Said goodbye to a dear friend
Vivienne Frances Blake
We met through Six Word Saturday, and so I thought it would best to say goodbye this way. I had no idea that, when I returned from the Algarve, the vital force that was Viv Blake had already departed this life. I posted my six words last week and waited for the response that inevitably came, but this time it didn’t. I can’t begin to describe the feeling that washed over me when I went to Viv in France to ‘tap her on the shoulder’, and found her daughter Sally’s message. It was an invitation to the funeral, in Newcastle-on-Tyne, this Wednesday.
I went, with not a little uncertainty. There I finally met warm and welcoming Jock, whose creativity Viv always celebrated on her blog. Abba played us in with ‘Thank you for the music’ and a very personal service began. Sally read ‘The poetry of every day’, chosen from the hundreds of poems written by Viv. I’ll share a snippet :
‘Agenda similar, routine unvaried
until I’m out there,
glorying in small shy hedgerow flowers
or exuberance of roses round cottage door… ‘
Just a fragment of the poetry that was Viv’s daily currency. She could conjure a poem for any given situation, and that included her own epitaph. Not morbid at all, she’d had her health issues and was impatient with the frailties they imposed (especially if ‘that quilt’ wouldn’t turn out quite the way it ought, by Viv’s high standards). It was read for her by close friend, Linda, who I know best as Tillybud. Handel’s ‘Let the Bright Seraphim’ and then an emotional performance of ‘Send in the Clouds’ by Judi Dench brought the lump to my throat. This is her resting place.
I met Viv only once, at Northumberlandia one bleak March day, but it’s a day I’ll never forget. Those bright eyes twinkled at me with a fierce intelligence, but a love of laughter and of life.
Viv was a constant support and encouragement around my blog. Though she lived the latter part of her life in France, she knew and loved so many of the places I’ve written about in the north east of England. Places like Hareshaw Linn and Middleton-in-Teesdale recalled fond memories for Viv.
I was in awe of her facility with words, and her desire to go on feeding her brain. Music, I knew, was one of the loves of her life. It wasn’t easy to write this but, as I did, what should be on TV last night? ‘Strictly at the BBC Proms’. Like myself, Viv was an enormous ‘Strictly’ fan. How Viv would have loved it! It seemed fitting to watch on her behalf.
God bless, Viv! RIP. Six words won’t be the same without you.