Up to now, I have written a lot of light hearted ramblings on this blog, and sometimes it has been ridiculous, but today it’s serious and poignant. I feel I may be making myself vulnerable by writing this! The date April 8th has been etched in my memory for the last 24 years. My world was devastated on that day in 1986. And then again in 1993.
Well, the story starts in December 1979 when I was Assistant Theatre Manager of one of my home town’s entertainment complexes – The Worthing Pavilion. Note I use the term ‘entertainment complex’ and not ‘theatre’. That is because the only ‘theatre’ ever performed in this building was when the local amateur companies took it over for a week to put on their annual musicals. The rest of the time the building was used for ballroom dancing, big band evenings, music festivals, organ recitals and the like, just no real theatre!
If you wanted real theatre, you would have to go half a mile up the road to the Connaught Theatre.
And that’s just what I did in December 1979. I used up my annual leave in half days off to work backstage during that years pantomime – Peter Pan. And whilst there, I was to meet and fall in love with the eldest daughter of one of the ladies who worked with me at the Pavilion. This young lady, along with her sister, was a dancer in the pantomime.
We hit it off instantly and so began a wonderful relationship. It wasn’t without its difficulties – mostly my fault because I was so immature in the ways of the world and real theatre at that time, but on the whole we seemed suited to each other, perfectly.
As the years passed by, I was to leave the Worthing Pavilion and take over at The Old Vic in London. My Golden Girl was building her career in modelling and dancing and her mother continued to work Front Of House at the Pavilion.
That was until 1986!
On April 8th my Golden Girl suffered an asthma attack and was unable to be revived. We had lost a truly bubbly and talented individual. Mourners flocked to the local crematorium in such numbers that not only was there only standing room, but people had to listen to the service outside.
It was a lovely day, if you can describe a funeral as a lovely day, the daffodils had, like 2010, blossomed late that year and there was a carpet of them surrounding the grounds of the crematorium. A family friend who was in the theatrical profession did the eulogy and referencing the colour and vibrancy of the daffodils around the town at that time, described her as a Golden Girl.
Later that same year, I was made redundant from The Old Vic, and once again was devastated. My world had hit rock bottom; things could only get better, couldn’t they? Yes, they did! In the October of 1986, one month after I had left The Old Vic, I was appointed Manager of the Connaught. I was back in theatre and I was back in the building which had for so many years been the ‘home’ of my Golden Girl.
To add to my delight at being there, I had two new members of staff join me – Golden Girl’s mother and sister. We may not have had her with us physically, but she was certainly there in spirit.
Every year I would visit the crematorium on April 8th and also on her birthday in November, but in 1993 my visit on April 8th was for the funeral of my grandmother.
The years have come and gone, and we have all moved on. I am now extremely happily married to She Who Must Be Obeyed with two step daughters and Golden Girls’ sister has a family of her own. We have stayed in touch, but rarely see each other.
That is until yesterday – April 8th. I was out walking again and not really walking anywhere for any reason. I was just going where ever my legs took me – there was no plan; there was no purpose. I was just enjoying the April sunshine. However, for some unknown reason, my journey took me through a part of the town I wouldn’t normally go to unless I was in need of one of the few shops there.
As I turned the corner, I bumped into Golden Girl’s sister! We are probably both constantly in and out of the town, but we rarely see each other. So what were the odds – on this of all days!
I’ll leave you with a few photographs taken on April 8th 2010 at the crematorium.