Belfast Telegraph

Robert McNeill: Why you don’t want to be in my thoughts this Christmas

As it's Christmas, here's a spooky tale. I was lying awake in the middle of night, thinking about death.

We all do sometimes, and I was quite enjoying myself. You know the fight or flight response?

Well, I don't have one of those. I just have the ‘flight’ bit. But there's nowhere to flee when death looms.

And we don't have any choice, which is good, as I'm chronically indecisive. I'd be sitting there, with ‘life’ and ‘death’ as two headings, and a list of pros and cons under each.

Anyway, there I was. Middle of the night. Death on my mind. When I started thinking about Captain Beefheart, the avant-garde musician and artist.

I have all his records but I just hadn't thought about him for ages. Then I switched on the radio news — which said he'd just died. Scary.

But, unlike death, it doesn't end there.

I was writing an influential article about my garden birds and had to check the expression “I counted them all out, and I counted them all back”.

It was by the BBC's legendary Falklands War reporter Brian Hanrahan, who, I soon learned, had just died too.

I was going to end this festive piece by saying you're all in my thoughts this Christmas.

But, on second thoughts, perhaps I'd better not.

Belfast Telegraph

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