Monday, 11 July 2011


Richard Wilson (Wiz)
As a young girl, when I broke my brother's intricately constructed lego space rocket or 'borrowed' 50p from my mum's dressing table to buy sweets, I felt the pit of my stomach roll around like a tiny boat on huge waves  and with it headed onto guilt's well furrowed path.  For children emotions tend to be black and white.  Enter the murky waters of adulthood and guilt doesn't stand alone but gets clever and joins forces.

In December 2000 when Wiz and I crashed head on into another motorbike, he and the other rider died at the scene.  I have some flashes of recollection in my mind like 10 second, chaotic home videos but I can't remember feeling or thinking much over the first couple of days.  I do remember though the start of the guilt.  I was horrified that I hadn't got up and tried to help Wiz.  I felt ashamed at my selfishness that I hadn't even thought about him.  My rational self knows that my brain was in shock and I hadn't made the connection that I had been on a motorbike, that I had been with Wiz or indeed where I was, as well as the more logistical problem of my inability to walk.  It doesn't matter, though.  Guilt, insidious and toxic, had started to weave a nauseous gait through my system and emulsify with hundreds of other emotions, ready to further blacken a sad day or prick a hissing leak into joy.

I know there was nothing I could have done to prevent Wiz's death and as the years passed I began to look at the guilt in a more detached way.  I hope it has made me feel more empathy with others who feel guilty about things over which they have absolutely no control.  Instead of being told 'it isn't your fault he died, you have nothing to feel guilty about' I think I would have preferred someone to say 'I understand why you feel guilty even though it wasn't your fault.'

Please don't think, reading this and my last post that my life is a seething mass of shame and guilt.  On the contrary, I am lucky to have parents who raised me to feel proud of who I am.  I have just been pondering emotions this week and how they shape our behaviour.


  1. What a compelling and beautifully written piece about such a traumatic event. When I think of how many times I got onto motorbikes and hitched by myself and just general life stuff (climbing up cranes) I feel so lucky. What a vital immediate picture of your friend...

  2. I feel a bit sick when I see people riding motorbikes. I hope my children don't ever want to own one.


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