Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tiger Lady

Monday, 25 April

My Darling E

'A waste of ink and paper' you used to say about the Telegraph's colour supplement each  Saturday.  

And, generally, that's still the case.

This week though one article was worth the read.

It was a profile of Judith Kerr.  She's the lady who wrote the lovely story, 'The Tiger who Came to Tea' over 40 years ago.  Drew the illustrations as well, the article reminded me.  

She followed that up with a series about 'Mog, the Forgetful Cat.' 

Even though there were 17 books in all it's a set of storied I am not familiar with.

It was 'The Tiger who Came to Tea' that was a big hit with Charlotte and Adrian back then.

Remember how it was always one of the ones regularly requested at bedtime - especially with the inevitable side-order for 'funny voices'.

Well, you'll be delighted to know it is still a popular read with our 'next' generation at bedtime - and I'm sure it will still be required reading when Harriet and Felix are a little older.

It appears a stage version of 'Tiger' will open in London this summer.


Suppose a straight-forward read - even with the benefit of 'funny voices' - is less appealing to  today's little ones, who are more sophisticated and have access to a wealth of wonderful and imaginative animated stories on television.

(Just wish - as I'm sure you do - that that choice was around when A was going through his long 'no-sleep' period.)

Judith Kerr is now 86 and still writing and drawing.

Her latest book, Mr Henry, features overweight cats and a tiger who drinks from the tea pot.  It is about an old lady who goes off on fantasy adventures with her dead husband.  They hunt lions, ride dinosaurs and chat with the Sphinx. 

She lost her husband, Tom, in October 2006, leaving her bereft.

'The book isn't about Tom and me,' she says.

'It's anyone who has been happily married. We had a special time but a life can be quite ordinary and the best thing in the world.

We had such fun doing the things we did, bringing up the children.  He always thought of the titles of my books.
The four years before he died were difficult.

He had heart troubles and suffered a number of small strokes. There were times when a lack of blood to the brain meant he could not think properly.

But, in some ways, you love someone more when they need you.

I remember telling his specialist that I didn't know whether to remember him before or after he was ill.

The specialist said 'both'. 

If you've been very happy, it stays with you.'

That's so true.

I miss the good times - and the 'bad' days too.

They weren't much fun but at least we were together. 

But, above all, I so miss you.

Will love you

Trevor xxx  


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Seasons in the Sun

Sunday, 20 March

My Lovely Lady 

Adrian, Nikki and the girls are on holiday at the moment.

They flew off to Fuerteventura last Wednesday and I got a text from Nikki that evening to say they had arrived safely.

They are staying in Jandia, quite a bit further down the coast from where we stayed in Calleta, almost twenty years ago, in 1993.

I imagine Fuertaventura is a lot more developed now than it was back then. 

But for us it provided the laid back setting for the type of holiday we were looking.

Both Charlotte and Adrian were off at Uni and we decided it was time the two of us should start to enjoy a few seasons in the sun.

Seem to recall you were the prime mover, putting aside a regular amount from each month's salary into a separate bank account for holidays. 

You would pay for us getting there and where we stayed.  I would be responsible our 'splashing-out' spending money.

Nothing fancy we agreed.   Just somewhere quiet and laid back where we could take things easy and go as we pleased. 

It was a pattern we followed virtually every year for over a dozen years.

What's more it was a pattern that worked and gave us some truly memorable memories.

And Fuerteventura was the first.

Our apartment was on a quiet road overlooking the sea and a short walk from what counted then as the 'centre' of Calleta.   

We spent our days on the beach by the little marina and and in the evenings it was an easy walk to one of the two or three restaurants that were there.

During the second week we hired a car and began to explore the island, landing up mainly at really long secluded beaches where there was hardly anyone around.

We did some sightseeing but not much. 

Just enough to let us see a bit of the the island and maybe discover a new restaurant for lunch.

Like the day we landed up in Gran Tarajal just to see if it was actually all that 'Gran'.

It wasn't. 

But  but on the way out we followed a little side road.  

It led to a tiny fishing village called Las Playitas.

We watched the local children diving and playing in the harbour, and then breaking off to swim out to meet a little fishing boat that was returning with that morning's catch.

When we saw all the fresh fish it its nets, it was clear it was time for lunch.

The little restaurant right by the harbour welcomed us in to its cool interior.

When we enquired what was on the menu, the chef went out to the boat and came back with a platter for us to chose from.

Fish straight from the sea, cooked beautifully, and a chilled bottle of crisp, dry Spanish wine. 

Pure happenstance and simply perfect. 

It was a freewheeling approach that was to work out for us wherever we went.

And when our time was up, we handed the car back and headed for the airport.

But not before taking the first of our 'last night of the holidays' photograph.

Which became something of a tradition on all the holidays that followed.

Sadly our 'seasons in the sun' together are now nothing but memories. 

But such good ones and so typical of the wonderful times we shared.

So difficult, so very difficult, to accept that's how it now is. 

Will love and miss my lovely girl


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Close Resemblance

Tuesday, 15 March

My Lovely E

Charlotte and Ivan brought Caitlin, Reuben and Felix over for the weekend.

Roped Ivan in to helping me sort the garage out a bit.

It gave them both a chance to check-up on some of their things that we have been storing for them.

It also gave me the opportunity to sort out some boxes of slides, photographs and negatives that I haven't been through for ages.

When I was doing this, Ivan came across this one from back in 1974...

It was taken at the family celebration to Granny and Grandpa's Golden Wedding Anniversary in July that year.

He immediately spotted a strong resemblance between Charlotte as she looked then and Felix.

Charlotte was delighted about this as up to then she hadn't spotted it herself.

After they had gone home I continued looking through the 'archives' and came across these photos of her when she was just two weeks old.

I think they will be really struck by, what is to me, an even greater similarity.

And, for reference, here's one of Felix taken that same weekend...

You were always much better than me at this type and it would be so nice to know what you would have thought.

Just really sad that you are not around for him to get to know you and see what a lovely Oma he has.

Miss you so much my lovely girl.

Cannot tell how flat things can seem at times without you or that lovely smile of yours to brighten my life.

Will love you, Forever.



Sunday, 6 March 2011

Minstrel of the Dawn

Sunday, 6 March

My Darling E

Watched a programme tonight, which I had recorded on BBC4 a couple of days ago.

It took me back all of 40 years or so.

Originally transmitted in 1972 it  featured a studio concert by Gordon Lightfoot.  

The slightly soft early-days colour images - no high-definition colour then - and the songs he sang made me think immediately of what was then our last year or so in Wilton Court.

Can't for the life me of the number of our flat there.  Was it 29? 

But I do remember that the early years weren't always easy for us as money was often tight. 

But we made it our home and we had such fun there is spite of that.

By 1970, things were a little more comfortable and my student days were over.  

I had graduated - helped in no small measure by your support and ruthlessness when it came to me revising - and had been able to cut myself a much better deal at work as a result.

So, after several years of sacrifice, we were able to begin to enjoying ourselves.

Gordon Lightfoot's 'Minstrel of the Dawn' album was released that year and I remember the LP was seldom of the turntable in the flat at weekends.  

For us it became a favourite LP and the soundtrack to a summer of fun, laughter and new-found freedom.

We never did get to see Gordon Lightfoot perform live, but he was introduced to the audience during a Rod McKuen concert we were at in the Albert Hall.

Even when we moved to Parkway, that LP still got a lot of plays.

Then,  when cassettes took over, our 'Minstrel of the Dawn' LP somehow got lost along the way.

Now, fast forward thirty-five years.

We were in Vancouver celebrating our fortieth wedding anniversary.

On our last full day of a wonderful and memorable holiday, we were walking up Robson Street heading back to the Pacific Palisades Hotel when we passed a large music store.

Inside we soon found the Gordon Lightfoot section and there it was - 'Minstrel of the Dawn'.

Only now titled 'If You Could Read My Mind' in recognition of the 'hit' single that Gordon Lightfoot had with that track from the album all those years ago.

Didn't have anything to play it on there in Vancouver. 

But as soon as we were home those old familiar favourite songs were filling the house.

Still do from time to time - as they are now as I write - even though you are no longer here to share them with me.

Or sing along together to ones like 'Me and Bobby McGee' just as we did way back then. 

Funny how a grainy, black and white programme from the archives - or snatches from a long-forgotten song - can bring so many memories flooding back.

And tear at your heart at the same time. 

But that's the way it is with so many of my memories now.

Miss you so much.

Will love you, forever.


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A Long Time Ago

Wednesday, 23 February

My Darling Eileen

It's the anniversary of my father' death. 

Fifty years ago today - to the day.

It's a day and a date which, like a much more recent day and date, will forever be part of me.

While I have clear memories of that day and the funeral that followed, my memories of the previous Saturday - the 18th February - are just as vivid.

I was playing rugby for London Irish that Saturday afternoon.  Quins away. 

I was in the dressing room getting changing after the game, when one of their officials popped his head around the door.

'Is there anyone called Trevor Kane here?' he asked.

I said it was me.

'We've had a phone call saying you're to go home immediately.  Your father is seriously ill.'

I can still recall the next couple of hours  as if it was yesterday.

Rushing to the station; the train to Waterloo that took for ever to get there; the mad dash down the escalator to the Northern Line platform; the inevitable wait for a Barnet train; coming out of  Highgate station and racing down through Queen's Wood and back to 72 Onslow Gardens. 

It seems George and Belle, my uncle and aunt, had got the message around 11.00 that morning but I had already left for the game by then.

It was only when they thought to ask you that they learned I was playing rugby.

But you didn't know where, only that I was coming home after the game and planning to take you out that evening. 
They had eventually tracked me down after ringing round all the grounds where a London Irish team was playing that day.

Remember this was long before mobile phones.  Your mother and father didn't have a land line then, only the Bebbs downstairs at 72 did.

I got their permission and rang home. I spoke to my mother and told her I was on my way.

She said there was already a seat booked for me on the 9.30pm (and last plane) to Belfast that evening and a ticket waiting at the BEA (as it was then) desk at Heathrow.

By then it was after 7.00.  How on earth was I going to catch it? 

That's where you stepped in.

You had already spoken to Cedric, your family's friend from up the road.

In minutes I had packed a bag and you and I were piling into the front bench seat of Cedric's large American car.

We set off on on what, recalling it now, was one of the hairiest drives of my life - and yours too I should imaging.

Even back then, Saturday nights were always busy on the North Circular Road and this was long before it was widened, or further on, before the M4 was built.  

But using his knowledge of all the back doubles and short-cuts from his day job as a goods-vehicle driver with BRS - and, I must confess, by driving like a maniac - Cedric got us there..

Leaving Cedric parked in front of the terminal you and I raced in and up to the BEA desk.

As soon as I mentioned my name, a stewardess said, 'Mr Kane, we've been holding the plane for you.  It's just about to depart.  We'll need to hurry.' 

There was only a moment for you and I to have a quick 'goodbye' kiss before she whisked me away.

As I ran down the corridor alongside her, I remember glancing back and seeing you still standing there, a bewildered tearful look on your face.

Can only imaging what thoughts were going through you mind just then.

Concern for me, obviously, and what I would face when I reached home later that evening.

But was there something more.

We hadn't know each other long but we both felt there was something - something much longer-lasting - there.

Did you wonder, just then, if this would change things between us.

Would I even be coming back to London or would I be staying at home?

Would we ever see each other again?

Well, as you know, I did come back.

And things worked out just as we hoped and knew they would.

But that's another story.

One best left for another time and another place for the telling.

So miss not having you around - to talk to or to hold.

Will love you
For ever.


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Moments Like This

Wednesday, 16 February

My Darling Girl

It was Valentine's Day on Monday.

Know that we hadn't made a big deal of it for quite some time. 

Too commercialised we both felt agreed. 

And we didn't need to be carried along on the flood of 'hype' that it has now become, to confirm what we knew was there between us from the start and always would be.

This year I was very aware for the first time that we were not together to even make a token nod in its direction. 

Don't know what happened last year.  Think it just got lost in the sea of raw emotion that immediately followed you leaving us.

Well on Sunday morning I was listening to John Pizzarelli's programme from my favourite Toronto jazz station in the background.

Naturally, being so close to Valentine's Day, he was playing a nice mix of tracks around that particular theme.

Just as he was coming to the end of the programme, he played a super Tony Bennett track.

It was called 'Moments like This' and came from his album 'The Art of Excellence'.

It was a track and an album I was unfamiliar with. 

Not unsurprising really because, when I went looking for it on Amazon, I discovered it was one he had released way back in 1987.

Don't know how we missed it at the time, but as a reviewer on Amazon says 

'This is hands down, one of the most beautiful, artful albums ever recorded by any artist in the world, EVER!!! From first track to last, I have rarely heard more effortless, emotional singing from Mr B.'

When I listened to a few sample tracks I knew I had to have it. 

So I downloaded it immediately. 

(No more CDs cluttering up the place you'll be pleased to know.)

The reviewer on Amazon got it absolutely right.

No-one does this type of gently-swinging love songs better than Bennett.

It has those soft 'dancing' arrangements that encourage a dimming of the lights and a gentle smooth around the floor.

My regret is that we missed it the first time around and that you are not here now to do that with me.

This is what Valentine's Day should really be all about.     

Have to say that when I listened to it in full for the first time there was more than a little moisture at the corner of my eyes.

There was even more reason for this than just the lovely music and you not being here for us to share it together.

Track three is a song called 'Come a Little Closer' and it immediately brought to mind that first warm summer evening we met and I was saying 'Good Night' to you on the front doorstep at 74.

Mind you I wasn't quite sure enough of myself to put it quite as confidently like that, after we had shared our first gentle kiss.

If I remember, I said 'You could come a little closer' giving you a little room for to decline the invitation if you wished.

Which I sincerely hoped you wouldn't. 

And you did come closer - a lot closer. 

And that's how it stayed for virtually the next fifty years, my lovely Valentine.

That's what you always were and always will be.

Love and miss you so much.

Yours, forever. 


Monday, 31 January 2011

Be Lucky;Stay Lucky

My Lovely Girl

Just know you will be delighted to meet Felix, our latest grandchild.

Felix arrived safe and sound - if a little ahead of schedule - at 9.25 on Wednesday, January 19.

We were all geared to an early February birth but events transpired to a date a little earlier than that.

It all kicked of at an appointment Charlotte had with the midwife on January 4th. 

Nothing too serious, but the midwife felt that, as the baby was still breech, it would be best if Charlotte was admitted overnight to check everything with the baby was OK.was able to come home the next day.

Her next appointment with the specialist - one that had been booked before Christmas - was on Friday January 14. 

So once again I went across to look after Caitlin and Reuben while she and Ivan kept the appointment with the specialist.

Hadn't heard from them until I got a phone call from Ivan towards 12 o'clock, asking if I could rustle up some lunch for Caitlin and Reuben.

The consultant was recommending that Charlotte had a C-section on the following Wednesday as the baby was breech and they were a little concerned over the position of the placenta.

They were then in the queue waiting to see the midwife and were then going to see the anaesthetist.

When they returned it was clear timescales had shortened. and that here was a lot to do before Wednesday.

Over the weekend, I made arrangements for Cali to go into the cattery.

Although Ivan had paternity leave and could work from home some days, clearly I would be needed to help look after C and R while Charlotte was in hospital and after she came out.

No lifting and no driving for six weeks.

Well before 7.00am on the 19th, Charlotte and Ivan were up and moving around and left for the hospital a few minutes after 7.30, a sure sign Charlotte was at the top of the queue for theatre that day.

I wasn't surprised when Ivan rang to tell me Charlotte had had a baby boy weighing 7lb 6oz at 9.25am and that both Charlotte and the baby were doing fine.

  Because of the risks from swine flu and other 'bugs', nobody but Ivan was allowed to visit Charlotte and Felix in hospital.

But, as you can see, you were with him from the first moments of his life. 

Charlotte and Ivan had some ideas about names for him but wished to have a little time before finally deciding.

If the baby had been a girl they had already picked the names Phoebe Elinor (a nod in your direction) Rose (your favourite flower).

By the time Charlotte was able to come home the following Friday they had decided on Felix Gabriel Quinn.

They decided to wait until Caitlin and Reuben were asleep before Charlotte and Felix came home, as they thought the excitement would be too much for them.   

The next morning was rather special.  Not only was 'Mummy' home but they got to meet their new baby brother for the first time.

Opa got to hold his new 'kleinzoon' too.

'Felix' is Latin for 'happy' and 'lucky' and I hope sincerely he will always be that.     

'Gabriel' is, again, a nod in your direction.  As the story goes, that is how you were to be called Gabrielle until your father got a change of mind on the way to the Registrar. 

And earned the considerable wrath of your mother.

'Quinn' reflects Charlotte's desire for there to be a Gaelic names in there somewhere.

Don't think she was aware that the name is derived from the Irish 'Ó Cuinn' and means 'descendants of Conn.' and means 'wisdom' or 'chief.' 

A nice touch that, you'll agree, even if was happenstance.

But then Felix does mean 'lucky'. 

Just know you will always 'look out' for him as he goes through life.

As you do for all of us who are left behind - and who miss you so much.
Will love you

For ever



Sunday, 30 January 2011

Reflections in the Rain

31 January

My Darling Eileen

Early January can be a bleak, cold grey month at any time.

But never more so than this year.  

Wasn't looking forward to the 12th in particular - the first anniversary of the day you left us.

But life has to go on...

As you can imagine it was a sad and emotional day - with miserable weather to match my mood.

Got some nice cards with lovely messages in the post, and some phone calls too, underlining just how much you are missed by so many people.

A sad and emotional day - with miserable weather to match.

After the rain had eased a little I headed out and drove to Hanningfield.

Hadn't been back there since the last time we were there together in September 2009.

The last time, in fact, you were able to leave the house, so I felt it was a good place as any to go and sit and remember, on this day of days.

I drove into the car park, switched the engine off and sat there, totally alone, while the rain fell and heavy grey clouds hung low over the surface of the reservoir.

A few bedraggled geese and ducks came around the car but then gave up and waddled off when they realised there was nothing for them.

They looked as miserable as I felt.

I would have been miserable company for anybody that day.

Only one person could have lifted the gloom - and my mood.

And she wasn't around.

No other cars came, just a few vans heading down the lane to the cafe.

I remained there until it was almost dark and it was only when I was leaving that I noticed the sign saying the car park closed at 3.30pm.

A good twenty minutes earlier.

Luckily they hadn't closed the gates.

So I drove slowly up the lane and turned for home along those once-familiar roads.

And spent the evening alone with my thoughts, a glass or two of wine, some of our favourite music and a host of precious memories.

Will love and miss you 


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

"After You've Gone"

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

My Lovely Girl

Listened to a moving and inspiring programme on Radio 4 on New Year's Eve.

Apt too, coming on the last day of 2010, that bleakest of years in my life.

It was called 'Widower's Tales'.

Beautifully produced, it featured four men who were left alone after the death of their partner and how they went on to find a new identity late in life. 

No annoying interviewer to come between them and the listener.  

Just their voices relating their stories.  Punctuated with brief snatches of the song 'After You've Gone'. 

Guy, now in his eighties, had lost his wife Daphne.

'(Her) death had been so clearly coming for so long. I didn't expect death to be a shock, but it turned out to be a much greater shock that I had expected.

I suddenly felt distraught and alone without my 'prop'. I would walk around in the garden with tears streaming down my face, just missing her.'

Barry had lost his wife, Noreen, 11 years ago.

'She had lung cancer but it wasn't diagnosed for a long time. She died within three weeks of the diagnosis.

I'm very close to crying all the time. I only have to hear the plaintive call of a bird in the garden and I start filling up.

We were married 31 years. She suffered from arthritis and I worked from home so we were together most of that time living in the same house.'
Peter, now 80, has been widowed for 40 years.

'She died in Bart's Hospital giving birth.

Life has been pretty terrible. It comes to you in bursts. The more distractions there are the better. Bringing up the children and working.

Then you get the grief and it doesn't go away. There I was a grown man, constantly struggling against bursting out crying in public.

That went on for five or ten years.'
Bob, now 68, lost his wife, Chris, three years ago, suddenly and avoidably through want of antibiotics.
'I'm now a sad old man who walks around with carrier bags, talking to people in charity shops and buying stuff. Simply for someone to talk to.
I was planning to retire. For years we had saved hard to build a nest egg. Our 40th anniversary was approaching and we had lots of plans.

I miss looking up and seeing her.'

Barry has given up watching TV.

'It wasn't the same without her.

After a few months I realised it was time to do something interesting. Something new.

Noreen would be amazed at the things I am doing now.

There I was approaching 60 and could not drive or swim.

Now I can.

Although the driving took me three years and cost me the equivalent of a small new car.

The swimming took a year.'
Guy admitted that, when Daphne was alive, they didn't do much entertaining.
'She didn't like mixing with people or having them in the house.
I've always been keen in cooking.

Even in Burma, fighting the Japanese, I would heat up the supplies we were dropped by air, using an old kettle over the fire.

When she did die, I said to myself, "Buck up Guy. Don't mope. Get on and do things."

Now I entertain and have even written two cookbooks.

You have to adjust; you have to cope.

No point in thinking 'I wish she hadn't died', because she was obviously going to die.

You have to get used to it and used to the idea and make the most of things.

If you don't make a new life, you're wasting yourself and making a complete mess of things.
You have to get out and do things.' 


'So how are you coping?' I can hear you asking, as I sit here on the eve of the first anniversary of the day you slipped away from us for good.

'I'm doing OK', which is what I think you would hope you would hear me say.

It hasn't been an easy year. But both of us knew it was never going to be.

I am able to cook and care for myself.  But then I had a good tutor. 

I now even have a new cookbook - 'Solo in the Kitchen' - to help me broaden my repertoire.

Unlike Guy in the programme, however, I don't see myself getting into  entertaining on a grand scale. 

The children have been really supportive.

There when I need them to talk to but respecting my need for solitude and space.

I fill the house with music - old favourites and some new ones - when I need a lift.

There's an easy chair on the landing where 'your' armchair used to be.

I sit there and read a lot.  Or sit in quiet contemplation and let the memories flood in.

And what of this second year without you?

Well, these 'letters' to you will continue. 

They have been a great source of comfort to me, knowing we can still 'talk' and share things, just as we always did.

But I sense the need for them to be more outward-looking.

More exploratory.  More adventuresome.  Just as my life now needs to be.
As Guy in the programme advoctes, I will get out and do things.

Gifts this Christmas of sketching pads, pencils and notebooks have given me the motivation and encouragement to do that and look at things through fresh eyes.

At last I am getting to grips with writing my family 'memoir'.  I am now comfortable with the form and structure I want it to take.  

These, like the research I have done so far, have raised more questions.  

So I need to go back and ask those questions and do some more 'digging.'

Above all, I want to spend more time with our four lovely - soon to be five - grandchildren. 

It's such a delight watching them them grow and develop - and so rewarding to be with them.

I know that the thought of missing out on all that was devastating for you.

So I want to be there for them as much as I can, to make up for them not having you to share things with.

I will travel too.  

To places we never got to see together and some that we did and thought special.

Wherever I am - or whatever I'm doing - I know you will never be far away, just as you were for the last 50 years. 

And will be for the rest of my life.

Miss you so much.

Will love you,
For ever

Trevor xxx