Friday 30 August 2013

Squashed Tomatoes and Stew – Part 3

And here we are Mac. This will be the last bit for today, but I’m sure that your homies aren’t done with you yet and there’ll be a few people who miss the boat. I’ve got a few bits and bobs to say myself, but first, over to this lovely lot…


Happy birthday Lisa Long Straw. I remember the chat when we decided that despite the fact we had pulled the Short Straws health-wise, we were, indeed, Long Straws life wise. 

Life wise. It feels wrong to be writing that, as we all miss you so much from our lives. I miss your laugh the most, and that booming Derby twang, but I don’t have to go very far to remember it. When I think of you Lisa, I always picture you sat on the sofa in my flat. We were stuffing our face with cheese and cake, like we so often did. You were ridiculing my saggy-arsed jeans and demanding me to go and buy a skinny pair (you will be pleased to know I have indeed done that). We never really talked about the future, but refused to even consider the fact that you could somehow be physically absent from it.

It sucks without you Lis, massively. I miss swearing with you, but I did recently use the word wankfurby, and figured somewhere, wherever you are sassing, you would have high fived me for that. 

So, today, on your 34th birthday, I am thinking of you, as I always do, with love and affection, with tears because I miss you, but with joy because I knew you. I learned such a lot from you. That it is OK to be a cocky little Essex girl, because stylish Northern girls like you said so. That cheese and cake taken in one mouthful really does work. That there is no such thing as too much squirty cream on strawberries, and that life, no matter what, HAS to be fun. Oh and also, to make sure I don’t wear ill-fitting jeans. 

So, today, on your birthday, I just want to say cheers to you Lis. You lit up my life in a way you probably didn’t realise. You made me laugh, you made me cry, you made me happy. I don’t half miss you doll. 

So here’s to you, Lisa Long Straw, from your chubby little middle-of-the-road dumpy straw, who will today be eating cake in your memory and thanking my lucky stars that you and I bumped in to each other along the bullshit-laden road. 

How lucky were we. Happy birthday Lis

Lorna x 

– Lorna

Well, today would have been your 34th birthday Lis. I will forever be older than my oldest friend. I mean, I've always been older (as I'm sure you would have been keen to point out), but only by a couple of months. But you will forever be 33. 

We've seen a lot of birthdays together, you and I. From sleepovers with our schoolmates and playing Postman's Knock, to swimming parties, bowling parties, parties at Pizza Hut and McDonald's through to the (ever so) slightly cooler discos. 

Remember that year your mum hired that karaoke machine from Reliance Electrical (who, judging by the heated telephone exchange on the day clearly weren't) and how upset you got when someone murdered Jimmy Mac, not because of the terrible rendition, but because it reminded you of one of your family members who was sadly no longer with us? Even then you were the most amazing person I knew, the life and soul of a party (even at 13), yet with a compassion that put the rest of us to shame. Everyone gravitated towards you. Being invited to your birthday party was always a badge of honour, a sentiment which never went away. 

I still can't believe we will never celebrate your birthday with you again. But you know what? We will celebrate it. Every year. With cupcakes and champagne and rapping, and recounting the fondest memories of 33 years of friendship. We will never let the day go by without toasting you. Ever. You will never, ever be forgotten. Not on your birthday, or any other day of the year. I love you Lisa Lynch and I miss you more than I could ever have imagined. 

Happy birthday petal. xxxx

– Claire Boutall (@weeza79)

Dear Lis, 

Sod raising a glass I will be raising a big fat jug of Pimms in honour of your birthday today and in memory of our extremely drunken day spent at the cricket. 

Love and miss you loads gorgeous girl! 

Sarah xx 

– Sarah Finnan

To my darling Maclet.

It’s your birthday and we don’t know what to do with it. I want to clink my cava glass against yours and grin into your perfect face more than anything on this earth. This hurts every bit as much as we knew it would. But I have not forgotten what you said:

Whatever we were to each other – that we still are.
You have only stepped into the next room.

Your Tils.

– Tillie Harris

Happy Birthday, Sis. 

What better way to celebrate your Birthday than to go and watch Derbyshire CC play in London. Pretty sure you'll be joining us in some way so we'll save you a seat. Everything you wanted to happen is happening, we're all looking after each other. We're off on hols with the rentals next month, so I'm sure you'll be gutted to be missing out on the usual "what are you wearing to travel in" line of questioning that Mum started in about June. It all adds to the enjoyment of the holiday though of course. 

Corey is kissing every picture he sees of you, and even says you're name. OK, he calls you Lila, but that's close enough. We're all missing you far too much and nothing can ever be the same without you being here, but we'll make sure we make the most of you're Birthday. You're still the best, always will be. 

All my love, peace out,


– James McFarlane (@jamie_mac2013)

Lisa was one of the most inspiring, witty and talented authors I've worked with. A natural writer she had an an extraordinary ability to vividly evoke, and make us laugh at, the extreme experiences she went though. I'm still so proud of The C-Word, the book we worked on together, and it's great to know that in every copy out there in the world Lisa's amazing voice can still be heard for decades to come. 

Happy Birthday Lisa. We all miss you. Love from everyone at the agency.

– Matthew Hamilton, Aitken Alexander Associates

Happy Birthday

This morning I asked which cake goes with champagne.
It’s only for me so it’s all just the same.
The car radio played Elbow, were you hearing it too?
At lunch I sat down to write - it’s what you would do.
I walked in the hills; a bird flew past my ear,
Its wings whispered hello. Perhaps you were there.
Late in my street the moon slid out, bright
From behind blue clouds. Was it you there that night? 
I bought a polka dot dress like one you once had,
Your matching high heels safely boxed in their bed.
I paint my nails red for your special day,
I’ll send you some flowers, it’s not far away.
‘I love you’ you said as the door closed shut,
There was plenty of tea still left in the pot,
For next time we talk, and we’ll settle in well,
By then there’ll be so many stories to tell.

– Antonia Blyth (@antoniablyth)

So then, I’ve put it off enough. A few words from me...

Happy birthday Mac. You know, today I’ve been chatting to a good few of your lot on t’interweb, and there have been a few Claire Danes weepy moments going on, but, you know what, I held back. Because today, I feel happy.

Today’s your birthday. And it’s a happy day, because we remember how much we love you. And we remember who you were, who you are, and how cool we all felt just hanging around in your entourage.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve missed you mate. There have been days when it’s hit me square in the face and I can’t think straight. There’s been days when I’m scrolling through my iPhone contacts and there you are, because it would be just wrong to delete you, and there’s the proverbial ton of bricks. And there’s been days when it’s just happily remembering the fun sweary emails and bemoaning the fact I never got to show you that episode of South Park where Cartman impersonates Gordon Ramsey (had to have been written just for you, surely). But have no doubt, you’ve been a part of my day every single day since you stepped out. So just for today, allow me to be a part of yours.

Happy birthday Lisa. We love you.

– Jonze (@quarkmonkey)

Squashed Tomatoes and Stew – Part 2

Well Mac, true to form you’re amazing us all again today. Here’s another load of big-ass love for you (not to be confused with big ass-love, but then hey, you’re the syntax savant here).

On what would have been our wonderful friend Lisa's 34th birthday we are sad that she is not here to celebrate with us; but we are also so incredibly grateful for the birthdays that she had with us, for the way she taught us how to laugh and most importantly, how to love. No-one loved more than Lisa Lynch, loving music, loving Derby County, loving her family, loving her P and loving us – and no-one was, is, loved more than our Lisa. But she'd have hated all this lovey-dovey crap so, today, we'll be raising a glass of cava to you as we teach our boys about your love of Dave Grohl by introducing them to the Foo Fighters: we thought you'd approve. We miss you every single day. 

– The Bryants (@suze)

Miss you darling Lisa on your birthday – and during Wimbledon, Glastonbury, holidays, these long summer days and when I see Pete and our friends. Every happy event and fun time is a little bit crapper without you. I miss all the lovely times we had together, the chat, your wise counsel, beautiful face and happy laugh. We will be drinking to you tonight lovely. Xxx

– Polly Curtis (@pollycurtis)

Lisa will always be in my thoughts, her impressive strength and character shining through the bullshit, being an inspiration to millions. So I raise a glass and say happy birthday you brassy bird you. Tom xx

– Tom Shaw, The Design Conspiracy

I had the pleasure of  meeting Lisa in person at her Super Sweet 30th Birthday after a year of exchanging emails. What a lovely, lovely girl.

Every time I hear the Foo Fighters, the Beatles or my son picking up the children's toy sing a long microphone she sent my son for Christmas one year, I think of Lisa and that she would get a kick out of the caterwauling noise my son makes when he sings 'A lo lo lo lololollo dah daah'.
She was a presence. She is present.

My thoughts are with you all today.


– Lori Lens-Fitzgerald (@lorilens)

I think of Lisa every day and the impact she had on me. She was always a big hearted person, even at school when so many of us girls turn into evil little madams for a time period. Not Lisa. Always reaching out the hand of friendship and offering advice which seemed older than her years.
As an adult when she attended the salon I worked at people would talk about her as she left as beautiful, funny, warm and with the most amazing smile. That's the impact she had on people, she had a spark, it lit the room up, people remembered Lisa. Talked about Lisa.

Lisa made a huge difference to me and was there for me many times. She was encouraging. She was my friend.

Whenever I see the handsome Corey I see the same spark in his beautiful eyes, it brings a tear to my eye and a smile to my face.

All of those qualities are only some of the reasons why Lisa is missed every day by so many people and why she will never be forgotten. The spark she had will never go out.

– Jennifer Wyman

Where are you?

It's your birthday and I need you for our annual giggle about the year Princess Diana inadvertently scuppered our milestone birthdays (dying on your 18th, funeral on my 21st - what WAS fate thinking?).

I need to bring you a seahorse helium balloon and to dance with you to Jay-Z and Take That. I'd tell you to hush when you insisted on being my number one cheerleader. We'd watch shit TV together and discuss it with the deep thought of Confucious. I so want to be celebrating with you. I can hear your laughter like you're sitting right next to me; I miss you.

– Katherine Busby (@misskbusby)

Happy Birthday, Lisa! Sorry that I will not be seeing you on your birthday, but true to form you have already organised somewhere far better to be.

As is the tradition for our mutual birthday gifts, I have bought you something incredibly useful: a framed signed photo of John Nettles, the popular TV actor from the detective series Bergerac. As John would not answer my letters, phone calls or unexpected midnight visits to his house, I have signed the photo myself instead.

Anyway, here's to you, Lisa. I hope that you enjoy your birthday drinking champagne in some swanky venue with celebrities and whatnot, instead of hanging around with your grubby friends. AGAIN.

Birthday hugs 'n shit.

– @wardotron

And we’re not done with you yet either…

Squashed Tomatoes and Stew – Part 1

Happy birthday Mac.

You’ll love what we’ve got for you today. You see, the other day I asked around all your chums, who all had something to say, all had a few words for you this morning. I have a few myself, but I’ll save them for later, because to be honest we’re going to have to break it down into a few posts today (show-off), and I shall save mine for the last bit.

You see, unlike you, I procrastinate my ass off. So for now, I’ll just say we miss you bird. And while like every other day for the last 172 days, it’s promising to be a little bit more boring, we will be raising a glass or two for you tonight.

Anyway, enough from me. This lot have sommit to say…

Happy Birthday kid! I miss you so very much but I feel your wonderful energy and beautiful spirit is with me every day and I feel blessed and protected because of it. Your life was cut far too short, but your memory is very much alive. Here's to you and the extraordinary legacy you've left us. I love you sweet Lisa.


– Francesca Febbo


Right now I should be looking forward to another of your legendary garden parties - with Pete's curries, your cakes, too much cava and those fence-charring, frankly crap Catherine wheels. Instead, I'll be with some people who loved you too, and there'll be an empty place at our table. Happy birthday mate. We miss you so much. 

Martin xxx 

– Martin Nicholls (@martinnicholls)

I'd like to wish the lovely Lisa a big happy birthday for 30th August.  I met Lisa in the outpatients department at the Royal Marsden whilst we were waiting to see our Oncologist (the famous Curly Professor).  Lisa was such a warm, gorgeous lady and such an inspiration to everyone who met her.  The day Lisa passed, the world lost an amazing woman... 

And even though she is no longer with us, whilst she remains in our thoughts, she will always live on.

Wishing you a Happy birthday wherever you are, you are not far. x x x x x 

– Melanie Daly

Dear Lisa, 

Aaron Sorkin's new series, The Newsroom, is bloody brilliant. Seeing how you chomped your way through The West Wing (don't think I've stopped being jealous of the signed script you got given), and then gorged on Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, complaining about its brief one-series deal, you'd have been all over this. The new one is deeply flawed, but has flashes of absolute brilliance. 

And every time I watch it, every time I think "what would Lisa Mac have thought?" which bits would you have quoted, which characters would you have rooted for? At one point life ensured all you could really do was sit at home watching telly, so what did you do? You got bloody brilliant at watching telly. Just another thing you were brilliant at. I miss your opinions, and your smart-alec comments. Twitter got DULL without you. Mac, telly is shit without your commentary. Not a profound thing to say, but there you go. 

We miss you. 

Marc B 

PS. you'd have totally been rooting for Maggie and Jim to get together.

– Marc Burrows (@20thcenturymarc) 

Happy Birthday, beautiful. I've got something special planned for your birthday next year - I think it would have made you chuckle. This year I will just say this: I will never forget you, you gorgeous girl.

– Sarah (@miametro) 

I am a 5yr breast cancer survivor on the 5th sept, Lisa's book was the best therapy I had during my treatment her book should be given too all woman going through  cancer treatment. I will be raising a glass on Friday to celebrate the loss of a great inspiration.

– Tracy Allsop 

Don’t get too comfy Mac. There’s more coming…

Friday 9 August 2013

Guest Blog #2 – Jim Clarkson

OK, so I've been slow on here. Even after the wonderful reaction to Antonia's magnificent post, even with guest blogs piling up, the hard-act-to-follow blogstipation still gets me.

Not any more though... not with ace guest blogs like this from Lisa's former colleague Jim Clarkson.

Till next time, over to you Jim...


Life and Risotto

I'm stirring risotto, perfect after a long bike ride or on a cold spring day. Well, I'm not actually, I'm trying to shoehorn a link between cooking and life.

So, risotto – it's a great dish – adaptable, filling and simple. It does need attention, and is always best done with a few simple ingredients - pea and ham for example.

To get ahead in life, I think being like a risotto is probably advantageous, and I learnt a few things in life from a certain lady who I worked with for a couple of years.

Well in actual fact we worked together for over 80 years owing to the amount of overtime we had to do.

In that time I got to know Lisa pretty well. The swearing, the fine taste in music (80% of the time) and the kick-ass ( a la South Park) word skills she possesses. I put an extra 's' there so she could have done her cool sub markings that she did.

I was a junior art worker, just fresh into the world of design. I liked words, but I treated them like images – they were there to be made to look nice.

Yet they have so much more potential than that. They hold meanings and messages that can be enhanced and applified with a good penman(or woman)ship.

Words form the core of our lives today – social media carries this humble mark on the screen across a million screens to hungry eyes who absorb the light and ingest the messages. Lisa helped me see their value. The worth of words in the visual centred world of design.

Back to risotto. With its simple, adaptable - and with a bit of attention - deeply fulfilling and rewarding traits. I'm jumping around, I do this, keep up eh?

So risotto-type character traits not often found in everyone you meet. And not always found in risotto.

When you realise you've met a person with skills and a real gift for something, they tend to stick in your head – the fact that they give you a verbal battering if you tripped up also helped to notice said gift. Lisa did this. Often with an 'Oi! Clarkson, you missed the damn em dash!' 

Lisa was nice with it though.
Encouraging and exact.
Funny and frank.
Even and precise.

I'm truly saddened to hear of her passing. Bit of Twitter banter was the most recent contact.

The times I worked with her and all the things she helped me learn will be kept close. I think I have failed with my risotto link, but the key ingredients learnt from Lisa are that honesty, style and a powerful will, help you cope – more than that – conquer all that life places in your path until it stops.

Thanks Lisa.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Guest Blog #1 - Antonia

First things first – it was my birthday yesterday. And I mention this not for attention or gifts (cheques can be addressed to 'CASH', P.O. Box....) but as a blatant excuse to post a pic of the ace card I got from Lisa last year. I missed her card this year. Just as Lisa's brother posted on Facebook last night, "Purchasing the new Jay-Z album without having my Sis to get excited about it with just don't feel right.", I've been feeling similar.

We all have. We all miss Lisa, and it makes sense that we all have a part in what's to come with this blog.

Which, without further ado, save a really hackneyed segue, leads me to proudly post the first of what I hope will be a fine collection of guest posts here, this one from the lovely Antonia Blyth. Enjoy.

Half terrified, half laughing

When I was 12 I developed an irrational fear of flying. Well I say irrational but really, hurtling through the air at 600mph suspended only by a pair of wings that aren’t actually flapping seems so stupid it should be illegal. But instead of protesting, there we all are like a a bunch of lemmings, calmly saying, “ooh I’ll have the chicken tikka...and a white wine...and have you got any of those nice red socks?”.

I digress. While the science of air travel has never really seemed legit to me, the plane jitters are really about the fear of what might happen. They’re about feeling your life could fall to pieces if you don’t have a vice-like grip on the hand rests. Lately I’ve been thinking about this fear. Why do we start life without it, carefree and cavalier, only for it to creep in, ultimately controlling us? What will help us to forget the fear, remember to take risks and reach for things we really want?

Aged 18 we might set off with backpacks and do things like white water rafting! Hot air ballooning! Moving to Australia! Eating toasted insects in Thailand! Then, in our early 20's, we meet people and fall in love without ever pausing to ask if they have mummy issues/plan to wear hideous pants once they hit 30/ will at some future dinner party morph before your eyes into a rather dull, slightly bigoted twat. We don’t worry that everything in our joint future might just be ‘ok’, a bit grey, motionless, with nothing left to say at forced anniversary dinners. No, we leap in and hope for true love, because how else will we find what we truly want?

Then, somewhere around the late 20's mark, there it is, creeping in: the fear. A paralysing safety valve that appears once we’ve been bruised a few times, it’s usually accompanied by thoughts like, ‘if I leave this job I won’t find another’, ‘if I walk out on this shitty relationship, I’ll be lonely so I’ll make do’, or ‘I’ve always wanted to do that but I can’t now’. Gradually we find ourselves clinging to a comfort zone, no matter how dissatisfying it may be.

When I was 27 I went to Colorado to visit a friend. I’d recently experienced a nasty heartbreak with a side order of extreme ugliness. For the first time I truly understood that taking the wrong leap could really be bad news and that living a little too much could have frightening consequences. It seemed better now to play it safe.

We went skiing in Vail. As a kid my family were always more Vienetta than Val D’Isere (it was the 80's), so I’d never even been on a chair lift before.

I sat at the top of the mountain, taking my time adjusting my boots, laughing and acting like ‘a fun person’, but I didn’t want to be there. I definitely didn’t want to try skiing. Taking a risk, flying down a mountain for a thrill didn’t seem fun that day, yet a few years before, I’d gone hang gliding, scuba diving, even learned the flying trapeze. In fact – and I believe Lisa would approve of this analogy – when I first watched the episode of Sex and the City in which Carrie tries again and again to make the catch on the trapeze but can’t get the guts to do it, I’d shouted ‘oh you twat, just reach out and grab it!’ Now I understood her a lot better. Life was scary and dangerous. Up on that mountain in Vail, I just wanted to go to the bar and drink hot chocolate.

I remember sometime later a boyfriend bought me a skydiving experience for my birthday and even though I’d done it before years previously, I was so frightened just reading the voucher poking out of that envelope that for days afterward I had butterflies, trying to think of a way to cancel without seeming like a boring loser.

I had this idea that there was a finite capacity for bravery, like I was maxed out on my scaring-myself card by the time that skydiving invite arrived. Now I needed to be more careful, more worried. I still got on planes, but this time with drugs. “Take one xanax as you check in, have a glass of wine as soon as you can and pop an ambien with dinner,” my doctor said.

The life experiences that led up to this risk-reticence were just the average things that happen to a person moving into their 30's.

A couple of years ago, Lisa invited me to go with her on a book-signing mission to Guernsey. Her nerves were already stretched because she’d been invited to read from The C-Word and give a speech to a room filled with fabulous ladies at an elegant luncheon.

Then she saw the plane.

It was tiny. It sat maybe 12 people tops and the cockpit didn’t even have a door. Watching the pilot develop sweat patches as you taxi down the runway isn’t the most heartening of experiences. Lisa literally white-knuckled her way through the flight.

Once we made it to our beautiful hotel though, we really felt like we were on holiday. We lay on the bed eating crisps and watching crap telly while Lisa made notes for her speech. But she was a bit quiet. She told me it was just her back and arm bothering her from her previous injury and lymph node surgery, but looking back, maybe she had some worry that it was more than that, I’m not sure. But she said nothing more and I didn’t ask. Instead we strolled down to the sea, where the sun was setting behind a tiny beach shack restaurant in an otherwise empty, pebbled bay.

Inside the shack was a fisherman’s cave of memorabilia and classy quaintness: scrubbed wooden bench seats, flickering candles and those funny glass balls in nets. The little place was packed and we were told reservations were made weeks ahead – the food was incredible apparently but we were out of luck. Then, miraculously, we were waved toward a perfect table for two by the window. They’d had a sudden cancellation they said.

As we sat there sipping wine and grinning at our good fortune, a sailboat dropped anchor in the bay, the sky pink and violet behind its creamy sail. We just couldn’t stop smiling at each other and at this view, so happy with our perfect evening. We talked and talked about life and love and everything else. We drank and ate until closing, then finally, we stumbled onto the beach in total blackness, armed with a torch our waiter had given us for the walk. Somewhere on the wooded pathway, Lisa got Pete on speakerphone and he was treated to our shrieks as dozens of bats dive-bombed us.

The next day, after a beautiful reading and speech that reduced the whole luncheon to tears, we got back on that miniature plane. I looked over at Lisa. Her eyes were squeezed shut, she was petrified, but still, she took that rickety ride without complaint. The plane lurched wildly in the wind and gripping her hand, I promised her nothing would happen to us. She never said a word, but I’m pretty sure she was secretly maxed to the hilt with the worst fear a person can possibly know. Her internal scared-credit-card was already way over the limit, making that turbulent plane ride intolerable.

Months later though, with a diagnosis that made her worst health worries into reality, I watched Lisa actively choose to live every day in the present moment, so she could enjoy what she called her ‘lovely life’. For her, the fear of what was to come and how it might encroach upon her had no business interfering with things she wanted to do now. She fronted up to the fear and forced it to stand down. A year after Guernsey, I was meeting Lisa and Pete at Barcelona airport because sod it, we were all going on a Spanish holiday. I saw them across the concourse before they saw me. Pete was wheeling Lisa in the wheelchair, both of them laughing uproariously at something. She was pulling a large suitcase on wheels alongside her chair, because, she later explained, she “had a system”. I just looked at her. Only Lisa would enthusiastically develop a system for wheelchair-with-suitcase travel in the midst of terminal illness. There would be no slump into ‘what’s the point’ for her, not ever. No avoidance of risk was going to get her to stay at home.

Personally, I’m at a crossroads in my life right now and am asking myself what to do next. Often while I’m contemplating the decisions ahead, the fear creeps in and I think ‘oh that would be scary’ or ‘it’ll never work’ or ‘it’s too late, why bother?’. But with Lisa forever nudging me forward, fear is, as they say, not an option.

I happened to snap a picture as we took our seats on that tiny plane in Guernsey. It’s one of my favorites. Directly in front of Lisa you can see the back of the pilot’s shirt. She looks beautiful. Her hair is platinum, her eyes are bright. Her expression is half-terrified, half-laughing – she looks like like a person really living life should look.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

So... What now?

I got an email from Pete the other day.

“Just wondered if you’d had any thoughts on a blog post. Thought it might be time to post one. What d’ya reckon?”

And yes, yes it is. There’s just one tiny hitch, and it’s dripping with irony.

I’ve told this story before, I know, but the last time I saw Lisa (the very last time in fact), we talked Alright Tit and how it she’d built herself up to performance anxiety about it all (she tells this story much better by the way). And there I was, telling her that what was really important wasn’t big long epic posts, but keeping in touch, talking to you lot, making it a cathartic thing for her, because if it was a stress, what was the point? She hardly needed another burden.

Skip forward six months, and here I am, staring nervously at a blank screen. She would so kick my ass right now.

It’s my own fault really. Reading back on that last post, I built up the future of this blog a fair bit, but the fact is it’s three months since that bleak Monday morning phone call from Pete, and as far as what’s going to happen on here, still no idea. Not yet anyway.

If quantum physics and watching Star Trek on Netflix have taught me anything though, it’s that somewhere out there there’s a parallel universe where Lisa’s cranked out some awesome posts in the last few weeks. We’ll never get to read them of course, which is a damn shame because I really really want to read what Alternate-Universe-Lisa managed to write about Angelina Jolie. I want to read what she thinks about how the press bickered about it all, I want to read about her moaning about all the “she’s so brave” cobblers. And let’s face it, she’d probably get a kick out of the ‘me and Angelina’ bit when it came to sharing The Bullshit™. She’d probably have a few choice things to say about Michael Douglas as well, never mind having a tweet-binge over this year’s Eurovision.

Sadly, as much as hanging with A-U-Lisa and gossiping about it all over Tunnocks and tea would take the weight of the past few months away for a moment, the cold truth is it’s not going to happen. She’d look silly with the evil-Spock-goatee anyway.

As time rolls on though, the shock of losing Lisa has evolved into just really really missing her, give or take the odd gut punch of reality here and there. But at the same time, these past few weeks have been about seeing just how loved she is, reading some of the awesome messages you lot have sent to, as well as on here, and remembering happier times of talking toot with her over work e-mail for (literally) years on end.

And of course, looking to the future. There’s more to come. The TV adaptation of “The C-Word” is still bubbling away in development, although my suggestions of turning me into a central character played by Dirk Benedict seem to be getting nowhere. Lisa’s memorial fund with Trinity Hospice continues to grow, and her book keeps shifting off the shelves.

So I’ll say again what I said last time – will continue. In fact, while we ponder exactly what the future might hold, for the next few weeks I’m going to post some of the messages, blog posts, emails and more that you’ve all sent (and if you’re in a guest post kind of mood, even better).

Whatever this site will look like six months from now, it’s going to come not from me but from all of us, and I for one am looking forward to it.

Friday 5 April 2013

For tomorrow

As you might have guessed, it's been a rough few weeks here. For me, it's been a bewildering and exhausting time of grief, joy, meeting new people and, above all, learning more and more about who my incredible friend was.

Was? Excuse me, IS. Because I can't help but think I fibbed in my last post when I said Lisa is still here with us. The truth is, that's a massive understatement. The last few weeks since that devastating phone call have been Lisa Lynch central.

Don't believe me? Well you should see how my phone has been going batshit. You should see how the hit count has been going nuts on this blog. She's been in The Guardian. She's been on the Cosmopolitan site. She even made it to the front page of the Mail online. Talk about milking it Lisa.

And I could talk about how the past few weeks have been for ever. I could talk about what it's been like to be an ambassasador for someone who was clearly loved and admired more than she ever would have believed, let alone admitted.

I could talk about how I've jumped between numb shock, nausea and old-fashioned bewilderment from the news. I could talk about how I can hear that soft Derbyshire drawl in my head, like I could just pick up the phone right now and talk to her.

"Ehh up Jones…"

But I won't. Because since I 'took over', the full weight of what I just inherited keeps hitting me. At Lisa's funeral last week (a day that mixed moments of gut-wrenching grief with lots of meeting wonderful people and raising more than the odd glass to you-know-who), I kept getting asked time and time again "so, what's happening with the blog?"

So, first off, big and loud and unambiguously, let me say this:


How? Well firstly I should make one thing very clear – this isn't my blog (that's [cough] here). At best I'm a groundskeeper for someone who constantly pissed on my chips in joy of life and niftiness of prose.

I'm not qualified for this. I'm not Pete. I'm not family. I've not had to say goodbye to my daughter. I don't even have breast cancer. Who the hell do I think I am, ranting on here?

To tell the truth, sweary tweeting aside, I'd go months without seeing Lisa. She left the dreary Midlands for sparkly London over a decade ago while I remained tediously suburban. She was and always will be my friend, but deep down I know that I wasn't really around at the end and that's what I have to live with. Sorry Lisa.

Still, the last time I saw her, little knowing that it was to be the final time, we discussed the idea that Alright Tit has grown to be something bigger than any of us, even her. Losing Lisa is something that is still fresh, raw and devastating for us, but I honestly believe that this blog has become a community, a place for all of us who were along for the ride as she smacked down the bullshit and who have seen what it's like when that vile disease curls one off in the middle of a life you've built.

I know for a fact that she'd hate for this blog to become a Lisa Lynch mausoleum, a dusty old corner of the web where she's made into a modern day martyr. To be honest she'd find the idea ridiculous. And I also know that this isn't a blog about breast cancer. To quote the old bird herself;

"Alright Tit is no longer a blog about life with breast cancer. It's a blog about life beyond breast cancer. It's a blog about the stuff that The Bullshit put paid to. It's a blog about what happens when your Grand Life Plan is fired a curveball. It's a blog about love and laughs and family and friends… It's a blog about being a thirtysomething dork… It's a blog about the extraordinary life of an ordinary girl."

I'll add to that by the way. It's a blog about remembering old friends and discovering new ones. It's about honouring someone who put us all to shame with electric writing and a work ethic that hovered between humbling and insane. And it's all about us.

What the hell all this means in practice I'm not sure. What I do know is that there's more than a few of Lisa's closest friends who want to be part of it, that it's not going to all fall to me. And I'm open to ideas about what's next.

In fact, with that in mind, I've created an email address for everyone to send ideas and messages to Lisa and family, at Please share – we want to hear from you.

Our awesome friend has left us, but we should be proud of what she left behind.


Sunday 31 March 2013

Thank you

Lisa's family and I have received so many messages, cards, letters, notes and tweets of condolence during the past two weeks. They have induced many tears, much laughter and sustained us in such a way that we can't adequately convey our gratitude and thanks. You are all wonderful, wonderful people. You'll all be pleased to hear the 'festivities' lived up to Lisa's request for an 'inappropriately long and happy party.'

To all the extended family, friends and acquaintances that attended Lisa's memorial service we thank you for your wonderful words and generosity of spirit. If we didn't speak to you all on Wednesday then we promise to do so in the very near future.

To our darling Lisa; forever in our thoughts and always, always in our hearts, we thank you for the life, love and times we shared. 

Finally, in the words of Lisa's favourite poem by Henry Scott Holland:

'Nothing is past or lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before,
Only better and happier.
Together forever.
All is well.'


Wednesday 13 March 2013

There is a light and it never goes out

I've been batting some words around in my head for the last two days searching for poetic prose to do justice to my world, my rock, my best friend, my lover and my wife. Alas, there will never be an easy way in which to tell you all that Lisa passed away very peacefully on Monday, March 11th, 2013.

In a way that only Lisa could pull off, she left us in exactly the way she had planned (a year or so ago, I awoke at 5am to find her furiously typing said plan for the end of her natural life). The plan was to be at Trinity Hospice with her husband and parents. The plan was that we would be overlooking the beautiful gardens. The plan was that it would also be peaceful, beautiful, tranquil and pain free. I probably don't need to tell you that Lisa ticked all of those boxes (what can I say? Some people are just so damn talented that they can plan for any eventuality).

The story doesn't end here. One of her great and oldest friends @quarkmonkey introduced Lisa to journalism at University (Toby, perhaps only Berry Gordy can match you in the talent spotting stakes) and it's therefore highly appropriate that he should become guardian of the blog. His partner in crime - @wardotron - will be joint custodian. I hesitate at affording him the title of guardian (he's a Forest fan). 

We, her family and closest friends, feel complete and utter devastation that is matched only by resounding pride that she was, and will forever be, our girl. For us, it's a time to privately shed tears and to reflect on what she meant and will continue to mean to us. Lisa, I love you with a passion that burns as brightly as you did. Your light will never ever go out. 

I'm now going to hand you over to the much more capable hands of @quarkmonkey who'll share his thoughts and then more anon.


Toby, over to you...

A Message for Lisa

Lisa Lynch. It's time I told you a few things, Lisa flipping Lynch.

The truth is, Mac (and yes, you've been branded 'The Mac' for 15 years) is, well the truth is, you've right royally pissed me off.

First off, you should see the emails I've had since I've started looking after So many people desperate to tell me how wonderful you are and how you have inspired them and so on and so on…

… no, hang on, that's not why I'm annoyed with you.

OK, let's go back a bit. Remember back at Loughborough University? I was editing the student magazine, and on one dreary Monday night when I was hip-deep in deadlines, you wandered into the office, bright as a button. You'd been to a Bluetones gig the night before and written a review, plus a few other bits and bobs. Would I find them handy, you asked?

Well I did. Because to be frank, you'd written solid gold. But then… just as I was breathing a sigh of relief that The Mac was on the team, you casually mentioned that, actually, you were off to Norway for six months, to wrestle puffins or some such. Remember that? Yeah? Thanks for that. THANKS.

Actually, no, that's not it either.

Alright. Remember how you got to be editor of Real Homes Magazine before your 26th birthday? Remember how everyone watched your career skyrocket once you arrived in London, and all me and Ward could do was humbly joke about biding our time and scrounging a job?

No, that didn't really annoy me actually.

How about when you told us you had breast cancer? Then you took the horror and the fear and the pain you went through and somehow, using that insane work ethic of yours, turned it around? You wrote and wrote and before we knew it, you'd become this brilliant blogger who could reach and inspire thousands of readers. Remember when you got "The 'C' Word" published? And you made me cry like a little girl on the bus home from work as I read it?

Nope. That's not why I'm cheesed off with you right now.

Or when your cancer went into remission? Then, just as we all stopped holding our breath and joined you in looking forward to a life beyond The Bullshit™, you emailed me to say it had returned, and that this time it was terminal? And just a few short weeks later, with a cruel twist of the knife, you told us that the years you promised us were now mere months?

Even that, Lisa bloody chuffing Lynch, isn't why I'm hacked off at you.


Lisa, I'm pissed off with you because, on Monday, just as I was waiting for you to recover from the latest Bullshit™ tsunami, working on this blog and feeling useful, my phone rang.

It was Pete.

"I just wanted to let you know… Lisa passed away this morning at about half past nine."

He told me that you died peacefully with him and your family at your bedside and that you weren't in any pain, and I think every single person reading this will take comfort from that.

But there I stood, numb, phone in hand. What? It didn't compute. Lisa Lynch, stellar overachiever, swearer extraordinaire, grammar scourge, champion kicker of the Bullshit's arse, wasn't invincible after all?

THAT'S why I was so angry.


Except it's not really true is it? Because, Mac, you are invincible and you always will be. You could have laid back and submitted to The Bullshit's grip and not one person would have thought badly of you. But instead, you shone even brighter and more brilliantly than any of us could have imagined.

This blog is testament to it. Here you remain, a part of everyone who loves you, who cried along with you as the road turned rough and laughed as you wrote with humour and tenderness and life.

You're still right here. You are here in these pages. You are here in the lives we led with you. You're here every time I watch South Park or play "Abbey Road". You're here right now as I write this, nervously second-guessing my own grammar.

So while it seems like you've left behind a loving husband and a devoted family, and an army of friends and followers who cared for you so so deeply, it isn't really true.

And even though I'm angry because I've lost my incredible friend who I loved so very much, it's also pretty obvious to me that you're not going anywhere.

Lisa Lynch. 1979 – 2013.

Friday 1 March 2013

Holding the fort

Well, as you may have gathered, it's been a crappy few weeks for Lisa, and while she recovers from the latest The Bullshit™ has to offer, she's asked me, Jonze, to fill you all in on what's been happening. And so, while stepping into her shoes is a bit scary (I look silly in Louboutins for a start), I'm not missing an opportunity to sneakily take over (well, borrow) the reins.

Before I do that though, while things have been a bit shite, I've been helping out on Twitter, posting a few updates here and there as I get them from Lisa and P. A lot of you have been concerned, a lot of you have sent really kind messages and all of you want to know more about how the old bird is doing.

As for me, while I'm slightly in the loop, it's been a tough time for Lisa and family, and I've only had the odd update here and there. Nonetheless, despite not having the Lisa Lynch knack for turning medical timelines into nifty prose (and being terrified of incurring her grammatical wrath), it falls to me to tell the tale.

Basically, here's the story. After Lisa had Gamma Knife treatment in November, things got really bad, and she ended up being rushed into hospital on Christmas day. Emergency chemo started a few days later, and after a few really rough days that knocked the proverbial shit out of her, she managed to emerge from a near coma and show off with what her doctors described as a 'miraculous' recovery.

After a couple of weeks of getting past the physical and emotional shock of those grim few days and returning home, she started a new round of chemo and transfusions at the end of January, but a few days later the pain increased again. A CT scan showed evidence of an old subdural bleed which hadn't been spotted before, and she was admitted to Trinity Hospice on the 12th with renewed symptoms.

As of now, she's back at Trinity Hospice, doing a bit better, getting her mojo back and cracking bad jokes, but understandably it's been quite a start to 2013 and everybody's focus is naturally on making sure she's looked after.

The last time I saw Lisa was just before Christmas, literally hours before all this kicked off, and it was as good a cup of tea and a natter as I could hope for. Whenever we catch up, I always have a brief moment of recoil that I'm not talking to "LISA LYNCH – THE WEB'S TOP CANCER BITCH!!!" but my old mate who I've known for 15 years, who lent me all her Eddie Izzard videos and likes shit TV and arguing about Derby County with @wardotron while I sit quietly and wait for the conversation to get interesting again.

Last time we met, we talked about this blog, what it means to her and to you the reader, and while it's not been shits and giggles in the intervening time, I think the positive vibe we both took away from that chat remains. Lisa wants this blog to thrive and while I'm at the helm I'm going to bloody well make sure it does.

I've spoken to a lot of people for whom is important and loved, and it's clear there's a community here. So for the next few weeks, we're opening it up. Lisa's done guest posts before (even for the likes of me), and while things get back to normal, we want more. If you'd like to guest blog on here, give me a shout at @quarkmonkey and I'll run it by the big boss lady.

In the mean time, I'll make sure to pass along the latest from Alrighttit Towers as I hear it.

Till next time...