Sunday, 3 October 2021

Happy Birthday Vicky. 91 years old today.


My mother’s ashes are scattered near the lighthouse on the hill at the edge of my world.  I think of her there sometimes, as I am falling asleep, or just waking up.  Her strong elephant legs or her firm hands that made the lightest pastry, now as a fine dust that covers the bramble bushes in that quiet place.  The waves swish over the rocks there, the peregrine falcons glide overhead, and the nibbled grass waits for the odd picnicker, but people rarely go there, it is a wonderfully forgotten place.  Ships far out at sea feel comforted by the flashing light of the white lighthouse, and the shipwrecks lie on the ocean bed with their cargoes of rum, coconut and turtles all disintegrated.  The wind exhales and there is no sound of traffic.  My mother is there for eternity and I will go and pick purple blackberries at the end of August to make sweet syrupy jam like she used to.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

4th October

 Well, we did it.  We gave Vick a jolly good Zoom send off and a lovely birthday tribute and I am most grateful to all who helped and all who came.  Since some of the guests were well into their eighties and nineties, I thought everyone managed very well with the online aspect of it it all, and the whole thing didn't crash as I feared.  The music, songs, poems and tributes were so marvellous to hear.  

I forgot to say yesterday that Vicky was well known for her daily calamities, that ranged from losing her keys and glasses to getting in a muddle with dates and postcodes, to filling up her handbag with hot water by mistake in a basin on a train, and many more scrapes which we all experienced with her at one time or another.  It is our flaws that make us lovable, not always our virtues, and I loved my mum for all her imperfections.  


Thursday, 24 September 2020

24th September

 As most of you now know, the event has been shifted onto Zoom, but just a handful of us will still host it on the large screens at Brighton Quaker Meeting House.

It is still October 3rd at 2pm, but we will have the connections open hopefully from 12, and we will be sending the link and more information out about it all in the next week.  Do forward to anyone I may have missed or email me on if you have not received your link by Wednesday 30th.  

I have a marvellous small team around me who are helping with all the technicalities, and I am trying daily to keep on top of the admin.  Vicky knew a lot of people, and she would be laughing about all this hoo-ha.  Shame about the lack of refreshments, but someone suggested we will all make our own cream tea at home, and give the money to the food bank and the Quakers.

I will try and get Vicky's china and books shared out somehow if people would like something to remember her by.

Luckily I am reading a very good book about improvisation, (which both Vick and I liked to do).

The mantra from it is;  NOTICE MORE, USE EVERYTHING, LET GO.

I will have to somehow use the inevitable hiccups on the day to our advantage and let go of all expectations.  

Looking forward to seeing those of you who can come.


Thursday, 3 September 2020

3rd September

 Many thanks to all of you who have already responded to my message on the blog about Vicky's memorial on 3rd October.

It looks like we are going ahead unless we suddenly have to cancel it at the last minute!

I have made a note of all of you who have said you will definitely come.   

We have decided to hold a celebration of Vicky's life at Brighton Quaker Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton on 3rd October. 2 pm.
This day would have been her 90th birthday.

This will involve a Quaker meeting, some refreshments, a few "turns", and a chance to chat. 
Parking will be limited but the MH is a short walk or taxi ride from the train station.
Please let me know if you would like to do a short poem or story, and guests are also welcome to speak in the Quaker silence if they feel moved to do so. Alternatively, you could send a message that someone else could read.

A decision has not yet been made as to whether a meeting can be held in Winchester to remember Vicky and due to COVID there is no firm date planned - so our focus has been on a celebration event in Brighton.  

The Meeting room is fitted with cameras which will mean that if you decide to attend on Zoom you will be able to feel present and will be a full participant in the Meeting, for people who are shielding or who do not wish to travel.
Also due to COVID restrictions, we need to keep to numbers, so please do not bring extra friends or children.  The limit I believe is 60, and we will be seated one metre apart and wearing masks inside.  
Please could you confirm if you will definitely be coming, or attending on Zoom.  Then I can send a Zoom invitation.
I know Vicky would love the "more the merrier" and it is tragic that only 60 of us can meet.  Vick knows so many lovely people, but once 60 people have confirmed, I am so sad to say we can't have any more in the flesh.  However Zoom knows no limits, so do pass on this post to anyone I may have missed.  I don't have everyone's email or phone numbers but perhaps they can email me if they wish to attend at

Sunday, 23 August 2020

23rd August

 We scattered Vicky's ashes at the headland at Niton on Sunday 16th August at 9am, as Vicky was always a morning person.  30 Darling family members came, and the grey skies turned to torrential rain, but we stood in a circle with the sea on one side and the dramatic rocks on the other, and listened in Quaker silence to the wind and the waves for around ten minutes.  All the small great-grandchildren were quiet miraculously.  We sang "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" (one of Vick's favourite hymns with lovely words), then two of us played some violin while everyone took turns to tiptoe down the goat path and scatter Vick's ashes into the blackberry bushes which seemed appropriate as she was so good at jam.  Then my brother and his wife lead some Buddhist chanting.  We could not eat the hard-boiled eggs and rolls and tangerines and crisps we had brought in paper bags, as we were soaked to the skin by then, so we squeezed into our holiday caravan nearby to eat them and put the gas fire on to dry off.  Luckily there was a big brown teapot in the caravan, and I remember Vick saying she always missed those when she went abroad, so we drank masses of hot tea.  

I went back to the spot on a golden evening a few days later and it really is a magical spot so I like to think of her there with the peace and the elements.

We have decided to make a definite decision about the venue of the memorial on 3rd October at the start of September, and I will aim to update friends and family individually and/or on this blog then.  Unfortunately, we will also have to be lead by rules regarding COVID but I am hoping we can safely have a gathering perhaps partly outside.


Sunday, 19 July 2020

19th July

We have been discussing having a memorial service for Vicky in Brighton or Ditchling, on 3rd October, which would have been her 90th birthday.  Times are uncertain but we would love to do it, as Vicky was very keen on the idea of a party and a slap-up tea.  It would be useful if anyone reading this could send me a quick email on to say if they could come on that date or not, as a vague idea of numbers would be helpful for choosing the venue.  We quite understand if people would rather not come, due to risks of COVID but hopefully, we can go ahead if we follow all the protocols.  
The other announcement is a scattering of Vicky's ashes at Niton, Isle of Wight, in mid-August.  It is the southernmost point of the Island and a favourite place for picnics when we were young.  The silence there is palpable.  If you would like to come to this event instead of the Memorial, perhaps you could let me know, but it is a remote spot, so we are only expecting diehard IOW fans to come really, or people there on holiday anyway.
I have started to adjust to life without Vick, but hope she is around, maybe in a glass-bottomed boat looking down on us all, as the poet Billy Collins suggests.  
Thanks for reading this, and spread the word about the two events mentioned.  I will post more details as soon as they are confirmed.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

20th May

It has been a strange time for all of us.  For several weeks I felt dead and empty and glum and grumpy but now I am starting to feel more like myself, although my body aches quite a lot as if every cell is sad about Vick's death.  
Things that have helped me are:
1.  Swimming in the soupy sea every day whether I like it or not.
2.  Learning cajun violin on Zoom
3.  Two comical hens in my back garden, Patsy and Pamela.  I watch them endlessly and love attending to their every whim.  They are much better pets than dogs or cats as they produce eggs.
4.  Lots of early nights with my book, allotment hours, games of scrabble, walks, socially distanced chats, and simple pleasures like tasty meals, that we have all enjoyed in this lockdown time.
I have been back at work at the hospital doing my old job two days a week, which I think Vick would approve of, and I do some telephone work for the hospice instead of my acupuncture role.  Also, the process of gaining probate is time-consuming but necessary, so my days have been quite busy.  
I have no update yet about when Vick can have her memorial service.  Her ashes are sitting in a box on my dresser which is quite comforting.  
Life goes on whether we are suffering or not.  The weather is beautiful and so is the month of May. Cow parsley is my favourite flower.