Isn’t it always the same, at the funeral you learn so much unexpected about the person you thought you knew. And she wasn’t a ‘Blue Bell Girl’, a rumour that accompanied her presence as she entered, centre, walking erect, into the Cut Concourse.
Oh yes, she was always elegant, always beautifully dressed, styled, turned out, long fingers decked with rings, stylish ear rings hanging from her ear lobes accentuating her long face, her tall legs of a dancer. She loved the Cut, and so it was fitting we gathered there, for a farewell tea. Her daughter, Gemma, had assembled a modest and focused lot of newspapers cuttings and photographs of Janet’s past, that we knew bits of, some right and some incorrect. ‘But she woulnd’t have wanted a grand exposition’ Gemma explained to us afterwards when we asked a few questions.
Her carers, those who knew her intimately at the end her life, a struggle, which lasted for far too long and all during those aweful COVID days, when no one could visit her (and Michael and I did once) were gathered around the photos. They talked about doing her hair ‘She gave us instructions’, they repeated.
She started as a ballet dancer, but she was too tall in those days when a woman on point could not be taller than a man (!), so she took up modern dance, but she was also early on a dealer in antiques and an actor, working at the Madermarket in the days when all actors were anonymous, something taught me by my mother – so sweetly linking me back to her and that time of growing up around Norwich. May be we saw her perform.
We – Michael and I -only knew her in her elder years, when she came to the Socratic Dialogue, the Discussion group, (usually coming from a surprising side field) and of course, the Cut. She admired my panash at driving a Cadallac down pedestrian thoroughfare to publicise Death of a Salesman.
Her husband died in a boat accident in South Africa, leaving Janet’s mother to bring up her daughter. She always lived in large houses, and took in lodgers, that was the way she financed her life. I like that story.
All the old friends gathered, for the first time in over a year we saw each other, us regulars to the Cut. Including Anne Grey – her great friend – who called her every day (and reprimanded Michael and I for visiting her during COVID days, protective of her friend) and was dressed in a stunning red jacket. She will miss her friend. We will invite her for a meal with us.
Dean read some rather odd and conventional poems, the best of which was Gus the Theatre Cat. While on the stage a relatively recent photo of her, with the chair – probably supplied by Anne Grey – where she used to sit on the final visits to the Cut, right a the back.