Out of the dark, comes the light and the sounds of a commotion. I am focusing on colours, flickering and dancing behind closed eyelids. I snap my eyes open, but the light is blinding, and I close them again. My heart is fluttering, and I imagine a swallow flying in the summer sun.
My fascination for archaeology kicked in when I was five, after I found a fossilised gastropod in our Gloucestershire garden. Had I not mucked around during my school years, I can only dream about what my life might have been like as a female Indiana Jones.
Fast forward to 1981, when I moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands, UK, and found myself surrounded by archaeological treasures. From dolmens to menhirs, and La Cotte de St Brelade, which is now viewed as one of the most important Ice Age sites in Europe.
Following the joyful inauguration of the 46th U.S. President, Joe Biden, hundreds and thousands of overlayed images of Bernie Sanders started appearing everywhere, ridiculing the mittens he was wearing at the ceremony. It touched a nerve with me. For goodness sake, he is seventy-nine, it was 4C and blowing a howling bloody gale, but I’m guessing his hands were warmer than anybody else’s. So, to whoever started circulating these memes, back off! You’re not so funny!
I imagine walking down the usually buzzing main shopping street, with the theme from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly ringing in my ears. The only other sound is my boots connecting with the pavement as I walk. It is only me and tumbleweed. It’s a sad fact, and I don’t mean to be flippant, although the reference to tumbleweed is artistic licence. I never thought I would live through a global pandemic. Let’s hope I do; it’s not over yet. The threat of succumbing to COVID-19 is constant, especially now three different variants of the virus have been identified, but I am reliably informed that viruses always mutate. I wish this one wouldn’t!
The thought of writing a memoir had never crossed my mind. I’ve listened intently as members of my writers’ group read from their life writings. One member decided to defy convention and sail around the world with her children. Another lived in India for years to learn the practice of Ayurveda, a form of traditional Indian medicine. Both amazing life experiences. But, consciously thinking about writing about my life experiences might not have occurred to me but, the fact was, I’d been doing it for years.
I first became aware of Gerald Durrell when someone gave me a copy of one of his books. After reading that book, My Family and Other Animals, I learned that Gerald Durrell had started a ‘zoo’ in Jersey, Channel Islands. As I would find out later, through my own first-hand experience, it was – and still is – so much more than a ‘zoo’.
During a bout of insomnia in the early hours of yesterday morning, I drowsily stumbled upon an article written by Sky News journalist, Chris Robertson. The Phantom of the Opera is to close, permanently, in the West End. They’re pulling the plug on Phantom? I was immediately wide awake. Over my dead body! We have to save our great British theatre! Covid-19 has done enough damage already; it cannot be allowed to destroy our cultural heritage. For phantom’s sake, whatever happens, our world-class theatre cannot be allowed to pale into insignificance.
Whilst on safari, I lost weight fairly quickly and it wasn’t just to do with the heat. After enjoying a sundowner watching impala gambol happily in the bush, we would return to camp to find them on the dinner menu, which was just too hard to swallow. The only time I have ever been offered a gin and tonic for breakfast at 5.00a.m. was on safari and it was the only time I have ever refused one, sensibly realising I was getting enough quinine in my anti-malarial tablets.
I was born at my parent’s home in Fulwith Mill Lane, Harrogate. A stone’s throw away from the viaduct on the south side of town. I remember little about the house, as my parents decided to uproot my tender sapling self, aged three and replant me down south.
Despite my roots being pulled out from underneath me at such an early age, the draw of the place of my birth remains strong. It will forever be etched upon my heart.
In May 2000, I took three months out and went on a much overdue sabbatical. We were travelling light, although my Yamaha keyboard found its way into the boot. I still believed in my abilities as a songwriter in those days. On the back seat of the Mazda, was the ultimate in carefree holiday accessories, P’s fourteen-month-old daughter, G, whose favourite toys were the talking Teletubbies, La La and Dipsy.
It was hot and steamy on the makeshift dance floor as I swilled what I thought was a lot of bitter lemon with a little gin, but the bitter lemon disguised a lethal cocktail of various spirits. With my sound system set to max volume, Tina Turner’s Nutbush City Limits began to sound hollow and distant as my surroundings blurred and my speech slurred. I managed to make it upstairs to the bathroom where, kneeling in front of the lavatory, I projectile vomited the fermenting brew inside my stomach.
By the time I was twelve, I had been at boarding school for a year and had become a bit of a comedienne. I was the classroom joker, not the brightest thing to be, but I was fuelled by an inner rebellion, which I seemed unable to subdue. So, I took my anger out on the system.
Sometimes fate introduces you to someone in a heartbeat. You don’t have time to cultivate an enduring friendship, but that person still leaves a lasting impression and that person for me was my creative inspiration, Barbara Large.
On the 9th April 1969, as Concorde 002 was rolled out on to the tarmac, test pilot Brian Trubshaw had made a decision. If there was no failure flag he would just keep on going and that is exactly what happened.
I love flying, but my knowledge of aircraft is on a par with my knowledge of motor vehicles … zilch. I view them as a way to get from A to B. Yet, some time ago, I actually fell in love with an aircraft – Concorde. OK it is fair to say that a member of my familyContinue reading “Will there ever be another Concorde?”