Ted Ellis-Clarke had brought a beautiful giraffe with him apparently. She was too tall to be a supermodel, and the animal print dress just served to heighten the effect that she might feel more at home browsing the upper leaves on some sparse dry tree in the Serengeti.
Nate got a crick in his neck just trying to look at the girl, but when he did he could see that she was really very young indeed, still a schoolgirl probably, and she looked absolutely terrified. He smiled, and she grinned back, displaying her retainer; then as if she suddenly remembered the retainer, the smile died instantly and her lips closed once again. She flushed deepest red.
“Hello!” said Nate, trying to put the girl at her ease. “I’m Nate, and you are…” his voice tailed off as he looked to Ted to provide the information for the formal introduction.
“Oh goodness, yes, Nate, this is Blaze Avery. Blaze, this is Nate Barzeh. Nate, Blaze plays an alien in the new Star Trek movie. She has a few other things in development as well. I already told her all about you Nate so I don’t need to do that bit”
“Hi Blaze” said Nate, “I don’t get to look up at many women…Basketball?”
The girl looked so relieved.
“Yes! I am hoping to try out for the USA Women’s National Team” she said, with a great deal more enthusiasm than she had displayed on hearing Ted recount her single movie credit as a nameless alien in a movie that hadn’t yet premiered.
At that point, Sally rejoined the party.
“Sally darling!” Ted Ellis-Clarke leaped forward to give Sally a big hug. “I’ve not seen you in forever. Nate, you have to stop hiding her away from the world! Sally, my love. I’d love you to meet Blaze Avery. Isn’t she just gorgeous?”
Poor Blaze was as red as a beetroot, and stammered out a rather feeble greeting as Sally looked at Ted in astonishment,
“I don’t mean to be awfully rude Ted, but surely Miss Avery is, um…” Ted looked surprised for a moment, and then roared with laughter.
“Oh wow Sally, I think you have the wrong end of the stick entirely there. Blaze is Tina’s daughter. I thought the name gave it away. You did go to Tina’s wedding you know, remember Tina, my sister, Mrs Avery? Blaze is only fifteen for god’s sake. What do you take me for?”
Everybody turned to look at Blaze, who looked on the verge of tears now.
“Oh Teddy, you are such a monster. That poor girl” Sally hissed into his ear.
Everyone rallied around to try to make the child feel more comfortable. It was bizarre calling Blaze a child as she was the tallest person in the room by half an inch or more, and considering that Martin and Nate were both over six feet tall, that was quite an achievement.
Sally couldn’t recall ever seeing such a tall woman before in her life. She sincerely hoped for the child’s sake that she had done all her growing already and there was no more to endure. She was already of circus freak proportions and Sally felt so sad for her, and it pained her to have caused the girl so much embarrassment. The plus point was that there had been a method to Teddy’s madness. He knew that the loft was a large space, and he knew his friends would be lovely to her. He had reckoned without Pierrette, La Duchesse de Maupentier and her escort being present though, but Martin seemed very nice and happy to join in.
Gleefully, all the men seized the opportunity to take off their formal jackets and challenge the girl to run rings around them at basketball skills in the large minimalist space, which she was more than happy to do for twenty minutes, by the end of which time, Blaze was firm friends with all of the men and they all looked flushed but happy.
It turned out that Blaze Avery was the most extraordinary person; just phenomenal in every way. She had been raised by her English mother, Tina, a journalist and author, and her American father, Professor Willard Avery who taught at an exclusive boarding school in New York, and who wrote articles that had been printed in every major newspaper and periodical in the United States.
It was obvious from the first that all of the men were hopelessly smitten with the girl; not in a creepy sexual way, but rather as if a fairy princess had appeared from nowhere and had asked them all to be her liege men. Sally found it completely hilarious that she and Péri had been so utterly upstaged by this gawky kid and that all the men were so entirely captivated by her.
Blaze looked as if she’d be the most beautiful girl in the world, if it wasn’t for that damned retainer. She was relaxed now, happy, smiling and chatting easily. It was even more difficult to believe she was just fifteen.
She was discussing the political situation in Chechnya with Sir Martin and she was incredibly well informed on the subject. She appeared to excel at everything. She knew music and literature as well as pop culture and TV references. Of course she could paint and draw, yes she played the piano, guitar and saxophone, she was the editor of her school’s newspaper, she was a prefect, she was on the basketball team, of course, and she played tennis and chess, and made a lot of her own clothes
“The stores never have my size, I am just too tall”
Blaze was a reader, she read anything and everything. She kept a detailed journal and had several pen-friends in different countries all of whom were teaching her things about their customs, country, language and beliefs.
As the meal got to the dessert stage, Sally found herself once more in the kitchen with only Péri to talk to.
“There was a girl just like this at my finishing school in Lausanne” Péri confided
“Oh that’s nice, were you friends?”
“Not really, I punched her in the cunt”
Sally dropped the tiramisu dish to the floor in an explosion of near hysterical laughter. Péri started to laugh too. The dish bounced, splattering the tiramisu out, covering both the women with cream and chocolate as the men came running to find out what had happened.
Stephen Jay performs his anthem “Go Like This” live with acoustic bass and vocal. Track 1 of the album “Sea Never Dry” For more music dates, lyrics, and info, please visit http://www.stephenjay.com
No longer sleeping, but living on the edge of waking for so long
Seeking out a newer way of life or being to belong
In a world so far away from everything I ever knew
A place to grow, one I never knew I needed or should go
Held back by fear, by fear of fear and fear of falling through
Shouting at myself I need excuses to be calling you
I missed the boat, I missed the plane, the train, I missed the time
Trapped inside a nightmare daydream out of which I cannot climb
Like Tom the Rhymer, tricked, erased from time to time by time
Finds nothing left and less than nothing left to rhyme
A discussion with my friend Michael Kupperman @MKupperman on Twitter about Jade Goody reminded me that I had written a blog about her death long ago on My Space where of course it can no longer be seen probably and it occurred to me that it might be an idea to repost it.
In the last few days several chats with friends about cancer and the losses we have all suffered because of it made me want to look again at the Jade Goody post which was written as a reaction to an article by John Walsh in The Star from March 2009 in which he said
“But Goody’s decision to let a film crew follow her around during her last few weeks, recording her gradual decline in return for
money, is unprecedented. Much is being made of Goody’s “bravery”, her management of celebrity to ensure that her children get an expensive education, the exploitation of her imminent demise to persuade more young women to have cervical smear tests.
But for Goody, of Big Brother fame, who will die in public, in front of a camera that will relay to millions of television watchers the dwindling of light in her eyes – what kind of choice is that? Is it disgustingly ghoulish?”
Who is finding Jade Goody’s death disgusting or obscene or in poor taste?
What is this? the “Don’t mention the elephant in the room” scenario?
Shouldn’t we perhaps be a little less precious about death, is it not something we all must face?
Doctors and nurses are of necessity pragmatic and professional. They see a lot of death, Police, and other emergency services too.
When I was a little kid I remember sitting around and hearing an elderly relative shushed for saying
“I love a good funeral”…
It’s “not the thing to say” is it? So many taboos, so many awkward silences,
Death has become the Great Taboo, and it occupies the place formerly occupied by what was once coyly know as “Married Love”
Death is the modern replacement for pornography as people turn to Rotten.com and Ogrish for their kicks as much pornography itself goes mainstream and dare I say it “G- Rated”
We turn to increasingly sickeningly violent films and images and are appalled and thrilled equally by death, real or verisimilitudinous.
Are we appalled and thrilled by a 27 year old mother of two dying by inches before our eyes? Someone many of us feel we know from her several years in the blaze of the public eye?
Its a difficult question actually. I think we have been separated from the reality of death for quite a long time, we are curious, we want to know, but is it prurience?
There’s nothing noble or beautiful about this appalling obscenity of a disease which strikes so indiscriminately. It is the disease that is disgusting, not Jade Goody, who is making the utmost out of her plight… because she CAN.. she has children to provide for, and she is dying as she lived, finding comfort in knowing (I suppose) that as many love her as hate her, much as she has been used to since 2003 or whenever it was that half the nation took her to their hearts and the other half wanted her put down like a dog.
Jade has always sold newspapers, They have loved her.. they have hated her, but they could never ignore this poster child of the Tabloid generation.
That someone so monumentally uneducated could make herself a millionaire in just a few short years, by doing very little other than be totally at ease with being watched.. well everyone has to make a living I guess.
She has chosen to die in a way she feels comfortable with, a way that gives her some solace, a way that helps her to bear the trial
We have no right to judge that. It’s whatever is good for her as far as I am concerned, and good luck to the poor girl.
It seems to me that those that believe she should shut up and go die in a corner are the ones that have the problem. Jade’s lingering demise
has already saved hundreds of lives as women mindful of her plight actually make a point of attending cervical smear appointments rather than ignore them.
The people who want her to just die, and who still cannot find any compassion or tolerance for her are the ones that need to vanish.
We are all getting a lesson here, though we may not yet recognise it. We need to know about this horrible disease and what it does to people we care about.
We need to be 100% against it in all its forms whoever we are, however young, however old and not shy away from it or gloss over the awkwardness.
We all need a lesson in how to talk about cancer, how to relate to and help sufferers in anyway that we can and not turn away in disgust any more..
My mother was born in May 1934 to an English couple visiting back home after some years away in the United States. They already had two American born children, a girl, Jill and a boy, Evan Michael.
Nobody living knows the story now, but for some reason the new baby was unwanted, and was dumped on her maternal grandparents and uncles. The family returned to the USA.
Mum’s Grandmother Jane-Caroline refused to allow her flesh and blood to be sent to the orphanage so for a while the baby, Jennie, was passed from hand to hand around the family, finally being adopted by the people that I called Nanna and Grandpa, who were in reality my grand-uncle Rowland Stroud and his wife Olive, who already had a son from a previous relationship, but no child with her husband. Nothing more was heard from my mother’s biological parents and siblings. Uncle Jack, Olive’s son, said he had seen Mum’s real mum and sister towards the end of WWII, either in Salisbury or in London, but that was all we knew. Just a couple of years after Rowland and Olive adopted Jennie they eventually had a child of their own, Maureen, giving my mother a sister at last
I have a teddy bear that was my mother’s and was allegedly her big sister, Jill’s before that, and we have some dolls clothes labelled with her name that were all her birth family left her. Jill Jones was an intriguing mystery to me always. I grew up hearing this story over and over again, and I suppose, in part it is one of the major reasons I ended up becoming a genealogist. I have always loved a mystery and this was such an intriguing one, bound up with my own origins.
You really have no idea how hard it was to find a person called Jones before the internet was around… There are hundreds of Joneses in every English speaking city in the world, and the ones I was looking for had not been seen since about 1945. I didn’t know how old the children were, or their precise names or where they were born. I had minimal details about the parents, where they had lived, where they had died. Nothing. When I think now of the countless hours I spent researching in telephone directories, I can’t help but laugh at how far off I was. All I managed to add to what I already knew was a marriage certificate and some very suspect and muddled notes on WW1 regiments and institutions
Bringing the story up to Y2K when I started using the internet. Other areas of my family tree could push back hundreds of years in just a couple of hours, but I remained stuck on my own grandparents, aunt and uncle with very little that was new but a few official certificates for a long time. I posted on message boards in the wild hope that someday someone would type one of those names in a search engine…
“Seeking brother ( Michael Jones) and sister ( Gillian or Jillian, nee Jones )
of Jennifer Ann (birthname Jones) b 15.5.1934 London England.
Evan Leslie Jones b 1898 North London (son of John / Agnes Martha (nee McDougal) Jones)
Caroline Frances (aka Frances) (nee Stroud) Jones b 1897 Portsea Hants (daughter of Henry Stroud and Jane Caroline (nee Philipps)Stroud)
Evan Jones and C.Frances Stroud married in Southampton Hampshire 2.2.1919
Evan served in Royal Garrison Artillery in World War 1
Frances was in the QMAAC (Queen Marys Auxiliary Ambulance Corps)
Jillian(or Gillian) and Michael born between 1919 and 1930
Seeking Gillian (Jillian) and Michael Jones and their descendants.. Whereabouts Unknown .. possibly USA? All information gratefully received on any topic mentioned here”
It was a complete stab in the dark, and nothing happened.
About nine years later I finally got a reply. It was from a woman in Ohio who said she believed she might be my first cousin, but at the same time she could barely believe it herself.
“I just saw this message and it brought tears to my eyes. My name is Jennifer Ann the same as your mother. Michael was my dad. Caroline was my grandmother. Jill is my aunt. I was named for your mom, apparently, and never knew it..
…. I just spoke with my mother …I am not named for your mom, but in a random and crazy coincidence, my mom chose that name for me without knowing about Michael’s sister. How amazing is that? Do get in touch. I have some information and a lot of questions. E-mail me?
At this point, I had been actively searching for these people since the mid 1970s so as you can imagine I was swift to answer.
It transpired that my uncle was deceased, but had an extensive family living in Ohio. More extraordinary, my near legendary aunt was still alive and living in Lemon Grove in Southern California.
In another completely bizarre coincidence, I was due to be in “SoCal” just three weeks later for a “Weird Al” Yankovic fan convention and so it was that I finally met the amazing, wonderful force of nature that was my so long mysterious Aunt Jill.
Jill and I hit it off immediately. The physical resemblance was striking, putting to rest any niggling doubts that my mother could be only a half sister. Jill was quite a girl, a down to earth practical person who knew her own mind and didn’t suffer fools gladly. There was no time to learn all I wanted to know about her in the short afternoon visit, and I promised to return the following year, which I did, and the year after, which, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was not able to do.
Three weeks ago I wrote to her and said I was finally returning, and she immediately invited me to stay. I was so excited to be seeing her again. It is incredibly hard to put across to other what this woman, whom I only met twice, meant to me. I was so pumped up at the thought of seeing her again. I really loved her far more than is reasonable of someone one has only met twice
Finding Jill at last was, for me, a symbol of so many things, a mark of achievement after all those years searching, and in a way it was also my gift to my own mother. Jill confirmed that her mother had been neglectful and harsh and that my mother had been the lucky one. My mother was able to dismiss all her “What ifs” and be glad that things had happened as they did.
Mum and Jill never met, but they did write each other letters in this last two years. Jill said she had always wanted to have a sister, and had never known she already had one. After my first meeting with Jill I was struck by the sadness of not having known and loved this great woman all of my life, and spent a while in La Jolla fighting back the tears for two little girls who never played together.
On Wednesday, an old lady, three days past 84, died far away on another continent. Part of me died with her.
My Aunt Jill, my mother’s sister, was a rebel, a free thinker, the wild one of the family. How I wish I had got to know her sooner than I did.
Partially inspired, (I like to fondly imagine) by my long declared loathing of the Disney attraction “It’s a Small World” (see here : http://ludovicah.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/its-a-small-world/ ) my dear friend and renegade humorist Tony Goldmark, otherwise known as “Some Jerk With A Camera” embarked upon his epic endeavor to capture on film his own thoughts and feelings on this contentious subject.
It turned into something more..
One man’s heroic struggle against the forces of darkness became a cinematic tone poem of monumental proportions encapsulating everything that is wrong in the world….
Even “Weird Al” Yankovic was pulled into the maelstrom
Some Jerk With A Camera.. It's A Small World Part One
Part Two…. Look out for the celebrity cameo…
It really tickled my Dad that people all over the world were thinking of him in positivity, and he appreciated the power of that more than might be assumed from his scientist’s view of the world.
He was a surprisingly sensitive and spiritual person and was always interested in certain aspects of spiritual traditions from all over the world and in his last days and hours seemed especially lost in thinking about the mysticism of the Ancient Egyptians. Their culture was something that fascinated him all his life and in recent years he finally had the opportunity to fulfil a lifelong ambition to go to Egypt, and planned to return, but had to cancel the vacation when he was diagnosed with cancer.
It was his worst nightmare. Dad was for the majority of his life quite an active outdoors sort of a person that loved nothing better than scrambling up and down cliffs looking for fossils or sailing yachts, or simply wandering around looking at museums, architecture, trains and boats and planes and all those things a typical 1930s/40s schooolboy was expected to be interested in.
Please do read his “guest blog post ” on my blog
telling the history of what it was like to be a National Service Airman in the very early 1950s
My Dad was smart.. super smart, with a geeky/nerdy filing cabinet mind, and he knew a lot about almost everything; a natural intellectual, and he passed that along to his three somewhat off the wall weird kids… as anyone who knows us will attest.
We owe him so much …….
He didn’t smoke, rarely drank and always worked really hard. He had almost impossibly high standards for himself in anything he did. His qualifications and career were in Accountancy and Banking, but the love of his life was Science, specifically Geology, Palaeontology, Palaeobiology and he became a world reknown expert in his field and was an Honorary Associate Curator of the Oxford University Museum. He spent many years voluntarily giving up his leisure time to catalogue the vast fossil collection of Sir Charles Lyell who was the mentor of Charles Darwin. The collection lay for over 100 years in dusty boxes in the cupboards and attics of the museum
Dad did a LOT of things.. many of them I don’t even know about yet but expect to discover as we all sort through his things, and many others we will never know. He was a modest person who underplayed his contribution always. He gave up so much free time to teaching others about fossils too, just for the love of it.
In the end it was a fall, in his weakened state that put him in the hospital where he caught the pneumonia that killed him within just five days..