Leaving (2)

At the top of this blog should be a photo of my Dad in an Akubra. Walking back down a bush track. Walking away from us. Sunlight hanging in dusty shafts around like in his favourite painting. I can’t remember the painting but I reckon my friend Angus could help. I’ll let you know.


The Hungarians have a phrase: “the English Farewell.” This is the quiet exit. Not a ripple. The leaver leaves. That’s it.

The difficulty is no-one gets to say good bye. Neither do empty promises need to be made about staying in touch and not going changing. I hate goodbyes – I am at my most awkward and wordless. Completely exposed. This is not something to be proud of.

Of course, the English farewell avoids the paps, but there is a kind of pomposity about it too. “I know you will want to say good bye – I can’t bear it,  I know it will be unbearable – so I am going to avoid it. I will leave you talking about how I am gone after I am gone.”

What is also avoided is the possibility that the leaver will not be missed.

I am writing about all this – you may have to bear with me for the occasional blog – but please don’t go away. I am writing more on this than I have ever written on anything.

I am going to Australia in a few weeks and that will be to say good bye.

This one is possibly going to be the biggest yet. There are many smaller goodbyes that precede it.  So this farewell will definitely not be Hungarian. It is the opposite. I think it is Australian. I’ll let you know.


6 thoughts on “Leaving (2)

  1. The best place to say goodbye, almost certainly forever, is Heathrow. Tears stream down my cheeks, Tears stream down his cheeks. He approaches the departure gate four times – four times – and turns back again, to say goodbye again. On the fifth try, he is through, and he stands on the other side, weeping. And I am streaming with tears. And finally he disappears – exit right – pulling his hand luggage, a grandmother clock in bubblewrap, and that is it – 1998 – and I don’t see him again, though we speak on the phone now and then.. and the wonderful, the very wonderful thing about Heathrow is that no one looks, no one stares, no one takes one second’s notice of two middle-aged people crying and embracing like children, because that is what happens at airports, it’s normal, go ahead, let go, be yourself, don’t be shy… it is awful and wonderful, but not awkward. One of the best moments of my life.

    • Aaaaah – I remember now. Well, Bobbie – yes that’s the way to do it. Symphonic farewells. All the timpani and the strings and the unforgettable, unparalleled drama. Wow. What a precious, precious memory to have. You’re right. And what courage to so enjoy the recollection! Inspirational. x

  2. The French call them English goodbyes too; a friend explained that it came from the Napoleonic Wars, when the French would rush a hill held by the English, to find that they English had already withdrawn silently.

    That may and may not be the correct explanation.

    There are goodbyes that we only recognise as goodbyes later, and some of the ones I’ve had still haunt me with thoughts of what I should have said. But then it can be even worse with real goodbyes. Go well.

    • Clever English – watching the French pointlessly spend all that passion from a distance… it’s a good explanation.
      I’m going fine, Thanks Dru. x

  3. Actually this is all a mask for a road trip down under…in a Subaru, 4 wheel drive, cold beers, no accommodation booked, sister-for-company, have another meat pie? Hell yes…experience. The family holiday we never had. A goodbye? Hellooooo….

    • …oh you are trouble! does this make you Geena Davis to my Susan Sarandon? And does that make the dog Brad Pitt and M’n Harvey Keitel? It’s all beginning to look very eventful.

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