This is a first for me: an epitaph about someone who is not yet dead, nor likely to be (stray buses permitting).
She arrived. Survived. Made those around her smile.
Whatever age she was when she died,
it was too young.
Her many friends mourned.
She tried; she often succeeded.
Sometimes not: she made mistakes, like anyone.
But none her friends – so many friends -
ever needed to forgive.
She tried it if it was new,
if it was interesting, if it was fun,
if it was challenging.
If it was necessary.
She made things: beautiful things,
lots of things – quilts and poems
and children and devoted friends,
so many friends.
She was never mediocre.
Tart, upon occasion; and also kind, generous, warm.
Valuable and valued. More will remember than will
ever forget, this great loss to so many friends.
Viv is my next interview subject and I include this poem to give you a flavour of her before we start. Viv wrote her own epitaph in response to a prompt and I felt she was too hard on herself. I took her various statements and put my spin on them.
Viv and I met through the Open University. In 2007, the year we both took the OU’s Creative Writing course, another OUer set up an online critiquing forum. Which means the first thing Viv and I probably said to each other was, That doesn’t work; try this.
Viv writes lovely poetry. She excels at traditional forms, forms that I’m afraid to attempt myself. They often come almost perfect from her pen and don’t need much tweaking. She has been published quite a bit. And she only took up poetry in her late sixties.
Viv makes the most sumptuous quilts. My family owns three of them and covet more.
She has a real joie de vivre, which I knew online for four years; and finally enjoyed in person, when we met last year: Viv and her charming husband Jock invited us to visit their lovely home in France. We laughed the whole time and it was as if we had never not known each other.
I apologise that I don’t have a photo of Viv by herself. I don’t know how that happened; I probably couldn’t bear to be away from her.
Let’s find out a bit more about Viv:
How many colours has your hair been?
Brown, pepper and salt, reddish, blondish, white = 5, of which all but two came naturally.
Who is the most annoying celebrity? Why?
Does that twirly-moustached idiot on the Go-Compare ads count? We have to mute the TV when he comes on.
How do you cook eggs?
Let me count the ways! Boiled, poached, scrambled, fried, omelettes, French toast, in Scotch Eggs, baked in cakes and meringues, broken into a well in a sausage pie and… and… Or were you after a teach-in?
[See what I mean about tart?]
Karaoke: with or without alcohol?
Never been, so I’ve no idea
Can you do a foreign accent?
Yes, I’m like a sponge for picking up ambient accents.
Will you share an embarrassing moment?
Off the top of my head? Lost in Somerset, leaning out of the car to ask a passing pedestrian the way, IN FRENCH.
Tell us something about yourself you haven’t yet shared in your blog.
Could there be such a thing? It’s all there for the world to see. Ummm, I used to smoke. Any use to you?
What would you give up rather than your computer?
Alcohol – but I hardly drink at all these days, so that would be easy. Is that cheating?
How do you feel about misplaced apostrophes?
Rabid, and I blush down to my toenails if I find I’ve done one inadvertently.
[See why I love her?]
Tell us why we should read your blog.
I don’t know. It’s a mystery to me how I get so many readers. I do my best, but it’s not funny, there’s nothing special about my poetry and it’s a bit of a mish-mash of: (mostly) poetry prose, pictures, fiction, food and (I hope) some fun.
For those of you interested in history, Viv’s war memoir is worth a look.
Go visit Viv at her blog, Vivinfrance, and then come back and thank me. I nagged her into starting a blog so I deserve all the credit for unleashing this lovely woman onto the world.