Memories are such a huge part of what makes us human. I am about to start working on a play where the characters memories are under attack from dementia, making him less a human? Well that is something I have to disprove.
How terrifying to forget your life, even the regrets and the bad things, for they shape you and you hopefully learn from mistakes. Personally I spend a lot of time making the mistake about thinking about romantic disappointments and the dream desire to be loved by someone who I equally love has become unfortunately a lifetime quest.
One of my favourite movies, ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘ deals intelligently and brilliantly with erasing the memory of a lover from the memory, in a dream like science fiction & delightfully imaginative, if splendidly silly way.
It is ultimately a hopeless scenario when 2 such lovers romantically find each other all over again, because they of course have not lost the ability to found new memories. But would you want to have past love remembrances erased anyway? With me I wouldn’t even want the memory of love that never got off the ground erased. Even though I do so apparently love to morbidly dwell on such memories and frequently, indulgently beat myself up with them.
But some memories are to be cherished & to lose them is to lose the person and you feel this most acutely when that person has gone, and I have just heard that a woman I loved very much has died.
I met Jacqueline Jones over 20 years ago through tour guiding in London and I fell in love with her. She never reciprocated, she was in a relationship and eventually married and had children, moved away, but still wanted me to be her friend.
It is to my lasting regret that I selfishly wouldn't let her be.
She died of a brain tumour, and apparently just 7 weeks after complaining of headaches, I had not thought about her for quite a few years, but her dying as made me full of sorrow and I am reminded just how much I did love her and even though I thought I'd got over her, wonder if I actually had, wonder why I’d jealously unfriended her 3 or 4 years ago. Was not allowing myself to be her friend, just a silly way of taking it out on her for in many ways epitomising my inability to find lasting love?
So I’ve written her a letter to try my best to explain, to say sorry to her, in a way that I am now heartbreakingly denied doing in life.
In my crazy mind I'm imagining this letter going out to you in the ether to reach her sometime in an eternity where there is no time and I hope indulgently & selfishly she will some time remember me and miss me as much as I miss her, and call me deluded or sad or anything else as disturbed, but I miss her terribly.
May 31st 2019
You will never see this and if you can, I know just now you rightly wouldn’t notice anyway as your focus will be comforting your children & Barney, who at this moment will be terribly missing you more than I could ever imagine.
I’m crying as I write this and it’s sorrow for myself as much as the fact that I won't see you again , sorrow how I lost you as a friend, because of my own jealousy & stupidity. I only knew you for a short number of years, and you had a huge life afterwards that I never knew about and chose not to be a part of, even though I could have.
We were last in contact on Facebook 4 years ago when you commented on a picture of my dad that I’d posted for his birthday, saying that he looked Welsh. It takes someone Welsh to know someone Welsh and you were right!
I shut you out of my life because of romantic disappointment. I took it out on you for being my biggest. And no shit, you were. Not that we ever were romantically involved. I desired you strongly, but you didn't or wouldn't see me like that.
I remember the New Years eve Millennium running like an attention seeking little child away from central London’s revellers and the chance of spending it with you & your intended Barney Spender! It was jealousy, pure jealousy that you loved him & not me. I ran to my friend Therese’s house near Bromley.
I remember one particular night of many, many, many nights in a pub with you, it was ‘The Ring’ in Southwark where we’d spent nights before in the good company of others, enjoying their lock ins, but this late night it was just you & I left, others had gone. We both had had a lot to drink, as usual. We both were in that dreadful Big Bus Company uniform, we rarely saw each other out of it, and we spent the bulk of every week daylight hours in it!
I’d picked my time, as usual, horrendously badly and blurted out that I loved you fuelled by alcohol, but with no less sincerity. I think I may have been more calculating as you’d had a big spat with Barney, but my advances such as they were, were met with your wonderful scowl, a scowl I loved you so much for, and a ‘Don’t be so fucking stupid, you don’t love me!” Or something like that. When you frowned it was amazing, your brow wrinkled on one side of your forehead spiralling complicatedly in to what I likened to a finger print. It was another feature I adored about you.
You were a handful. I remember Liz Hogg saying that about you, and that wasn’t a criticism, from those of us who loved you dearly, it was a lovely fact, something we loved you for, and that’s a tremendous complement to you. Not many could be loved for being a handful!
So you told me off for loving you, refusing to accept that I really did. You were the most intelligent woman I have ever loved or ever known and you may have been right, but I did love you. My saying I loved you, made me a handful for you, you were in a relationship and even if you had desired me, you wouldn’t have jeopardised that, and that was intelligent. Profoundly disappointing for me but sensible. But you knew I wasn’t sensible. I flatter myself that my being completely not sensible was one of the reasons you liked to hang out with me. But you would never have married me outside of my dreams, but that didn’t stop me loving you, and yes I really was in love with you and still am.
I see pictures of your daughter Sydney now a young woman, who has inherited your beauty, who when last I saw her she was a young baby when I visited you at your home in Nunhead and I realise that a short time after that I just stopped knowing you, particularly when you moved away to France, though I became even more distant, you were a mum and have a son too, who I don’t know the name of.
My desire for you was like a dusty antique that had been left there on the shelf and I realise as you surely did, that my attempts to block you out were simply a symptom of my never having moved on, of how I have consistently been disappointed and dread always being so, (I've long suspected that perversely I'm only attracted to unattainable women), If I’d met someone to be in overwhelming love with for always, I would have moved on and we’d have been the most brilliant friends. I’d never have not wanted you to be my friend. But I didn’t, I still haven’t and am terrified I never will, so all the shitty resentment and jealousy has been eating me up ever since.
And it’s funny because I can still see you mouthing the word “bollocks” in response to this, but this time with a smile. And you will surely think, rightly what a rambling, pointless, self centred, self indulgent outpouring all this is, and it is.
I’m sorry I missed out on being your friend, all the times you came to London, which you loved and I could've valued the pleasure of your company, instead of cutting that pleasure off in spite of my happiness.
I miss all the laughter and all the good times we made out of the soul destroying tour guiding, and being thwarted in not being able to do what we wanted. I am so happy you found actual happiness and I can see you smiling sweetly and your beautiful, beautiful face and now a playful “fuck off!"
You were fearless, it was just like you the time that you rounded on a threatening bunch of Mayday rioters at the foot of Nelson’s column after graffiti had been daubed all down Whitehall, telling them off ferociously and leaving them speechless, they didn’t know what had hit them!
I can hear our friend Ian Birrell, who like you lost this life criminally young, (I miss the dear, dear, characterful souls out of both of you), teasing me about fancying you and losing out to 'Spender', (he always affected a Geordie accent in mentioning Barney’s name in reference to Jimmy Nail’s title character in the tv drama Spender ), We were at your wedding at Brompton Oratory along with a lot of the other Big Bus drinking gang, and he was playfully goading me to interject at the “ If anyone knows of any lawful impediment to this marriage, he or she should declare it now. “ bit to whisk you off!
I wouldn’t have dared as you’d have gone absolutely, frighteningly ballistic, charged up to me, telling me to get out in no uncertain terms, before returning to Barney & you'd have hated me for ever more. I hope you didn’t think I was a cunt for cutting you out of my life, I hope you won't think me a cunt for admitting to still being jealous of Barney even now. I mean how could you marry someone who doesn't even have something as characterful as eyebrows!!
How stupid I am. What a cunt I am. I know I could never have changed things, it was totally irrational to behave the way I did, nothing was to be gained, I just wish I could have just accepted things and been grown up about it, because It was my loss to lose being friends with one so fabulous as you, and it will be my eternal regret, one of my greatest, that I never will get the chance to say sorry to you in life, even though you never really stopped being my friend.
“Welcome back Oh Prodigal One” you jokingly messaged me in 2011 after we’d not been in contact for quite a number of years. I remember you calling me cantankerous, which I thought at the time over the issue you called me it was unfair, but I guess I was so to you. I bore a silly grudge I'm ashamed to admit. I like to think you understood & didn’t think bad of me for disappearing again, but you may have thought I was just being a cunt!
You were really supportive about me doing Beatle Mal in 2012, bigging me up on Facebook , and how did I repay you? One day I let my green eyed monster out & spitefully unfriended you on bloody Facebook. Leaving Faceybook aside, jow shitty a thing to do to a friend is that?
I’m sorry Jacqueline that I missed out on being your friend after you got married, my shit got in the way and It was my personal, very huge loss that I missed out on all the years I could've known you as life changed so wonderfully for you.
I am so, so sorry Jacqueline that you've been taken from your family and so suddenly. It must have been such a shock to you & you must have been so frightened to lose those close to you, even for one as courageous as you, who would so fearlessly take on the world in the name of good & I am I am more sorry than I could ever say in words. OH FUCK, I WISH TO THE POWER OF WISHES THAT YOU WERE STILL HERE!
I want to say something stupid like, if I could have taken this horrible brain tumour on for you, heroically in a “It is a far, far better thing I do now, than I have ever done before” sort of way, then I would!
I’m trying to visualise what you would say to that, most likely:“Oh fuck off, of course you wouldn’t, & don't be so insultingly stupid!" You would really tell me off for that stupid comment I know you would!
I will just say then that if I am ever lucky enough to meet a woman as lovely as you, (Oh please that I am), and who loves me back, then I will have had the greatest luck ever in the history of luck & better than any glittering awards that acting or anything could ever give me.
And then I see that wonderful, wonderful scowl that becomes your beautiful, sweet, sweet smile.
Love always & never forget you
Here's poem I wrote about Jacqueline 17 or 18 years ago...
A frown like a finger print & scowl that was a howl,