Flowers and a note attached to a lamppost next to her regular spot outside Waitrose. Maxine has died, the handwritten note announces and expresses loss at her passing.
A homeless woman who sat in the same spot most days for years. Maxine, she told me when we chatted the first time. I gave her bigger sums of money every few months and each time a brief chat. Other times a smile or wave of welcome. Often you get people sat on the step with her, not sure who was offering who support.
A face that showed a tough life. She was probably younger than she looked.
And now she won’t be at that spot any more. I hope it was s peaceful death. Easy to worry about homeless women in particular. She said she had finally got a flat some months ago and wasn’t seen for ages. We didn’t chat after that. I hope she did get her flat and found some peace there.
It’s not what you expect on a Friday evening on the way to a French ballet with a long time friend, to slip on the last step of the underground. Down I went. A half hearted show of concern by the man behind me. Somewhat dizzy, mostly embarrassed and surprised, I stood for a while.
First Aider, Accident and Emergency, concerned husband, painkillers and crutches later I returned home. Foot up as instructed. Classy champagne cooler serving a new purpose.
She would have been ninety today, our mum. Reflecting on the things she enjoyed as presents over the years – smelly stuff always, her favourite perfume, Italian soaps, only certain kinds of hand creams. Occitaine was one warmly welcomed. Flowers always. But never chrysanthemums. In earlier years silk scarves from my time in China and earlier still art books to feed her passion for art especially the grand Italian masters.
A sad email from Dad to us all today just to share how much he misses her, especially today. Darling he called her. Goodbye darling he said as he paused by her coffin after giving his eulogy. Tears well as I remember that moment again.
We miss her.today and everyday.
90. What would she have made of being 90?
It’s shocking that the vote turned out as it did and since last week we watch things fall apart. Horrific increases in racist attacks – a new legitimacy to their “get out of our town” mentality. Children asking parents whether they will have to leave the UK. Employees from Europe worried about their future status.
Families and communities split. Views held deeply.
Concerns about jobs being lost as companies plan to exit the UK and European funds to places like Wales and Cornwall will inevitably cease.
The pound has fallen by 10%. Property prices in London already tumbling.
Labour and Conservative parties unravel. The smiling Boris who won over so many to the Out view that even he didn’t really subscribe to, is forced out by the horrible Gove who in turn hopefully won’t survive the process. Shakespearean. Farage insulted our European colleagues in the European Parliament and brought shame on us all. Lies and deceptions have abounded. One by one they are proven to be untrue.
And Jeremy, a good man, hangs in when he really should step back but who is there to step forward as an inspiring leader? The right man for the wrong time.
Having heard the shocking results when I was in Berlin enjoying feeling European it felt like irreversible damage has been done. In a world where partnerships and alliances and shared interests are essential we are stepping back to go it alone. A fantasy that we will return back to past glories.
It’s been shocking. And now we all have to live with the consequence of the decisions of a small majority in a world where it seems there isn’t a plan already there to deal with the consequences.
I shudder to think what follows.
On the croft and it’s been a week of making bread and jam, picking spinach to eat minutes later, watching lambs being born, walks on a deserted beach and both silence and chats with friends.
The days feel long and full of rich experiences. Very grounding. Feeling very much at peace.
My usual London life feels far away – a life with supermarkets full of produce flown in from around the globe, shops groaning with designer gear made by underpaid people in countries near and far, traffic jams, tubes, noise. At the same time though a life full of galleries, theatres and museums, the distinct and very multicultural feel of different parts of the city, work and leisure opportunities. Most importantly my life with a loving husband who eagerly awaits my return.
And I will on Sunday. Happily. I miss waking beside him.
Meanwhile I treasure this time. Free from the demands of my work, living each moment and feeling close to and connected with the earth around me. Simple uncomplicated but massively rich life.
We have been friends for 38 years it seems. A long long time. And here we gather on the far north west coast of Scotland in the surprising sunshine, remembering, laughing, eating, walking, sharing.
Wouldn’t miss this for the world.