Viv’s Not Dead

8 Aug

This is a first for me: an epitaph about someone who is not yet dead, nor likely to be (stray buses permitting).


Viv’s Epitaph

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.

54 Responses to “Viv’s Not Dead”

  1. sharechair August 8, 2012 at 11:51 #

    Delighted to meet you, Viv!
    🙂 Kathy


  2. shakira August 8, 2012 at 12:14 #

    Such a great read! Bravo for doing such a good interview and such a lovely tribute ! I adore , LOVE the picture of you two !!!! Superb job! Thank you so much for sharing and I wish you both a long and healthy friendship . hugs shakira


  3. siggiofmaine August 8, 2012 at 12:18 #

    Amazing….how wonderfully done…gold stars for you and ViV ♥
    Siggi in Downeast Maine


  4. vivinfrance August 8, 2012 at 12:19 #

    You always were a cheeky so and so. Readers: the one on the left in the bottom pic (the one with the beautiful hair) is Tilly.

    PS Jock says he doesn’t recognise me. We’ve just come back from coffee with some poeming friends. Kay described Jock as “always running off at the mouth”. Fortunately, I can’t remember the context!


  5. jmgoyder August 8, 2012 at 13:14 #

    This is fantastic!


  6. idiosyncratic eye August 8, 2012 at 13:21 #

    I love quilts and I’m quite happy to take directions in French in Somerset. I think rabid is the best description of the reaction to a misplaced apostrophe. 🙂


  7. Elaine - I used to be indecisive August 8, 2012 at 13:44 #

    Lovely article about Viv, and interesting interview!


  8. kateshrewsday August 8, 2012 at 14:18 #

    Ooooh, war memoirs. A thoroughly entertaining in memoriam, interview and post, Tilly and Viv, thank you. Now I’m off towards 1939…


  9. SchmidleysScribbling August 8, 2012 at 15:20 #

    Glad you explained about the epitaph or else I would think you were really weird. As for your invite to me to come to Mancester, I put it on my bucket list. Hopefully I won’t run into the No. 77 bus before then. Dianne


  10. SchmidleysScribbling August 8, 2012 at 15:21 #

    I figured in the photo of you and Viv working that she was on the sewing machine repairing something you tore while you stole her computer.


  11. bluebee August 8, 2012 at 15:24 #

    I guess it’s pointless asking Viv how she feels about having her epitaph written pre-demise (well, how else to describe it?) when she’s already written her own!
    A lovely epitaph, Tilly. Is there such a job as an epitaph writer?


  12. viveka August 8, 2012 at 15:28 #

    What a wonderful tribune, Tilly … and right so way should be wait to give the tribune until the person isn’t with us anymore – we should all do like you …. tell people around us how wonderful they are and how much we love, need and admire them – when they can hear us. Wonderful done, Tilly – I learned something today. You’re so right !!!


  13. adinparadise August 8, 2012 at 16:27 #

    Fantastic epitaph, and what a great idea. I shall start on mine straightaway. 😀 I love Viv’s writing, and it’s so nice to meet her here.


  14. Tinman August 8, 2012 at 17:05 #

    When you read a sentence at speed, and the first word is Viv and the last is dead it takes a split second for your brian (ok, my brain) to fill in the rest.
    Please don’t ever scare me like that again.


  15. Pseu August 8, 2012 at 17:54 #

    Viv- is that short for Vivacious?
    nice post 🙂


  16. hattie August 8, 2012 at 17:55 #

    I love reading your blot; your tribute to Viv is, shall I say…unique! I like her blog and her poetry as well.


  17. Tom (Aquatom1968) August 8, 2012 at 20:00 #

    The speaking French in Somerset made me giggle… presuming Viv isn’t French, that is, Tilly! I shall have to go and take a peek at her blog… I’ve been meaning to for a while anyway.
    And… just out of sheer devilment… and just in case you need them… lot’s of laugh’s (tee hee!)… a few spare apostrophe’s. 😀


  18. laurieanichols August 8, 2012 at 20:22 #

    Tilly what a lovely tribute to your friend, the way that you have written about her in the past and after what I read just now I feel as if I have had the pleasure of making a new aquaintance. You have a gift or the descriptive and incorporating it into wonderful poetry. That was a thoughtful treat.


  19. vivinfrance August 8, 2012 at 21:24 #

    After ploughing through that lot, I am crawling with embarrassment: much more embarrassing than the Somerset episode! I didn’t say thank you, Tilly, for all the extra visitors today! Take it as read.


  20. slpmartin August 8, 2012 at 21:55 #

    A most delightful post.


  21. Al August 9, 2012 at 02:14 #

    I read Viv’s war memoir and I’ve come back to thank you.


  22. ioanna aggelidaki August 9, 2012 at 07:56 #

    Beautiful post! just lovely! 🙂


  23. grannymar August 9, 2012 at 21:11 #

    This post is full of talent, yours Tilly and Viv’s. congratulations ladies and take a well earned bow!


  24. Harry Nicholson August 9, 2012 at 22:39 #

    The epitaph gave me a turn! Now I’m delighted that the faery queen still breathes.
    What cards you too are.


  25. SidevieW August 10, 2012 at 04:53 #

    I am so glad she is not dead!


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