Well, now that I’ve calmed down from my five minutes of fame on BBC Radio 4, I can concentrate on my mother’s God-daughter, second cousin nothing removed, Mandy.
Mandy first came to my attention when she and her brother arrived for a weekend when I was three. We went sledging and I remember a disaster ensued when her brother fell into manure instead of snow. It’s all coming back to me now.
Mandy shocked the village but mainly me when she visited again, aged 13, and rode round the streets of North West Leicestershire on my pony, in a bikini (Mandy was in the bikini not the pony).
She answers the phone early in her morning and straight away we are talking about the mysteries of life. That and the hilarious nights we had at the Dover Street wine bar in our twenties. She calls us ‘Little Northern rebels.’ I remember her greatest rebellion being getting on the tube and forcing people to talk to her politely and she reminds me of the night I walked up to George Best. He was propping up the bar, all blue eyed and hairy and I asked him ‘Are you George Best?’ He said ‘I was once’ and then gave me a big kiss.
Mandy is related to Graham and Damon Hill and I like to think that as I look more like Damon Hill than she does, I am too.
A discussion that I can’t remember us ever not having (probably since the pony and the bikini) has been about the fact that the path of true love never did run smooth. We dedicate an hour of this phone call to that topic. We don’t actually get anywhere with it, of course.
Our grandmother’s were sisters. Hers, Lilian, was the one with the red lipstick and the glamorous job, mine, Marion, was the one with the mashed potato and the poetry book. She reminds me how much I doted on mine and I remind her that she did the same. Lilian died on my wedding day. In honour of the red lipstick and the coiffed hair, I went to her funeral in a scarlet suit. Out of two hundred people paying their respects, I had been the only one not wearing black. ‘Well, at least you’re wearing black shoes’, Mandy’s brother had said sympathetically and everyone looked down at them. They had ladybirds on.
In her forties Mandy went to university to study the dramatic arts and came out with a sense of confidence and a 2:1. She tells me to look at her show reel. Her grandmother would have laughed adoringly all the way through it. I love it (click on it below).
I’m looking at my scant notes now and see that at one point she said a quote from Picasso. “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
There you go.