Tuesday, May 3, 2011


These are for Annabel. Her music. If I think of one - Bootsy Collins, or Faure's Requiem - I think of the other. Perhaps I'm the only person for whom these two are linked. Annabel came to Newcastle in the late 70's after getting thrown out of Brighton Art College (no mean feat) .  She was exiled there to study art conservation. Saw it through (graduated top of the class), & went back south. We were in the same flat for a year. We weren't especially close, but we hung out together, listened to music, went to some old-men pubs.  She's still lodged somewhere at the back of my mind, & if I hear Bootsy, or the Pie Jesu, I think of her. Here a few things I remember.

Instead of a hot water bottle, she poured boiling water into an empty Gordon's.

Her 6 by 10 room a temple. Mountains of clothes of every shade & fabric spilling from trunks: smoking jackets, a grandfather's linen suit, fur stoles with beady eyed heads, scuffed spiked heel boots. The walls covered by black & white shots of haunted, beautiful art-school faces, and her mother, poised in a debutante's gown. The thick smell of frankincense.

On bad terms with her father, the end came with a Christmas under-the-table fight over a Stilton cheese.

She liked baths best if she could use the tepid waters sullied by another body, & was always cadging our leftovers.

We went to church together to watch the choirboys, & afterwards, down the pub, became friends with an over-the-hill biker gang, the Bensham Bullets.

A job she made light of: an escort for paunchy, middle-aged, north-east businessmen. Off to mediocre nightclubs & Holiday Inns.

A loud, wild, indiscreet laugh. A kind, good heart. Hard living & feline grace - all cheekbones, legs & enlarged pupils. In a booze & drug laden battle against the mundane, she outshone any company.

Bootsy & the Requiem.

RIP Annabel, 1956-1996

1 comment:

Marty Wombacher said...

To Annabel! She sounds like quite the woman. R.I.P.