When I am home again on the island, after a time away, I spend the first day remembering.
I remember a sudden smile on an old familiar face whilst sorting through the washing to be washed. I hear again a comment, made days back and long forgotten by the one who made it and whose mouth has filled with many words since. For that person, it is gone forever, but not for me, who heard it and held it and find it still inside my head, and sometimes my heart. Lisa from Two Roads, for example, who spoke out before all those who came to the second book launch of Island Wife in Norwich, the home of my formative years, although, to be honest, I would question the formative bit. It’s not like I stopped forming once I left, frozen in time as ‘her’ because ‘her’ has changed a whole lot since then. For beginners, ‘her’ no longer wears shiny hotpants, nor does she feel like a bit part in someone else’s play.
Back, as they tell me ALL the time…..to the subject……..
Lisa stood up and said things about me as a person that made me feel like I was really something. She talked about the book, about Island Wife and how it came into her hands and how Hodder multiplied it thousands of times over, flying out into the world on its own wings. Karen, Queen of Publicity, came too and spoke of new avenues, new ideas, new hopes and plans for my story as we shared a cream tea in a smart town hotel. Actually, I didn’t share mine, but that is so not the point.
Old friends I haven’t seen for 3 decades bought first editions and invited us for coffee, tea, supper and lunch, taking us on journeys through little Norfolk lanes lined with old red brick cottages and a lot of history, and the sun shone the whole time.
At the launch, someone tapped me on the shoulder.
I’m June, she said, and I knew her face at once, although on another’s shoulders, for she is the youngest daughter of the Old Horseman in my book. We talked a little, whilst we could, and she went away with her signed book. I had tried to find the descendants of those who gave of their best to us on the farm, and her unexpected visit (I hadn’t managed to find her) lifted my heart the highest.
The other lifting thing was that I realised among old friends, that, although we are all older, I am still the daft eejit. Some long to be daft eejits, and some are jolly glad they aren’t, but, for me, it says just the right thing about me. However tough life is, whatever comes our way, tries to break our spirits, confound us, shake our confidence, we always have our inner spirit, and it is our own. My confidence shaker may be different to yours, but I still experience the shake.
May as well make it one with ice cream, fresh strawberries, mango juice and champagne.
With Two Straws.