....
"It's like, I won't cry in front of you, you know, because it feels kind of stupid when you're just crying because of a movie. I mean, if I got a phone call or something, and one of my friends, or someone in my family had died, well, then, I'd just go to pieces - I'd just start screaming and that would be it."

18th October 1996.
In the car; that sleek blue shiny modern thing that Max rented for the day. You're not too hung over, but you both got a late start. It was, however, worth it. Just nice to sleep in like that. And now to get in this sleek shiny machine and drive. Going shopping. In the middle of town and you're going round in circles trying desperately to find that elusive parking spot that's going to be at least six blocks from where you want to go. And you're listening to the radio, singing along absent mindedly with the pop songs. And then the announcer comes on the radio. And you're still day dreaming half in tune, half somewhere else.....

In music news today, Lush drummer Chris Acland was found dead in his London home yesterday morning from an apparent drug overdose....

And you start to scream. That single word "no" coming from deep inside you.
And the nightmare begins.

 

Fragment
Chicago, October 1996

Time becomes fractured, distorted. Your whole life splitting into ageless, endless atoms, spinning in uncontrollable chaos. Nothing makes sense but everything is as it is. This is the Discordian principle at work. Logic and order within Chaos. You're dreaming. You know you are. But you cannot wake up. The sun is shining, a blurry brightness through salt tears. It should be raining. Stormy and dark. You can still hear your scream echoing inside your head. This sound will never leave you.

[This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real. This is not real ....is not real ....not what I feel .....not ...not ...not ...no! ...no! ...no! ...no!...this is a litany. This is a mantra. This is a chant. This is the lie you tell yourself.]

They say a drug overdose and you know it's a lie. That's what makes the believing so much harder. He never took drugs. You swallow poison, wanting only numbness. They say suicide and you're convinced it's not possible. He wouldn't do that. When the truth is told you groan in horror and collapse into waiting arms. He hung himself in his parents home.

For hours you wait, your thoughts darting hysterically from image to image to sound to sound. The voice on the radio imparting knowledge of death, the colour of the sky, the sound of your scream, the sheer terror that gripped you and made you want to run, the single thought that this could not be real, the sheer despair at realizing what he had done. How could you? you whisper over and over and over. How could you do this to us?

You have to ring his friend. You call her in London because you still don't believe that this is true. And she answers the phone, sounding as desperate and sick as you feel. Miki, I just heard something on the radio...... Yes, is all she says. And it's final. Now you know the truth.

Inside you are being torn apart. Inside, the one thing, the one piece of absolute truth, keeps spinning round and round, till you think you are going insane. Inside, the one last fragment of incoherent thought, the one thing that you can never share.....it should have been me. He was your hero. He was the one in the family who had made it. He was the one who had it together. He was not some junkie kid like you.

You go to sleep wrapped in darkness, numbed by pills and alcohol, listening to Mazzy Star. Listening because it is the only thing that can get inside you and lullaby you to sleep.

 

Letters From Home
Houston, November 1996

From my mother:

.....I thought I would write you a quick note to put in with dad's letter. I rang Ewan and gave him your phone number and he said he would ring you, and Cathy said she would give you a ring too. Cathy wrote to Biddy too, which was nice of her. I have thought about you a lot since you rang with the news about Chris, and how awful it must have been for you when you heard the news, and what a shock, just one of those things we will never understand, I guess. I just remember Chris when he was eighteen, working in Biddy's garden, and she loved him so much. That poor, poor family.......

From my father:

.....I enclose the obituary from the Age [newspaper] for Chris - the writer [Ben Marshall - Is he one of your London contacts?] seems as mystified and non-plussed as you - one can only assume Chris suffered a temporary madness, but what a terrible thing to inflict on his family, whom one imagines would not be unkind, and one can only feel deep sorrow for Chris and them.....

I sit here shaking, remembering again the sound of her despair, the audible groan as I tell her he is dead, that the son of her childhood cousin hung himself, the subtle release I feel as I can finally be myself, say and think what I am feeling......
  Oh god, mum, I heard it on the radio......

 

Night Time
Melbourne 1997

Most of the time the rage and despair is contained; a thing to be bought out and lived through in the deepest parts of the night time. I remember the afternoon I spent with Miki in London earlier this year. It had been bitterly cold and trying so desperately to snow. We sat in the warmth and drank cups of tea and talked about Chris. I showed her the interview and when she laughed I knew which bits she was reading. She told me about what had happened after the tour and the depression that had gripped him. She told me about the night they went out, the night before he killed himself. She told me about the funeral. In all the talking we found no reason.

I remember all the nights since Chris died. The times in Houston, in those first weeks just after, when I thought I should just follow his lead because I thought that, if he had lost his reason to live, then I might as well just give up too because I couldn't see any hope for any of us. And I remember all the times since then, all the nights of feeling like my insides were being torn out, and all the anger and pain and confusion, because I could not understand why he had done this and I hated him for it.

I remember Mum telling me that Biddy, Chris's grandmother, had suffered a stroke - thought to be a result of his death - and that his mother, Judy, had a breakdown and was hospitalized, and the rage and despair welled up again because these people - his family - were suffering terribly and I felt for them so very much.

And out of the rage and pain and tears was born a seed of determination. The urge to strike out, hit back, live.

I remember every moment.

 

10 17
Melbourne, 17th October, 1997

James' gun drills into my skin, injecting ink, leaving a lasting mark, vibrating through my bones like having a tooth filled at the dentist.

"What do the numbers mean?" James asks.

"It's a date," I say. "A reference point."

The pain engulfs me. Physical pain burning across my skin. Now I wear my heart on my sleeve. This is the final act. My grief born out, bled out, dissolved through physical suffering till all that's left is acceptance. I will wear the mark forever. An acknowledgment of a rite of passage I went through in the last year. A reminder that Chris is dead and that I chose to live. The grief is contained, subdued.

I walk a forward path.

In memory of Chris, Biddy and Judy. April 1998