I find it amazing that forty years on, dates continue to ring a bell.  Today, 4th May, is a guy I used to know at uni’s Birthday – Gordon Stewart.  Now, why do I remember that?!  Wonder what he looks like now?  Most important, does he have hair?!  It’s funny, though, remembering the Birthdays of people who crossed one’s path so long ago.  Like a little post-it note to the past.

I always remember Julia’s Birthday on the 23rd March and I haven’t seen her since we left London in 1985!  Still send Christmas cards saying we must meet up but we never do.  She and I used to share an office in East Sheen.  In fact, she hired me as her assistant!  Thing is, I don’t think either of us had a clue what we were doing – well, I certainly didn’t.  We used to smoke like chimneys – Marlboro Light – and chat, becoming firm friends.  Every Saturday, she would come round to our wonderfully quaint basement flat on Richmond Green (the only way in was through our bedroom!) for steak and courgettes and copious amounts of wine.  No change there, then.  Never crossed our minds that we wouldn’t be friends forever.

The innocence of youth.  I’ve written about it before, how one’s life is a backdrop scattered with crossing paths representing the friends who have come and gone throughout.  Friends who, once, were indispensable.  Life.  I’m glad I didn’t know, then.  I didn’t want to know.  I still remember the time when, nearing the end of university days, Phil’s older brother, Chris, warned us that, with the exception of one or two, we would, all, lose touch.  Never!  We will be friends for life, now – or so we thought.  Sadly, Chris was right.  I have a handful of friends for life from those days and I treasure them.  Different lives.  Different locations.  Bond unbroken.  I would so dearly love to find Billy McPherson, though!  I met him, with Susan, at that first English Lit lecture in 1977.  Knowing nobody, I walked into a packed Lecture Theatre A and asked them if anybody was sitting there.  The rest is my history.  Billy was from Dunoon and a wannabee punk rocker but he was so kind to me and his Glaswegian sarcasm – well, it was infectious.  Loved by all, he was larger than life but the bubble burst and we grew up.  Different paths and we lost touch.  I last saw him at Susan and Phil’s wedding in 1983; he hadn’t changed a bit.

I also remember phone numbers!  Not so long ago, my old friend, Nic – who grew up across the road from me – challenged me to remember their number.  I wasn’t confident, immediately, but, minutes later, taking my mind back to these days, I remembered the four important digits: Cupar 2321!  Now, how did I manage that?  Filed away in the archives of my mind – or memory – just waiting for that trigger.  The most complex, advanced ‘computer’ there is requiring of no keyboard, no case, no charger.  Facetime?  No problem.  Susceptible to viruses?  Walked right into that!

Perhaps I am some numerical genius as in Rainman!  Birthdays, phone number, number plates … must mean something?  We caught that wonderful film on TV recently.  It was made in 1988!!!  A young Tom Cruise alongside Dustin Hoffman, I think it is over-looked in its eminence.  No special effects, the film centres on these two actors – the brothers – throughout, its mastery derived from the superb dialogue and the pathos borne of acting skills second to none.  The winner of many awards, including the Oscar for Best Actor – Dustin Hoffman – Tom Cruise was, somehow, overlooked. An absolute travesty!  In fact, Tom Cruise has never won an Oscar nor an Academy Award despite the fact that his name is synonymous with merit.  Whatever happened to its recognition?

Seventh week of lockdown?  People are anxious and frustrated with no end in sight.  Everything is cancelled for the foreseeable future and travel, it seems, may never be the same again.  As British Airways prepares to lay off a quarter of its staff and, perhaps, refrain from flying out of Gatwick, Ryanair predicts it will scale back on routes.  Prices will escalate for those who are brave enough – or just plain foolhardy enough – to fly but, for the majority, it may be not worth the risk.  Lockdown cannot claim to have  eradicated COVID-19; in fact, it may even have rendered it more powerful.  Add to that, we are no longer members of the EU and it would not be fun to be struck down in the Eternal City!  When will we return?  I have a marble plaque, courtesy of Sandro in the Via Margutta, which is inscribed with all the years in which I have celebrated my Birthday on the Spanish Steps.  He left space for many more.  There is already a gap for 2019.  It is only set to increase.

Somewhat maudlin, the mood.  Prolonged uncertainty weighs heavily.  It seems, also, that I have lost my reader in China.  Whatever next!  It fires the imagination to think that someone in such foreign climes is reading Trish-Trash.com.  Japan, too.  Another language.  Another world.  Now, that is the power of the internet.

Yet another glorious day, although I am freezing!  Not a great sleep, last night, I vowed to get up early to continue writing my book – more than 3000 words now – and rattle off my blog.  It was pouring with rain, when I switched off my light but, once again, I awoke to the sun streaming through my windows.  It has been years since we enjoyed a spring such as this.  I’m not sure whether Nature is happy that man is all but banished or, merely, endeavouring to cheer?  One thing I do know is that the birds are delirious!  While on the subject of these winged creatures, I stopped parking my car under the trees, recently – as did Becca – convinced it was proving a target for the birds above.  Covered!  I spent some time hosing both cars down, conscious of how damaging it is to paintwork.  Feeling suitably smug in my triumph over said birds, I have walked past the trees several times since and studied the road below – not a sign.  Clean as a whistle!  How can that be?  Where are all those incontinent birds all of a sudden?  Dare I surmise that our cars were, merely, an integral part of their in-house entertainment?  Little things.  Large deposits!

Spring drew on … and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that hope traversed them at night and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.’

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre.

This is Trish, signing off.