Seven years ago yesterday my beloved mother Blanche passed away. Dick's recent post about Cornwall reminded me that the last holiday I spent with her was in St.Ives in August 1998. We were celebrating my birthday. She was then ninety-four years old and had recently begun to paint - her lively watercolour of the harbour lights from our hotel room hangs on my wall. We visited the magnificently situated sea-sprayed Tate as well as the various small art galleries squeezed into the narrow cobbled streets. Blanche had her cane or my arm to lean on but you would never have believed that this was a very old lady. Here she is, in her unmistakeably French ageless prime, at a St. Ives cafe table . The photo of the two of us below
was taken a few months before she died in 2001. (My hair, since you ask, was dark then, its original colour, and I'm still a brunette in my soul in spite of current fake blondeness, due to vanity and suchlike). Blanche wasn't born blonde either but her personality was definitely blonde and anyway I never knew her as a dark-haired teenager before she decided she was blonde in her soul. She never lost a girlish quality - not an attempt to remain girlish, like so many dolled-up botoxed ladies-who-lunch - but a genuine, unsophisticated, unvarnished youthfulness which all her travels and travails as the wife of a melancholy Russian never dented.