Why I had to let go of my late sister’s house

On the window ledge of my sister Carmel’s bedroom there’s a tray of cards inscribed with the months of the year, days of the week and numbers from 1 to 31. If you can be bothered to adjust the display every morning, you’ll have what’s called a ‘perpetual calendar’. I need to remember that I already have drawers full of Thompson memorabilia Sunday 3 October 2021 was the day Carmel’s calendar stopped being perpetual. That morning she woke up with a fever so alarming that her next-door neighbour called an ambulance. Before it arrived, Carmel changed the calendar; then she kissed goodbye to Otto, her Norfolk terrier, walked downstairs and

A flawed utopia: The Men, by Sandra Newman, reviewed

The problem for feminism is men. Not, specifically, in the sense that men are the source of women’s problems, although the statistics do tend to point in that direction. Feminism’s men problem is that, despite all this, women like men. Love men. One of the lessons of second-wave experiments in separatism is that the idealised man-free existence is always fighting against the gravity of affection. Sandra Newman’s novel The Men takes that quandary and does something clever with it. She imagines a world in which all the men and all the boys and all the trans women and all the male non-binaries and all the Y-chromosome-carrying foetuses are mysteriously spirited

Letters: The true cost of the green dream

Zero possibility Sir: Katy Balls is right to conclude that the government is ‘not being upfront’ on the bill for net zero and who will pay (‘The green games’, 17 April). As the Covid pandemic has revealed, expectations need managing, and without an urgent agreement on a consistent set of policy guidelines which embrace fairness, energy security and affordability, the whole net-zero project could backfire. Whichever way you approach the problem, the costs of transitioning to net zero by 2050 are massive, with estimates ranging from £50 billion p.a. (Climate Change Committee) to £100 billion p.a. (National Grid), and the burden falling most heavily on those who cannot afford it.

Mourning sickness: our conspiracy of silence over grief

No one can say that, over the course of the past year, we have not had the opportunity as a country to practise the grim arts of grief and mourning. We all know the figures — 127,000 Covid deaths and counting — but I wonder if, in the face of this onslaught, we have lost sight of the vital fact that behind each loss there will be a group of family members and close friends of the deceased setting out on the long, slow trudge down the boggy path of grief. How are we dealing with this suffering? When my father died extremely suddenly six years ago, there was one

The importance of a good funeral

In ITV’s otherwise terrible drama Finding Alice, one line struck me with particular force. A funeral director is addressing our heroine, who finds herself unexpectedly having to organise last rites for her partner. Wicker coffins are particularly popular now with relatives, says the undertaker, and I found myself nodding in strong agreement. A light woven coffin, made of pleasingly biodegradable material and topped with a simple but stylish cross of early spring flowers, was exactly what we selected for my father, to be buried in one of the last remaining — and therefore highly sought-after — spots in the churchyard. ‘This might sound a very odd thing to say,’ said

Eccentric, artist and storyteller: in memory of my mother Doreen Sanders

Indian Ocean coast ‘I love you’ became just ‘love’, and that was the last word Mum was able to say to me. Her children had been in and out for days, she had met her great-grandson from America for the first time and messages flooded in on the phone, from all around Kenya and from her grandchildren in Europe. Then one evening the two of us were alone together in her bedroom, surrounded by family photos and all her memories of India, Arabia and great-grandson. She was in my arms and it became so quiet I decided to play Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ on my phone, since it might