Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Extra Cover

Tuesday, 26 October

My Darling Eileen

When she came over to our gathering last month on the '25th', Sarah told me a lovely story that she has remembered about your days at Lexicon - one concerning John Lilley.

First though. let me go back to something John else said about you when he wrote to me the day he heard you had left us.

'You don't need me to tell you what a wonderful, caring, thoughtful person Eileen was.  You have had a lifetime of experiencing that.
But let me tell you of another side to Eileen you may not know of.
When I went to work at Lexicon - as a temporary scheduler and then in Client Services - I joined a team where Eileen was a Senior Account Manager.
She was knowledgeable, experienced, very 'bottom-line' aware, approachable, clever and willing to share.
Which was just as well. Within a few days she had sussed me out.
"Right John," she said to me.
"Client-facing skills?  Good.
Translation to production requirements? No problem!
But you must stop trying to circumvent the system!"
There was no point in me denying it.
For the previous seven years I had been in sales.  Hadn't touched a computer in all that time.
Was this the afternoon I went back on the scrap heap?
Not a bit of it.
"Right John!  I have cleared my desk and this afternoon we are going to go through the system step-by-step.  By close of play you will know the system as well as I do."
And I did.
The real benefit came six months later when I became Production Director.
Without Eileen's tuition I would not have survived, let alone thrived.
Finally, bless her, I went to see her, let her know my feelings and thanks her.

This was two weeks before it went public.  As ever she retained the confidence.
As I've said before about Eileen...totally, reliable.'    


This is the other story Sarah recalled...

'One of our colleagues (John, obviously) used to volunteer as a Samaritan.

He often did this during the night.  As a result he was sometimes late getting into work.
One morning Eileen desperately needed to speak to him urgently.

She was getting hassle from a customer and was trying to cover for John.
As the minutes passed without John appearing at work, she became more and more stressed.
Eventually she picked up the phone and called the Samaritans.

"Can I speak to John Lilley", she asked when a lady answered.

"Are you feeling suicidal? the lady asked Eileen.

"No, I'm not feeling bloody suicidal.  Put John Lilley on the phone...NOW!' 

That's my girl.  That's the girl I loved and admired so much.

Would love to know what you said to John when he came on the phone.  Or, more importantly, when he arrived at work. 

Bet you made him pay for it!

Do miss your passion and determination so much.  It never faltered even when you were not well at all.

Our lives are so much poorer now you are not around.

Will love you

For Ever



Monday, 25 October 2010

A Pair's Two

Sunday, 24 October

My Lovely Eileen

Last week wasn't an easy one.

On Tuesday there was only one item of post - a small white envelope. 

Inside was a card from Lindsay and Roger, to say that Barbara had died the previous Sunday.

She was 88 and hadn't been well recently, Lindsay said.   

As I sat in the lounge in the sunshine, the card in my hand, my mind went back to the first time we met Barbara and Ken.

It was a Friday evening sometimes towards the end of 1977.

While the vast majority of people were heading home for the weekend, the small group of us - who were moving to the new 'international' office in the Hague - had been invited, along with our wives, to a 'getting-to-know you' reception in the penthouse suite at Moore House.

Ken, I already knew as a colleague, but from within minutes of being introduced to each other, the four of us were chatting away like old friends. 

Like us, they were excited, if just a mite little apprehensive, about the challenges facing us. 

Even though it wasn't the other side of the world, for the four of us it meant moving away from family and friends and an established way of life.     

Looking back now, we need not have worried.  

Our stay in Wassenaar - even though it only lasted five years - became something of a high-point in our life together and one we would look back on with pleasure as the years went by.

Once settled in our house on Deijlerweg, we and the children took to life there with relish.  We loved the Dutch environment and our time 'abroad' gave the two of us and the children a broader perspective we would never ever lose. 

It was a really special time in our lives - and Barbara and Ken had much to do with making it so special. 

They became the best of friends.  They adopted Charlotte and Adrian as stand-in grandchildren.  

They taught us how to play 'Crib' - and we enjoyed many long, hilarious and often raucous 'card' evenings at 'Storm' or '144' playing Crib, Newmarket, Noses, Pontoon, Pit, Yahtzee and Bulls**t.

And if Ken could not be found he was usually upstairs in the Den watching 'Tom and Jerry' with Adrian.

They mixed and melded with our friends and relatives - as we did with theirs - when they came to Holland. 

You and Barbara spent many happy hours together: playing tennis and coffee mornings at the British Women's Club; shopping at the Beijenkorf or, more mundanely, at Albert Heijn; as well as swapping ideas and inspirations for your roles as tourist guides when visitors came.

With them, we walked in the Meijendel; enjoyed 'coffee and gebak' in the restaurant there; rode 'op de fiets' to the Whitte Brug to collect the Sunday papers; and discovered delectable 'kleine tong' at the beach restaurant in Katwijk.  

All these memories, thoughts and more came flooding back as I drove down to Barbara's Memorial Service last Friday morning.

It was the sort of day I know Barbara - and you - loved so much.

A sunny crisp morning, high blue skies and the leaves taking on their Autumn colours.

If you have to say 'goodbye' to someone it was as good day as it could be for doing so.


It was a lovely service.

Inside the Order of Service Barbara's grandchildren - Kate, Jo, Rich, Lizzie and Ellie - had written a lovely tribute to 'Our Nan'.

Here are just a few of things they said.  Things you and I will recognise immediately, remembering Barbara as we do.

'Think of a lady who is kind, caring, loving and fun, whose first question is always "Hello dear, how are you?", who listens to and is genuinely interested in the answer.

'Gramps (Ken) cheating at cards and Nan's (Barbara)response of "Oh Kenneth!"...(and)the tut and raised eyes behind Gramps's back as he made silly comments!' 
'(On)pouring her a glass of sherry or wine: "Just a small one dear ...Don't you have a larger glass?... Better fill it up then!"'
As I read these lines and others, I could clearly hear Barbara's lovely voice and that soaring chuckling laugh of hers.  


At the reception afterwards there was a long display of photographs covering Barbara's life. 

One caught my eye, particularly.

It was obviously taken at a wedding and there is Ken in his tails hamming it up for Barbara, both of them laughing uproariously at their shared enjoyment.

In the middle of the displays were two photograph albums.

In the 'Holland' one I was taken aback to discover this page of photographs of us enjoying lunch with them at 'Storm' one day.

Gratifying to know that we were as much a part of their memories of Holland as they are of ours.

Haven't been through all my files but did come across these photos, which I thought you would like to see again...

Walking near the Golf Course, when Barbara
and Ken came to visit us in Guiseley.

Several years later we visited them when they had moved to their new house in Crowborough...



At the reception afterwards, I spoke to Lindsay.

She said that when she was going through Barbara's papers a few days earlier, she came across the cards and letters I had sent Barbara in the last two years, telling her about what had happened to you.

As she read them, Lindsay said it brought everything back and how sad they both had been.

Now, sadly, Barbara has gone too.


The other album on display was the one they had compiled celebrating their Golden Wedding anniversary.

This photograph was one of the many taken that day that were in the album...

Once there were four very good friends who shared many happy moments, lots of laughter and a very special relationship.

Now three are gone and the phrase in the title at the top of the page -'Learning to live with Memories' - has taken on even more poignancy.

At moments like these, I miss you more than I can say.

Love you so much.

For ever,


Sunday, 17 October 2010

Mother Superior

Sunday, 17 October 

My Lovely Eileen

On the '25th', Sarah also handed me some notes Lynn had put together, also remembering your time at Lexicon.

This is what she recalled...

'Well what can I say about 'Auntie Eileen, as we always called her with affection.
I met Eileen for the first time, when she came for interview at Lexicon.
I was on reception and being so young - I was just 21 then - I was taken aback by her.

She reminded me of my old head mistress and that made me feel really nervous.

After she joined Lexicon we became really good friends.

She took me under her wing.  She was like a second Mum to me.
I worked very closely with her and she gave me so much of her time and her expertise.

As a result my confidence grew, both at work and in my own life.
She was second to none! 
When my Dad died when I was just 23, Auntie Eileen was there for me.  She was a shoulder to cry on and a really good listener. 
"Work can wait" she always said.  "There are more important things in life."
How right she was.
On a lighter note, Auntie Eileen used to tell us stories about her convent education.  And how the nuns used to rule the pupils with an iron rod.
I loved to listen to her stories.  Particularly the one about the nuns not allowing the pupils to eat in public on the streets - and what punishment they would get if they were caught.
I always think of Auntie Eileen if we go to the seaside and have fish and chips while walking along the front.
I can hear her saying, "the nuns will get you!"
I loved Auntie Eileen like a mother and miss her with all my heart.

Lynn xxx'

My Lovely Eileen

Trust these memories from Sarah and Lynn have made you smile.

I remember you were in your last few weeks at Manor House when we first met.

You could not wait to get away and out of school uniform.

You were much more in your element once you switched to Hendon Tech.

Playing cards at lunch-time and your short 'pencil-slim' skirts soon revealed the real, fun-loving mischievous you.

Those are among the thousands of memories I'll remember. 

For ever



Enter The Dragon

Sunday, 17 October

My Darling Eileen

When she came along with Ben on the '25th', Sarah brought me some lovely  'gifts'.

A bunch of freshly picked beans from their garden - which were delicious - and some notes recalling the time when you worked together at Lexicon.

This is what she wrote...

My memories of Eileen date from the day she arrived at Lexicon.
At that time, the company was split on two sites. We were in different buildings so I didn't see her much.
I sometimes covered on receptions back then.  When I had to put calls through to Eileen, I always thought how rude and abrupt she was. 

A real Dragon!
When the company amalgamated on a new site in Shipley, I was - to my horror - told I would be sitting next to Eileen.    
If I am honest, I was terrified of her and really worried she would not be easy to get along with.   
How wrong could I have been! 
Eileen was the warmest, funniest, most encouraging and loveliest woman to know.
I learned a great deal from her - not just about work but about life.
Eileen was always there for me.   
I went through some difficult times myself back then.  I had an illness that meant I had to take three months off work.
I took Chinese medicine to help my recovery.  It tasted awful and I hated taking it.
When I came back to work Eileen made this concoction up for me religiously and MADE me take it twice a day.
She cared enough to do this for me - and I will always be very grateful for that. 
Even though Eileen and I never met up again after she left Lexicon, we still stayed in touch by letter and by e-mail. 
Looking back through these, this is one of her e-mails that I found particularly funny...

"This weekend we have been decorating the lounge - and it has been disastrous!
Had to paint the ceiling three times 'cos each time we found streaks.
I then emulsioned the walls finishing the first pot of matt paint.  Started on the second tin.
Two walls later found it was a tin of silk finish NOT matt!
So quick trip to Homebase was needed.
Cali then walked along the window sill which I had just undercoated, leaving a trail of little pussy cat paw marks.
Trevor came home from work last night and, while having a cup of tea, lent against the radiator I had just glossed.
But today I think has been the bee's knees.
Glossing the skirting board, looked back and there was an army of ants stuck to the paint right along the skirting board."

Eileen was a wonderful combination of a Mum and a best friend.

That's how I'll remember her - and why I'll always miss her' 

As we all will.

Thought the 'paint episode' would bring back memories and a smile to your face.

Love and miss you so much 'my lovely dragon'. 

Yours - for ever

Trevor xxx

Dream Maker, You Heart Breaker

Tuesday, 5 October

My Darling Eileen

As I mentioned we put up a number of photographs for people to look at when they came on the 25th, for our anniversary.

As you know, some of these were taken on earlier 'anniversary' trips.

Others were just favourite ones of mine from the past.

I thought it would be nice to post some of these here, especially for those who could not be with us on the 25th.

I can hear you saying, 'Not too many'; so I promise I won't.

Majorca 1973

 London 1977

Mull 1984

Paris 1990

Paris 1990

Menorca 1995

Pelion 2003

Billericay 2004

Brugge 2004

Vancouver 2005

Vancouver 2005 

Etretat 2007

That's it - except for another lovely 'coincidence'...

While I've been picking out these images I have been listened to a Canadian  internet radio station (Jazz.FM91) in the background.

It's my type of music and great - if you make allowances for the fact they are 5 hours behind us and the traffic bulletins all relate to Toronto.

And guess what has just been playing? 

A rather lovely version of the theme from 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'.

We saw it during our first months together - and have loved it ever since.  

Although I seem to remember you did get very upset at the scene near the end, where she stopped the taxi and shoved the poor cat out in the pouring rain.

Still, she did go back to find it...

   Moon River, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

Well, we were 'two drifters' and we did see the world together - some of it, at least, if not all of it.

More would have been so good - but it wasn't to be.

So, my lovely, lovely huckleberry friend, if you have found your own rainbow's end please wait for me there - just 'round the bend.

For ever

Trevor xxx

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Embraceable You

Thursday, 7 October

My Darling Eileen

I got a little 'spooked' this morning.

After breakfast, I began taking down the pictures from the photo wall we had created for the 25th.

It was comforting to have had them around me since then.

But I felt it was time now to think about putting them somewhere more private, such as in an album.

We had used little dots of adhesive on the backs to help them stay up.

As I took each print off the wall, I had to lay it face down on the table, to remove the little bits of adhesive on the back.

It was slow going.  I was being exceedingly careful, as I didn't want to crease or damage the photographs while removing the adhesive.

Some music would be nice, I thought to myself.

Nothing on the radio suited my mood, so I picked out a CD of quiet reflective piano music and pressed the button to release the tray.

As it came out, I hesitated.

There was a CD already in the tray.

It was a Rod Stewart 'Great American Song Book' album.

One of yours.  One you liked so much.  One of several we would have playing in the evenings, while we ate and talked.

I guess it must have been in the machine ever since the last time we ate in there together.   

I am not ready to eat in there yet.  At least not on my own.

It's easier when there's family here.

I wasn't ready for the Rod Stewart either, just yet.

So I put the CD back in its case and got on with removing spots of adhesive.

Even though I was really careful taking them off the wall, I could not help pulling off tiny bits of emulsion paint here and there.   

They're not too noticeable. Nothing that a skim of filler and some new paint won't hide.

I have been thinking of doing some decorating come Springtime anyway.

Nothing too radical, I promise. 

I just need to freshen things up.  And it will keep me busy.

As I've been writing this, there's some Gershwin playing in the background.  

The track just finished was 'Our Love is Here To Stay'

And now it's 'Embraceable You'.

What could be more appropriate?  

Love you so much,

For Ever

Trevor xxx

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Among Friends

My Darling Girl

The 25th September wasn't an easy day. 

For the first time in forty-five years, we were not together to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

But it was easier than it might have been.

We had made it an 'Open House' that afternoon, so I was soon surrounded by family and friends.

I had ordered the food and wine from Waitrose and Charlotte, Nikki, Adrian Ivan came over late morning to help me lay it out and prepare the bits that needed warming up.

As it was 'our day' we were remembering, there were photographs from over the years - in the hall, the dining room and on the stairs.

Claudia, Andy and Chloe dropped in, followed later by Alex and Jane. 

Marilyn and Richard were here, of course, as were Pat and Fred.

Jill and Trevor popped across also.

Sarah and Ben came all the way up from Charlton to be with us, because of what you meant to her. 

Sarah had some more memories and stories for me, from when you worked together at Lexicon.  I'll save these for another time. 

Carol and Phyllis made it also.  On the way down they had dropped Liam off at Uni in Nottingham for his first year there.

Some could not make it because of holiday or other arrangements.

Maggi and Peter were on holiday; Kathy and Paddy too.

June and Geoff had something else on; as had Sue and Andy.

It was a long way for Christine and Mary to come but, like everyone else, they sent their good wishes and said we would be in their thoughts.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we opened a large bottle of your favourite pink 'fizzy' stuff, and those who were still here raised their glasses in your memory.

On such a day it was good to be among so many close friends.

Even so, it's still unbearable to think I'll never see you walk into a room again.

Or see that lovely smile; or hear your laugh.

Or hold you close - ever again.

Do miss you so, so much my lovely one.

Will love you, for ever,

Trevor xxx