Earlier this year I had sad news of the demise of two people who I held as friends, although I do not see them very often.
Sadly Bob Hill passed away in Kent, it was a shock and I think my friends down there are still reeling. Bob was an incredibly talented man, he was a designer, architect and builder. He worked mainly in England’s South East and London I think, and I am sure his work will live on for centuries. Knowing him for a few years I appreciated his generosity and sense of humour.
As I reflected on him and his life I realized that Bob had subtly influenced me and I hadn’t even realized it. As I struggled to come to terms with his passing a tune entered my head and I realized it was the theme from the Worzel Gummidge children’s series. The reason for this was because the last time I visited Bob and his wife he had recommended I watch these kids videos, and I sat up at night and saw a few episodes. He just told me – ‘they are good, I don’t know why, but there is something about Worzel Gummage, you should watch them.’ I remember after a couple of episodes thinking – ‘I could write stuff like this, perhaps I should have a go at writing children’s stories.’
Looking back now I wonder if that was what Bob was getting at? I wonder if he recognized that type of creativeness in me, and without saying it he gently guided me into thinking of it myself? It was not long afterwards that I began writing ‘The Exploding Birthday Cake’ the first in the Gwubbins the Witch series for children. I didn’t realize until the sad news about Bob that he had been the initiator of this creative process.
The second person to cross over was a friend to me when I was a teenager, just before and after I ran away from home. Lorna was married to Brian. This couple allowed me as a feral kid into their home. I had a lot of respect for this couple because they chose their lifestyle, didn’t hurt anyone and accepted kids like me.
I was eighteen when I said to Lorna that I was going to get a tattoo. She looked at me and said ‘why don’t you think about it for five years?’ Years later I realized that was the best advice anyone could have given a headstrong kid of that age.
What really fascinated me about Lorna was that she was into magic and Tarot. My life moved on, but because of Lorna’s influence I acquainted myself with Tarot and became a reader and wrote books about the cards. I discovered that the Tarot held a structure, and suggested a framework for building a fulfilling life which I could not relate to anywhere else. From Tarot I discovered Buddhism and tarot encouraged me to travel.
One year I went to Lorna’s house for a Halloween party and it was the highlight of the year, for Lorna was a witch, of good intentions of course. This is how I will always remember Lorna and Brian (both now have passed on), they lived to enjoy life without apology, they understood that gaiety nurtured the soul, they loved music and were open to the mystical. They enriched their lives with magic – sometimes I thought their house was like a fairy grotto!
My life was very different from Lorna’s – I wasn’t into children and her children were everything to her. Yet, when we met up again years later we still had a connection, we did not judge each other and I always felt that she was my friend, despite rarely seeing her.
When she died her kids were young adults, they made her funeral into a party because that is exactly what Lorna would have wanted.
It was a privilege to know these people who both passed before their time. I am sad at their loss, but rejoice in the goodness that they gave to their family and friends and the influences that they had on me.
Both were very different people, but both would have said the same thing – ‘Be the best you can be.’ May they rest in peace.