When the weather is relentlessly dreary, winter stretching ahead in a louring canopy of grey on grey, it doesn’t help to  hear a friend you’ve known for  more than half your life has died.


Just when you’ve finished writing a poem acknowledging there will be things you never get to do, places you won’t ever get to see, lovers you finally acknowledge will never be yours, someone else you cared about for decades is added to that ‘never ever’ list.


My friend Linda, who spent years planning all the marvellous thing she was going to do when she retired, but who was struck down with cancer only months after that retirement. So she never got to do any of it – to busy struggling with treatments, tests, medications, and hospital visits.  And the moral of that has got to be, don’t postpone having the life you want to have, filled with the things bringing you joy.  Because Fate is cruel, and the only day you’re certain of having is this one.


My friend Linda…a talented, smiling woman whom I shared so much laugher with.  For years we lived in flats opposite each other in Central London.  I didn’t have a ‘phone at the time (hard to believe, but true), so if I wanted her to come over for a coffee and a natter, I’d ring a hand-bell out the window, the signal for her to come over.  It never failed to amuse us, and passers-by would often wonder what the hell was going on.


She was the first person I told I was getting married in 1986.  I was living in Istanbul, had met and fallen madly in love with a young Turkish musician, but too broke to call everyone back home to let them know my plans.  So I called Linda and asked her to spread the news to friends and family (including my mother – it was years before she forgave me for not calling her first!).  It was midnight when I finally got through to my pal.  Erhan and I were booked with the Registrar at 8.45 the following morning; we’d only got permission to marry late that afternoon, and I was flying home the day after, so things were a tad tense.  I explained all this to Linda, who shrieked enthusiastically before asking, her tongue firmly in her cheek, if he was a waiter.  The fact he was a classical musician and his parents were both opera singers calmed her down a lot. But we laughed about that for years.


She and I shared a love of fireworks, Cornwall, Cornish cream teas, castles, and the gardens at Sissinghurst.  We had the same sense of the ridiculous, loved cheesy jokes, Tommy Cooper, Morecombe & Wise, and music in all its forms.  She had a fine singing voice, but was too nervous to make a career as a performer.  She didn’t share my wanderlust, being perfectly content to stay in England, but loved hearing about my foreign adventures and followed my trips with avid interest.


And when she met the man she subsequently married, she was as nervous as a teenager.  I had to calm her down with lots of tea and cake.  It all worked out beautifully, and he was her devoted partner until the day she died.


If I was to sum up her life in a few words, I would say, hers was a quiet life lived in laughter, surrounded by love and friendship.  And that’s got to be something to celebrate.  I know I’m not the only one to miss her.  So goodbye, my lovely.


The next Loose Muse is another celebration of talent and friendship with two featured poets – Kate McLoughlin, and Isabel White, both wonderful but in very different ways.  April’s Loose Muse is on April 10th, at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, for more details see our events page.


Hope to see you there,

Until the next time,





  1. So sorry to hear of your loss, Agnes. The best tribute – your kind and loving words, and sharing those memories. Thinking of you. xx

  2. So sorry to hear this, Agnes. What a wonderful friendship, though. They never go too far away from us, you know. Love Clairex

  3. So sorry to hear this, Agnes. What a wonderful friendship though. They are never far away from us, you know. Love Clairex

  4. Im sor sorry to hear about your friend Linda. She sounded like a very special lady xx

  5. Brennan Lucy says:

    Dear Agnes Just wanted to say I am really sorry to hear about your friend Linda and ironically I really enjoyed your piece of writing to her. It was very moving. Sorry I won’t make the launch nite or this month’s loose muse but want to wish you well with both. I am up to my gills trying to work towards a show in Ireland in June which means head down painting at the moment every minute i get. i will be back in july – if you are around in July we could plan your trip to the seaside. In the meantime I may make a loose muse but its a hit and miss with family etc.

    lots of love from the sea and the sun – Lucy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx the daffodils which were holding on for dear life are starting to appear! at last!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: