Have you seen her? The Trish-Trash of old who used to find humour in disaster, regardless? I know it may seem, of late, that she has vamoosed (I did check that!)) but, no, buried beneath the all-encompassing doom and gloom, the spark remains. So it was that, on Thursday – the hottest day of the year so far – I drove to the beach to join Becca, late afternoon, armed with two cans of gin and tonic and a blanket. Yes, yes, there were people in situ, obviously, but timing is everything and most were departing as I arrived!
Parking at my spot – well, I have spent almost every evening there throughout lockdown – once barefoot on the sand, I suggested we walk along a bit and join my parents for a catch-up! At the far end of the beach, beside the walkway I used to take but which is now fenced off, it is an unpeopled spot from which to view the iconic skyline from afar and, thus, the perfect resting place. Paradise, Pop! Getting colder, now, as the habitual wind took hold, it was still sunny and lovely to be out, at one with nature and the world. I could almost taste the miniscule ‘taste’ of gin lost in the can of tonic but … hang on a minute! Do you see what I see? People! Yes, it is a summer’s day and we are on a beach, after all but there are people and more than one ‘people’! Several, sitting right on top of Pop and Mummy!! Why? There’s a whole beach out there. How dare they? Do they not realise they are on ‘sacred’ sand?! Have I used sufficient exclamation marks?
My beach. My parents, moreover! Just, why? Of all the ‘gin joints’ in all the world, they had to sit on mine … well, something to that effect. How we laughed! Laughed at what Pop would be saying; the irony of it all considering it is from him that I inherited my ‘love’ of the human race en masse. Selective. That’s the word we shared. As for people, unless selected – a friendship earned for life – quite honestly, we prefer/red animals!
Irony. Unexpected, by nature, it always makes me smile. As though some humorous force from above, moving the pieces on a chess board for nothing more than amusement. Powerless in the game, one can still recognise – and acknowledge – the scope for wit. An opportunity for laughter should be grabbed with both hands …
It was a weekend which could so easily lend itself to the maudlin, however. The wind was ever-present along with bouts of torrential rain and thunder. It should have been Glastonbury, too, and I suppose it brought it home just how much we are missing – not necessarily, Glastonbury, for my part, but we did revel in re-living Coldplay headlining in 2016. Wow! Just, wow! They may disappear, for a while, and their genius retreat to the back of one’s mind but, then … one is reminded of their might; their all-encompassing might! The music, the performance, the colours, the utter magnetism. Coldplay are, without doubt, the greatest band – and, to date, I have never seen them! Manny has had the privilege several times and probably, most notably, as an eighteen -year old at T in the Park in 2011. Born lucky! Me? I’ve told him that I want to see them at the Circus Maximus in Rome. Don’t dreams come true?
I remember writing about Coldplay’s 2016 Glastonbury triumph in my post of that week. Hard to believe, Trish-Trash has been sharing her wisdom for five years now … Anyway, the memories remain: Chris bringing on Barry Gibb and singing harmony to the voice of the legend that is, where once his two brothers, now deceased, had stood. A lovely gesture which further endeared these four guys to me. However, it was their parting song which brought it all back – Up & Up.
‘And you can say what is, or fight for it
Close your mind and take a risk.
You can say “It’s mine” and clench your fist
Or see each sunrise as a gift …
Don’t ever give up.’
Somehow, Chris Martin singing these four words means so much; gives one courage. The sentiment of the song – and this was 2016 – is even more pertinent today. That’s the genius of Coldplay. The heart.
Monday, 29th June and the first week of Wimbledon – or it should have been. In all my years, I have never known a summer without SW19. The disappointments just keep on coming as, one by one, we are stripped of normality; the normality of things to look forward to (and I am aware one should never end a sentence with a preposition but there is such a thing as poetic licence!). Stripped back … it’s funny but I have been listening to talks on YouTube, recently, by my favourite author, Alexandra Fuller. Drawn to one of her books, Leaving Before The Rains Come, several years ago at a very difficult time in my life, fate had me take it off the shelf. It was meant that she come into my life, at that point. Dwarfed by her intelligence – and amazing story – her words resonate with me and there is, actually, so much we share. I wrote to her the same and her reply, I cherish. Devouring every book she has penned, I had, however, never heard her speak until I discovered these gems.
Remember I spent some time, earlier in lockdown, detailing my top 10 dinner party guests and reasons why? Well, I need to make a few changes, the first being that Alexandra Fuller needs to, now, go straight to the top of my list! Intelligent, vibrant, funny and self-deprecating, her family and her life one would be forgiven for assigning to the realms of fiction. Not so, in her own words, she puts the ‘me’ in ‘memoir’ and what memoirs! Growing up, firstly, in what was, then, Rhodesia, she and her sister were encouraged to run wild, their only instruction being – aged six and nine – “If you are going to shoot anybody, make sure it’s below the knee!”. I mean, what’s not to love?
A wealth of stories to tell of her early childhood in colonial Africa followed by the Rhodesian civil war, its aftermath and their subsequent nomadic lifestyle, at the centre of them all are her parents: her strong, brave, intelligent, totally eccentric – and totally damaged mother and her beloved father who, totally unfazed, sucks the living daylights out of life! Humour abounds juxtaposed with pathos as the Fullers wrestle a life few others could survive.
I watched two YouTube videos of this amazing lady promoting her books – four years apart – in the independent book shop, Prose and Politics, in New York. The latter, in September 2019, co-incides with the publication of her last book, Travel Light, Move Fast. In it, she tells of her father’s death and the effect of the inevitable grief on herself and her family. On my bedside table, as I write, it was the talk I chose to watch first and, in which, she tells of the sudden death of her twenty-one year old son in his sleep … She looked so much older than I remembered; as though a spark had been extinguished. Now I knew why. Halfway through this book encompassing the grief of losing her father, I learn that, for this daughter, the blade had merely broken the skin in preparation for the deepest wound – as a mother.
Alexandra Fuller is stripped right back to herself. That, perhaps, explains her magnetism. Freedom of speech is of paramount importance to this lady, the legacy of her formative years in an Africa clinging to white supremacy; formative years borne of a father who insisted, ‘You’re enough!’. Therein lies her magic. The power of the written word enables her to strip right back to the raw emotion which reveals herself. There is nothing more. It is the quality she seeks – and values most – in those privileged enough to be a part of her life going forward.
‘I think that’s what my childhood gave me. I’m kind of for the nice people; that’s just all. That’s just all.’
Alexandra Fuller, Prose and Politics, New York – February 17th, 2015.
This is Trish, signing off.