We had some very sad news yesterday. It was announced, by a friend close to the family, that blogger Anna Raccoon had died peacefully, very early on Thursday morning.
Anna, whose real name was Susanne Cameron-Blackie, had been extremely ill with cancer for some time, but had borne it with exceptional grace. And she didn’t let a little thing like end-stage cancer get in the way of her energetic pursuit of various projects. Her eponymous blog, now sadly only available via the Wayback Machine since it was well and truly hacked late last year, is full of gems and observations which must be read to be fully appreciated. It was a gathering place, too, for commentators from all walks of life; this earned it the designation of “The Raccoon Arms”.
Some may remember that in the last election, she stood for Parliament in order to work on a cause that had deep personal meaning for her: she wanted to ban lawsuits against the NHS, which she believed were crippling the health service and creating unacceptable gaps in front-line care.
In one of her characteristically acerbic posts, in the new blog created for the purpose, she referred to this as “this obscene situation of the NHS being skinned alive for money”.
Ms Raccoon is ‘lying’ for parliament, where other candidates merely ‘stand’ for parliament. No matter. The legs might not work, but the brain does! WE will force parliament to end the ridiculous situation whereby NHS Litigation fund amounts to 50% of the NHS budget. That’s your cancer treatment, your wait in A & E, your hip replacement not happening because others are suing the NHS.
She didn’t win her seat, but she got to make her point: the media picked up the story, and Anna earned coverage in The Sun, The Telegraph, The Eastern Daily Press…despite being confined to a bed and unable to move from the chest down, she achieved widespread publicity for a cause she passionately believed in.
We first encountered Anna via Twitter, when this blog was in its infancy; she was one of those standing up to the Hoaxtead mobsters at that time, and was one of the first people to make the connection between the earlier Hollie Greig hoax in Scotland and the Hampstead SRA hoax. In fact, she provided us with some excellent background material on those involved in promoting the Holliehoax, which she’d begun covering when it was relatively new.
We remained in touch with her by email, and found in Anna a staunch ally and sage advisor.
Last year, we ran a series of stories about the involvement of Belinda McKenzie, Yolande Kenward/Lindridge, and John Hemming in a case in which a supposed grandson of a well-known South African religious leader had bolted from the Royal Courts of Justice. Anna, ever on the alert, was quick to warn us that while what we were publishing was correct, we would be in contempt of court if we allowed it to remain on the site. She was right, of course; we removed the stories, and later heard that others who’d published similar material had got into some serious legal hot water.
While most of our online friends and colleagues are people we’ve never met in person, El Coyote was fortunate enough to meet Anna for breakfast last year, when she was still relatively healthy. They enjoyed a “full English” in a café in Bayswater, and Anna regaled EC with hilarious tales of some of the characters she’d met in her long and storied career online. It was an all too brief meeting, but EC felt privileged to have had the chance to sit down with Anna, knowing that she was, as La Raccoon herself put it, “date-stamped”.
Even in her last days, Anna was positive and upbeat, focusing on what she could accomplish rather than on her physical limitations. A few weeks back, she wrote to us:
…The ketamine is working a treat and apart from the occasional twinge, I don’t feel a thing which is pretty amazing under the circumstances. They didn’t expect me to live like this for more than a few days/weeks—they’ve never had anyone maintained in a home situation this long on ketamine, but I’ve surprised them all, and now with sepsis for a second time yet again. I burst out laughing every time the Doctor comes: “I’m still here, you’ll be filling out your coff points for a third year at this rate….” (not sure what a coff stands for but the GP gets an extra £500 or so for each terminally ill patient he has on his books at the end of each year) so I take the piss out of him—at nearly 70 you can do that and get away with it!
We will miss Anna’s acute observations, her staunch friendship, her humour and grace, her honesty, her willingness to engage with anyone of any political or philosophical stripe, so long as the debate was respectful. She was a very special person, and we feel honoured that she numbered us among her friends.
Sleep well, dear Anna. You’ve earned it.