By Simon Downham-Knight

Image by House of jO

I strolled over to Mike Jones’s flat on a grey, early November evening in 1991. As I walked round the corner into Gloucester Street, I had an enigmatic feeling of excitement and trepidation. Mike’s flat was in one of those big white town houses in Pimlico. It had black railings, stairs that led down to basement flats and the big front doors had grand pillars on either side. I rang the buzzer and waited. I had known him for a little over a year. He was blond, charismatic and swoopy haired. Several years previously, he had been the lead singer of a promising psychedelic band called The Playn Jayn, who were signed to A&M records. They released two, well received albums, before imploding. Just before I met him, he had taken a massive dose of LSD before his new band, The Other Side’s big gig at Glastonbury Festival, that was supposed to be the making of them. However, he had had a massive meltdown and had walked away from all of it and had continued walking, on foot, all the way back to London. I met him a little while after that, when he was a bit more together. Mike had become something of a local guru and his flat had become a hub for waifs and strays to sit around, listen to his record collection, drink, get stoned and hear Mike speak his wisdoms. He opened the door with a huge grin on his face.

“Simon’s here!” He called enthusiastically back into his flat and he warmly hugged me. I felt a little nonplussed. I mean, we were friends, but he had never been this pleased to see me. “Come through, come through!” He said. He stepped to one side and gestured in through the corridor with a theatrical flourish. I smiled and walked through, with him behind me, massaging my shoulders. We entered his purple, high ceilinged living room. My sister, Emma, was already there, with her boyfriend, Geoff, Mike’s brother, Daniel and Karen, a woman I had met before a few times round there. I thought that maybe she had a crush on him. Lots of women did.

“Simon’s here!” Daniel exclaimed with a massive grin on his face and he reached up and hugged me.

“Simon’s here!” My sister repeated.

“Simon’s here!” Geoff echoed.

“Simon!” Karen said. They all seemed as enthusiastic as Mike was to see me and I had no idea why. I wasn’t used to people being so pleased to see me.

“Go in the kitchen,” Mike said with a grin. “Get yourself a drink.” I nodded at all the grinning faces looking at me and walked out along the corridor and into the kitchen. Sitting in the corner was a young woman with large brown eyes and black hair that went all the way down to her waist. She was wearing knee length boots and white leggings, a tight white top and a decorative waistcoat. She was trying to grate something small and brown with a cheese grater over a mug of something. She looked up and smiled at me. I was immediately knocked out by her beauty.

“Hey!” She said and smiled up at me, then motioned to the seat beside her.

“Hey!” I replied, smiling back and sitting beside her. “What are you doing?” I could now see that it was hashish she was grating into a mug of herbal tea. She smelled great.

“Trying to make a cup of hash tea.” She said, as she continued to fiddle with the hash and the grater.

“I have some nice weed and can make you a spliff if you would prefer.” I said with a grin.

“I can’t smoke.” She said.

“You can’t smoke?” I said.

“No.” She said bluntly and I shrugged.

“Not sure if that’s the best way to make hash tea,” I said. “But I do know how to make hash yoghurt.” I stood up and looked inside Mike’s fridge. There was a four pack of raspberry and strawberry yoghurts in there. I cracked one off and then looked about for some cooking oil, then looked in the cutlery drawer for a dessert spoon. “Do you trust me?” I said and she smiled.

“I guess so.” She said. I put my hand out and she dropped her little lump of hash into it. I put the hash in the spoon and drizzled some oil into the spoon, then lit my lighter and held it under the spoon.

“It looks like your cooking heroin.” She said. “Well dodgy!”

“It looks a lot worse than it is,” I said, as the hash dissolved into the oil. Once it was completely dissolved, I stirred the dark brown mixture of hashish and oil into the yoghurt and handed it over to her. She looked down at the dressing that covered my left hand.

“What happened to you?” She said and I looked down at the bandage.

“I was stabbed.” I said.

“By who?” She said, grinning and spooning some of the yoghurt into her mouth. “Mmmm!” She grinned again and handed the pot to me.

“By my girlfriend.” I said as I spooned some of the pinky brown yoghurt into my mouth and she laughed.

“Your girlfriend?”

“My ex-girlfriend.” I said, resolutely. “She stabbed me between the fingers with a screwdriver. I got this cellulitis that made my hand swell up like a balloon. It was the worst pain I’ve ever had. I had to have an operation and before the operation and I had to sign a form to say I consented to them amputating it as the infection was really bad and spreading up my arm.” I looked over to her imploringly. “I almost had my left hand amputated. I’m left-handed!” She calmly looked down at my left hand and then up into my eyes.

“But you didn’t.” She said, calmly. “And…” She nonchalantly shrugged and tilted her head to one side.  “You’ve got another one.”

“Another one?” I said. “That’s easy for you to say.” She smiled and then she said something to me that shamed, humbled and amazed me.

“It is easy for me to say. Two years ago, I had my left leg amputated and I do have another one.”

“Really?” I said.

“Really.” She said and smiled. “Feel.” She took my hand and put it on her calf. It felt like sponge. It was sponge. “Squeeze it.” She said, so I did. “Titanium core with a sponge outer. Pretty realistic, huh?” I looked up at her, into her eyes and I was hooked. She was so fucking fearless.

“So, what happened?” I said.

“I got kicked in the leg during a playfight about three years ago. The lump never went away. It turned out to be cancer. They cut my leg off above the knee and gave me chemo; which was worse than the fucking cancer. It made me sick as a dog and all my hair fell out.”

“All of it?” I said.

“I was bald as a cue ball, so they gave me this wig.”

“That’s a wig?” I exclaimed. “It doesn’t look like one.”

“It’s human hair. Beautiful. Have a feel.” She leaned her head forward and offered her hair to me. I leaned my good hand across and stroked the side of her head down to her hair all the way to the end.

“Beautiful.” I said and something occurred between us that shook me to my core. I blinked and the moment had passed. “So, the chemo got rid of the cancer?”

“For a while.” She said, “but last week I had some tests, and they found some tumours on my lungs.”

“Tumours?” I said.

“Yes, tumours. I have lung cancer.” She said it so casually that the gravity of her words almost passed me by.

“Lung cancer?” I said dumbly.

“Yes.” She said. “Lung cancer.” The words hung in the air for a few moments. “I have an appointment at the Middlesex Hospital tomorrow afternoon to discuss my treatment.”

“I know that hospital. It’s on Mortimer Street. I’m a cycle courier. I’ll come and see if you’re still there when I finish, if you like.” I said hopefully.

“That sounds nice.” She said with a smile. “I’d like that.” She then pulled a face. “Whoah, I’m beginning to feel that hash yoghurt.”

“So am I!” I said with a grin. With that, Mike and Karen burst into the kitchen giggling.

“I just knew you two would get on.” Mike said. “That’s why I was so happy to see you, Simon. We’d been waiting for you.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yeah! That’s why we were all so happy to see you. Tonight’s a special night. This was written in the stars.”

The following day, as I cycled around delivering my packages, I could not get this girl out of my head. She was twenty-four, cool and beautiful and most of all, fucking fearless. At the end of my shift, I cycled up to Mortimer Street to the Middlesex Hospital and went up to the ward she told me she’d be in. I wandered around looking in all the rooms, but I could not see her. Damn! Maybe I missed her? Had she been given a clean bill of health and sent home? This was eight years before I got my first mobile phone and more than fifteen years before Facebook. I didn’t have her number. How was I going to find her again? I already asked Mike if he had Karen’s number and he didn’t. I was just about to despair, when I noticed, through some glass, a woman with collar length, curly hair and big blue glasses, waving at me through a window. After a moment gawping at this woman, I suddenly realised it was her.

“Alison!” I exclaimed, remembering her telling me her hair was a wig. She was sat up in a hospital bed, wearing a gown, with a drip in her arm, looking somehow smaller and more diminished than she did the preceding day. I went into the room grinning from ear to ear, thrilled that she actually seemed happy to see me.

“Hello, Simon.” She said. “Sit down. Lovely to see you. That hash yoghurt you made me yesterday was some crazy fucking shit. I’ve been lamenting my inability to smoke and get all sorts of fucked up since my diagnosis, but that yoghurt made me realise that you don’t have to smoke to get baked. That was crazy!” We both laughed and as I looked at her, I wondered how I had not recognised her immediately.

“What’s the drip for?” I asked and the smile dropped from her face.

“They said I have a particularly aggressive form of lung cancer. I told them that I didn’t want to lose my hair again and they said that they could give me a type of chemo that would ensure I definitely wouldn’t lose it, so I went for it. I’m on my first dose now, that’s what this drip is.

“You’re strong.” I said. “You’re going to beat this. I can feel it.” I took hold of the hand with the drip in and looked into her eyes. She smiled and then lowered her head and gazed up at me through hooded eyes.

“You’re very frank, Simon, I think it would be quite something to know you in private life.”

“Hannibal Lecter!” I exclaimed. “You’ve seen Silence of the Lambs.”

“Not yet.” She said. “I’ve read the book though and loved it.”

“Me too!” I said. “Have you read Red Dragon, the one that came before it?” She shook her head. “You must, it’s really good. Have you seen Manhunter?” She shook her head. I explained to her that it was a filmed version of Red Dragon in 1986, under a different title, with a different actor, Brian Cox, playing Hannibal Lecktor. Over the next several hours, we discovered an easy rapport and an understood sense of humour. a shared love of horror, darkness and the macabre and also cats. Just after she had totally surprised me even further by expressing a love for the Italian horror directors, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, she looked at me intensely and said:

“So, tell me about the girlfriend. The one who stabbed you.”

“Ex-girlfriend.” I said.

“Ex-girlfriend.” She said, with a smile.

“Sue.” I said. “She’s pretty crazy.”

“Pretty crazy?” She said.

“Fucking crazy,” I said. “She was mad jealous about everything. If a naked or even scantily clad woman came on the telly, she would study my face and if she thought I was looking at her, she would freak the fuck out. If we were walking down the street and she perceived I had looked at someone walking past, she would also flip out. We were decorating her flat late on a Saturday night and Tommy, y’know that film with The Who in it?”

“I know it” She said.

“Well, that scene where Ann Margaret gets covered in champagne and then baked beans came on. Crazy scene, right?”


“Anyone would be mesmerised by that scene, right?”


“Well, I was, and Sue caught me mesmerised and she didn’t like it. Not one little bit. I had been living under the shadow of this bullshit for months. It was late and I was tired and in no mood for her bollocks, so I told her to fuck off. Things escalated from there and she picked up a rusty Phillips screwdriver and came at me with it, all mad eyed and frantic. I thought she was going to stab me in the guts, so I put my hand up to protect myself and she got me in between the fingers.” Alison looked shocked at this.

“Did she do it on purpose?” I thought about this for a few moments. I remembered Sue’s crazed face, frantically coming at me with her hand jabbing before it plunged into the V between my middle finger and ring finger.  

“I have no idea.” I said, as I remembered looking at the deep black hole in my hand that was weirdly bloodless. “On the day of the operation, she had bought us tickets to see Alice Cooper, and I was lying there, with my mum and dad on one side of my bed, waiting for my operation. I had just received the pre-op, so I was pretty doped up. Sue had decided to take this this dude who was always sniffing around her along in my place and they came in to see me on their way to the gig. They walked up to my bed and she asked me if I was alright. ‘Not really,’ I said. ‘Well, that will teach you to start an argument at four o’clock in the morning!’  She snapped, and my dad looked bloody furious. ‘So that’s what you get, is it?’ And the two of them started rowing over the top of my bed, with me in between them feeling really woozy.” Alison laughed at this. “Then the anaesthetist came in and wheeled me out and down to the operating room. He asked me what the hell was going on, so I told him the whole story on the way down. He said to me: ‘When you get out of here, I want you to call her and when she answers the phone, just say these words: You’re jacked, bitch!’”

“Did you do it?” Alison said.

“Not yet.” I said. “I haven’t spoken to her at all. I figured my silence is the same as saying those words.”

“Not quite sure it works like that.” She said.

“The mad thing was, that he asked me if I wanted to listen to the radio and when he put it on, Under My Wheels by Alice Cooper was playing.”

By the time her treatment was over, we had exchanged telephone numbers and had arranged to meet up at the weekend. Her sister, Karen arrived with her ex-boyfriend, Neil and they took her back to their place. I cycled home and soaked my swollen hand in warm salty water. As the week passed by, I endlessly thought about her and imagined a future where we were together.

By Friday night I had bought her a copy of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris and with trepidation, I called her house. On the third ring, she answered, and I asked her if she wanted to go out over the weekend. To my disappointment she told me that she was way too tired to go out but wondered if I might want to go to her place for tea on Sunday. I quickly said that I would love to. I asked if she had a VCR and she said she did, so the date was set. I knocked on the door of her family home in Wembley with a rented copy of The Silence of the Lambs and a paperback copy of Red Dragon in my hands. A big, white haired, burly man answered the door and stood to one side to usher me in. This was her father and as I stepped in, I could see Karen, but not Alison.

“Hi Simon,” Karen said. “Alison is still upstairs. She’s too tired to come down.” If I was to say I wasn’t disappointed, I would be lying but I smiled and spent the better part of the evening chatting to Karen and George (her father) in the family living room. At around 8pm, I said that I thought it was time I was leaving. Karen asked me to wait a bit longer and went upstairs to see Alison. She came down a few minutes later and asked me to go up to see her. I went up the stairs and into the dingey room and saw her small shape, curly hair and glasses, sat up, in a double bed.

“Simon.” She said.

“Alison.” I said.

“Come and sit down.” She patted the space beside her. I complied. “What have you got there?” She motioned to the two things I had in my hand. I looked down at them.

“Silence of the Lambs on video and the Red Dragon novel.”

“Nice.” She said. “Sorry I was too tired to watch the film with you.”

“Next time.” I said and she nodded. “In the meantime, you can get a good dose of Lecter from this.” I handed her the white novel with the simulacrum of William Blake’s Red Dragon on the cover.

“Thanks, Simon.” She said. “I really want to watch it. I just can’t do it today.”

“I understand.” I said and I took her hand in mine and I held it in the buttery glow of the streetlight outside.

Over the next few weeks, we spoke on the phone a lot; I went to her place and we talked and joked endlessly about films and books and music. I sat with her while she continued to get chemo. She never lost her sense of humour, her vitality or her joy for life. She mercilessly ribbed her sister for fussing around her and continued to be as fearless as fuck. Christmas was rapidly approaching and as it did, Alison went quiet again. When I called, Karen told me she was just resting and sleeping loads. On Christmas eve, Alison called me and told me she was back in hospital with bronchitis and an elevated white blood cell count. She asked me if I would come and see her tomorrow and I said I would. On Christmas morning, I ventured out into the wind and rain and walked to the Middlesex Hospital.

She was sitting up in bed in glasses and pyjamas looking bright and well. The copy of Red Dragon I had given her looked dog eared and well read on the overbed table. She looked down at it and up at me and grinned.

“Did you like it?” I said.

“Loved it.” She said. “It got me through some tricky and painful times.”

“I’m so glad.” I said. “My mum always says that she doesn’t understand why I look at dark stuff when I’m going through dark times. She thinks I should look for something a little more edifying.”

“Fuck being edified.” She said with a smile. “At times like this, edification is the last thing I want. I want to be thinking about the Tooth Fairy and Buffalo Bill stalking their victims with only Clarice Starling or Will Graham standing in their way.”

“Amen, sister,” I chuckled, and our chuckles turned into giggles and we laughed for a long time. Once the laughter had subsided, she suddenly looked seriously at me.

“Did you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Tell that bitch, Screwdriver Sue that she was jacked.”

“I did.”

“How did she take it?”

“Not well. She asked me if there was anybody else.”

“What did you say?”

“I said there was.” I looked up at Alison and she blushed.

“How did you tell her; did you phone her up?”

“No, I went round there. I felt it was better to do it face to face.”

“You’re brave.” She said, seriously.

“I kind of regretted it, actually. She went into my pocket and got your number out of it when I went to the toilet.” Alison narrowed her eyes.

“We have had some weird phone calls at the house. Really late-night calls where you answer the phone and someone’s there but don’t say anything.”

“I’m sorry.” I said, gravely and she smiled at me.

“What a fucking psycho. You’re well shot of her.” A bit later on, Karen came in and told us that she had spoken to Mike and my sister about coming back to the hospital tomorrow for a Boxing Day get together.

The following morning was sunny, chilly and crisp and I walked over to the Middlesex Hospital with Karen, Mike, my sister Emma and her boyfriend, Geoff. Alison didn’t seem as chipper as she was the day before and the conversation dried up quickly, a glum atmosphere hung in the air and it seemed as though the others were thinking about leaving.

“Let’s go for a walk.” I said. “It’s a lovely day outside.”

“I can’t go for a walk.” Alison said.

“Sure you can.” I said. “Give me a minute.” And I rushed off to find a nurse. It wasn’t long before I had returned with a wheelchair and we were all out in the bright sun wandering around Soho, browsing the shops without a care in the world. As I pushed her around drinking coffee sampling the chocolate covered coffee beans and other post-Christmas wares and eating pizza, I felt I had never been happier in my life. Alison looked like a film star with her curly dark hair and her big dark glasses. It was a strange and beautiful and powerful day. It was dark when I pushed her back up to her ward. Just before we left, she beckoned me down to her and put a small white package into my hand. Inside was a small, ceramic ornament of a black cat. I walked back to Pimlico with the others feeling tired and elated.

I made two other attempts to take Silence of the Lambs on video to her place. I was determined that we would watch it together but each time she was just too tired. Some time in early January, I went over to see her and spent another day chatting to Karen and watching Sunday TV. I was thinking about leaving when I heard her calling me from upstairs. I went out into the hall and looked up. She was sitting in a nightie at the top of the stairs. This was the first time I had seen her without her prosthetic leg on.

“I couldn’t let you go without coming down to see you.” She said and she shuffled down the stairs on her bottom one step at a time. She put her arm round Karen’s shoulder and hopped over to the sofa. When she sat down, she patted the cushion for me to come and sit beside her. She took my hand and put it on the rounded off place where her left leg used to be and smiled at me.

“Not long after I had the old beast amputated,” she said with a grin. “I took acid with my boyfriend. I took my leg off because it had got horribly itchy. When I got up to go for a wee, I stacked it over the glass coffee table, and it shattered into a thousand pieces. I thought it was hilarious, but he couldn’t even look at me. It was then that I knew it was over between us.” We stared at each other for a long time and smiled. I really wanted to kiss her, to tell her that I loved her and that we were going to go travelling together and live happily ever after, but I just didn’t have the courage. She took my hand and held it tightly and I said goodbye and walked out into the night. I spent the tube journey home cursing myself for being such a coward. Next time, Simon. Next time.  

I called her at home several times on Monday but there was no answer. Eventually, Karen answered and said that Alison had taken a turn for the worst and had been admitted back into the Middlesex Hospital. I went to see her on Tuesday lunch time, but she was having treatment. I went back after work, but she was seeing a doctor. The next day I went in and through the glass I could see her sobbing with Karen in the room, so I left them to it. I called her later that night, but the nurse said she was too weak to speak to me. I couldn’t help feeling insecure that she didn’t really want to speak to me, and I was mad to think that she could like me in the way I liked her. Karen came over to my place the following day with a letter written on both sides of a piece of Filofax paper. It said:

“Dear Simon, Hello you old bugger!!! Thanks for phoning but alas my vocal cords are a bit blocked up and I cough after most words (very annoying) They are sorting out my painkillers in here and it’s going quite well. I’ve been put on this syrupy morphine stuff whenever I feel a twinge so I’m a bit spaced out to say the least. And I had a back and foot massage – Well pampered! I spoke to the professor yesterday and he says he may have a couple of options, tumour wise, up his sleeve but first he wants me to be breathing comfortably and pain free. Give me a call tomorrow after your work if you like – how’s the new job going? Anyway, must go ‘cos Mr Biro is running away with me and my brain. Hope Karen doesn’t piss up off too much – HAHA.

Lots of love

Buffalo Bill


I hastily wrote a note in which I told her how glad I was I had met her, how amazing she was and what a big difference she had made in my life. I said that I had deep feelings for her, and, after a really difficult year, I was finally looking forward to the future and I hoped we could get to know each other better. I sealed it into an envelope and gave it to Karen, who smiled and told me she would give it to Alison tomorrow. I told Karen that I would meet her at the hospital after work.

The following day, as I cycled around delivering small packages, I found myself longing that she would be well enough to see me when I got there. I dropped off my last package in Holborn and cycled in the rain and darkness to the hospital. I could feel my heart thumping as I ascended in the lift. I hoped that she wasn’t going to laugh at me for my puppy dog exclamations of love and send me away. I walked up the corridor to the double doors and pushed through them. I could see her room tucked away at the end of the corridor and made my way toward it. I got to the window and was utterly dismayed to see an empty and stripped bed. I looked around and found a Health Care Assistant.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for Alison.” She stared up at me, unable to speak. Her eyes wide like a deer caught in the headlights. My stomach lurched over and over. Her mouth wordlessly opening and closing, like a fish. “John,” I said. “Alison John!” Her mouth opened and closed three more times and she bolted up the corridor, leaving me standing in the corridor confused and upset. In a few moments, she had returned with a nurse, who led me by the arm into a small room with four chairs, a small round table with a vase of fake white lilies and a box of tissues.

“I’m very sorry to have to tell you that Alison passed away this afternoon. It was peaceful and she slipped away in her sleep. She was in a lot of discomfort and pain and is not in pain anymore.” I felt her words move through me like a wave of nausea. I know it might sound dumb or naïve or innocent, but it hadn’t even occurred to me that she might die. She was so young and beautiful and vital. I had never met anybody who seemed more alive. I was utterly convinced that she was going to beat the cancer and live a long and happy life. This really wasn’t happening. I stepped out into the rain in a total daze. I’ve always thought that my cycle home was the most dangerous cycle I ever did. All I remember of it is the wind, the rain, the hazy smeared yellow street lighting and the reds and whites of the lights of cars. How could it be? It wasn’t fair. It was an early bitter lesson that fairness rarely has anything to do with anything. Evil flourishes, the good guy dies at the end and I was never going to see Alison again.

The phone was ringing as I stepped, soaked and dripping, in through the door. I picked up the receiver.

“Simon.” Karen’s voice said.

“Karen.” I said and there was a long pause.  

“I’m really sorry to have to tell you this but Alison died this afternoon.”

“I know.” I said. “I just came away from the hospital and saw her empty bed.” There was a long pause and I stood with the receiver up to my ear listening to Karen breathing. Finally, she spoke.

“When I got there this morning, she was asleep. She looked so peaceful. I read her your letter. I read it to her several times actually. It was the last thing she heard before she slipped away.” I felt like this should console me in some way, but it didn’t. I felt empty and numb and raw. I had nothing to say, so the silence just hung in the air. Eventually, she broke it. “I’ll come and see you on Sunday if you like.

“That will be nice, Karen. Thanks.”

The next few days went by in something of a numb blur. I was devastated but found that I was unable to cry. I found myself feeling bitter and jealous if I saw others crying, even on the TV. I bought Weld by Neil Young and Crazy Horse on CD from the Our Price in Victoria Station and was listening to Cinnamon Girl really fucking loud thinking that I could be happy the rest of my life with a Cinnamon Girl, when Karen walked into my room with Neil and made me jump out of my skin. We sat for a while talking about how much we were going to miss her. Karen broke down in tears and I felt a bitter jealous feeling well up in me. This was accompanied with a feeling of shame. I had known Alison a mere two months and Karen was her sister. As these thoughts swirled round in my head, I realised that we had never got to watch Silence of the Lambs together. She was never going to see it. I then realised that my face was wet, and Karen and Neil were holding me in a tight embrace. My tears became big, fat, horrible, snotty sobs. The tears flowed freely and frequently after that. It was like the floodgates had opened and they couldn’t be closed. Her funeral was a few days later and I was holding myself together fine until the pallbearers walked in. I saw her coffin and was a snivelling snotty mess all over again. The wake was held at the family home in Wembley. I found myself sitting alone in the corner wallowing in my misery and wondering what it had all meant. I knew I had feelings for her but what did she think about me? I was never going to find out now. I needed a drink, so I got up and looked for one. As I walked across the room, Karen appeared in front of me; took me by both hands and looked me square in the eyes.

“I want to thank you, Simon,” She said. “For being there for my sister, for loving her and bringing some joy and happiness to the last few months of her life.” Her words hit me in the solar plexus. Was she reading my mind? She took my hands and pulled them close to her chest. “It meant something.” She said. “You have to know that.”

I guess I did know that. It did mean something. It certainly changed me. Life seemed really fucking valuable and precious. From that point on, if I felt something for someone, I didn’t keep it in, I told them, which didn’t always go down well. I never forgot her and talked about her to most people I made friends with. As we moved into the Autumn of 2021, I found myself thinking about her in a way I had not for many years, and I realised that it was coming up for thirty years since she had died. I only knew her for a very short time, but she left a mark on me that endured through the decades. I post this on the 9th January 2022, the thirtieth anniversary of her death.

Alison & Jackie in Battersea Park 1991

Alison Linda John – 1967-1992

Copyright 2022 – Simon Downham-Knight

Published by simonmandrake

A weekly dose of short stories, short films, web series, blogs and articles.

6 thoughts on “Alison

  1. An exquisite story of two empaths in love. And like all truths, love never truly dies. It lives on. Right Simon? It permeates our existence and gives meaning to our days. Life may be but a dream. Dream on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. That was lovely. Special and lovely and I’m in tears now. I’d looked at the photo first and there’s something about old (not that old) photos that is always, poignant and lovely. I’m so moved by the story of Alison and so sad and happy and angry. Thank you for sharing it and digging so deep.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. That was lovely. Special and lovely and I’m in tears now. I’d looked at the photo first and there’s something about old (not that old) photos that is always, poignant and lovely. I’m so moved by the story of Alison and so sad and happy and angry. Thank you for sharing it and digging so deep.


    1. Thank you for your kind words. I was amazed at how much I was able to remember once I started thinking about writing this piece.

      Since I published it, I have been able to reconnect with her sister, Karen (who I hadn’t seen since 1999).


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