The Closer We Get

A Year On

What a week this has been for The Closer We Get.
The memory of my Mum Ann, and the film itself will always be inextricably linked and so it seems most fitting that on the week before today - the first anniversary of the day Ann died – we have finished our edit at very long last.  In fact, my editor Alice Powell and I were working on the film a year ago when the news came of Mum’s passing away. At the time, friends and family often expressed their shock that I could continue to watch and work with all my filmed material during such a painful time. But it has always been a comfort to me to spend time with Mum on screen, enjoying the best of her, and when she had gone, I knew more keenly than ever that the film had to do this extraordinary woman justice. So, with the expert and sensitive support of Alice, we continued to work away on the project and are very, very proud of the result a year on.

For so many - happier – reasons, summer will always be the season that reminds me most of Mum: Because she loved closing the lounge curtains to the sun to watch Wimbledon on TV in midsummer; because her neat figure always looked great in shorts, and because she loved the season’s soft fruit so much she used nicknames for most varieties – ‘goosegogs’, ‘rasps’ etc. Our family labrador was once chastised roundly when she was found greedily sucking ripe raspberries from the canes in the back garden, and to sneak an illicit near-fermented strawberry from Mum’s steeping jam pan in the kitchenette was an annual delight.

Many of Mum’s spells in hospital during her five post-stroke years seemed to coincide with summer, something that struck me as terribly poignant. I seemed to spend many a warm day driving up the A74, amidst legions of holidaying families, their cars laden with suitcases, buckets and spades and roof racks as ours once had been on the regular family outings to the island of Arran. Once I arrived, the hospital tarmac would be giving off a heat-haze and there was always a distant hum of a lawnmower in the grounds. Amidst a ward full of patients snoozing in the heat, I’d find Mum and feed her from a now-warm box of fruit I’d picked at home that morning. She was always hungry in hospital, and she would devour it with relish.

During grief and bereavement I have found comfort in many places and things – in using Mum’s coffee maker during the last few weeks work on the film, in keeping her wedding ring close by me and in recreating her wonderful chocolate cake and gooseberry tart. In Julian Barnes short book, Levels of Life, written in the aftermath of the author being abruptly widowed, quotes his dying wife as trying to comfort him with this reflection on her immanent death:
‘It’s only the Universe doing its thing’


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