Grave Goods – Isy Suttie

Isy Suttie. Portrait by Dave Bruce

Isy Suttie. Portrait by Dave Bruce

Welcome to Grave Goods, an occasional series of interviews in which we ask a person of interest to select five items to accompany them to the afterlife. For this outing, we have the rather good Isy Suttie.

Isy is a comedian and writer, has appeared in Channel Four’s ‘Peep Show’ and ‘Man Down’, and written and performed her Sony Award winning Radio 4 show, Isy Suttie’s Love Letters. Additionally during lock down, she has managed to complete a novel ‘Jane is Trying‘, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in July 2021.

Isy can also be found over on Twitter, where her occasional series ‘Suttie Sweeps’, in which the floor findings of the day are displayed, has a supportive and growing following.

Isy’s Selection are:

Tools of the Trade – a tool/implement without which you’d be lost, whether it’s a pen, trowel, notepad, bottle-opener or scanning electron microscope.

I’m torn between a pen and a notebook, because which is the most important if you want to write? I’d say a pen, as a notebook is useless without a writing implement, unless you enjoy looking at blank pages, something most writers are certainly used to. So I’d take a pen, and I’d have to write a novella all over my body. A book that no-one will read. Not even me, as I’m not flexible enough to read my own back.

Food for the Journey – a favourite portable snack, or a portion of something from your funeral feast.

Derbyshire oatcakes with lashings of butter, a pinch of rock salt and islands of Marmite. There is much debate about whether Derbyshire or Staffordshire oatcakes are better. We’re not talking about oatcake biscuits, we’re talking about the big floppy pancake sort of oatcakes. If you haven’t tried them, you must. Don’t wait until you’re dead and then hope to bump into me. I won’t share mine. Derbyshire oatcakes are a perfect round disc, while Staffordshire oatcakes have irregular edges and are thinner. Of course I’m biased, but it’s Derbyshire all the way for me.

Memento Vivere – a memento of a companion/event to bring you cheer (can be an image). A vase I’ve got on the shelf which is made of strips of pastel clay which are layered to form a kind of flower. It’s uneven and lovely. I don’t remember where it’s from and who made it, but I look at it almost every day. I keep my receipts in it.

Ex Libris – the book or text you are least likely to tire of reading.

I never read books twice, even my favourite books, which are The Magus by John Fowles and The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch. So I think I shall have to say my own book, not because of any egotistical reasons, but because each time I read it I discover a new thing I’d like to change.

Lucky Deposition – a bonus selection chosen by the guest – can include transport.

A cat jumper which is taking me years and years to knit – so long that it’s far too small for the child (my own) it was intended for and will have to be foisted on another child (my own second one, or perhaps another unsuspecting one). Two cats are looking over a wall at a mouse. The mouse is a stuffed mouse which is sewn onto the jumper by its tail and can slot into either pocket. The knitting method involves something called intarsia which I found very difficult. This jumper has been to so many places with me, and often I’ve only managed a row or so as it takes me so long to follow the pattern, and it’s still not finished. Perhaps it was never meant to be finished.

A Message from Beyond the Grave – an entirely discretionary option – leave a note for a future generation to find.

Don’t start knitting a cat jumper before you’ve mastered intarsia.


Jane is Trying‘, Isy’s debut novel, is available from Weidenfield & Nicholson from July, and her ‘Isy Suttie’s Love Letters and Other Matters of the Heart‘ audiobook is available from a number of suppliers via the Penguin website.

Isy Suttie 'Jane is Trying'

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