5th October 02

Today was the day of Kate Duffin’s funeral, so I took a day’s annual leave to accompany Duffy, as much for my peace of mind as to help her. Since Kate’s death last week Duffy has barely uttered two words to me - she still blames me for not saving her mother - and I'm concerned about her. She doesn't have any other family bar the boys, but feels so let down by all of us at the hospital that she refuses to trust us anymore. Or maybe it's just me she no longer trusts?

I'd like to say that by the time I left her this afteroon we'd mended some bridges but I'm not sure if that's true. She's still acting cool towards me; speaking only when spoken to, avoiding eye contact, sitting on the opposite side of the room. Oh, she's being polite, but since when are best friends polite to each other? Odd as it no doubt sounds I'd much rather she was screaming and crying in my arms, but perhaps that is selfish of me. I just want to know that she's got someone looking out for her, and yes, I want that someone to be me.

When I turned up on her doorstep this morning she looked genuinely shocked that I should be there, and I'm sure there was a brief moment when she considered not letting me in. She was the perfect hostess though; made me a cup of tea while she laid out the food for the wake. I tried to coax her to sit down and talk to me, but she just gave me an icy look and said that she had too much to do before leaving for the crematorian.

The boys, Peter and Jake, sat quitely in the living room in front of the morning kids programmes, done up uncomfortably in the little charcoal suits that I remember them wearing for Andrew's funeral, just over a year ago. Then they had been squirming and fidgetting as Duffy and Kate tried to get them to sit still, now they looked like all the exuberance had been washed out of them. Two bereavements in such a short time must be hard to cope with for Duffy but those boys have to cope with their own feelings and a mother who is, well, shell shocked seems a good description. I just hope that she isn't pushing them away the way she is me.

The service was pleasant. A simple affair, neither Duffy nor Kate were religious. An old friend of Kate's read the eulogy, Duffy wasn't up to it, even listening to it sent her to tears. To be honest I was so absorbed in watching if she was alright that I didn't hear all that was said. From what I did hear though I found myself wishing I had got to know Kate better.

Duffy kept herself busy at the wake, feeding sandwiches and cake to a never ending stream of pensioners who all swore that they knew Kate ever so well and wasn't it such a terrible shame, and didn't Duffy have lovely curtains.

After a few hours, that seemed much longer, they all started to trickle away, the boys got changed into play clothes and started to perk up a bit when Duffy pushed them into the garden while she and I tidied up. Mostly in silence. And when we were done she basically dismissed me, saying 'Thanks for the help Charlie, I don't want to keep you though, I'm sure you have things to do. I know I have.'

'Anything I can help with?'

'I think you've done enough'

'Duffy, I am very sorry that she died...'

'Not sorry enough to save her though, not sorry enough to even try'

'You know why I couldn't, Duf'

'Yeah, I know. But that doesn't make it any easier to live with. I'm all alone because of you and your precious principles'

'I'm sorry. Truly sorry, but you're not alone, not if you don't want to be...'

She sniffed, looked away from me, and I could see her chin start to tremble. It was instinct to put my arms around her, not a conscious decision. She is practically family after all.

She didn't fight against me, in fact she actually put her arms around my waist as she struggled to compose herself, but when she'd got back her precarious grip on her emotions she wriggled out of my arms, stepped away and headed for her front door, opening it for me.

'I really am very busy today Charlie, but thanks for coming'

A breakthrough? A glimpse of being forgiven? Or was she so upset that she forgot to be angry for a few seconds?

In a futile effort to take my mind off things I bought a copy of the Evening Gazette on the way home and I still can't get the headline out of my mind. Right there in bold black print: HOLBY DOC GETS 3 YEARS FOR MANSLAUGHTER.

Poor Lara, I just can't think of anything more to say on the subject. Even when that ridiculous verdict came in last week no one expected her to receive a custodial sentence, let alone such a long one, but three years... I tell you I'm in shock. That's supposed to be justice, is it? I hope Lara already has her legal team working on the appeal because there is no way that she deserves to be in prison.

Young Nikki seems to have started off the call for Lara's release though. It was Nikki's day to collect the Bravery Award from the council today, in recognition of her stabbing in the line of duty or whatever they call it to make it sound less brutal. As ever there were jounalists there to cover the awards, and Nikki made a statement to them.

I know from experience that you have to be very careful around journalists as they have a habit of twisting things, but you have to give them credit occasionally for honing in on a deserving cause. Following the front page all about Lara's trial, inside was a further page about the violence directed at NHS personnel: Nikki's stabbing, and how the paramedic's don't get given stab vests as a matter of course, Collier's - apparently 'alleged' - attack on Lara, and a couple of cases from St Thomases and Broadway General.

If they'd asked me for examples I could have given them a list as long as my arm of incidents inside the hospital, what about Tina, Sam, Jude, and the numerous black eyes and split lips the rest of us have put up with? But all in all it was a good article. I might pin it up on the hospital notice board... Doubt that Jan would approve, but since we broke up she hasn't appeared in the department very much, so I might be able to get away with it!

I suppose I should really call Colette and find out how things went in the hospital today, but frankly I'm knackered and I trust her and Harry to keep the others under control. I would call Duffy just to make sure she's okay, but I don't think she'd appreciate it. Give her time Charlie, she's still upset.

So I think that's it for to--

Now where was I? The phone just rang, Josh, wanting to go for a drink and a chat, but I'm just not in the mood to socialise right now. I asked him about the hospital and all he said was that 'someone needs to keep that Simon under control', whatever that means?

Anyway, I think that's everything important from today, but just before I go to bed I reckon it might be helpful to jot down a few words for the press. Just in case. I dread to think what Jan's official statement on Lara will be...



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