• Upcoming trips

    Feb 3 - Feb 13 Caribbean cruise
  • theatre and Concerrts

    November 30. Susan, Christine and I saw two of three new Italian plays at the Cherry Lane theatre. I actually thought I had booked the third offer which was a Pirandello revival but we were all glad that we did not miss “The Journey I Never made” and “Story of Love and Soccer”. Both excellently translated and powerfully acted. The first is a thought provoking and somewhat unsettling portrayal of the current social turmoil and the second is modern thriller about corrupt sport and the triumph of evil over good. We were able to chat with one of the actors about the plays after the show. Before the show we ate lobster and oysters at the  “Fish” restaurant which was only two blocks from the theatre!

     

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An Airman’s Farewell

Just recently, our dear friend, Ted had to say farewell to his wife and companion of 63 years, Tess. Here is his tribute to her. I found it a very moving encapsulation of a lifetime’s relationship and the unique sharing of all its joys and tragedies which old-time marriages used to bring.

TESS

   My dear friends, thank you for being here today. Your presence is a great comfort to me.

I believe some of you know about the life of my beloved  Tess but I would like the story to be heard in this  beautiful  church wherein rests the memory of our dear late daughter Jennifer.

Tess was born in Edmonton North London some 86 years ago. She lived with her Mum and Dad, they were hard working, ordinary, loving parents. She had a brother, Johnnie, who, as you will hear later, played an important part in her life.

Her Mum and Dad and Johnnie all lived in a small, happy and loving home with Tess. Tess went to the local council schools where she quickly showed her talent in grammar, mathematics and history. She was top of the class. She later attained the highest award in secondary education -‘The Matriculation’. This entitled her to take up further advanced education leading to University.

ln those days life for ordinary people was hard –  State funding of education was minimal. Her loving parents just could not pay for the further education, and so Tess had to go out to work, to help finance the family budget.

With courage and dedication she went to work at several well known shops and department stores to reach the position as a ‘Golden Girl Supervisor’ with the Marks and Spencer group.

The Second World War then started. Tess was ordered to factory war work. Both days and nights she worked courageously enduring the horror of the blitz on London.

At that time her brother Johnnie courageously volunteered and joined the RAF. He was soon posted on active service to the Mediterranean theatre of war.

I must tell you, I knew nothing of this. I did not know Tess existed. I was a South London boy living in Beckenham.  Tess was in North London. I had, however, at the outbreak of war already joined the RAF and I was serving at that time in the Mediterranean theatre of war. Amongst the many hundreds of young Airmen I met Johnnie, he became a great comrade. Life was difficult and hard -some were lucky, Johnnie was unlucky and had to return to the UK.

I remember so well saying farewell to him. He handed me a piece of paper and said “that is the name and address of my sister Tess -write to her” -That I did.

The great battles of the Mediterranean raged on for some years. I could not return to the UK but I wrote many, many letters to Tess, within their pages we wondered, if, we ever met would we like each other? If so we wrote of the wonderful things we could do together, if not we could just be good friends.

The letters continued until the war in Europe ceased. I then returned to the UK and for the first time met Tess. She had kept the then large bundle of letters, and we quickly realised that what we had written could be achieved.

Some 18 months later we married -that was 63 years ago.

For a while we lived in a small flat in Edmonton and later were able to buy a house in Orpington. That was 40 years ago.

Great happiness and love surrounded us, by our own making. It was a wonderful life and later we were blessed by having a beautiful daughter Jennifer. Our team of two then became three. Our wonderful life continued and then 5 years ago, on my 84th birthday, a great tragedy hit us -our beloved Jennifer died of cancer.

The magnitude of this tragedy shattered our wonderful life. The grief could not be kept at bay. Tess’ health started to fail. But we stood firmly together supporting each other with the love we had created over the years. Tess became very ill, I cared for her in the home she loved, but I knew all was lost and she departed.

And so it was farewell to this happy and wonderful marriage created by Tess. She was a modest, loving, hard working, honourable wife. She understood and accepted the ups and downs of life.

No man could ask for more.

The letters ‘tell all’ they are here today, yes there clothed in her arms, to journey with her for all time.

Ted

My dearest Tess. Hear me now. Thank you for accepting me when I was a ‘Mr Nobody’ and making me a ‘Mr Somebody’.                            God Bless You!

 

 

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