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George Floyd, the man who changed the world.

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Following the horrific and very public murder of black African American George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, there has been a global display of grief and outrage. Even though George had been apprehended and was lying face down on his stomach surrounded by three other police officers and even though George was handcuffed, nevertheless, Derek Chauvin found it necessary to kneel on George Floyd`s neck for a period of nine minutes, ignoring George`s pleas for his mother and his crying out “I can`t breathe.”

George died of a cardiac arrest resulting from asphyxiation.

Derek Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and is being kept, awaiting trial in Oak Park Heights state prison in Minnesota. I imagine Chauvin is probably shitting himself, I would be and when he meets his end, most likely in prison, I can also imagine someone kneeling on his neck to see him off. I do not condone this, I hope it doesn`t happen as there has to be a better way to combat blind hatred.

racism
NOUN
prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.
• the belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another.

I am sixty six, a little bit older than George Floyd was when he was murdered. Can you imagine me, a white OAP being murdered in that way by a black police officer?  No?  Precisely.

My family and extended family include white Jewish people, Black African Caribbean people, my five grandchildren are all of mixed black and white heritage including white Irish and one of my nephews is of white/Pakistani heritage so we are a proper mixing pot and I feel very much part of a big love in my family, it`s good, it`s enriching and I am really lucky because it has educated me a great deal about other people`s lives, cultures and experiences and that is a two way process.

I grew up in the nineteen fifties, my mum and dad were both white and middle class and had scarcely seen anyone who wasn’t white other than in the context of war, my dad served in the Scottish Regiment in WW2 and was posted to Egypt, Syria, Israel and Greece. The first time I brought home a load of black kids I`d met at Rebecca`s night club when I was about 18, my parents didn`t know what to say to them, there was a lot of respectful hand shaking and `how do you do`s` it was uncomfortable.

Understanding their learned racism, by the time my parents got to know these young men, when they left the house mum would ask to search their pockets and out would tumble a variety of small objects the boys had `stolen` from the house. It had become a joke which we all found funny for these reasons. My parents were trying to `un-prejudice` themselves and rid themselves of negative stereotypes. I admired them for that, it was bold and they were old.   I admire the boys I brought home who were fabulous and forgiving and wise.

On my husband`s side of the family his aunties and uncles were white, working class Brummies through and through. Even in their seventies they were still calling anyone whose skin was anything other than white, `Paki` or `coloured,` Tony and I had so many heated arguments with them challenging their language until in the end, if they began going down the familiar route, we would just go home and leave them to it.  One of my dearest friends, an old lady in her nineties, used to describe her neighbour Charlie who was Indian as;

`a lovely man, coloured like but lovely – and friendly`.

I did not fervently try to re-educate her, I think it is sometimes more difficult for someone who is very old, to grasp the issues and it would have upset her a great deal, so I left it.  Was that right of me?  She has died now, bless her. She would have done anything for anyone regardless of their colour.

I have been watching videos of Jane Elliott, the creator of the `Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes` experiment with schoolchildren in America. She is now in her eighties and still lecturing and saying the same things she has been saying for fifty years.

She is videod speaking to an adult audience, `If you as a white person would be happy to receive the same treatment as this society, in general treats our black citizens, stand up.` No one stands. She says, `You know what`s happened – you know it`s wrong and you don`t want it to happen to you, so how come you are accepting for it to happen to others?`

Jane Elliott makes a vital point which is the only point that makes any sense to me, and it is that there is just one race and that is the HUMAN race. No one race is better than, superior to, or intellectually greater than another and until I, as a white woman and you and everyone else gets that, then atrocities such as George Floyd`s death, will continue to happen. Racism can be UNLEARNED, it is not innate, it is not inherent.

John Rawls states this philosophy in his work, `A Theory of Justice,`

1. “Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all”. 2. “Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both: (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.”

The first principle is often called the greatest equal liberty principle. Part (a) of the second principle is referred to as the difference principle while part (b) is referred to as the equal opportunity principle.

Rawls orders the principles of justice lexically, as follows: 1, 2(b), 2(a). The greatest equal liberty principle takes priority, followed by the equal opportunity principle and finally the difference principle. The first principle must be satisfied before 2(b), and 2(b) must be satisfied before 2(a). As Rawls states: “A principle does not come into play until those previous to it are either fully met or do not apply.” Therefore, the equal basic liberties protected in the first principle cannot be traded or sacrificed for greater social advantages (granted by 2(b)) or greater economic advantages (granted by 2(a)).

It`s a wordy piece but in the end, I can see he is simply putting into writing what Jane Elliott has been repeating all her life.

I think George Floyd`s death is the saddest, most horrific murder I have ever witnessed and we are not just hearing about racism nowadays, we are videoing it.
When my beautiful black grandchildren go out clubbing with their mates my heart is in my mouth, and when my beautiful white grandson goes into town clubbing with his mates my heart is in my mouth and we should all `take a knee` as the saying now goes and remember George Floyd with huge amounts of love, respect and hope amongst the deep well of grief because I believe his death will literally, change the world and I think he will be recalled for centuries to come, and missed and celebrated as the man who changed the world.
RIP George Floyd.
1st December 1960 – 25th May 2020

#BlackLivesMatter

 

The Autumn of 1976.

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I had been away for all of the very hot summer of 1976, it was my first time abroad and I was staying with friends who lived in Athens. I spent a wonderful six weeks partly in that beautiful city and partly island hopping, which was terrific. I met a gorgeous Egyptian boy there, called Mido and he added an exciting and romantic element to the whole holiday, Mido and I remained pen friends for several years when eventually, he finally confessed to me that he was gay, which I had already figured out, silly boy.

 
After the Athens experience, I reluctantly returned to my parents home, my mother was cross with me for having stayed away for so long, so she hardly spoke to me for several days. I was growing up and we were growing apart a little bit and I can only suppose she resented me for leaving her on her own with my dad who was rather deaf which frustrated her and her sister, my aunt Muriel, who was significantly disabled. We overcame those few cold days together and life went on.

 

It was approaching autumn when I ventured to my local pub, The Bulls Head and this is where I met Tony, an old boyfriend who I hadn`t seen for several years. Tony was about to become the father of my first child only we didn`t know that yet….. when we finally reconciled as a couple again, within two weeks I became pregnant.

 

My parents had me in their mid-forties so they were very unhappy about my expecting a baby. My father shouted at me, (the only time he ever shouted at me in his life) “Did you expect us to be happy?!” and I said, “Well yes dad, I did actually.” My mother trailed after me into the kitchen and said, her face a mask of tragedy, “Well you can`t stay here Helen.” It was the shame you see, of having a child out of wedlock, it was a lot for them to deal with. So I left, taking all my belongings with me and found a room in a shared house in Church Road in Moseley. I think the rent was £12 a week and the Landlord was called Kovaks.

 

The room was a bedsit and I shared the toilet and bathroom which I later discovered were so filthy, I couldn`t bring myself to use the bath and used to visit friends to use theirs until I could summon up the necessary courage to thoroughly scrub the place down. When I needed the loo, I crouched standing up or lined the seat with a gazillion pieces of loo roll. I cleaned the little kitchenette and lifting the rug to vacuum, discovered maggots underneath it munching on some rotten food, it really was revolting. But I continued to scrub and clean and made it mine in a sense.  Kovaks would call round with two henchmen every Friday night to collect the rent. He didn’t scare me but I was told by other tenants (mostly young girls) that if they didn`t pay up on time, or if they weren`t in when he collected rent he would have them harassed and intimidated, ringing their doorbell or banging on their doors at three in the morning or opening their post and taking their benefit cheques.

 

When I was 12 weeks pregnant, Tony and I were offered a short life housing association flat which we readily accepted. It was in a beautiful old house in Poplar Avenue in Kings Heath, so I left that little room without giving in my notice to Kovaks and did a runner in the middle of the night so as not to bump into him and his bodyguards.

 

Some time later I read in the papers that Kovaks had been arrested and charged with a number of offences, similar to the nefarious Peter Rachman of the nineteen fifties and sixties. Rachman was mentioned in court during the Profumo affair as someone who had kept both Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies as mistresses and it was the unfurling of the Profumo scandal that gave the public a clear understanding of the term racketeering.

 

Kovaks was charged with procuring young women for sex, in other words he was a pimp. He also regularly gave his tenants notice to quit and then put the rent up by astronomical amounts and re-let the houses to more vulnerable young women.  He was further charged with racketeering. He received a nine-year prison sentence and I realised what a lucky escape I had had. I sometimes wonder what became of him, I imagine he has long since left this earth, I wonder if he redeemed himself in any sense before he died.

 

His own beautiful house, his family home remains of course as a legacy to his criminal past and I hope it has been passed on to be nurtured by other, much more caring human beings.

 

Oh and when our son Jesse was born, all was forgotten and forgiven and family rifts were healed. Babies have a habit of doing that!

Helen P. March 31st.

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The Corona Diaries

Lord I am bored…..  even the wow factor of the 3D Google animals app is wearing off and why can`t I get an elephant in the room?  My main excitement during the day is going out with my dog and even Alfie wants to know why he is on the lead most of the time and where all his mates are at the empty park?

I have accepted some new friends on Facebook and I am now inundated with appalling jokes from people I did not previously know, some of the ` jokes` are clearly racist so I immediately unfriend them. God – people! They makes yer sick, as my old mum used to say.

Personally I am sick of the BBC News.

I recently commented on Facebook that if one more person tells me to stay safe, I shall punch them on the nose.  This resulted in friends and…

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Helen P. March 29th.

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The Corona Diaries

Yesterday I was overcome with boredom.  We have been on lockdown for one week now, I usually go out with my dog when I`m bored but of course I can only do that once a day in these corona virus times.

So I cooked. I cooked a saag aloo of potato with spinach and spices.  I cooked an orzo and cream cheese risotto with spring onions and I baked several large vegetable pasties.

I took everything out of the freezer where my ex husband with whom I live, hoards his stash of reduced items from Morrisons.  We have an awful lot of  fish, I think he does this hoarding deliberately because he knows I cannot bear to waste food and that means the onus on cooking will rest with me.  I put everything back in the freezer in order of category, fish, meat, bread, frozen vegetables and so on.

Drumming…

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The strange case of the snow lady and the disappearing boobalinkas.

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In the early nineteen eighties, Tony and I bought our house on The Avenue in Acocks Green. I was working as the co-ordinator of Rape Crisis in Birmingham at that time and Tony was an art teacher.  He was also a potter and he loved to create unusual ceramics.

One year we enjoyed a particularly snowy winter, I do miss the snowy winters I am very much a winter person and I love the cold weather. I can become quite low in the summer months, so I suppose I have the opposite of SAD. Anyway…….

Tony decided to build a snow lady in the back garden. She was magnificent standing almost six feet high. We were so pleased with her;  we lay her on our wheelbarrow and wheeled her round to the front of the house for everyone to enjoy.

Snow lady

One of our neighbours commented that she didn`t exactly strike a blow for women`s liberation (that was your pa Nicky Hopkins) so we decided to paint a bikini on her, to cover her modesty. Tony was also a portrait painter, so we had no problem in finding some suitable paint and immediately covered her with a blue and yellow striped bikini, she looked great!

The following day we arose and were perplexed to discover that during the night, someone had removed her icy breasts. A double mastectomy for our lovely snow queen, the children were most upset! We decided that when we had all returned from work and school, we would rebuild her.

When he came home, Tony called in at the corner shop to buy some milk. The man who owned the shop greeted him with, “Ah Tony! I was hoping you`d call in, I think I have something belonging to you.” Crossing over to his large shop freezer he opened up the lid. Reaching down he stood up beaming broadly, holding our lovely snow lady`s boobalinkas, one in each hand.  He had found them, kicked half way down the street by boys I expect.

Tony walked across the road to our house, with a jubilant smile upon his face, he smacked those boobies back on our snow queen. I am happy to report, they did not go missing again – for the duration of that wonderful, snowy winter.

Have a very happy Christmas everyone!

The disconcerting person.

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Two weeks` ago I spent some days away by the seaside at Minehead, accompanied by my lovely son who was visiting us from Vienna. We stopped at a smashing (and cheap) traditional pub called The Britannia Inn which I can highly recommend if you are ever passing through. Lovely place, lovely staff, anyway….. while we were there, we tripped to Porlock Weir and on the way back, stopped for lunch in Porlock itself. We enjoyed a tasty meal and then decided to mooch about the few shops that were open at this winter time of the year, one of them was a gift shop.

I browsed the items on sale and found a lovely pair of earrings. They were in the shape of a carp and inlaid with abalone shell which you may know is a very pretty, iridescent bluey, green colour. I decide to buy them for a friend of mine who has painted some very stunning pictures including a wonderful fish painting. Her name is Anne Nicholls and she is on Facebook or here:

http://www.annenichollsart.co.uk/home-page

I went to make my purchase, I had noticed a person busying themselves behind the counter, they had their back to me. Hearing my approach, they turned around to face me. “Can I help you?” they enquired in a dark brown voice. I was so startled by their appearance, I honestly had to stop myself from issuing a sharp intake of breath for I figured it would most likely have offended them. I shall refer to this person as her for she was indeed dressed as a woman.

She was statuesque in build, at least six foot five with broad shoulders. She wore what had once been a white cardigan and which now displayed stains of various descriptions all over her front. Her hair was long and unwashed, it was pulled back into a pony tail, I think she would be in her fifties. A few inches of greying hair at the roots, led down to a sort of brassy ginger. Around her chin she sprouted a beard of curly, ginger hairs. She wore pebble lens glasses. I tried not to stare.

As she picked up my purchase to wrap, I could not help but gaze at her enormous hands. Each fingernail painted in what was once glittery, silver nail polish it had been resident on her nails for so long it was a sort of translucent grey colour, chipped and had lost all of its glitter. Her nails were long and pointy and several of her digits were embellished with a massive coating of nicotine. I didn`t know whether to be horrified or fascinated.

My son had also noticed her and rather worryingly, was now outside waiting for me.
In any event I made my purchase, they are beautiful earrings and I couldn`t help but wonder how a person can allow their appearance to become so startling. She reminded me of the sort of character you might find in a Roald Dahl book, the sort of character that gives small children nightmares. My son and I exchanged telepathic glances before scurrying away to the car park.

I am not writing this to be cruel or poke fun at somebody, I just find people endlessly interesting and I wondered how many customers she may have scared away, or indeed attracted!

English eccentricity is one of the things that makes the world keep turning, I guess.

I should know!

In memory of Suzette Biggs.

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I was extremely saddened to learn today of the death of my friend and neighour, Suzette Biggs who passed away at home last Friday aged just 52.

Like me, Suzette had breast cancer and unfortunately when she found out about hers, it had already reached stage four. Suzette had other health issues too, for years she suffered from chronic fibromyalgia which affected her mobility and was sometimes terribly painful.  In spite of this, Suzette had an incredibly cheerful disposition and was always there to help others out or just to share a cuppa and a chat with a friend.

When she learned that I had breast cancer, she was one of the first people to come and see me and ask if there was anything she could do. She was reassuring and positive and I cannot really put into words how helpful and kind of her that was and how much it meant to me.  We took the opportunity with our time together to have a good old chin wag over many cups of tea and we always ended up laughing about something or other, or someone but not in a horrible way for Suzette did not have a malicious bone in her body.

She and I became quite close and even went for bra fittings together once all our cancer treatment was finished.  In the warm weather, Suzette could  often be found wrapped up in her lovely fleecy dressing gown, carrying her beautiful bosom before her, leaning over the front garden wall to chat to her friends and neighbours passing by.

Suzette was very fond of (my ex) Tony and I would sometimes come home from an outing and she would call me in to the kitchen to see her giving him a huge hug.  She thought it was very funny because Tony is so rotund but Suzette could still wrap her long arms around him as she was a tall woman. She was extremely close to her family and often spoke to me about them with immense pride, love and affection, especially about her daughters.  Suzette was a bright and bubbly spark of loveliness in what can sometimes be a dull old world and I shall miss her very much.

Suzette Biggs.  1966 – 2017

 

 

Taking back the power.

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I`ve been feeling rather emotional this past week, a bit weepy, a bit low and not really registering why. Then it struck me this morning as I was walking with my dog, it will be a year on Wednesday since I was diagnosed with cancer, so the light bulb came on.

In my case, after my treatment had finished and the doctor spoke to me those lovely words, “you have the all clear,” for a brief, heady few days, I felt an incredible high. It didn`t last and as I gradually came back down to earth I realised that cancer never really leaves us. I have a long way to go (five years) before I can relax a little and know I am in remission and even then, it may return. I feel sad because cancer has impacted on me so massively, I have spent so much time trying to manage my feelings, remain positive, productive, engaged with the people who I love, I don`t think I`ve given myself time to mourn the loss of who I was before this diagnosis and feel the feelings of sadness and rage for how much cancer has taken from me.

Well here`s the thing cancer; I`m taking it back.

Yesterday I was reading a post my daughter had put up on social media, I think she put it up there for me to see because it was all about those people who feel selfish when they are coping with an awfulness in their life, after all, there are so many people out there who have it so much worse. This describes exactly how I feel, it`s as though surviving cancer so far somehow means I have less right to my myriad of feelings because at least I am still here to tell the tale. The piece goes on to say, “don’t buy into it, because it’s nonsense. It doesn’t matter if someone else had it ‘worse.’ Every person who experiences a trauma deserves to get the attention and care they need to heal from it.”

So I rang Macmillan Cancer Care (love, love, love them) and they told me that they are working jointly with Relate to offer people who have had cancer some free counselling sessions. You may think of Relate as working with people who have a troubled marriage (they used to be called Marriage Guidance, do you remember?) However, Relate recognises that cancer affects all of our relationships including the one we have with our self. So I`ve booked me in for some `me` time with Relate and an opportunity to work my way through some of this shitty stuff that`s stopping me from getting on with my life in the present. I am looking forward to it and to letting go of some of this negativity, it is so unlike me.

And to my friends and family who are fighting to keep their head above the waves, not waving but feeling like they are drowning. I will get back to me and then I can give you that hand up once again as so many have offered to me over this past, really difficult year.

I would like to end on a high note so here you are, it`s a  middle C.

🙂

Do they eat them Jack?

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I have been thinking about my aunty Muriel, my mother`s older sister, who died many years ago. I think Mu would have been about seventy when she died, which is remarkable given the enormous challenges she faced throughout her life. It is testimony to the marvellous care that Muriel received from both my parents and particularly my mother, that she enjoyed such longevity.

Mu was born with (I believe) cerebral palsy and had a learning disability. We would have called her spastic back in those days before the term was recognised as derogatory. When I was older, my mother Bess explained to me that Mu`s disability may have been caused by my grandmother attempting to abort her pregnancy.  Unsuccessful in the attempt, she may have damaged Muriel before she was born. I don`t know if this is possible, I think there may be some truth in the tale as my mum was not a person who made things up but in any event, Muriel was meant to be born so she arrived on earth and grew up in the early nineteen hundreds, on my grandmother`s farm in Birmingham.

Children can be very cruel and of course Mu was “different” so she had to be accompanied to school and home again as sometimes the other children would call her names, she was often protected from being bullied by her brother Seba and my mother.

As Muriel grew up, the main carer for her was my aunt Lillian who loved her very much. My grandmother was not at all maternal so it`s a good job someone was. They became constant companions and when Lillian was an old lady, they moved to live together in a small cottage in Knowle, near to my mum and dad who kept an eye on them both. When Lillian died, ancient and frail when I was about 4, Muriel came to live with us.

Mu`s disability affected her mobility quite considerably. She had difficulty with her breathing, she often dribbled which left her with a wet patch on her chest. She had difficulty with her speech and couldn`t do anything in a hurry. She needed help sometimes with buttons and zips, we had to cut her food up for her, everything Mu did was done in slow motion but her situation did not prevent her from having friends and family who loved her a lot. As a child, I didn`t think I loved my aunty Mu. As an adult I realise I did, I just didn`t know how to express my love to her. Being hugged by Mu was like being hugged by a bear!  I think as a child I was slightly embarrassed by her, I am ashamed of my childish self now of course and if I could meet Mu in the present, I would throw my arms around her and cry and ask her to forgive me.

Mu had a passion for photography and liked to take pictures of us as children. We would pose for what seemed like hours as Mu fiddled away trying to get the position of her camera just so. Even now, if I take my time taking a photograph, my family refer to it as “doing a Muriel” and it makes us smile.

She had a great sense of humour and if she started to laugh at something that had tickled her, her huge shoulders would heave up and down and her throaty laugh would continue until she could compose herself again. I have a memory of being in a church at a relative`s wedding I think. A child started to fidget and make a noise, then I heard a smack, and the child immediately began to cry. Muriel began to laugh, so did I, it was like a domino effect.

Another time, I recall Mu threading peanuts on to a wire for the birds (I may have told this tale in another, long ago blog.) It took her forever and as she sat in my parents` kitchen completing the task, she asked my dad, “Do they eat them Jack?” “No Muriel,” my father replied, “They shove them up their arseholes.” More, uncontrollable laughter from aunty Mu, I remember it vividly, it was especially funny for me as a child because my dad rarely used swear words.

When I was 12, dad bought me a guitar and my brother`s friend Rod taught me how to play it. Mu loved to hear me sing and her favourite song was one of my favourites too, Plaisir D`amour, made famous by Joan Baez. I would sit on the kitchen table, my guitar perched on my lap and sing and Mu would listen to me and cry, she could be a very emotional woman. I had a very pure voice as a young person and did a lot of public singing and I have already heard the joke about why she was crying. Many times!

So there you are, a little snippet of life with Muriel. If I could speak to her now I would say thank you, for enriching my life so much, even though I wasn`t aware of it at the time. I am absolutely certain it is my experience growing up with someone with a significant disability which steered me towards the fantastic career path I have enjoyed so much.

Thank you aunty Mu, you were a star.

Treat yourself with kindness…..

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My ex mother in law Joyce, died yesterday morning. She would have been ninety on June 22nd and for the past few months has been deteriorating with what her G.P. described as  “a touch of Alzheimers,” as well as various other conditions.  She was a poor old thing when she slipped away and my immediate emotion was one of relief, no-one wants to see another human being linger when they are already struggling.

Joyce and I never shared a close relationship, in fact for two years of our lives we did not see or speak to one another at all and they were two good years for me, for Joyce was always so very critical of me, my lifestyle, my parenting skills, my skills as a housewife. I won`t list here the many, many times she undermined me and whittled away at my confidence because she is gone now and it was all so very long ago. Instead, I`d like to comment on the few occasions she made me smile and try to sustain those as my enduring memories of her.

We were walking together up Longbridge Lane, we`d been to the local shops for something or other. It was a hot summer day and a wasp started buzzing around my head.  Joyce began to bat her hand around my head in an effort to scare the wasp away. Suddenly she swatted the side of my head so hard, she bounced my glasses off my face and half way across Longbridge Lane. She collapsed in hysterics and laughed about it the whole of the rest of the way home.

Joyce`s little side swipes were always quite obvious to me however, not to innocent bystanders. For example, when I was leaving my marriage for the first time in November 1991 for my Christmas present Joyce gave me a bag which had “Bon Voyage” printed across the front of it.

I was quite a bit older when I started to take Joyce and her sisters Jean and Lillian out for meals from time to time. I don`t know why I felt duty bound to do this for Tony and I had been divorced for a lot of years and I`d had two serious relationships during that time although I did love Jeanie. (Jeanie also died, two weeks` ago and her funeral was just the other day.) I used to call them The Golden Girls and every meal I took them to, panned out in the same way.  They would mooch around for a table and sit down. Lillian would then complain it was “too draughty” and they would move.  Jeanie would then complain it was “too dark” to see the menu so off we`d go again. It was not uncommon to move at least four times before they were in agreement. Then Joyce would be imperious and terribly rude whilst ordering and say things like, “this glass is dirty (it never was) bring me another clean one immediately,” in hindsight she may have been in early dementia for some years and this could quite easily have affected her perceptions but at the time, I recall being deeply embarrassed and the numbers of waiters and waitresses I have apologised to over the years doesn`t bear thinking about.  Then they would bicker, like three silly children, all the way through their meal.

I was with Joyce on Thursday, a day and a half before she died. She was being nursed in a residential home and we all knew she did not have very much longer, she was so terribly frail and had stopped eating altogether. Like many people with dementia, Joyce was repeating a single word over and over again and the word she chose was “please.”

I know she wanted to go home but she was ensconced in her long term memory by then and probably didn`t know where home was. I tried distracting her which didn`t work and in the end I said to her, “You know Joyce you don`t have to say please, you could say another word….”

“Alright,” she said in a tiny little voice, “what word shall I say?”

So I continued and suggested, “well, you could say balloon, or tomato.”

“Or I could say shit.” She said to me.

“You could indeed,” I replied.

So Joycey sat there, like a little bird in her big bed quietly saying “Shit, shit, shit.”

When I left, I kissed her forehead and said, “Goodbye old lady.”  And she gave me a watery smile and I thought, she is still there, she is still Joyce underneath that haze of dementia.

RIP Joyce Inman.

June 22nd 1927 – June 10th 2017