Features

Losing my son and the end of my life’s summer

5 September 2015

9:00 AM

5 September 2015

9:00 AM

Growing up in the West Country in the 1960s and 1970s, summer left me cold. There was only one place where I could bear to be when the sun shone — the lido at Weston-super-Mare, the nearest coastal town to my Bristol home. Unlike most of the banal backdrops to my childhood, it seemed a suitably grand place in which to plan my escape to get to That London and be famous.

I would swerve my companions — at first my parents, then later my friend Karen — and hide on the upper level of the lido, slipping in and out of sleep in sunshine, dreaming of freedom. There was always voiceless music blaring from speakers — my favourite was a tune which I later discovered to be Dimitri Tiomkin’s ‘The Green Leaves of Summer’, which sounds happy but I later learnt is about living and dying and all that sobering stuff.

I did escape to London at 17. There I lived by night, writing and becoming notorious; days were for sleeping through and the only difference in the seasons was that spring and summer days were unpleasant to have hangovers on, while autumn and winter ones were delightful. I got married, but then in 1995 I fell in love with a girl. During the subsequent divorce, I was surprised to read my husband’s statement that I had had ‘a string of lovers of both sexes’ during our marriage, when I could have sworn he knew I’d only had the one; I lost custody of my beloved son, Jack, and left London for Brighton in order to chase my girlfriend’s younger brother (now my husband of many years) — thereby going some way, admittedly, to establishing my estranged husband’s imaginative claim that I was a depraved person and unfit mother.

In Brighton I’d bought a beautiful big house with a gorgeous garden and a swimming pool in the next street to a good school, as I was sure I would get custody of my son at some point. ‘I don’t mind being an only child because you’re not just a mum, you’re like a sister too,’ he had said when he was seven — that’s how much fun we had together. I was sure there had been some dreadful mistake on the part of my husband and the law which would be rectified soon. Still, we had the weekends and the school holidays — and during the summer, when we visited my parents in Bristol, we’d often hop on the Weston-bound train and go back to the lido. Except it wasn’t the lido any more; they’d concreted a lot of it over so that it was a quarter of the size, and demolished the Art Deco diving board, and amped the water up to bathtub temperature and installed a wave machine and called it The Tropicana. It would have been easier to get a decent swim in a spittoon — but Jack liked it, so I was happy.


When Jack wasn’t with me, I got into fun in the sun in a big way for the first time in my life — it’s very hard not to be a hedonist in Brighton. My existence became a blur of pool parties, seafront bar-crawls and beach boozing; indeed, I became a frantic ray–chaser when the English summer was absent, racing from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean to Tel Aviv in pursuit of some five-star vitamin D. For nearly 20 years, all my summers came at once.

And then my luck ran out. In the five months leading up to my son’s suicide, I’d been on holiday to Barbados, Madeira, Benidorm and Israel. I hadn’t seen him since the summer of 2014, when we had spent a lovely day in the sun — just like old times, before we were so cruelly sundered. When I heard that he had killed himself, I was whooping it up at an eye-wateringly expensive resort in Crete. Even before I got the news, it felt strange being in a place where we lived like lords in our gilded cage, yet found the ATMs empty and the singularly welcoming Cretan people sad whenever we ventured out into the nearby villages. Greece was about to go bankrupt — and so, in another way, was I.

This summer started so well, too. At the start of June I was working on a secret project for the artist Banksy, who had told me in an email that I was the first person who had made him proud to come from Bristol, and mid-month I finally recorded a radio pilot — it has long been my modest ambition to have a radio show with a mate — with my friend Suzanne Moore. During it, I played Donny Hathaway’s song ‘I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know’ for Jack; when the music ended, I was crying. By the time the show was aired, on the final summer bank holiday, he had been dead for two months, so he never heard it. A month after his death, I attended the opening night of the Banksy project — a huge dystopian installation called Dismaland, set right there on the abandoned site of Weston lido, the very place where I spent my childhood summers lazing around dreaming of being rich and notorious.

Banksy Unveils Dismaland Bemusement Park In Weston-Super-Mare
Banksy’s Dismaland (Photo: Getty)

And now I was. And everyone I loved who I had come here with was dead — not just my parents, which might be expected, but my beloved son. I held Karen’s hand tight (she was now a grandmother!) as we stumbled from attraction to attraction — from the dying fairytale princess to the sun–seeker attacked by seagulls, to my own updated Punch-and-Judy show (Punch and Julie, Banksy had renamed it) in which Punch suggests they cut their baby in half in a grotesque inversion of the Judgment of Solomon. Truly I was living the dream.

Yes, I’m done with the summer, I reflected a few days later as I walked to a taxi in the early morning rain, carrying my ancient, adored cat Sox to the vet for the last time. (I’d always wanted to feel ‘grown up’ even as a ten-year-old, and there are few things which make you realise that your ambition has been achieved more than being the one who must take a much-loved pet to be put out of its pain.) And maybe it’s done with me, forever. I know that the best summer is always the next one, but what if at some point you just have to face up to the fact that you’re in the actual autumn of your life and all this sun-chasing is simply inappropriate?

Blaise Pascal said that ‘all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone’ and I’m starting to think he had a point. I write this on the last day of summer 2015 — the worst one I’ve ever had — and now, finally, after all these years of fun in the sun, I’m going to go back into my bedroom and read. I may be some time. On the other hand, Tel Aviv is lovely in September.

Julie Burchill’s most recent book is Unchosen: Memoirs of a Philo-Semite.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
  • Dracula

    All you can do is go with the flow. The price of life is death.

  • Janey Preger

    I don;t think this is a “discussion” as such. We should just send all our love to Julie and let her know that the world would be Dismaland without her fab prescence. XXXX With love from Janey P….

  • Guest89.7

    “I plead with you–never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”
    ―St Pope John Paul II

    Aft Winter comes the Spring.

  • judyk113

    This is a truly beautiful elegaic tribute to Jack and to the years of your life. I spent my undergraduate days hearing lectures most weeks in a lecture room where the back of the hall was emblazoned with the words– in Hebrew and English– remember the days of your youth; consider the years of each generation. I never considered it odd at the time that such a Hebrew quotation should be adorning the biggest lecture room of a college founded as the first secular university in England. I understand it now, and better understand the role of the pioneering Jews who allied with secular atheist rationalists like Jeremy Bentham to set up UCL. I’m now very well into what you call the autumn of my life, being 71. But it doesn’t feel that way at all, though it does feel very good to remember so many events live which are as remote to some of the people I talk with them about as the Boer War was to me. I think the Dismaland project is great and Tel Aviv in September is brilliant. The atmosphere of the Yomim Noraim is very special too– less in TA than elsewhere, though you can find it if you want to. Thanks for writing this Julie. It’s the month of Elul now, which the Hebrew scholars point out is an acrostic for “Ani Li V’Dodi Li”– “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is Mine”. You can see that this can be interpreted in a great many ways. I hope those thoughts are close to you; it is a time for being very close to those whose lives are completed, and for considering the years of each generation. x

    • Jackbrel

      Hmm

    • This is a truly beautiful elegaic tribute to Jack
      You must have been reading some other piece than the one that is posted above.

  • avi15

    Nothing is worse than the death of your child. Nothing. You can get over these things, kind of, but those you have loved really do stay with you forever, one way or another. You wear their memory like a talisman or a badge of honour or sign of the honourable, honest, compassionate person you have now surprisingly become.

  • Mow_the_Grass

    What an interesting woman.
    Next time you in Israel come down south to the Arava and then you can also go and enjoy Eilat a great seaside town.
    On another note – wish you long life on the passing of your beloved son.

    • Jackbrel

      I recommend she goes to the Gaza strip to undo her fantasies about Israel.

      • Mow_the_Grass

        Gaza strip – are you nuts.
        She’d be lucky to last a day in that stinking cesspit run by your friends Hamas

        • Jackbrel

          That’s the point. She’d see what Israel created;

          • Mow_the_Grass

            Israel withdrew its citizens some ten years back – leaving agricultural systems in place.
            Your friends Hamas then staged a coup – throwing members of PA/PLO/Fatagh off every available multi storey building – flying lessons?
            They then destroyed the agricultural infrastucture and instead started building attack tunnels and firing rockets.
            Ok – now had enough of you whoever the h*ll you are.
            Lech l’hisdyn briti matoomtam.

          • Jackbrel

            Israel created the mess. don’t kid yourself.

          • greencoat

            Well, you must be correct. I mean, all those other Arab countries that Israel didn’t ‘create’ are such lovely places that nobody ever wants to leave.

            Oh, hang on….

          • Mow_the_Grass

            In the absence of Israel your friends the arabs/muslims would still be killing each other on a hourly/daily/monthly/yearly basis.
            Dumb euro/brittash – wakey wakey

          • By being the only liberal regime and democracy in the Middle East? Who is kidding himself here?

          • Jackbrel

            Oh here wse go, the usual mantra trotted out in defence of Israel. So it is not Saudi Arabia. Yippee, hats off.
            I intend to visit Israel (while they still have not knocked down the holy land) but I have never met even one person who has been there that found it a pleasant place.

          • Mark

            I did, time of my life, kibbutz volunteer, twice.

            Only down side ? Incoming Katyusha rockets from the Palestinian terrorists based in Lebanon.

          • blandings

            “Oh here we go, the usual mantra trotted out in defence of Israel.”

            Oh here we go – The usual racist drivel from the anti israeli brigade. Crawl back under your stone and slobber over your jackboots

  • Yorkieeye

    Poor you, I’m so sorry. What a terrible thing to happen, every mother’s worst nightmare. You have given those of us who don’t know you a great deal of fun over the years so I’m sure your son loved your company. Be kind to yourself.

  • MacGuffin

    It’s never inappropriate to chase the sun, my dear (metaphorically, at least). Long may we all continue, no matter what happens to us.

    I find myself thinking more and more of my father as I approach the age at which he died, suddenly and unexpectedly. I wish he had been around all this time. Although he died when I was an adult (legally, at least), I could have done with his company and advice with so many things.

    I also wish we hadn’t had to take the news of his death to my grandmother, who outlived her son by a few more years. When I read the news about Julie Burchill’s loss earlier this summer, I remembered my grandmother’s face as we told her what had happened. I can never be online-mean to Julie Burchill again, now. My heart just wouldn’t be in it.

    It terrifies me that one day, most likely, I will be the last person alive who remembers my dad, my grandmother, and all that. I am the youngest of that generation of my family.

    There’s nothing wrong with chasing the sun, pleasure, distractions, whatever, as you age. In fact, I think it becomes more necessary as one get older and has so much more to deal with.

    I’ll close with this: Thank God for funny videos of cats on youtube. When all else fails…

    Take care, Ms Burchill.

    • E.I.Cronin

      Well said MacGuffin. It’s funny how as you turn to face your own death, past family can become so vivid and almost present. More present in way than when they were alive and perhaps one was too young to fully appreciate them. Friends have commented on the same process as we all drift into late middle age. My grandparents are constantly on my mind, I’ve even felt haunted (in a lovely way if that makes sense) at times. It’s becoming more apparent how much I owe them, and their generation.
      I didn’t know this about Julie.
      Comedy vids are a life-saver. Haven’t tried the cats yet.
      Go well!

    • blandings

      “It terrifies me that one day, most likely, I will be the last person alive who remembers my dad, my grandmother, and all that.”

      Yes I know that feeling. It’s the bit about growing older that caught me by surprise. This doesn’t bother me – I’m not overly sentimental – but at Christmas the room seems to be full of ghosts, the laughter of dead aunts.

  • Freddythreepwood

    Ms Burchill. I will be in Brighton for Christmas. We will raise a glass to you and Jack.

    • Jackbrel

      Well done!

  • ardenjm

    Oh Julie.
    You are right but you get the tenses wrong:
    “Greece was about to go bankrupt — and so, in another way, was I.”
    No, Greece was already bankrupt, long ago.
    And so were you, alas:
    ‘I hadn’t seen him since the summer of 2014, when we had spent a lovely day in the sun’.

    Just one day, Julie?

    Just the one in a whole year?

    ‘Til We Have Faces’ C.S. Lewis. Get hold of a copy and read it from cover to cover.
    Alone. In your room. It will hurt. It will help. A little.

    • MacGuffin

      On behalf of everyone with any decency at all, do very f*uck right off.

      • mountolive

        Speak for yourself, you pompous s**t, you’re not speaking for me. Ardenjm, you’re quite right. Good choice of literature.

        • ardenjm

          Cheers.
          Julie’s spent her whole journalistic life thwacking merry hell out of every Sacred Cow she got anywhere near. I hardly think she needs turning into one herself….

          And Til We Have Faces is uncompromisingly honest.
          She’d get it. Even if some of her acolytes here might not…

          • Kennybhoy

            His best fiction by a long way.

        • MacGuffin

          Of course I’m not speaking for you, you c**t. I said I was speaking for people with decency.

          • Jackbrel

            And to be fair, Julie has never been one to fuck right off in her venom against everything. She was merciless.

          • zebbe dude

            Decency,like calling people who have perfectly valid views which differ from yours c**ts.

          • MacGuffin

            Sneering at a grieving mother is not a ‘perfectly valid view’, you p***k.

          • zebbe dude

            Ah,p***k,a nice change from c**t or the classic f*ck right off.
            No-one is sneering,just pointing out a few things.
            The article is largely look at me,as per.
            No wonder a foul mouthed thug like yourself is onside.

      • zebbe dude

        Ah,the decency card,aka emotional blackmail.

    • cartimandua

      Yes one day with a son with intractable mental illness.

      • Paul Jackson

        Mother of the year!

  • Adrian Morgan

    This was both beautiful and sad to read, and most of all it is honest. I really feel for you, and at least know that you have many friends who love you, and whose love for you will not lessen because you become quieter and more reflective. You must continue to write, from the heart, with honesty, only now with the heart of a grown up, rather than that of a “young soul rebel”.

  • CraigStrachan

    A fearless piece of self-revelation from a writer who gets better (but not mellower) with age. I hope she writes in her bedroom too.

  • Margot5000

    Dear Julie, thanks for all the wonderful writing over the years – and thanks for this. Love.

  • Sarka

    Grat piece, made me think of this:

    “Lord Rameses of Egypt sighed
    Because a summer evening passed;
    And little Ariadne cried
    That summer fancy fell at last
    To dust; and young Verona died
    When beauty’s hour was overcast.

    Theirs was the bitterness we know
    Because the clouds of hawthorn keep
    So short a state, and kisses go
    To tombs unfathomably deep,
    While Rameses and Romeo
    And little Ariadne sleep.”

    But that’s a bit too melancholy. Despite everything, have many more summers, Julie.

    • Dr. Heath

      Not at all. You’ve done everyone who reads this [everyone who, like me that is, hasn’t read a line of Drinkwater’s poetry in many years] an immense favour.

  • Julie, your grief and sadness at this time is perfectly understandable, and you have our sincere condolences at your loss.
    But you do have a wider family out here, perhaps not connected by blood, but by other essential life ‘fluids’.
    May this family continue to give you much joy and fulfilment through your life.

  • MrFGordon

    An anti-drugs tale.

  • Hedonistic and mildly ungrateful Western woman hits slight bump in the road (but no actual motherly qualms, so that’s all right. Her son killed himself but it was nothing to do with her, whatsoever or at any point). It even makes good copy. And then there is the next vacation to look forward to.
    What is the point of this article? Apart from your poor deceased son, why should I care?

    • cartimandua

      What a stupid and psychopathic person you are.
      summer is a metaphor idiot. Her son was mentally ill and she struggled to help him for years.
      You I take it have no children and if you do I pity them.

      • I got the metaphor: the lady still strikes me as remarkably frivolous. If my child had taken his own life, this is not the article I would write.

        • greencoat

          I think you make a very good point. I thought the same myself.

          • Thanks. I was getting a lot of the evil eye for a while there (from other readers, I mean).

      • Ohone

        You don’t detect the malignant narcissism and dishonesty in the mothers article … talking mainly about herself and the lifestyle afforded to her by preaching hatred of men.

        Pretending that the law is what gave the father custody (had she wanted it the law would have given it to her) and suggesting its the fathers fault rather than acknowledging her rejection of people born men being published week in week out that was a contributing factor .

    • Alexandrovich

      “I was sure there had been some dreadful mistake on the part of my husband and the law which would be rectified soon.”
      “My existence became a blur of pool parties, seafront bar-crawls and beach boozing.”
      Perhaps the law got it right.

      • Especially when you consider that the courts’ presumption in favour of the mother is massive….

    • Nessa

      It’s better than the usual fake saccharine crap that most people spout.

      • I think you’ve missed my criticism entirely.

  • cartimandua

    Julie don’t grieve alone. no one can understand the particular grief of parents unless they have been there.
    Just using words to articulate the experience may not be enough.
    compassionate friends is an organization for the bereaved.

  • johnb1945

    Thank you Julie.

  • Teacher

    I am very sorry for your sad loss. It is not original to say that it seems against nature that a child should go before his parents but it is truer every time it happens.

  • Damaris Tighe

    No parent should ever have to outlive their child. My condolences Julie.

    • blandings

      I remember coming across a quote from (I think) the artist Vanessa Bell about the death of her son. She said “I’ll learn to smile again but I will never be happy”
      Always rather haunted me.

      • Damaris Tighe

        You don’t need to have had children to imagine …

      • I said that once. It turned out not to be true, as I should have guessed.

        • blandings

          Yes, but you’re a singular girl C

          • Fortunately not single, though: yesterday was my 22nd anniversary. I’ve had the chocolate but the roses still are a beautiful pinky-red.

          • blandings

            Congratulations!
            Martinis are in order.
            Not too many mind – no outbreaks of irresponsibility.

          • Thank you and quite so : )

    • An understandable sentiment, but it doesn’t always apply, e.g. mother lives to be 98; son dies at 78, just before her. No great tragedy. And I must say, I’ve never seen a comments page where the sentiments of the readers outstrip the self-absorption of the article’s writer. It’s a very strange mirror reflecting back on the one standing before it.

      • Damaris Tighe

        C, I hope you had a lovely day on Thursday but I think you must have got out of bed the wrong side yesterday! We respond to death in different ways.

        • Not at all, D. Milk of human kindness — or its absence — had nothing to do with my response, which was immediate, was unchanged on the third more attentive reading, and is shared by other readers on the thread.

          • blandings

            I understand where you’re coming from C, but some of those who are latching on to you have a problem and it is a lot wider than this article, or Burchill’s own character. Quotes are being torn from their wider context to justify a more general resentment at women. To throw a Burchill: Some men just can’t pull chicks and that’s because the male gene pool has a shallow end.

          • You may be right, B., but as I ‘got here first’, I’m not responsible for them. As far as I can tell, everyone was wearing black lace and smelling salts until I showed up : )

          • blandings

            Fair enough.
            A toast to you (I do a lot of that don’t I?)

          • A toast right back to you, sir (and thank you for the compliment)!

          • Update: I’m glad you had a nice day out — I did, too (finally solving my bathroom knob problem: almost all my ‘problems’ are nice ones to have) — and now I’m having a lovely glass of white. And my new real-wax candles with batteries in them are glowing already in their lanterns, ready to greet the night when it eventually comes (new toy/decoration, so couldn’t resist putting them up).

          • blandings

            Back at work and no longer inebriated.
            Embarrassed at calling you cute – should have remained my little secret I think.
            Enjoy the knobs.

          • Nonsense. Everyone likes to be told that they have charm and are not actually hideous. Nothing to keep secret, I think. Enjoy your day, week, month, etc.

      • justejudexultionis

        Burchill has said some very nasty things in the past about men, transsexuals and anybody else she disagrees with and who cannot see her own genius. If she can’t take it then she shouldn’t dish it out.

  • jennybloggs

    I don’t much like the idea that your son thought of you as a sister (as well as a mum) Julie. However I have a son and if he were to die before me I think I could not handle that. Good luck.

  • Jackbrel

    I have always enjoyed Julie’s writing, from the very early days. And I convey my deepest condolences on the death of her son Jack. There is nothing that devastating.
    It is a pity she does not mention the existence of her other son, also brought up by his dad..

  • Jackbrel

    And as therapy Julie, I’d recommend going to Europe, the greatest continent on earth, on your doorstep. You seem to have an aversion. Go to see Rome, It will knock you out. The Pantheon in Paris, Cannes (you’d love it because no-one else does,, like Tel Aviv but with classier everything). France is the greatest country on the planet. It has everything everywhere, from the Champagne region to the Cote d’Azur to the Ardeche and the Dordogne and the Tarn.
    Above all, just mind yourself.

  • joe bloggs

    From a piece Burchill wrote for the Grauniad in 1999…..
    “That young men succeed in suicide more often than girls isn’t really the point. Indeed, the more callous among us would say that it was quite nice for young men finally to find something that they’re better at than girls…

    To ask me to feel sympathy with suicides after witnessing this (the death of her father from asbestos-induced cancer) is, I suggest, just as unfeeling and ignorant as my callousness must appear to you – like asking a starving African to sympathise with an anorexic. In a society still beset with the most vicious social deprivation and rampant cruelty to the very young, the very old and the very weak, the voluntary exits of a few hundred able-bodied young men each year are best dealt with as private tragedies rather than a public concern. Let them go.”

    • ArtieHarris

      ” the voluntary exits of a few hundred able-bodied young men each year are best dealt with as private tragedies rather than a public concern. Let them go.””

      Burchill was always a horrible hypocrite, in my view.

      • vieuxceps2

        I think Burchill was and is a horrible everything.

        • I need to show this fantastic internet freelancing opportunity… three to five hours_ of work daily… Payments are weekly… Bonuses…Earnings of 6-9k /monthly… Just few hours of spare time, a computer, most elementary knowledge of internet and reliable connection is what is needed…Get more information by visiting my page

    • Tens_of_thousands

      Like everyone else, I think this event should trigger heartless Cameron to do something about the problem of young male suicide. To do anything. As long as it’s today. Or isn’t there a picture?

      • LeePefley

        Yes! And my dog who suffers from bad dreams – when is your PM going to come to the rescue finally?
        (Brits are idiots. Government, they believe, is God, and can and should make everyone real happy. Your fading civilization is dying, just as you insist.)

    • Kennybhoy

      A very palpable hit… 🙁

    • Paul Jackson

      Yes a horrible misandrous hypocrite. I linked to the Guardian article above.
      I guess Jack would have been about 13 at the time.
      Not a very nice age to learn about your mother’s callous hateful attitude toward your sex.

    • Chamber Pot

      Joe, I agree she can be a complete b**ch sometimes and say sometimes the most heartless and horrible things.

      But on this occasion all I can say is that I cannot imagine what it is to lose a child and it is about time you grew a heart.

    • LeePefley

      “In a society still beset with the most vicious social deprivation and rampant cruelty to the very young, the very old and the very weak…”
      Please list in alphabetical order all those other societies that do a better job. Incredible. If Britons become any more empathetic, compassionate, multicultural, egalitarian, sensitive, borderless, disarmed, sweet, feminized, etc., etc., your brains will dissolve into mush and will have to be expelled by way of the colon.
      tito perdue
      author

  • Paul Evans

    A beautiful tribute, Julie. My sincerest condolences. x

  • Sausage McMuffin

    Lovely piece, thankfully light on JB’s usual trolling. And resonant to this divorced dad at least.

  • DennisHorne

    (Natural) marriage concerns copulation and making the sacrifices necessary to raise any offspring, a concept beyond the grasp of most homosexuals.

    The sadness in this story is not that a narcissistic mother loses a son, but that a man suffers such pain and despair that he destroys himself.

    • ArtieHarris

      I think that many men commit suicide as a result of the male-hatred that they have permanently to endure – particularly from feminists.

      • DennisHorne

        I wrote that around five o’clock in the morning; now I’m feeling kinder. I think the writer is aware and brave to be honest. The lesson seems to me that we don’t know why we’re here or what we’re meant to be doing, but we should never forget we’re just clever monkeys — that is, have biological constraints. We can’t just do what we like without consequences from ‘nature’.

  • badu
  • Julian_F

    Julie Burchill writing in 1999: The last time I suggested that suicides should be left to get on with it, I received a small number of letters from people whose sons had killed themselves. All of them demanded an apology. I’d advise them this time to save their stamps because, you see, I don’t care.

    • Velo

      Digging up someone else’s words from the past isn’t a good idea. Grief is difficult to deal with in life and suicide leaves a lot of unanswered questions for those left behind. Among other responses, unlike other forms of bereavement, suicide causes anger and resentment towards the person whose life has ended.

      • Ohone

        How much grief can someone that hates men experience when a man takes his own life ?

        The tone of the article is indicative of it , there were relatively few words about her son , who must have been impacted psychologically by his own mothers politically correct hatred .

        • Velo

          You’re missing the point. If you hear a cry for help, is your only answer to turn a deaf ear and rake over old ground?

          • Ohone

            It isn’t old ground , this person publicly hated men then , and does now .

            The article is more about her lavish lifestyle then the son , who its reasonable to assume would have been psychologically damaged by having mother that hates people based on his own biological demographic .

            Instead of feeling pity for this person, perhaps we should question letting those of her ilk publish hate propaganda freely in the mainstream media day in day out .

          • Velo

            Your view seems to be best summed up as: “To err is human, to forgive is not my policy.” Show no mercy, eh? Just because someone leaves something unsaid doesn’t mean that it’s not important. A mother carries her child for nine months in the womb. That is an unforgettable bond.

          • Ohone

            I doubt you would be extending the same sympathy and apology to a male member of a hate group , whose hate probably contributed to his daughter’s suicide, that isn’t a popular state supported hate group .

          • Velo

            Suicide also causes guilt and and an often irrational sense of blame in those left behind. It is tragic for anyone to lose a child to suicide. A life suddenly cut short.

          • Ohone

            I don’t see any personal responsibility being taken, despite the fact it wouldn’t be irrational .

            And you didn’t respond to what I said .

            Would you be siding with a man, who dedicated his life to publishing hate against women, whose daughter ended up with psychological problems?

            I’m guessing no is the answer, would JB be sympathetic?

            This is bigger than the feelings of JB.

            The point these women are stationed across society, in teaching positions, in the media, in politics , controlling which abuse statistics the public see , controlling which abuse victims are given help and which ones aren’t, controlling which social issues to do with gender get attention which ones don’t … and they preach their hate and discrimination freely .

            Its time to start rooting them out with the same level of empathy they have being showing for their targets .

            Anyhow, I’ve said my piece here .

            Im leaving this conversation , I agree that I’ve said too much about it now .

          • Velo

            Yes I did. Just to reiterate what I said: It is tragic for anyone to lose a child to suicide.

          • vieuxceps2

            Not always a tragedy.Not for instance when it happens to Burchill. She’s always been free with her hate. As ye sow,so shall ye reap.

          • ArtieHarris

            Your posts have been excellent throughout.

          • Ohone

            Thanks, its amazing that there is this large elephant in the room and its not being talked about in the media .

          • ArtieHarris

            “Suicide also causes guilt and and an often irrational sense of blame in those left behind.”

            Not when those left behind are man-hating narcissists. Their concern is entirely for themselves.

          • Doesn’t seem to have done him much good though, Velo. Again, you’re looking at the situation through the eyes of one person, rather than the dependent child that had to find his way. And since my mother’s character resembles that of J. B. in many respects, I know what a burden that sort of ‘bond’ can be, and I have essentially broken free of it, myself.

      • ArtieHarris

        “Grief is difficult to deal with in life and suicide leaves a lot of unanswered questions for those left behind.”

        Narcissists don’t think that way. They think about themselves full time.

        • Paul Jackson

          Absolutely! Birchill’s piece just reeks of self-absorption and narcissistic posturing. Her son is so despairing of life that he kills himself at age 29, but it’s all about her and her grief at losing her ‘beloved’ son.
          Her other son has stated publicly that she saw him as an ‘inconvenience’.
          Grotesque woman!

          • Julian_F

            I’m so glad I am not the only person who thought Burchill’s piece was all about her and not her son. It is summed up in the synopsis ‘tragedy, hedonism and ME’. I see no words of genuine tribute to the son she failed in the entire article.

      • Julian_F

        Why is it not a good idea to refer to someone’s previously written and very pertinent words? Surely the point of published writing is that the sentiments expressed are preserved for posterity. Perhaps Burchill could have thought about the grief suicide causes before telling grieving parents that she didn’t care.

        And, thank you, but I know suicide is savagely difficult to deal with, as I lost a sibling to it. I didn’t appreciate Burchill’s frankly sexist attitude in 1999 and I feel little sympathy for her now. I reserve all of that for her poor, tortured son. I hope she is able to get over her loss while sunning herself somewhere and will learn to keep her distasteful opinions to herself.

  • Velo

    This article echoes your recent piece about Karma being a con-trick. I find your writing thought-provoking and often funny. Please don’t give in.

  • Nessa

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VVAjBACvLE “The Summer has ended and we are not yet saved”

  • Tellytubby

    I can’t even begin to imagine the pain. I feel it vicariously in my chest just reading this. My sincere condolences.

  • Nessa

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86d55RkBtoI This song helped me to come to terms with my Mother’s death

  • Paul S HK

    What a depraved individual.
    She tells us how she looked after hesrself and neglected her son. How she thinks of herself and not of him. Almost every word is about her, not him. About her material goods, her money, her houses. And then she claims our moral sympathy!
    What a terrible parent, and what an appalling absence of remorse!
    She may be well known, but she seems appalling to me!

    • ArtieHarris

      IMHO, her overt hatred towards men, and her influence, are responsible for many young men having committed suicide, and goodness what else. My sympathy goes to her son. I have none for her.

      I’ve never felt this way before in my 63 years of life. Normally, I would feel terrible for someone in her position. But, in her case, nothing.

      She has reaped what she has sowed, in my view.

    • Almost every word is about her, not him.
      Odd how so many seem not to have noticed.

  • Paul Jackson

    Let’s not forget the poisonous man-hating article which Birchill wrote in 1999

    Entitled: ‘Suicide is a side-effect of affluence. You didn’t get many suicides in Jarrow in the 30s. It is one of those problems with no solution’

    It begins: Was I the only person cynical enough to think that a good catchline for the recently launched football initiative against young male suicide might have been “Don’t take it out on yourselves, lads – punch a woman!”?

    Later in the piece Burchill writes:That young men succeed in suicide more often than girls isn’t really the point.
    Indeed, the more callous among us would say that it was quite nice for young
    men finally to find something that they’re better at than girls.

    She continues:The last time I suggested that suicides should be left to get on with it, I received a small number of letters from people whose sons had killed themselves. All of them demanded an apology. I’d advise them this time to save their stamps because, you see, I don’t care.

    Here is the link to the full Guardian Article:
    http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/1999/oct/16/weekend7.weekend6

    Burchill has been peddling her hatred of men and boys for decades. I have sympathy for her son but not for her.

    • Chris Bartelt

      There certainly is something Karmic about all this….

  • Whothehell Cares

    In 1999 Julie Burchill wrote ” the voluntary exits of a few hundred able-bodied young men each year are best dealt with as private tragedies rather than a public concern. Let them go.”

    No doubt, Julie’s son took her attitude on board. And now, it appears, she’s looking for sympathy. I sympathize with her late son, R.I.P. but give not a care at all for the likes of Julie.

  • Chris Bartelt

    Me me me me me me me…. oh and did I tell you about me?
    Horrible woman.
    Poor lad.

  • LeePefley

    With such a mother, the boy made the only rational decision. (This lady is hands-down the most repellent specimen ever to contribute to Britain’s self-degradation. She is so very post-modern, so chic!, so..so..so.. so transgressive that it makes a person’s teeth ache, to borrow from Hilton Kramer.
    In fact, she is just perfect for a masochistic nation that hungers so publicly [and so autobiographically] for cultural debasement.)
    Tito Perdue
    author

    • Chris Bartelt

      Hear Hear

    • justejudexultionis

      I am sorry about her son but she is an arch-self-publicist, inveterate attention seeker and an aimless contrarian.

  • florencefosterjenkins

    It really is extraordinary to think she had two sons, but she writes as if her elder boy simply doesn’t exist.

    • justejudexultionis

      Burchill writes as if the rest of humanity did not exist.

  • alistairofabuhabi1951

    “On the other hand, Tel Aviv is lovely in September.” Well, that solves that little problem, them!

  • mmac1968

    I lost my son in March aged 22 to the very same fate. He was well educated but introverted, which is a strage reflection of myself as I am the opposite in both cases. Five months have passed in a sureal dream like reality, I can not brag of what he is doing or how handsome he is to my peer group. You become a leaper overnight, people are sorry at the start but there is the underlying notion you failed. People no longer share their happiness of the own childrens achievements, you are an outcaste. As a parent I could never say “just let them go”, if i have to re-live this life a 1000 times until I get it right I would do so gladly.

  • I’m sorry for the pain and loss, but I’m sorrier that our culture rewards and feeds the destructive self indulgence described above. I’m even sorrier that people like Julie have such undoubted cultural influence. What can be done about it now is anyone’s guess, but if this death has caused her to review her life and views with fresh eyes, maybe it wasn’t in vain.

  • Cliff Pollak

    What about those articles you wrote about how male victims of suicide and their grieving families deserve no sympathy.
    when you wrote
    “”That young men succeed in suicide more often than girls isn’t really the point. Indeed, the more callous among us would say that it was quite nice for young men finally to find something that they’re better at than girls…””
    and
    “”To ask me to feel sympathy with suicides after witnessing this (the death of her father from asbestos-induced cancer) is, I suggest, just as unfeeling and ignorant as my callousness must appear to you – like asking a starving African to sympathise with an anorexic. In a society still beset with the most vicious social deprivation and rampant cruelty to the very young, the very old and the very weak, the voluntary exits of a few hundred able-bodied young men each year are best dealt with as private tragedies rather than a public concern. Let them go.””

Close