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I went to a funeral, and on a trip down memory lane

I had to go to a funeral for my Auntie Kath. She wasn’t really my aunt – but I always knew her as such. My Dad’s side of the family is kind of complicated and sometimes it’s hard to work out who is related to who, and how. But that didn’t matter, she was a lovely lady and I spent a lot of my childhood staying with her and her husband Johnny.

Kath and Johnny owned a sweet shop in East Sheen, just a few minutes away from the flat(s) I grew up in. The shop was the centre of a bustling community and Kath was always there, usually standing in the doorway to the stock room, ready to chat and gossip with the customers. Usually laughing – she had one of those deep, infectious laughs.

My earliest memory of hearing music was at their house. I don’t know how old I was, but I guess I was small as I was sitting on the floor pulling pots out of a kitchen cupboard. At least I think I was. The tune was something by The Carpenters and it was the early Seventies. I seem to remember the radio always being on and watching Uncle Johnny wash his face and have a shave in the kitchen sink. Who knows if these are even real memories – I’d have been very young,  but they certainly feel it. I do remember being sent to the shop as a small child, to get ‘mum’s books’, (her weekly magazines) and cigarettes. Mum would let the magazines mount up a bit and there were always a few to pick up. I think that’s pretty much how I first learnt to cross the road properly on my own. I’d walk up there and Kath would wait the other side of the road to see me across.

When my granddad died in 1978 I went to stay with them at the sweet shop, so that I was protected from the worst of it, including the funeral. They always made me feel so welcome – I’d never known an electric blanket until I stayed there and Kath had those funny dolls with the full skirts to hide the toilet rolls in the bathroom.

Later, when I was at secondary school I spent time working in the shop sometimes during school holidays. I probably drove Uncle Johnny nuts, babbling on about goodness knows what and giving people the wrong change! And later, pretty much every day when I got off the train I’d pop in to say hello before I went home. They were always interested in what I got up to – I remember getting my first pair of high-heeled school shoes and proudly prancing around in the shop showing them off. I reckon that was September 1984, just before starting the fourth year.

They never had children, and they were married over 50 years until Johnny died first a few years ago. But they were always young at heart. I think running the shop for so many years and mixing with the paper boys and girls and younger people kept them so. Even when they left the shop and moved away they were the same. Kath always had an eye for fashion and an interest in what was going on. She was always made up, with lots of blue eyeshadow and coiffured hair. I remember she gave me a lovely vintage black velvet cape when I was in my early twenties. Yesterday I was bemoaning to my mum how I should have kept it, when she told me it was still in the wardrobe upstairs. The cape must be 40 years old and it’s still in perfect condition – almost floor length black velvet with a hood. That’s definitely coming out again in the winter – it’s too gorgeous to stay hidden away. I was so pleased to see it again.

AuntKath

I’d forgotten half of those childhood memories until I started writing them down, and it’s been a nice little trip down memory lane. A lovely lady and a life well lived.

Race for Life

The day after the theatre trip I was up early to meet girlfriends outside Harrods, to do the ‘Race for Life‘.

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As before, we walked it together. And as before, it there was emotional moments – though mostly fun ones. And we had a well-deserved Prosecco or two afterwards, followed by Katie and I having a lovely lunch in Knightsbridge. I was worn out by the time I got home :-)

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Christmas in July: Funny Girl and The Savoy

Finally the day had come to enjoy my Mum’s Christmas and Birthday present – tickets to see the wonderful Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl and then afternoon tea at the equally wonderful Savoy Hotel.

We met in Oxford St, and did a whistlestop tour of the second floor at Debenhams, picking up a new jacket, dress and a couple of tops on the way – all in the space of about 15 minutes! Because the Saturday Prudential Ride 100 was on in London it meant lots of road closures and grabbing a cab wasn’t easy, so we tubed down to Charing Cross and walked along The Strand to The Savoy Theatre.

It was exciting seeing the signage for Funny Girl, and I was very much hoping that Sheridan was going to be in the performance. We got to our seats, which were only 5 rows from the front and was thrilled to discover the she was in the show! I’ve never seen the film and didn’t actually read anything about the play before seeing it, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was blown away – it was a simple story and a simple set, but great acting and performances made it completely enjoyable all the way through, with funny and emotional bits (as well as songs and dancing, obviously!)  There were no points were it felt like time was dragging and the audience gave Sheridan two very well deserved standing ovations. That’s the second time I’ve seen her in the West End, and the second time she has been absolutely fantastic. We saw her in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2013 at The Noel Coward Theatre, when she starred opposite David Walliams.

FUNNY GIRL,              , MUSIC - JULE STYNE, Lyrics – Bob Merrill, Book – Harvey Fierstein, Director – Michael Mayer, Choreography – Lynne Page, Set Design – Michael Pavelka, Costumes – Matthew Wright, Lighting – Mark Henderson, The Savoy Theatre, London, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson/

After the show we walked next door and had tea in the Thames Foyer at The Savoy.  I was ready for it by then, and it didn’t disapoint. Dainty sandwiches, fluffy scones and sweet pastries, all set under the lovely glass dome – with a twinkling piano to accompany us. The Savoy is a grande damme of London hotels and afternoon tea there was a very civillised end to a lovely day.

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Littlehampton

We went to Littlehampton for the afternoon on the motorbike. It was a lovely run down there through the Sussex countryside and it was a beautiful sunny day. We lay on the beach on the stoney (West, I think) side of the beach and then had fish and chips sat on a wall. It was wonderful, even the bit where I got sulky because we weren’t on the sandy beach.

We didn’t get to paddle, as it was a bit windier and chillier down there than inland, but we did have a lovely time. I also had a play with an image app called ‘Prisma’. I quite like this shot of us on the beach.

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Heat

It should have been quite easy meeting today’s theme – ‘Heat’ – as it was a lovely hot day. I was in the hairdressers by 8.45, getting my colour done and while I was sweltering under the heat lights waiting for my colour to take, a picture of the heat lamps seemed like the obvious choice. Though a selfie of me with a bright red face and a head full of foils wasn’t a particularly pleasant image, and it was quite hard to get a good shot without looking like a twit.

After the hairdressers we went on the motorbike to Littlehampton. If I’d have waited til this evening to take the shot, I could have used a picture of Madge’s bright red face. Once again he forgot to put sunscreen on, and his face is pretty warm!

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