18 Feb 2015

Eat, live, write

It's the sub-title of my hungry writer book (life stories, recipes and a year's worth of writing prompts) that'll be published in November by Cultured Llama but it's also how this week is expressing itself. I'm home in Wales for a week and every event with family and friends has involved food. Feeling hungry? I'm not anymore...
  • baked salmon with a garlic cheese crust
  • cupcakes
  • liquid salted caramel truffles
  • hot cross buns
  • pasta bolognese
  • bacon bap
  • paprika chicken
  • slow roast pork belly
  • pear tart made with the shortest sweetest pastry by angel hands in Sosban, Llanelli

And I've only been here since mid afternoon on Sunday! 

And I have found stories too, clutches of them, all waiting to be written. One of the main ones we have spoken about, reminisced over, is the story of my mother's oldest friend, Fay, who passed away 10 days ago, aged 82. Mam was with Fay when they met their future husbands, who were also best friends, on a Saturday night at the Ritz Ballroom in Llanelli. Mam was Fay's bridesmaid when she married Ken in July 1952; Dad was the best-man. 

There was 6 months between them and they had known each other for 80 years, from the time my grandparents took rooms, around 1934, with their two year old daughter, with Fay's mother in Hafod Road, Llanelli. 

Joyce James & Fay Griffiths
before they became
Joyce Rees and Fay Davies
Fay's funeral today was at the new catholic church, built on the same site as the one she was married in and just across the road from the old Ritz that's now a snooker hall. So many stories within an echo of each other.

At the funeral buffet one of Fay's granddaughters asks Mam, 'What was she like?' The first word out of Mam's mouth is, 'Loveable'. And, for me, that's what this picture is all about: the loveableness of girl-friends. Forget about the difference in fashions or hair, those entwined arms are the same 'loveable arms' that sixteen year old girls wrap around each other today.

Hungry writing prompt
Write about something you loved about a girlfriend.

Funerals are oddly contradictory events: grief and celebration, tears and smiles, goodbyes and the hellos to people you might not have seen in years, decades, or never even met before. They are ends and they are beginnings.

They can also be revelations about lives we thought we knew. Because no-one knows all there is to know about us: we show and share different parts of ourselves to different people, through the moods and emotions, hope and fears, the history we live through, the roles and identities we pick up and cast off through the years.

And now, in this moment, and in her absence, Fay is suddenly much more than a grandmother with the story my mother is telling to the young woman whose eyes are glassy with tears, of how on Tuesday afternoons, half-day closing in Llanelli town, she and Fay would take the bus to Swansea to look around the shops then catch a show at the Empire Theatre. And she sees them I'm sure, those two young girls, arm in arm, laughing together, a war behind them and, as yet unknown to them, their plans for next Saturday's dance already being re-written.