Friday, 20 April 2012
This week has been rather an uphill emotional one for me. The weather hasn't helped, prone as I am to SAD, although today, looking out the window, it's bright, sunny and blue skied, though whether or not it is warm is a different matter. Probably not. That said, there was and is something magical about hearing birdsong in the mornings, especially sunny ones, that allows the spirits to be lifted somewhat.
Also, this week, I have been remembering a dear friend of mine. A very dear friend of mine. She died a few days ago, four years ago, and on Saturday, she would have been celebrating her 90th birthday, were she alive. I always remember her birthday, it is the same day as Queen Elizabeth II. I think and thought of Pauline a second mother to me; I knew her for over 25 years, and enjoyed her friendship and confidence for pretty much the same amount of time. She was a wonderful, genuine, kindly woman from Kent and English to the core. She was a delight to be around, generally always happy, smiling and enthusiastic to hear stories and to put the world to rights. She was kind, warm and generous in so many ways but most of all in her spirit. She loved nature and animals, she loved art and music and she was a good warm and generous spirit.
It may seem strange but I never saw Pauline as being a little old lady towards the end of my knowing her (despite being 4' 11 and 85 years old), and well, to neither of us, it didn't make the slightest bit of difference that she was slightly over five decades older than me. It simply didn't matter. I sat next to her at my brother's wedding, where the photo above was taken, and remember the pleasure she took when my cousins husband took her by the hand and whisked her around the dance floor. After which, she told us all how she used to go dancing during her time as a Wren (Women's Royal Naval Service) after the war, I think it was accompanied by a tall chap who went by the name of Ed.
I used to be able to pick up the telephone and call her and we would speak for twenty or so minutes at a time; however the real magic was in her company. I would be able to go around to her home near Cambridge and the side door would always be open. Invariably I would find Pauline in the end room, if it was in the mid afternoon she might well have dozed off or if she was around when I called her name you would hear her singing voice saying "I'm upstairs", and soon enough would come down and join you. She would always be nicely dressed, though she would describe herself as looking like a mucky pup as there might be a small splash of tea or the like on the front. The radio would be playing, normally "the third programme" i.e. Radio 3. Depending upon the time, we would normally have a cup of tea, and either a biscuit or better still some homemade cake, sit in the end room and put the world to rights once again. We pent many hours in each others company, talking and listening. I could never drink tea on my own, and to this day I still never think of making myself a cup of tea and drinking it on my own. The same isn't true of coffee however. Yet whenever I am in good company, I can and will drink a cup of two of slightly milky Assam, no sugar, and it tastes all the better.
I can't help but reflect and think of my wonderful friend; her ways, her manner and her interests. These ranged from her keenness for collecting dolls houses and miniatures, as well as bisque or porcelain figures; she loved flowers and plants, especially beautifully scented roses, and of course her two little Yorkies, named Jolyon (after Jolyon Soames in The Forsyte Saga) and Meryon, or simply Joly and Mery for short. She loved beautiful, pretty things. She liked romantic stories and enjoyed quality drama on television like Jane Austin and Charles Dickens adaptations, as she felt there was too much sex and violence on TV. Yet, whenever it was on, she would mutter "Why do they have to show this?!?" yet still watch on. Her politics always amused me, holding coffee mornings to raise money either for the RSPB or for the Conservative Party, depending on whichever she felt was in greater need at that time. Up until she was 80 she used to take "meals on wheels" to the "old dears" in and around the town where she lived never thinking she might possibly be seen as one. She used to spend every Wednesday at the "Con Club" having lunch with "the girls", four of her friends, all in their 80s. I guess she was reminded that she was getting old when one of them died, yet Pauline never saw herself as being old, other than when she complained of gout, from stubbing her toes on the stairs every now and then. I used to call her from Rome on my mobile asking her if she wanted some Pleasures by Estée Lauder, and she used to ponder and remark how amazing it was that I could be calling all that distance yet sound next door. In the end, the answer was invariably a yes.
I have attached a piece of music I know Pauline loved, and I agree, it is a beautiful piece. It is typically English and conjures up images of the sweeping English countryside, a country which Pauline loved and was proud to be a subject of. I have had her in my thoughts especially over the last two days. Yesterday, as I was writing my article for my other "blog", I was reminded that I had never managed to finish reading the book 381 AD by Charles Freeman, which I had started to read a few days before she died, and I was due to come down and see her once again. Somehow I still cannot pick it up and start to read it once again . Since her passing, and especially in recent times, I have truly missed my friend. Of the few photos I have framed, I have one framed of her in a silver frame. She deserves that I feel.