Tags: death



It’s the end of the year as we know it.

It’s the last day of the year. I won’t be going out tonight. I’m going to stay in with Jessica in our cosy home.

The general consensus is that 2014 was a crappy year for human beings on planet Earth. In actuality, and contrary to popular belief, the human race continued its upward trend of improvement in almost all areas. Less violence, less disease, fewer wars, a record-breaking minimum of air crashes, and while the disparity between the richest and the poorest has increased, the baseline level of what constitutes poverty continues to increase throughout the world.

This trend is often met with surprise, or even disbelief. Just ask Matt Ridley and Steven Pinker. We tend to over-inflate the negative and undervalue the positive. And we seem to do it more and more with each passing year (which, in itself, can be seen as part of the overall positive trend: the fact that violence and inequality outrages us now more than ever is, on balance, a good thing). It seems to be part of our modern human nature to allow the bad to overwhelm the good in its importance.

Take my past year, for example. There was so much that was good. It was a good year for Clearleft and I travelled to marvellous places (Tel Aviv, Munich, Seattle, Austin, San Diego, Riga, Freiburg, Bologna, Florida, and more). I ate wonderful food. I read. I wrote. I listened. I spoke. I attended some workshops. I ran some workshops. I learned. I taught. I went to some great events. I organised Responsive Day Out 2 and dConstruct. I even wrote the occasional bit of code.

But despite all of that, 2014 is a year that feels dominated by death.

It started at the beginning of the year with the death of Jessica’s beloved Oma. The only positive spin I can put on it is that she had a long life, and she died surrounded by her family (Jessica included). But it was still a horrible event.

For the first half of the year, the web community was united behind Eric as he went through the unimaginable. Then, in June, Rebecca died. And the web community was united in sorrow. It was such an outrage against all that is good in this world.

I visited Eric that day. I tried to convey how much the people of the web were feeling for him. I couldn’t possibly convey it, but I had to try. I offered what comfort I could, but some situations are so far beyond normalcy that literally nothing can be done.

That death, the death of a child …there’s something so wrong, so obscene about it.

One month later, Chloe killed herself.

I miss her. I miss her so much.

So I understand why, despite the upward trends in human achievement, despite all the positive events of the last twelve months, 2014 feels like a year of dread and grief. I understand why so many people are happy to see the back of 2014. Good riddance, right?

But I still don’t want to let the bad—and boy, was it ever bad—crush the good. I’m seeing out the year as I mean to go on: eating good food, drinking good wine, reading, writing, and being alive.

It’s the last day of the year. I won’t be going out tonight. I’m going to stay in with Jessica in our cosy home.


dConstruct 2009 took place in the Brighton Dome on Friday, September 4th. By all accounts, it was excellent this year. I saw less than a quarter of it.

I arrived bright and early with my suitcase in tow, ready to make a quick exit. My flight to Vancouver was leaving Heathrow shortly after 5pm and I was going to be making the two hour bus ride from Brighton. I watched Richard open the show, listened to Adam Greenfield melt people’s brains (in a good way), did a quick podcast recording for Boagworld, caught a bit of Mike and Ben’s talk and then I was out of there; dragging my suitcase over to the bus station to catch the 12:30 to Heathrow via Gatwick.

Melanie Wisden works in a Starbucks in Cardiff. But on Friday, September 4th, she took the day off work. She was driving her friend Samantha to Gatwick airport. Samantha was newly married—Melanie’s eleven year old daughter Mia was a bridesmaid at the wedding. Now Samantha was heading off on her honeymoon. Melanie dropped her off at Gatwick’s North terminal and then got back on the road at about 1:30pm.

The bus ride from Brighton to Heathrow takes about two hours. It would be shorter but there are a few stops along the way. Halfway through the journey, the bus pulls into Gatwick’s South terminal, lets passengers off, lets passengers on, and then moves on to Gatwick’s North terminal where it does the same thing. The bus is back on the road at 1:30pm.

I was sitting about halfway back in the bus, listening to a podcast on my iPod as we exited the North terminal roundabout. The bus juddered and smacked into a road sign—we had come off the road. We’ve gone over the kerb! I thought. The bus came to a rest on the median. It was a bumpy ride there for a moment but everyone seemed to be okay. I heard the bus driver say something like Where is she? or Where’d she go? (I can’t quite recall his exact words) and I thought Oh crap! Did we hit a pedestrian? I knew we hadn’t hit a car …I would have felt that, right?

A woman motorist has died in a collision involving a coach and a car at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

The bus driver was shaken up but he clearly instructed us to get off the bus immediately. We started to file out. I couldn’t understand why we were taking so long. Then I got to the door and saw that there was quite a gap between the door and the ground. That’s when I knew we were on top of something. It wasn’t until we were off the bus and walking away that I saw what was underneath.

Melanie Wisden, 34, from Cardiff, was killed instantly when her Ford Ka was crushed by a National Express coach just after 1330 BST on Friday.

The emergency services—ambulances, fire engines, and a helicopter—were on the scene in moments but it was clear that whoever was in the car must have died instantly.

We were taken to a staff canteen at Gatwick airport where the police took our statements, National Express tried to sort out our luggage and British Airways organised alternative travel arrangements. I wasn’t going to make my flight; something that normally would have been very annoying but now seemed insignificantly trivial. A day later, I made it to Heathrow—in a taxi, courtesy of National Express—and, after a mercifully uneventful flight, I arrived in Vancouver. From there I travelled on to Whistler, arriving the day before Jessica’s brother’s wedding.

Jeb and Anne were married in a lovely, relaxed ceremony in Canada on Sunday, September 6th.

A memorial service will be held for Melanie Wisden on Friday, September 18th at the Ely Church Of The Resurrection in Cardiff at 1.15pm, followed by cremation at Thornhill Crematorium, Wenallt Chapel.