The Independent Salford Beer Festival 2016 : The Other Side of The Coin

“I wish that I could push a button and talk in the past and not the present tense.
And watch this hurting feeling disappear like it was common sense . . . . . ”

(“Brilliant Mistake” – Elvis Costello : clip courtesy “Carlos Augusto” on You Tube)


This may be the hardest piece that I’ve ever had to write. But I did have to write it.

The Independent Salford Beer Festival was a huge success. We owe tens, maybe hundreds of people our (and my) enormous gratitude. Read that post here (if you haven’t already)

I have always organised this festival to support my dear friend (and “Extended Family” matriarch) Gerry, the lovely lady that runs this centre and keeps it ticking over with her determination and sheer hard graft. This job isn’t easy. And can be thankless. But in these straitened times, it’s essential. I do love this woman.

But this year, the festival was for me. To help me through some shit and to give me something to keep me moving.

You see, 4 weeks today, on Tuesday 27th September, our youngest son took his own life. And our lives changed forever.

The really strange thing is the way people interact with you when they know. Especially with Christine. So far, nobody has judged me for doing what I have done with this festival. But I needed it. To keep me moving. To force me to place one foot in front of the other on a daily basis. To keep some semblance of sanity.

I don’t want sympathy. We have an enormous reservoir of that with the most amazing group of friends and family that anyone could wish for. That is most emphatically NOT why I am writing this.

But again, this isn’t about me and it isn’t about my family. We will cope. That is what most people do.

You see, at my son’s funeral, I wanted to speak to his friends in attendance from the pulpit. To try and get a message across. That message is about communication. Talking – to put it simply. So – against the advice of the priest, I did. And I hope it did some good.

The limited readership that I have is (mostly) of an age where they will have children. And what I have come to understand, by force of events, is that being a teenager is far from the simple thing it was when I grew up. That there are pressures that we – as adults – may never truly comprehend.

I don’t seek to lecture or preach. But – to me – what has become stark, is the need for kids to have someone they can trust to talk to. When life feels dark and a bit shit. They need to have someone. Someone to reach out to. Be that Mum or Dad, a brother or sister, a friend, a teacher, even people like the Samaritans or CALM. Just someone.

There were no clues with our son. None. Those who saw him last can make no sense of what has happened. Like many who (as he obviously was) suffer from Depression, he failed to reach out – or chose not to. And that is desperately sad. Kids and adults for pity’s sake, need to know that there is always someone there.

If you are suffering, find someone you can talk to.

Like I said, I needed to write this. To hopefully help others and to try to find something positive that can come from our tragedy.

I will be out and about in Manchester and elsewhere. Life has to go on. Please don’t judge me. Nor – if you know me – stand off, with either myself or Christine. We’re no different. Just a bit sadder. The joy has gone from a lot of stuff really.

I’m going to take some time off from writing. Rebuild a bit. I might be back, I might not.

Take care of yourself and yours.


*If it wasn’t for the execrable actions of the Bolton Evening News, when they published the full details of our tragedy, I may never have written this. It may have been “public record material”, but my anger at their actions will never abate.

32 comments on “The Independent Salford Beer Festival 2016 : The Other Side of The Coin

  1. Thank you for being so honest and open about this very important issue. I just know it will help some (hopefully many) people. Big hugs to both of you xx

  2. No judging here bud. And wise words for those that are suffering.

    You have shown yourself to be amazingly strong so far and made others happy. Take the me time you & yours need and we’ll see you for those beers on the other side.

  3. We’ll never meet. We don’t need to. I’ve followed you for a long time and feel, just a bit, part of your beery family.

    As for your son, well, I’ll raise a glass to you and yours tomorrow at Craft Beer Calling in Newcastle. Life does indeed go on. But it never does any harm for some of us to be reminded how fortunate we are, and how close bedfellows joy and despair are.

    Take care.

  4. Think I have a slight inclination as to how you feel. My godson did similar when he was 18 and my nephew when he was 21. Some of my friends likewise a lot later in life. Still don’t understand. No rhyme no reason.

    Here’s to beers!

  5. As a beer blogger in Northern Ireland, that’s THE most thought provoking post I will read for a very long time. Take care mate.

  6. Dear Jim thank you for your brave piece. It takes courage to write about overwhelming pain and I’m so sorry that you had to bear your sadness being a newspaper story. My beloved goddaughter took her life two days after your son and my closest friends, her parents, are walking in your shoes. At her thanksgiving service, we also spoke out about talking and mental health in a church where there were many young people and will continue that. Services for young people need to get a whole lot better. It won’t bring back our beautiful young people but if one tragedy is averted the speaking out has been the right thing. I’ll pray for you and Christine and your family as I do for my dear friends every day.

  7. Beautifully written Jim , Fionn was a truly beautiful young man , God blrss you all , i hope it helps just a little to know your in all our thoughts , all my love to you and your lovely family ❤️

  8. I attended your sons funeral, what a beautiful send of for such a great lad!
    When you spoke out to us, we listened. It hit us hard because of how raw this all is. I am so happy that you had the strength to stand up and speak to us all. Thank you so much!

  9. Very moving piece, Jim. I delayed my reply in the hope of thinking of some suitable words. But what use are mere words at a time like this? All I can say is, like many others I’m sure, I’m thinking of you and yours and sending some big beery love your way.

  10. You needed to read this and it will help all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. I stand by why I said when you told me; here if needed.
    Love and hugs to you all.

  11. So very sorry for your loss Jim .my son Jock Joyce told me today about you and your loss .I know he really feels for you as I do when he told me .I’ve just read every word of your blog …I hope a lot of other people read it too ….I hope you and Your wife and family find the strength .to cope with losing your son .Again I am really sorry ……….

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