Guest Post: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

Guest Post: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

I am handing this blog over to my sister today, who has written a beautiful tribute to her great friend, Lisa Kelly, who sadly passed away a year ago today.

Unbelievably, its been a year today that I lost a truly unforgettable friend.

I still struggle to come to terms with the what’s, why’s and how’s.

I still cry whenever I hear a song that reminds me of her; of which there are many.  And I still think about her every single day.

She had many sayings & quotes.  Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda now haunts me.

Even though circumstances put distance between us in her final years, we’d spent such a significant life affirming time together that we were bonded for life.

She changed my life.  I can honestly say I’d be a different person had I not met her.

I knew where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be, but I had no idea how to get there.  She showed me.  She changed my negativity and self doubt into positivity and self belief.  She genuinely loved to make people feel happy.  Her childlike boundless energy was infectious.

Crazysexycool was her definition of herself.  She was definitely all of those, although not necessarily all at the same time!

‘Who needs a telly when you’ve got Lisa Kelly’  

This was true!  There was certainly never a dull moment.

Music was her life.  I met her in 1999 when she moved into the villa I lived in in Dubai.  She was a breath of fresh air.

She made me laugh so much.  Side splitting belly laughs.

She was a presenter on Dubai FM and a DJ.  We become best friends and after a year in Dubai, both decided to uproot to Australia.  Here she started presenting on Rhythm FM and DJ’d in several bars and clubs in Sydney.

She was in her element.

She was in love with a boy, a city, and her music.


Many many stories were created in the year we were there.  Too many to tell.  All would involve friends, family, music, fun, laughter and probably vodka.

She was fiercely loyal to her friends and family.  She loved them all.  I thought I knew some of them I’d never met because she talked about them constantly.

Most had a nickname.  Even if Lisa was the only one who used it.

If you cared too much about what others thought, she’d say “those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter”

If you wanted to go home early she’d say “here for a good time, not a long time”

If we hadn’t eaten properly for a week because we were either too busy, too wasted, or too broke, she’d say “No such thing as too skinny!”

I didn’t say all her advice was good advice…


I had to leave Australia when my visa ran out and Lisa followed me a few months after.

She landed a job presenting on a radio station in Bristol and DJ’d in bars and clubs.  All was going well, even though she still pined for Sydney.

Unfortunately she was made redundant when the station was taken over and turned into a commercial radio station.  I remember Lisa saying she didn’t want to be told what to say or play.

It was here things slowed down.

Whenever we spoke, she’d always say she’d been listening to all our Australia ‘tunes’ and looking at photos.

I believe she never truly moved on.  She wasn’t ready to leave Sydney and I think she was waiting for something else to top it.

This is just my theory.  I’d not spent any time with her over the last 5 years.

She was living in Cyprus.  I’d had a baby.  We spoke occasionally.  She said she was happy.

She eventually moved back to England a year before she passed away.

She kept losing her phone, so it was hard to get hold of her.  I knew she wasn’t herself.  Her emails were vague, if she ever responded.

The Lisa I knew was all but gone.  And whatever concerns I had, I brushed off as ‘its Lisa – she’s fine – if anyone can sort themselves out, she can’.

I feel guilt!  If only I knew.  If only I had delved a little deeper.  Worried more.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda

I tell myself that I wouldn’t have been able to help, as she was a pretty determined little lady and knew how to get what she wanted.

A degree in psychology and a genuine passion for it, meant she was truly fascinated with people.  It also meant she was smart enough to kid herself and others that all was well.

“Its not what you say it’s how you say it”

It turns out she was an alcoholic.  Drink was her demon.  We all knew she liked a drink but most of us had no idea of the extent of her problem until she was in a coma.

We all liked a drink in our 20s, but it’s as though Lisa never really left the party.  Even after all her friends left and got on with their lives, Lisa stayed and waited for the party to get good again.

Maybe she drank to remember, or maybe she drank to forget.  I don’t know.  I don’t think she could have even told you.

Alcohol had taken her over.

Lisa didn’t ruin her life.  Alcohol did.

And, I truly believe it is a disease.  Some people have a weakness for it more than others, but that doesn’t mean they are not worthy of help, sympathy or understanding.  If it can take hold of someone like Lisa; someone so strong and full of life as she was, then it is a truly powerful disease indeed.

I believe that had she survived this time (there had been several admissions to hospital in that year apparently), she would have gone on to help others in her situation.  As she will never get that opportunity, I hope this post might do so in her honour.

If this inspires just one person to get help for themselves or someone else – I’m sure she would be happy and proud.

Lisa, I am so grateful to have had you in my life.  Thank you for all the laughs, the lessons and the fun.  

And, I am so so sorry you’re no longer here.

Love your friend, Angie (Smudge)


Lisa Bainbridge aka Lisa Kelly

20th April 1973 to 23rd November 2012 – Age 39


Help can be found here…

Alcoholics Anonymous





  1. November 23, 2013 / 8:55 AM

    What a beautiful young lady, a life taken so young but a well written tribute with some great memories, sadly nothing you could do would have prevented it but the questions will always remain sending hugs to you and the family x

  2. November 23, 2013 / 9:15 AM

    An old friend of mine passed away just over a year ago, choosing to commit suicide. I hadn’t seen him for many years, but even his closest friends had no idea he was in such a poor mental state and it made the whole thing such a shock. It’s clear from this post that you loved Lisa dearly, even if your lives had taken different paths and when someone is in the grip of an addiction, I’m not sure that anyone or anything could get them out of it. You’ve honoured her beautifully with this post and I’m sure she’d be glad to know that someone loved her this much.

  3. November 23, 2013 / 10:37 AM

    She sounds like an amazing friend. Alcoholism is a horrific and destructive disease and I am sorry that it took away your dear friend too soon. Thank you for sharing your friendship and your story. I, like you, hope that it inspires others to get help x

  4. November 23, 2013 / 10:45 AM

    Oh what a beautiful post and I am so sorry that you lost such a lovely friend. She sounded like an amazing person and that is a tragic way for her life to end. Such a beautiful tribute.

  5. November 23, 2013 / 10:53 AM

    Such a lovely post in her memory, so sad too. My husbands uncle died from alcoholism, I totally agree it is a disease.
    Fabulous photos, such a beautiful lady x

  6. November 23, 2013 / 11:10 AM

    What a lovely tribute. She sounds like a wonderful and beautiful person. It is so sad.

  7. November 23, 2013 / 11:21 AM

    awwww what a wonderful tribute to a special friend – she was such a beautiful womana nd you can see her fun and lively personality shining through all those photos. Alcoholism is a disease and one that is so easy to succumb to. such a loss to you – i am so sorry (hugs) x x

  8. November 23, 2013 / 12:24 PM

    I think anything that people write to bring this issue more out into the open is so worthwhile. It’s a bit like mental illness, in that it’s kind of a dirty word to admit to having in your life, but it shouldn’t be, and as a nation struggling more and more with alcohol issues, we need to get better at managing them. Perhaps she could have been saved, perhaps no-one could have helped. It was certainly not your fault, but you have written a lovely post. Your friend sounds beautiful x

  9. November 23, 2013 / 2:01 PM

    My dad has been gone 6 years this year and it took alcohol a long long time to get him because he had a very strong body and heart but it won in the end. I totally agree with helen above that this subject area needs to be talked about more and more because so many are suffering in silence.
    Your friend sounds a beautiful soul, I’m sorry she suffered in the end and lost her way as she was a shining star for everyone who knew her.
    Maybe she is even speaking now through your beautiful blog post and everyone’s replies
    Shoulda, woulda, coulda 😉

  10. November 23, 2013 / 3:12 PM

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady. Really struck by what an impact she clearly had on those who knew her, even though her life was shorter than it should have been. Important post, alcoholism needs talking about much more openly.

  11. November 23, 2013 / 5:36 PM

    What a wonderful tribute to a beautiful lady. I’m so sorry your friend suffered so much. xx

  12. November 23, 2013 / 5:42 PM

    What a beautiful tribute. You get a real sense of the fun you had together, and what a warm wonderful woman she was. How very sad she died so young, addiction is heartbreaking- I too lost a friend to alcohol in his thirties- he just didn’t want to stop drinking, but he never stopped being a fab person either, and we all still miss him. Love to you and her family. xx

  13. November 23, 2013 / 5:44 PM

    Oh goodness, such beauty and happiness in those photographs, hiding so much sadness.
    Someone in my family is a ‘recovering’ alcoholic – it was so scary seeing them destroy themselves, and their relationships… These things SHOULD be faced, it must have been a hard post to write, very, very moving…

  14. November 23, 2013 / 8:49 PM

    What a sad sad and touching story. It it makes me so sad, there is no way I can imagine how you are feeling, to loose such a beautiful person.

  15. November 23, 2013 / 9:37 PM

    Coming from the daughter of an alcoholic even if you had known about her drinking there is no way of knowing where you would have been able to change things for her. Alcohol sadly is an addiction that is difficult to let go of and many unfortunately never stay on the wagon long. A beautiful post, thank you fgoir shafting your memories you had with her but please remember we make our own decisions and this was Lisa’s to drink.

  16. November 23, 2013 / 10:56 PM

    Well done to you for having the courage to write about what must be such a difficult thing, to put into words. It’s not until something like this has touched your life that you realise the full weight of it – my father used to be an alcoholic and it was a long, thankless road that saw him step off onto a new path.

    Hopefully your words will reach the right people! xxx

  17. Angie
    November 24, 2013 / 3:12 PM

    Thank you to all for your kind, insightful comments and for sharing your own stories! Your experiences have helped me in my own understanding and I’m encouraged by the willingness to talk openly about this. I am so touched by how well its been received. Thank you!! Angie (Smudge) xx

  18. November 25, 2013 / 12:47 AM

    Such a beautifully written post, but how very sad xx

  19. Angela Richards
    September 29, 2014 / 1:04 AM

    A dear cousin gone way to young beautiful memory’s xxx

    • Grenglish
      October 3, 2014 / 10:51 AM

      So sorry for your loss x

  20. gerard
    March 20, 2015 / 7:07 AM

    hi, ive just found this and think its was an amazing tribute to an amazing woman . i met lisa on 31st aug 1995 and we spent 4 years together . we where very young but it was a serious relationship.after many many trips to visit her in uni in plymouth and bristol our long distance relationship ended but its nice to find some information on what she done after we lost contact . i did attend the funeral but didnt really know what she done after in great detail ( although i did speak briefly on facebook ) . taken too soon too young

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