Our world lost two of its brightest lights last week.
One, Scott Hutchinson, the lead singer in the indie band Frightened Rabbit, seemingly unable to face life any more. The other, Dame Tessa Jowell, adamantly refusing to be afraid of the certain death which her cancer would bring.
Two lives, two people, two very different ends. But both people who had inspired others, brought hope and joy into countless lives and who will both leave legacies for which we should offer our thanks.
Scott’s death was played out in the bright glare of publicity via social media. His disappearance and last mournful tweets left his army of fans, the wider public and the police fearing the worst. In a cruel echo of one of his hits, Floating in the Forth, he took his life.
Yet the song had itself been an inspiration to others who had themselves contemplated suicide.
In an interview with “shetlandshaun” he said: “One fan emailed me to say that ‘Floating in the Forth’ has helped her recovery in the aftermath of her failed suicide attempt, which utterly blew me away. Then there was the couple who had my lyrics engraved inside their wedding rings. These are the things that make this worth it.”
His death has shone a light on mental health. And the need for all of us to understand more, criticise less, and to be there for others. To listen. To talk. To try to understand. In the days which followed, many others have found the courage to tell of their own mental anguish and their battle with daemons of the mind. The greatest tribute we can pay to Scott is to be there for them and the many others who suffer in silence.
The loss of Dame Tessa was so very different but she too has left an indelible legacy.
She was the best of politics. As far away as you could ever be from the narcissistic, naked ambition and aloofness which are all to often seen as the hallmarks of our elected representatives. She put those she served first. Always. She was the person her peers knew they should strive to be.
I had the pleasure of meeting her. Tessa has the precious ability to make whoever she was with the centre of her universe. Quite simply, she cared. She wanted to help. And invariably she did.
Her political life, just like the musical life of Scott Hutchinson, will be long remembered. But her death, as with Scott’s, left us with something more. Her astonishing determination to use her terminal brain cancer to force government and society to do even more for others facing their own battles, was Herculean.
Her last speech in the House of Lords reduced many to tears. Not because she was sad, or angry, or self-pitying, or her words mournful, but because of her eloquence and her compassion. The normally stuffy and restrained men and women in the House of Lords gave her a standing ovation.
So today we mourn. But we celebrate as well. Two lives lived to the full. Two people who made the world a better place. And who leave it better than they found it. Enduring legacies.
Thank you Scott. Thank you Tessa.
On Saturday, as you might just have noticed, there is a wedding. Guests from around the world will arrive to celebrate the marriage of a bloke with a beard to a women of beauty, poise and elegance.
Social media is agog. The hashtag is already trending. The guest list is populated by the good and the great. Suits have been hired, dresses bought. Hair will be styled and make up artists are ready to work their magic. Some will need it more than others.
The band is booked and the finest cuisine being prepped. The cake will be a work of art. The wine will flow.
A nervous father of the bride, normally shunning publicity, will proudly walk his daughter up the aisle. They have probably even practiced. What speed, who leads? Don’t stand on the dress…
Bridesmaids conscious they mustn’t upstage the leading lady.
The expectant groom and his best man, no stranger to the big state occasion, will wait nervously at the alter. Lords, Ladies and commoners will form the congregation. All waiting to see that dress…
Cameras at the ready. Can we throw confetti?
The setting, a historic church in an iconic location. The weather is set to be sunny. People will be torn between the rival attractions of the Scottish and FA cup finals, or watching the other “match”.
The plans and the paperwork are all done.
This newspaper will bring you the best inside reports.
Because it is my wedding. To Jen. On Jura.
And the hashtag you need is #NotTheRoyalWedding