Saturday, 29 March 2014
Source of much talk
Filing into the chapel we were conscious of a dreadful sequence: Heidi gone in late December, Joe a bare ten weeks later. Two unforgettable individuals. But to have remained silent or to have whispered would have been a poverty-stricken reaction. As the pair of them had talked so did we. Forced to leave Heidi's funeral early, this time I sought her two daughters and was drawn into a discussion about how acts of creation may occur unplanned and unexpected on a canvas. H and J, both painters, listened I am sure.
Tunbridge Wells, that samovar of middle-class spirit, was applauded and condemned with equal vigour. A gorgeous young woman spoke of a travelling circus and seemed impossibly moved to discover that she and RR/VR had lived on the same street in central London. A neighbour who had chauffeured Joe to and from the supermarket spoke about his cargo with affection.
It seems invidious to name individuals but I must mention Joe's offspring. Both were admirably cast as poetry readers: Toby handling Roy Campbell's translation of Baudelaire's The Voyage (discovered for the occasion by Joe's brother, Ken), Pippa a sonnet by Joe (And yet, you must keep saying "and yet"...). Over dinner they reminisced about their tumultuous childhoods, causing us to laugh and to sorrow.
Nor can I ignore Lucy (needs no introduction) who left Brittany at a shockingly early hour, circulated in style among the Tunbridge Wells chat and was only brought low when I incautiously suggested she joined VR and me for a nightcap before turning in. Kay-legged with fatigue she may - or may not - have been briefly a little moist about the eyes as she talked yearningly about bed.
I spoke from the lectern about Joe. People were kind, even if I was dissastified. Trying to be modest (The leopard, always remember the leopard.) I listed myself as A Friend then realised this is a role that is awarded, it cannot be assumed. I worried too about literary contrivances, tricks that may have done duty as sincerity. I saw that "being a writer" is a subjective state and briefly wished I could have claimed to be a juggler to provide undeniably honest entertainment.
Fortunately as I resumed my seat a hand accommodated mine. But that won't save me from getting some stick about that juggling remark, revealed here for the first time.