Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Life and Times.

This is a photograph of me and my eldest daughter, she is thirty years old now. The photo was taken by her grand-dad on holiday in Spain.
I had Emily when I was 23.
I had no plan for our lives, other than to be happy.
The early years of my marriage and motherhood were lovely. We owned our house (well, with a mortgage) my husband had a good job in The City and I was a stay-at-home mum. Me and Emily had a blissful couple of years. Then when I was pregnant with my second child, my husband lost his job and the recession kicked in. Our riches turned to poverty.
Our freedoms turned into prisons. The prison of poverty and depression.
My husband fell into a despair. But I had two young people to nurture.
A lot of people were in the same boat and we all helped each other out, some managed to stay strong while others fell by the wayside.
Then circumstances picked up again and we were OK for a while. My husband chose to spend a lot of time in the pub, but that was alright with me as it just meant that I could enjoy my two precious daughters.
I ignored my husband's mood swings. I was too busy playing with my daughters and my nieces and nephews. I absolutely adored being a mum, an auntie, a sister-in-law.
There are good memories: lovely restaurants when my husband was working, Bibendum was a firm favourite with its swish, ridiculously handsome waiters delivering outstandingly good food.
Oh and the brilliant gigs.  Oasis and  Pink Floyd in 1996 resonate in my memory. The Oasis gig will live me forever. That night in the stadium at Maine Road was easily the best night of my life. I remember feeling the years falling away, I danced and sang like a teenager, I laughed and cried, the atmosphere was electric and the adrenaline was pumping. I was on a high for about two weeks after the gig, silly smile glued to my face and managing to get a lyric into nearly every conversation. 'I'll pick you up at half past three- we'll have LASAGNAAAAA.' I must have driven everyone potty.
But there were nagging problems in the marriage. A sense of isolation. My husband was never there. He missed birthday parties, births, joyous special individual moments.
He was an angry man. But I remained oblivious to this anger, in fact I found it boring- which is weird, but then I had been brought up by an angry dad so maybe the anger or discontent didn't have the desired affect he wished to pronounce on me?
Life went on.
The girls thrived. We got a dog- Alfie, a black Labrador.
Emily went travelling while my younger daughter attended college. My husband was still in the pub.

My brother became seriously ill. My sister-in-law and I were very close, our children had grown up together and I love her very much. My poor brother died slowly, bit by bit really, over the course of three years from a brain tumour. He died on November 8th 2002.

But on the night of 7th November 2002, my husband complained of a bad headache which turned out to be a brain haemorrhage.
A real nightmare ensued.

My husband 'recovered' although when he awoke from nine hours of life saving surgery, he said he wished he had died.

Still, we ploughed on.

Then, in 2007, our car broke down.

How silly is life?
I suggested to my husband that the car had overheated and we needed to let it cool, replace the water and start it up again. My husband was enraged at this suggestion and threw a very large, very heavy bunch of keys at me, hitting me in the face.
A young boy, walking past witnessed this and it was the look on his face that ended my marriage.
The disbelief at the anger, the over-reaction, the bullying behaviour? I don't know. But the look in that young boy's eyes changed my outlook forever. And I thank him for opening my eyes, to my marriage and the direction of my life.

Fast forward ten years.
I live in a funny old rented house. I live with Emily and our dog, Billy, a chocolate Labrador. My younger daughter lives nearby with her partner who is lovely.

We are happy, we love each other, support each other  and life goes on.

Emily is pregnant with my first grandchild.

I am writing a lot.
My dad is relying on me to help him now that he is old and alone.
My sister-in-law is content and has carved out a new life for herself and her family.
My ex is still in the pub.

Life goes on.
Round our way the birds are singing.
Round our way the sun shines bright.

Monday, 11 December 2017

In Praise of Red Lippy

Oil on card by Celia Turner.

My beloved grandma always wore red lipstick, she would not leave the house without a full face of make-up crowned by her lush red lips. It must be in my genes because as long as I've been wearing lipstick ( which is a long time) it's been red. At the moment it's Alarm by Rimmel to walk the dog around the park and Gabrielle by Chanel for special occasions. Chanel lipsticks are an extra special treat as they come in lovely little boxes tucked into  lovely little Chanel bags. A beautiful present to yourself.

Although this doesn't apply to me, red lips have been seen for centuries as a stamp of immorality. In more God- fearing
medieval times, it was believed that creating a plump sexualised mouth would take you on a one way ticket to the devil's doorway. Several hundred years later, Parliament passed a law condemning lipstick, considering it a sign of witchcraft. Good job I wasn't alive in those times, yet another reason to pop me on the ducking stool.

Confusingly there have also been long stretches in history that were entirely pro-red lippy. The Sumerians invented the stuff, just 200 miles outside of Babylon. Egyptian women liked to deepen their lip colour, in fact they were so embraced with beautifying that they were buried with pots of rouge. Queen Elizabeth 1 was famous for her strong red lips, making them regal not sleazy.
And then to Hollywood, with its Technicolor films and beautiful studio portraits;  red lipstick proclaimed GLAMOUR. Think Jean Harlow's pointy pout in the 1930's, Veronica Lake's in the 1940's and of course the purring pouty pout of pouts, the one and only Marilyn Monroe in the 1950's.
These were women with overtly feminine power. They loved being women, they knew their allure, they celebrated their feminine strength.
Even the act of applying red lipstick is empowering. By dressing your lips in red, it draws attention to you, especially your mouth and subsequently the words that come out of it. Red lippy is a symbol of prowess. Unlike other cosmetics that correct or camouflage something we aren't keen on, red lipstick is about assertion. Red lippy is a statement.

Red lippy is a beautiful case of chicken and egg. It may require confidence to wear but confidence can actually result from the wearing of it - and no-one needs to know which came first.
Go on, treat yourself.
You are definitely worth it.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The House.

I have lived in this funny old house for ten years yet I have never known how long I would be able to stay so I have never felt inclined to splash the cash and decorate.
Times change however and for the first time I have secured a guaranteed two year tenancy on the property.

The house is a three bedroom semi with original features. One original feature is a windowless, door-less  'conservatory' which obviously did not fare well during the second world war.
The French doors are also original, they probably were original during the French Revolution before being shipped across the channel on a rickety raft. They are drafty and rattle in the wind, they have age spots all over the window panes, an antique dealer would probably love them.

When I moved into the house all the windows, keyholes and air vents had been covered in plastic sheeting and taped up.The back door had not been used at all for years and years. The garden was a jungle.
The bathroom was covered in mould and had an avocado coloured suite.
The kitchen comprised of a few sticky pine cupboards and gaps where appliances should have lived.

I have been very happy living in this funny house because here I am free.

The first time I opened the back door, after having spent ages stripping off layers and layers of plastic and sticky tape, I found myself greeted by about seven fat pigeons eyeing me suspiciously from their perch on a window ledge of the 'conservatory.' Not one of them flinched. They seemed to stare at me in unison before looking at each other as if to say, 'Ah, she's harmless, let's just stay put.' Which they did. I struggled through bindweed, ivy, poo and stinging nettles to reach the door ( non existent)
out into the garden. It was a cold, damp February day, I decided to leave the garden until the spring.
I left the back door open in an effort to air the house.

I went around the house removing colossal amounts of  plastic sheeting, bubble wrap and sticky tape and at last the house could breathe.
I went back downstairs to find two pigeons parading up and down the hallway. I tried to shoo them out but they flapped up and away up the stairs. They sat on the banister staring at me for quite some time before swooping down and out of the now opened front door, not before shitting all over the hall carpet.
That evening a fox sauntered in to have a look around, it actually looked affronted when I shooed it out with a broomstick. This house needs a broomstick, I realised that early on.

That was the beginning.
The garden is forever overgrown with bindweed but it is a lovely space, there is an ancient apple tree, a couple of mulberry bushes, a beautiful mature and magnificent Japanese acer , the colours of which are breathtaking, a fledgling acer which I planted and lots of unidentified other foliage.

The house, my funny old house has been transformed into a Chateau. I love the French style, shabby chic. It's a minimal house, the basics are all I need and all that I want.
The 1930's infrastructure that hadn't really been tampered with over the years provided a good template for decorating. Picture rails and dado rails, deep skirting boards, ancient embossed wall paper,old wooden internal doors and the original fireplaces provided me with the basic look and I simply enhanced it. It's been really hard work but I am so pleased with myself, my old furniture that I have collected over the years suits the house perfectly.
Of course a visitor might not understand my vision. There are no shiny surfaces or black and white lines. The bathroom suite is still avocado but is so old fashioned it now looks fashionable again.
Bedside tables are small towers of old Vogue magazines.
A retro radio stands pride of place in my little kitchen, incongruously blaring out indie hits on Radio X.

There is a broomstick in the garden and a horseshoe in the 'conservatory.'
Mr Fox sits under the apple tree.

All is well.
Coco Chanel. Oil, based on photograph by Cecil Beaton.
This painting hangs in my hall.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

A Short Tribute To Coco Chanel.

Coco Chanel. Photographed by Cecil Beaton 1937
In 1918, when Coco Chanel presented her first collection of gowns, she heralded a new type of glamour
that became instantly classic. Her vision was modern, streamlined and elegant.
Like Chanel, who broke every rule, classic glamour doesn't adhere to strictures.
Yet you know it the instant you see it.
And what might be trashy on someone else (marabou feathers, sequins, an asymmetric dress) is pure
perfection on those who , thanks to their confidence and inherent style, personify glamour.
For further instruction, take a tip from Chanel herself, and her immortal line:
" A girl should be two things- classy and fabulous,"
A perfect definition of classic glamour.

" Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit
the face you have at fifty."
Coco Chanel.

"I am not young but I feel young.The day I feel old, I will go to bed and stay there.
J'aime la vie!
I feel that to live is a wonderful thing."
Coco Chanel
August 18 1883 - January 10 1971

Friday, 8 December 2017

Brigitte Bardot

"I have understood that the most important things are tenderness and kindness,
I can't do without them."

"I have always adored beautiful young men. Just because I grow older, my taste doesn't change. So if I can still have them, why not?"

Asked what the best day of her life was, she replied
"It was a night."

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Marilyn Can't Play Tennis and Her Golf's a Menace...

I can't play tennis

My golf's a menace

I just can't do the Australian crawl

And I'm no better at volleyball,
Ain't there anyone here for love?

I'm apathetic and non-athletic
I can't keep up in a marathon

I need some shoulders to lean upon.
I need a chappy to make me happy
And he don't have to be Hercules
Don't anyone know about the birds and bees?

Ain't there anyone here for love
Sweet love,
Ain't there anyone here for love?

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Love London.

Millennium Bridge. Oil on canvas by Celia Turner.

The Millennium Bridge links St Paul's Cathedral on the north bank with Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe in Southwark.

A shining example of the truth behind those famous words of Samuel Johnson....
"No, sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there
is in London all that life can afford."

The One And Only....

                                                              Marilyn Monroe
 "They've tried to manufacture other Marilyn Monroes, but it wouldn't work. It never will, she was an original and there will never be another."  Billy Wilder.
Bye Bye Baby

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Mental Health Awareness: The News.

The Tooth Fairy. Oil on canvas.  Celia Turner.

A little while ago I found myself sitting in the dentist's waiting room. I don't mind visiting the dentist, in fact I actually quite enjoy it, so different is the experience compared to when I was a child. Back then it was such a gruesome affair, brutal even, compared to modern day dentistry   I remember the waiting room of yesteryear, very uncomfortable rickety chairs, peeling paint and pictures of gnarled old trees adorned the walls. My brothers and I would make up stories about those trees, anything to keep our minds from Mr Paddyachy, he of the white coat and cruel intentions.

In the surgery of modern times there are no pictures or peeling paint. On the wall is a flat screen television. Sky News is on all the time. We, the patients, are treated to scenes of utter devastation, tiny babies being pulled from the aftermath of an earthquake, dusty faces and bewildered eyes stare at us from the ruins. We see a shot of a bedroom hanging from the side of a building, the bed has a red bedspread. Old women, bent over, wander amid the debris, headscarves askew, crinkly eyes crying. The scene is eerily silent. It is also silent in the waiting room.
Next on the screen is a big man shouting and pointing at an audience. He waves his arms about, he has weird hair and for some reason seems a bit threatening.
Next up are tanks and soldiers, BOOM and BANG and bodies under blankets.

Then, just like that, we are given the latest sports report. This has always confused me. Why IS sport so important? Why is it on the News? It seems distasteful to end a distressing news report with a downcast description of a lost football match.

The children in the waiting room look uncomfortable but there is nothing for them to do except watch the television.

Figures from the NSPCC's  Childline Service show the number of children and young people looking for help with anxiety has jumped sharply, the report states that there were 11,706 counselling sessions where anxiety was mentioned in 2015-2016,This is an increase of more than a third (35%) on the previous year. The report also states that the problem seems to be getting worse, with provisional figures showing that from April to September the service dealt with an average of more than 1000 cases of anxiety a month. Children as young as eight have called the service to discuss their fears, with girls seven times more likely to contact Childline than boys.
Childline president, Esther Rantzen said children and young people are sometimes upset by world events, " Seeing pictures of crying and bewildered toddlers being pulled from bomb damaged homes upsets all of us," she said. "Often we fail to notice the impact the stories are having on young people."

I can absolutely relate to this; I can remember seeing footage from the Vietnam war when I was a very young child and being really, really upset by it.  'The News' was then deemed to be a 'grown-up' programme and I never dared to break the serious silence my parents kept up when watching it.Therefore I didn't ask what was going on, I simply remained haunted by the terrible pictures I had seen.

We now have 24 hour news channels, often the news is just there,as background noise but it is important that we realise that all this 'news' can be overwhelming and frightening to children. We must try to educate and reassure our young people and to take care that they are not overly exposed to violent and dramatic scenes on an everyday basis and to keep 'news' in context. After all 'The News' rarely exposes its audience to 'good news.'

On my next visit to the dentist I took the painting pictured above, I told him it was a gift for the young people to look at while waiting for their appointments. He told me they have the news to watch and I replied that the news was often too grim for such a young audience. He said it was real life.
If I was a child again I think I'd rather look at a pretty painting than at a screen full of crumpled buildings and sad looking grandparents wandering around in a daze.
Real life can wait.

We'll see if he puts the painting on display. I hope he does.


Hats Off to Glamour.

A bathing beauty, photographed by Richard Rutledge. 1957.

"A hat is like a super power times ten." said master milliner
Stephen Jones. "You move differently in a hat, you feel differently, you act out a part.
But more than anything, hats are about the person wearing them."
Think of Faye Dunaway in her beret, Jackie Kennedy in her pillbox
or dear Isabella Blow in an outlandishly fabulous creation.
Hats add glamour and they are worn for precisely that reason.
Huge hats add serious glamour but really anything goes- as long as it's
worn with conviction.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Oh No, Another Supermoon!

Image result for pictures of the supermoon last night
The Supermoon.

Billy Bear the morning after the night before.

As a Cancerian I am used to the effects the moon has on my moods. Quite literally 'a loony' at times, full of beans, dancing around the kitchen, singing at the top of my voice, usually to tracks from Oasis, Cigarettes and Alcohol and Live Forever being  firm favourites . Then at other times quiet and fragile, thoughtful.  Away with the fairies on some days while deep in serious political discussion the next. Of course I suppose I could simply be described as a 'moody mare' and have been in my time yet the big white globe in the sky provides me with all the reason I need to exercise my attributes.

Today however I just feel totally cream-crackered.
And the little boy pictured above is to blame.
He is not a Cancerian, he is actually a Taurean so has no real claim to being affected by the moon , well, other than being a dog and therefore related to the wolf, and we all know about their relationship with La Luna.
Billy didn't spend the night howling, he spent the night jumping. Up and down. on and off my bed, and on and off the body sleeping on that bed, ie; me, all bloody night long.
Not delicate, light jumps that even big dogs seem able to do but great big dramatic leaps into the corners of my room followed by frantic scratching on the floorboards as if trying to reach Australia followed by eerie silence  before  repeating the performance, over and over again. This behaviour went on all through the night of the Supermoon.
I must have slept at some point because I woke up feeling shattered, Billy's face on my cheek his eye staring into mine.
He did look sort of sorry or perhaps I just imagined that he did.
He didn't seem keen on rushing out for his early morning walk, he was obviously worn out, so I did his hot water bottle for him and he clambered up onto the sofa for a nice long sleep.
I spent the day wandering about in a bit of a daze.
Until he woke up of course, even more full of beans than usual.

Cyd Charisse

Cyd Charisse.

March 8 1922 -June 17 2008
My goodness, such a stunningly beautiful and talented lady.
There are hundreds of pictures to be clicked upon,
lots of film clips, lots of quotes.
Indulge in the timeless beauty of this amazing Glamour Puss.

Cyd Charisse

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Sophia Loren.

"Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical."

"Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful."

"If you haven't cried, your eyes can't be beautiful."

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Birth of Seaside Glamour.

Gerald and Sara Murphy.
Before the early Twenties, no-one
fashionable went to the French Riviera in the summer and sunbathing was unheard of.
But in 1923 an American expatriate couple, Gerald and Sara Murphy, persuaded
the Hotel du Cap to stay open during the hot months so they and their guests could
spend time frolicking in the sea, lying in the sun and sharing gossip.
Their friends included Picasso, Cole Porter, Dorothy Parker, Hemingway, Cocteau, Marlene Dietrich and
Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald. Indeed, so fascinated was Fitzgerald by his hosts that he based Nicole and Dick Diver
Tender is the Night upon them!
A very glamorous set then, and they all looked the part- Sara always wore pearls with her bathing costume
because, she said, "they needed sunning."
Since the Murphy's heyday, the beach has retained its allure and provided
a constant inspiration and backdrop for some of the most memorable
fashion photography.

Monday, 30 October 2017

My Pre-Internet Brain.

Douglas Coupland is a Canadian novelist/artist/designer who creates visual masterpieces, one of his pieces is a poster reading, " I Miss My Pre-Internet Brain," He has designed many more since this one which was included as part of the collection: "Welcome to the 21st Century."

Coupland is 55, a few years older than me and, like me lucky enough to have actually owned a pre-internet brain and can therefore compare past and present. It's quite a concept and makes me feel privileged to have been born in the 1960's, a generation of children who may well have been the last lot to grow up in a world of self-discovery and wonder, curiosity and creativity as well as in my case anyway, hunger and quite a bit of deprivation. I didn't know I was deprived though so it didn't really matter. I knew I was hungry quite a lot but then I just assumed everyone else was as well. Wasn't it a great feeling to see your big brother walk up the road with a rabbit tucked in his belt, or to not get caught whilst scrumping? (Younger people will need to google) 
A big joy of childhood was the library, a big quiet building where one could wander for ages and ages and go home with lots of dusty books under your arm. (yes, yes, today you know exactly what you want to read, you've seen the reviews online and a pristine book will arrive wrapped in a box) I still love the library, I still sit down in my Lloyd Loom chair and retreat into the world of 11th century Paris or Tudor England or anywhere in the world at any time at all for that matter, even space if I feel so inclined. The library today though is a noisy affair with lots of bleeping going on and people talking into their laptops. Old people shuffle about too embarrassed to ask how to actually borrow their books as the machine has replaced the librarian.
In my day my friends and I on the rare occasions that rain stopped play, would idle away time colouring in. That meant using colouring pencils to colour in pictures in a book. Now, that's an exercise in 'mindfulness.'
The thought of being stuck indoors was a frightful one. Why would anyone want to do that? There were, (still are actually) trees to climb, rivers to swim, orchards to strip, fields to scour. I think I spent about a third of my childhood in swimming pools, proper swimming pools with a proper deep end, not namby- pamby shallow  'safe' boring drips that pretend to be pools today.
Then there was school, Primary School was good fun, Secondary School not so much but I did learn a lot. Curiously although I hated Physics, my teacher to my hilarity was called Mr Grime, I learned an awful lot although didn't realise it at the time. Who knew flow tanks would have been so helpful?
I wasn't allowed the luxury of further education and went to work in London just short of my sixteenth birthday. At twenty I was promoted to a Chief Referencing Officer, fancy being a chief of anything at that tender age. My job was to travel across all of the London Boroughs collating evidence of land ownership. This would see me chatting to a Lord and Lady in Kensington one day and a big burly gypsy on a caravan site the next. I loved that job and it has stood me in good stead as a researcher.I expect all the information I found by trawling around with my pencil and pad can now be found on the internet, not so the myriad of stories behind the facts however.
Nearly thirty years later, my pre-internet brain is shared with my post internet brain.
Today as I walked around the park with my dog I came across a lot of young mums pushing their babies in their buggies. Ducks, swans, herons, cormorants, woodpeckers, parakeets, tits, a sly fox all totally ignored, bright orange and red crinkly leaves left underfoot and not kicked up in delight, squirrels left alone to squirrel their nuts. All the while the babies moaned and the mums listened to music or talked loudly into their hands-free sets.
The dog trod in a sticky pile of something and was covered in burrs, as I extricated them I realised my hand was covered in poo. I had my wellies on so climbed down the old roots of a tree into the stream and splashed about as I washed my hands, I dried them on a waxy leaf... much to the horror of a lady walking by who politely passed me a packet of disinfectant wipes.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Not in Vogue.

Me,back in the very early 80's
I can remember having this picture taken. It is a photograph, not a snap. I had to pose, I was very tall (well, funnily enough, I still am) and very slim and very young and fancied myself as super model material. I was a bit premature on that front as the real supermodels were still struggling to make names for themselves back then, in fact the term wouldn't be christened for a couple more years. I sent the photo to a modelling agency in Mayfair. I didn't hear anything from the agency so just carried on in my job as a clerical officer at the Greater London Council. Then one day I had a phone call at work, a personal phone call which was very frowned upon. It was a man calling from the agency in Mayfair asking me where I was. I was flustered and replied that I was at work. He went on in a dramatic fashion to say that the studio had been set up and the photographer was waiting for me. I didn't know what to do as I couldn't just up and leave my desk. I tried to explain that I hadn't heard anything from the agency at all, let alone notice of a pending appointment. My immediate boss could see that I was in a pickle and indicated that I pass him the phone which I did. He asked the caller for an explanation and then calmly put the phone down. He then, to my astonishment , took some cash out of his wallet and told me to go and get a taxi to the appointment.
It was summer and I was wearing a dress, quite a smart dress as casual clothes were not deemed fit to wear to work at that time. I felt frumpy and not model material at all but a steely determination had set in and on the way to Mayfair I mapped my new life , it would include lots of glamorous parties, champagne, gorgeous clothes, Vogue covers, shining hair, good-looking men and of course, vast sums of money.
I arrived at the building which was a tall and grand affair, I presumed the whole house was the agency but soon realised that the number of bells attached to the wall gave the lie to that assumption. I pressed the bell to the agency and the door swung open. I climbed up a long staircase until I reached what was probably once known as the servants' quarters. I was ushered in by a youngish man who was wearing a hacking jacket and light brown cords, (I don't know why I remember this detail so clearly) he had a floppy fringe which he had to keep flicking from his eyes. He looked me up and down while rubbing his hand across his chin. He asked me to pull my dress up so he could see more of my legs. I felt a red flush bloom across my cheeks but pulled up my dress as instructed. He seemed to stare at my legs for ages and I felt awkward and embarrassed but kept telling myself I was being stupid as of course I would have to expect this sort of scrutiny everyday while being photographed by David Bailey and the like.
Finally, the man from the agency, (I can't remember his name) told me he thought my legs were a tiny bit on the chubby side but not to worry, I could exercise that away. I remember feeling mortified, my legs couldn't really have been any skinnier, they wouldn't have held me up. I dropped my dress back down to below my knees.
The photographer called from the 'studio' which was probably once upon a time, a broom cupboard.
I had lost my nerve, I couldn't bear the thought of my chubby legs being photographed. I dashed back down the staircase on my sturdy pins and hailed a taxi which took me back to County Hall.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

My Polish Friend.


I take my dog for a long walk everyday and everyday is a different experience. Today I noticed a lot of Jays flying about. I love Jays.  I am always delighted to see such a magnificent blue flash appearing overhead. But there is another reason that I am always pleased to see a Jay.

About ten years ago I was working in a dental studio. The man who ran the studio fancied himself as a bit of a ladies' man but I wasn't interested in him at all. It was the old man who did the technical work who held me in thrall. His name was Heinz and he was in his early seventies. He was short and round, his cropped hair was grey and he had made his own teeth. He was Polish. We became great friends. We made a very unlikely couple. Me, tall and slim and quite a bit younger than him. I suppose people presumed him to be my dad but he came to mean much more to me than a surrogate parent. He was so kind even though he had lived through terrible times. He described being poverty stricken while growing up in Poland, he told of his escape from his homeland and his tough life in Britain. But he never felt sorry for himself, just grateful for the life he had made. Always the under-dog, he seemed to accept that his dentistry skills would be taken advantage of by people less skilled in technique but more polished in talk than himself.
We went out for lots of meals.  He would dress up for our evenings and always wore his hat. He had impeccable manners. He would stand up in the restaurant until he had seen me settled and then would make a grand gesture of seating himself, placing hat and gloves neatly on the table next to him. The waiter would not be permitted to remove them to the cloakroom. It was these little gestures that I found so charming.
We would chat and laugh for hours, I can't even remember what we talked about but simply feel a rosy glow at the memories.
I did remember one occasion however when he told me about his 'hunting hat' that he had had for years. He used to have a Jay's feather poked in the rim but had lost it.
The day after this particular evening I was out in the park with my dog, (this was Alfie, my previous dog) and lo and behold a Jay's feather fell to the ground. I should have been astonished but I wasn't. It was one of those magical, mysterious things that happen sometimes. Best not to reason why.
I will never forget the look on Heinz' face later that day when I handed him the feather. Years seemed to fall away  and his eyes filled with tears.(So did mine). A magical link between us was cemented with that feather.
On Valentine's Day that year , 2007, my phone rang and it was Heinz. He wished me Happy Valentine's Day  and thanked me for being such a lovely lady and good friend. He said he never expected he would find such happiness so late in his life and that our friendship had made him a very happy old man.

Out of the blue Heinz received a phone call from an old ex-colleague asking him to go and work for him in Sierra Leone. Most old men ( and Heinz was an old man, not sprightly and fit) would not have given this idea a second thought, but not Heinz.
Off he went with his feather in his cap.

I received a letter from him, inside were a few photos of him in Sierra Leone. Smiling at me with his lovely kind eyes. He looked pretty pleased with himself. He returned to the UK to sell his house and  tie up some loose ends.

Then came the phone call. Heinz told me he was gravely ill. He also told me he didn't want to see me. He wanted me to remember him in happy times, looking well.
 Death came and took him swiftly away.
I loved that man. The memories of our funny friendship will stay with me forever.
The Jay is a lovely reminder of our time together.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

A Birthday Tribute To Noel Gallagher.

Saturday 26th April 1996- Maine Road, Manchester.
I still have my crumpled ticket, not that I need a reminder of the most brilliant night ever.
The Manic Street Preachers warmed up the crowd, the rain was drizzling but the atmosphere was electric.
Noel and Liam came on stage singing 'Round are our way the birds are singing' (sic)
The crowd surged toward the stage and the best gig ever got underway.
The lyrics didn't really matter that much- it was the tunes and the music that got under the skin, made you dance, made you sing, made you feel so good to be alive.
The adrenaline flowed, everyone loved each other, the crowd was a huge buzzing bee.
The playlist:

The Swamp Song.
Some Might Say.
Roll With It.
Morning Glory.
Cigarettes & Alcohol.
Champagne Supernova.
Cast No Shadow.
The Masterplan.
Don't Look Back In Anger.
Live Forever.
I Am The Walrus.
and then the encore..
Cum On Feel The Noize (Slade)

Now, that's what you call a play list.

After wandering through streets and streets of Coronation Street type houses we finally reached our hotel. I felt as high as a kite but no synthetic drugs were in my blood steam, just music induced euphoria.
As I pushed through the revolving doors I noticed a small guy in front of me.
It was Noel.
In my ridiculous excitement I started babbling away to a bloke I had never before set eyes on and it turned out he was a roadie with The Manics and he invited me to the after show party there in the hotel.
I found myself in the hotel with Noel and Meg, Liam and Patsy and the rest of Oasis as well as The Manics.

I couldn't believe how ridiculously 'cool' Noel was, you would never have imagined that he had just performed a literally supersonic gig of a gig, one that would go down in history.

It was the best night. Still makes me smile.
Noel and His High Flying Birds have a new album coming out on November 24.
Entitled ' Who Built the Moon?'
Can't wait.
Happy Birthday Noel. XX