My brother Scott

As promised last time, I have indeed written a blog about bridges. It’s a chirpy but methodical analysis of the task in hand. It breaks down the bridges into phases that I can tick off one-by-one. It also characterises the river as a spiteful child, in a humorous yet affectionate tone. I think you will enjoy it.

But I’m not going to post that today. That would not be an authentic representation of how I am feeling.

Because today is the two-year anniversary of the death of my wee brother Scott.

Scott died at about 1.20 a.m. on 9 May 2018. I know this because I watched the CCTV of him leaving the Dakota Hotel in South Queensferry at 1.05 and then separate footage of an unidentifiable, but familiar, figure walking onto the south side of the Forth Road Bridge at 1.15. There was no footage of this figure walking off the bridge.

Scott was found by a kayaker on the banks of the Forth at 7.30 p.m. the following day and pronounced dead at 8.05 p.m. on the 10th of May. The police notified us shortly thereafter and we identified his body the next morning.

These are the facts. I take comfort in facts – numbers, dates, places. But they only tell part of the story.

My feelings of grief for Scott have three distinct flavours. Let’s call them past, present and future.

The “past” is the collection of real actual memories I have of Scott, from our childhood together right up to the days of early May 2018, when we exchanged messages about topics as diverse as the cost of a pint of beer, hemorrhoids (his), and checking if he’d called Mum recently.

These are happy memories in the main. I loved my brother very much and I had lots of joyful and fun times with him. I was, and still am, incredibly proud of the person he turned out to be and the things he went on to achieve.

I am grateful that this “past” grief is the predominant one inside my head most of the time.

What I call “present” grief is the grief that I only really feel about this time of year, when I recall in minute and vivid detail the events of early May 2018.

I am occasionally brought back to this time at other points in the calendar – whenever I drive across the new Forth Road Bridge, for example, or past the city morgue in the Cowgate. But really this is an annual feeling that passes with time.

As well as the actual memories of those days, I also speculate about how Scott spent his last couple of days. We know from his credit card receipts that he bought a chocolate and caramel cheesecake from Tesco at about 7.15 p.m. on the 8th of May. I picture him enjoying that amid the unbearable torment he must have been feeling at the time. I try not to go too much deeper into how he would have been feeling that night. It’s not a helpful or healthy place for my mind to be.

Then there is the “future” grief, for the parts of Scott’s life that would have happened but didn’t. This is the most acutely painful aspect of the grief for me. My three kids remember him as their beloved Uncle Scott. And he has a new niece that didn’t get the chance to meet him. This really is the aspect that I find most tragic – the lost time with him for the next generation of his family.

He was a classic fun Uncle to my kids. He was a bit of a shambles generally, so his was not the first number on the babysitting list. But there is no doubt at all that he loved them dearly and they absolutely adored spending time with him.

But I am so grateful that they (and all of us) have his songs, drawings and words to remember him by. What a legacy, what an amazing contribution to the world from a single life.

One of the ways I try to manage this “future” grief is through my work for the charity that we set up in his name. I can’t write new Frightened Rabbit songs or do new Owl John drawings, but I can take his words and the way he lived his life and try to carry that on in some way.

But most of all, I can fulfil the promise that I made to him when I saw him for the last time on the 11th of May.

I thanked him for the life he had led and the example he had set to the world. And I told him then that I would not waste another second of my life.

I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. It just sort of came out amidst the howling sobs in that dark, red-curtained room. But now I understand it. I think if he could have wished one thing for us, it would be for us to enjoy every moment AS IT HAPPENS. Don’t fixate on what has happened, what should happen or what might happen. Be exactly where you are now and be grateful for whatever that moment brings.

I don’t always manage it Scott, I’ve wasted many seconds since I made that promise to you and I’ll waste many more. But I’ll keep trying man.

Miss you bro. Lots of love, Nx.

14 thoughts on “My brother Scott

  1. I’m so sorry, Neil. There are countless people around the world who are feeling lost today remembering Scott. Nothing compared to what his family is feeling, yet lost nonetheless. I wish you health, happiness, and healing in your future life. Please kiss your Mum for all of us.


  2. I’ve had a drink for Scott and the amazing contribution he has given to the world tonight, to bare his heart and soul like he did… Whilst he didn’t make it he has encouraged many others to walk out of the darkness into the light and keep going. He is sorely missed. I hope your family are coping well in these disastrous times.


  3. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m sorry we can’t lessen the grief by sharing it in return.

    I find comfort in the light and inspiration that Scott continues to be a source of. And in the acts of kindness and love that you and your family perform.

    Sending love to all of you…


  4. This was so moving and I am sending so much love to your entire family. We think of Scott often because he comes up in conversation since FR was me and my husband’s favorite band. We saw them a number of times in concert and would decide each time ‘No, that was the best one yet’. Scott sent me posters to gift for birthdays to my husband, my husband proposed to me with a FR song playing on his phone, Scott dedicated a song at a show to us the week of our wedding, and even put our wedding party on the guest list after greeting me with the biggest bear hug – it was insane, and far above and beyond what people do for strangers. But that was Scott, he really saw every person as an individual with a desire to connect with them. I mean those lyrics, the intention behind his musical genius – he experienced life in all it’s messy and beautiful facets. We play FR in our home, we have a bit of a little ‘frightened rabbit’ of our own that is age four and asks to play it! Scott and the beauty he created lives on, and will continue to live on – far past my life. But while I am here I will continue to remember him and tell everyone I know they have to listen to this song, I will look at his drawings with so much appreciation, and I will think of all the good memories I was given because of the creativity he poured from his soul. Sending so much love from California to your family. He will never be forgotten.


  5. Neil, I adored you brother, and 10 months ago lost my own brother. I’m m halfway around the world, but I just wanted to say this is the first thing I’ve read that felt like a friend talking to me; making it ever-so-slightly better. From a complete stranger, you’re also making tiny changes across the planet. Thank you for that, and may our brothers sing together in the ether…


  6. Thank you for sharing Neil. I met Scott a few times at gigs and festivals, he made a huge impression on me, like he did on so many others and he continues to be an inspiration on me in my day to day life.
    My thoughts are with you and your family x


  7. So well written Neil. Hope you and family are safe and well. Having time and making sure you take time to remember those happy memories is special, and a couple of cracking photos help that process… Those jumpers in particular are amazeballs! Did Mother Hutch knit those bad boys? Stay safe


  8. Shed a tear for your family the night Scott was found, I don’t mind telling you. Your love for your brother comes through so vividly in this, it genuinely took my breath away a couple of times. As soon as I’d finished reading, I went back and reread it two or three times which looks a bit odd now I’ve typed that out and read it back to myself.

    Lost my little brother just after Scott passed. Like him, he suffered terribly with his mental health and in July of 2018, he decided he didn’t wanna be here anymore. He’d turned 26 only a few weeks beforehand. Unfortunately, when I think of him, my mind is stuck on his last days 100% of the time. His second anniversary is looming as is his 28th birthday next week. Absolutely shitting it.

    Thanks for the post. Put into words a lot of things I’m unable to articulate. Hope you’re all keeping safe up there. X


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