My mother, Poppy Catherine Murray, nee Grice, passed away on 19 August aged 85 after a two year fight with multiple myeloma cancer. She had maintained herself in her own home until the last six weeks, and when she was eventually in hospital my brothers, sister and I took turns and were able between us to make sure that somebody was always with her. I last saw her on 14 August, and she never regained consciousness after that.
We faced the agonising decision of whether to come up and run the Doune the Rabbit Hole festival from 19 to 21 August. My son Jamie is Director, I run the bars and my brother Stuart supervises security. The festival is on a shoestring anyway and would genuinely have difficulty coping at if we dropped out at the last minute. It sounds a cliche, but we had no doubt Mum would have wanted us to go ahead with it, and we did so, leaving Neil and especially Celia to look after Mum. She finally passed away at 4.15pm on the Friday and we got the news literally as the gates to the arena opened.
I am sure many of you know from your own experience what a staggering blow it is, no matter how expected. Jamie was particularly struck. But the intensity of working through the festival was helpful – as usual I got a total of 7 hours sleep in 72 and Jamie probably less. The build, festival and takedown are extremely intense and this blog always disappears for ten days at this time.
Despite appalling weather, the festival was an enormous success and extremely well reviewed. I have always described it as life-affirming, and I could not have been surrounded by better people at a time of loss. The Scotsman review I think summed it up very well:
There is little doubt that Doune the Rabbit Hole is something special; a festival which is family friendly, extremely well-programmed and bearing a strong sense of localism in terms of its suppliers and its responsibilities.
And I was glad that the Herald noticed this:
Most mainstream festivals come under fire for routinely male-dominated programming, and could take a leaf from DTRH’s Sunday night line-up alone.
After two days assisting with the takedown, I left to go down to Norfolk again to make funeral arrangements and start to sift through my mother’s things. There can be no more lonely task in life, and the pain of looking through literally thousands of photos still lingers. A mother loves unconditionally. There were moments of joyous celebration brought back to life, wonderful times with grandparents and others long gone. There was a brilliant photo of my grandfather aged six, in an extravagantly braided costume, standing proudly with his drum in a Salvation Army band, his father beside him with his cornet. There were several photos of my mother’s beloved elder brother, who died aged just nineteen fighting against fascism. But most heart-wrenching were the photos which meant something to my mother but nothing to me, long ago people and places I did not recognise, memories now forever gone. And of course I was faced with my own life, stark and unedited, detailed minutely in 57 years of lovingly collected photographs. Neglected relationships, half forgotten friends, ex partners and so many people to whom I should have been nicer or whom I could have helped more.
I think I now have got to kick on with life.
We seem to be hitting peak Craig Murray. Before the hiatus of the last month or so, 40,000 people were regularly reading this blog and some entries were being seen by hundreds of thousands on this and other sites. My brief and simple demolition of Owen Smith is one of the posts that over a million people read, was massively retweeted and I think I can realistically claim had an early impact on the leadership contest. Indeed the general upsurge of interest in non neo-liberal thinking seems to have got me “discovered” by a whole new political generation and it has been an enormous pleasure to see evidence of people looking through the back catalogue of eleven years of posts on this little blog.
The film “The Killing of Tony Blair” turned out very much better than I expected. I really enjoyed it and have been very heartened by the large number of messages of congratulation I have received on my own contribution to it. Still closer to my heart, the documentary film “London Calling”, on the shocking BBC bias in the Scottish Independence referendum, has today been completed and I hope to have distribution information for you shortly.
The film rights to “Murder in Samarkand” have just been renewed, there is a new script and we now have very experienced and top rank producers, and while I do not wish to count chickens, we are closer to the film being made than ever before.
On Friday I am giving a talk to Edinburgh West SNP at 19.30 at Munro Community Centre, Clermiston and I am happy to say that this is just the start of what looks like a busy autumn of campaigning for independence.
Over seven years of effort came to an end on Friday when I signed off the final map for my new book “Sikunder Burnes – Master of the Great Game”, which will now be published on 22 September. It is being printed right now, which is exciting.
I never did get a chance to expand as promised on my thoughts about Chilcot, but this interview in Jacobin magazine did an excellent job in bringing out the observations which I was uniquely qualified to make from personal experience. I do urge you to read it.
On 24 September I shall be in Washington DC to present the annual Sam Adams Award for Integrity to John Kiriakou. It is typical of Obama and Clinton’s America that despite all Obama’s false election promises, the only man to go to jail over the CIA’s acknowledged torture and extraordinary rendition programmes was the whistleblower John Kiriakou, jailed for revealing state secrets.
Then on 20 October I have been summoned to appear before the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee to give evidence upon the same subject.
Finally, the apparent demise of President Karimov has meant that temporarily even the BBC has had to acknowledge my existence and I have a whole raft of mainstream media interviews lined up for tomorrow.
It has been a very difficult period for me and I am rebounding from it straight into peak Craig Murray. I would like to reiterate once more that everybody who participates in commenting on this blog is equally welcome and valued, and those who disagree with me are just as welcome as those who agree. The whole reason I do this is to stimulate thinking outside the Overton window, not to attempt to impose my own ideas.