Rene and Glynn
This is my object. And it’s something Glynn and I, or Glynn spotted it in a shop opposite the Darlington bus station. It was in the 70’s, we’d gone out spending our money as usual on bits of antiques. And er we thought, we’ll look in the shop window, and he spotted this. And I’m sure that you’ll think that is beautiful. It’s a beautiful baby with its bib tied round behind it’s neck, er holdin’ an apple in one hand and a biscuit in the other. And it’s just a beautiful thing. And er I loved it as much as Glynn did, once I spotted it. And er, we’d spent all our money just about and we thought we can’t have it. But we went in just to find out how much it was, perhaps put a deposit on it if it wasn’t too dear. And er when we went in and they said it was only £6.50, we were able to buy it.
And it’s actually . . . I think if, you’ve seen this house and what’s in it, I think if everything went from this house, that’s the one thing I would want to keep. And there’s plenty of stuff here. Erm, plenty of other stuff I’d probably want to keep as well but if they said, you can keep one object, this is it. And it was made in East Germany before the wall came down, and er, I made some enquiries and er . . . can’t think of the man’s name I used to call. Sidney, Sidney something. Er anyway, he went to East Germany and er he checked on the factory and they’d closed down. So there won’t be many of them about. We’ve seen one since. One other, exactly the same, right? In a shop in er Newcastle, a long time ago. Er, not long after we got that one. And we spotted it in erm Fenwicks, in Newcastle. We didn’t enquire to see how much it was there. Probably was £100. It’s worth every bit of it. It’s worth more. When you look, when you look at some things that go for a lot of money in the art world, whatever. It’s obscene. That is so beautiful. You know it. If you said, here’s a Picasso, and you were rich and you think, you can have that for a million pounds, or you can have that for a million pounds . . .you’d obviously buy that, if you had anything about ya. You’re not gonna buy the Picasso and think, well if a buy that it will be worth 2 million in the next year. If you’ve got, if ya rich already, you don’t want that. This is what ya want. I quite like Picasso actually but you know, just a comparison. I’d rather have that, you know, than a disfigured woman, ofPicasso’s kind. Gotta be careful what you say these days.
Glynn my husband. Yeah . . . everything I have is inherited from him. It’s beautiful.
What do I like about it? Well what is there not to like? Right? Actually, because I do like children. I love children. Babies! I don’t care if they’re a day old, I think they’re wonderful. Cos some people don’t like children do they? No desire to have anything to do with them. I don’t understand them. It’s nature to have children, and it’s absolutely wonderful; you watch them learning everything. Look at that, holding its little apple and biscuit. It’s just so beautiful. You couldn’t dislike anything about it. It’s a wonderful piece of work.
Glynn . . . when I, I never stop thinkin’ about him. Listen to me, I’m talkin’ about Glynn. If I don’t mention his name, he’s in my mind all the time. So he’s involved in every conversation I make. Any trouble I’m in, he’s there. If I’m havin’ a good time, he’s there. Wherever I am, he’s there . . . with me. And wherever he is, I’ll be joining him one day. And you know what he’ll say? "I can’t go anywhere without ya". That was the joke, you know? Yeah so. Yeah, yeah . . . I’ll be with him . . . yeah.
What would I say to him? Come back to me.
Well a difficult memory is from when Glynn was ill, and I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want that because that’s the thing that would make me cry and erm . . . the unfairness of it all. Yeah. Yeah.
Well yeah, I mean I do, I know that er God exists. If it’s anything to do with God, he’s there. Couldn’t be anything else could there, they? Couldn’t be anything else. Ya know if that stuff grows in my back yard against all the odds, ya know? God’s about isn’t he? And when you see a little baby being born, what’s that got to do with again? God. You know, all the scientists and doctors and . . . body interferers, cutting people up and all that. They’re not Gods. Erm . . . well because of that, that’s, because I know that God exists, and cos I know Glynn is there watchin’ over me, that’s all influenced my grieving process. It means my grieving process goes on and on and on forever, ‘til the day I die. It’s part of me. Counselling, that’s what they tell ya to go for. Counselling, right? I’ve counselled more people, without being a counsellor, and they’ll tell ya that. I tell them how I deal with things, people who’ve just lost somebody, and they tell me I’ve helped them and that was a good idea. They go home and start writing to their loved one. Things like that. So . . . so yeah, I think erm the fact that I do all that writing to Glynn, no matter how mundane or funny or . . . important it is, it is, it’s all important. But what’s going to happen with all my journals? Its eleven years worth of them, I’ve got that high. Yeah I think, if you have faith and erm, the writing that I do right, the writing, it’s my contact with Glynn. Yeah. Sometimes I think of him as being, maybe gone away for a while. So, one day he’ll be back. But I think it’ll be me that’ll be joining him.
Four words to describe Glynn!? Flippin’ ‘eck . . . flippin’ ‘eck. Erm . . . he was a man of integrity. Right, well he had a lot of integrity. Unfortunately when you’re an artist you deal with people who have no integrity, or respect. But he had a lot of respect. He had a lot of people who were great. We met loads and loads of people because of him. But erm, there’s always the few who let ya down and they’re the ones you remember. It’s funny isn’t it? But Glynn would always keep his word.
Erm . . . well . . . to me he was an exciting person. And he loved me, and always told me that he loved me. Even if we’d had a big row and weren’t speaking. We’d just sit looking at the television, cos there is nothin’ else to do. If you’re angry you can’t do anything. And then he would suddenly get hold of my hand and say, "Rene, I love you."
He didn’t like to offend anybody, you know. And sometimes he’d say, "I hope I didn’t upset that person last night" blah blah blah. I’d say, "Do you think they’re worrying about what they’ve said to you? Do you think they’ve lost any sleep overnight? Just forget it Glynn. They were here, they were in our company and they enjoyed themselves. And if you upset them it’s too bad, they should have said at the time. You didn’t upset them." You know? So he didn’t like to, you know, do anything like that. A very caring person. Very, very good mannered and everything. Didn’t like me swearing.
But er . . . his sense of humour . . . could always make you laugh. When you were most miserable really.
And when he used to work for his exhibitions, and it was very hard work, cos he’s be doing his paintings, I’d be getting all the frames sorted out, and then er, cleaning the frames, getting the mounts made, pinning them all together. And we used to work, even right to the last night before the exhibition. Er, we might go and put so much of it up and then, come back and do the finishing off, the last few. And we would work, one particular time we worked right through the night. And at 7 o’clock in the morning, I cooked a dinner and we had a glass of wine. Proper dinner, really good and er, a glass of wine. And then we went to bed after that and got up probably mid morning, and got all ready to go down and see to the exhibition. And then come back home and got poshed up for the evening. And like 100s of people, well it seemed like 100s of people, used to come to his exhibitions. And we used to have them in Gisborough, this art gallery. And er, he looked so smart. I suppose I looked quite, he always told me I looked posh, when I was done up. And oh you know, such great times. Then he would stand and make his speech. Then I had to say something. And oh, you know I’d say I can’t talk. I can talk now but anyway erm, it was working together as a team. Everybody said we were a team. He said we were a good team. And er, well we still are. When I do stuff connected with Glynn’s work now, I say we still workin’ as a team. But he is missed really. But now I’m in the Mima team! Working as a team and putting the exhibition on. And he looked so smart and happy because everybody was like looking at the work, people were buyin’ the pictures, and we were in touch with all our old friends. Alot of them were artists, similar to Glynn, similar sense of humour, you know. Yeah, too many memories really, I can’t tell ya them all.
I mean he got me making things, I made all these porcelain dolls. My cousin made the clothes, we sold then in the shop and they were beautiful. And he showed me how to paint the faces. He used to really encourage me to make things. I made a lot of dolls that . . . from calico and stuffed them. Very hard. Made them jointed and er, never finished working on them really. And I keep thinking now I will. I might, I don’t know. Hmm.
Anyway as far as I’m concerned he’s still here. And I’m doin’ the spring-cleaning. Now when we did the spring-cleaning, Glynn was very good at cleaning that chandelier . . . in the other room, the middle room. I never did this. He used to go up the steps, I had to stand below, he used to take all the bits, bring it in here, wash every part, and when it was finished it was sparkling like new again. And now I just take one of those static dusters and put it inside. I shouldn’t be climbing should I? I do though. I do. I mean I’ve been on steps, I’ve been dusting round right up to the ceiling in that room, and everyone’s sayin’, "Ahh don’t do it!" Well why don’t they come and do it for me then? Aye? "Eee, you shouldn’t go up steps." Well there’s no one else here to go up the steps. Is there?”
People don’t know really, I don’t know what love is. Remember that song I Wanna Know What Love Is? My God, you have a few drinks and that’s on . . . Well Glynn and I loved that you see. We liked Barbra Streisand and all hers, the way she sings. And Sinatra, Glynn got to like Sinatra. He wasn’t that bothered about him for years but he said, "You know, I’ve started to listen to him" He said, "What a singer, you know the way that
he puts the words. By hell!" And er, when Glynn was in hospital havin’ his operation, you see sometimes I can’t, sometimes I do watch Sinatra and sometimes I can’t . . . cos it just reminds me of that. And er, it’s tough really. Very tough. Because it’s upsetting. I wanna be upset. I wanna be reminded. I don’t wanna shut things out, you know? But sometimes deliberately I don’t put things on, if I’m tryin’ to work. And you can’t be dustin’ and cryin’ at the same time. And then when I’m listening to it and I’ve had a drink, I don’t cry, I just listen to it. I love it. You know, it’s good. All that cryin’ gets you nowhere.
If I used to cry, you know when Glynn and I used to have little upsets, if I was upset, particularly if he had been a bit cross with me and it was a misunderstanding. I usually just cried if it was a misunderstandin’ . . . you know. And he used to say, "Come here." And he used to get a hanky and he used to wipe my tears. He used to say, "You’re spoiling ya lovely eyes Rene". In’t that nice?
What I miss about Glynn, is the warmth of him. I always say that. The warmth. Very warm person. He’d go over to the pub and have a drink and he’d talk to anyone in the pub, ya know, and have a good conversation.
And er, at Glynn’s funeral, right? My niece was with me, that fort . . . it was nearly a fortnight before the funeral and er we had like a lot to deal with and we worked it out very well, cos she helped me, and another friend helped me. And the funeral director was really very good and the church people were very good. And erm my cousin’s daughter who was a professional violinist, she was going to play the full 6 minutes of erm . . . it’s gone out of my head what she played. It was erm . . . it will come back to me. Anyway she played this beautiful piece of classical music. I think it was by hmm, Massenet or somebody like that, right. And er, Meditation I think it was called. Something like that, Meditation. Should remember. You can’t remember everything can you? Anyway. Friend of ours came up from Devon who was with us in Notting Hill, he did a nice little talk. Another friend’s wife, she did a little, she read a piece of poetry out. And erm, that was all organised with the vicar. I didn’t know what they were doin’ ya know, they got it all organised beautifully. And erm, and I, and we had the horse drawn carriage and er, and erm and the day of the funeral, it was icy cold. And there was hard snow and ice on the floor and the ground and on the roof tops. The atmosphere was tremendous and my niece was goin’ out and every 5 minutes and shovelling the snow away. And she cleared across the road, and this side of the road so the cars and the carriage could get in. And she was out on the morning of the funeral in her dressing gown and slippers doing all this, it’s a wonder she didn’t get pneumonia! And er, she was such a good help. We had it all worked out beautifully, yeah.
And I was like . . . I can’t describe how I felt really. As if I wasn’t, everything was unreal; you just don’t feel you’re that person anymore.
And we went over to the memorial house and saw Glynn every day, twice a day. And I kept thinkin’, you’re gonna wake up and say, "I’m only jokin’!" Cos he used to do that. Ya know? He used to lie there, like this. "Come on Glynn what you up to?" And he’d lie there, and I thought he was ill or something, and he’d say, "Only jokin’!" And I thought, oh my God, if he was only jokin’. And I took his little miniature box of water colours over and some good stable brushes and a miniature water colour pad. And I put them in his inside pocket, to keep him goin’. And a photograph of me that he’d taken that he liked. Er a particular one I put that in. And erm, and a whole . . . ahh, I remember now, I wish I’d kept a copy, but ya can’t think of that. I wrote down everything that we did all week long. Everyday what we did: what we were plannin’, how it was going to be, and what we did in the evening. You know? And I’d survived.
The memories are here anyway, look at this house; all around us really.
The thing I wanted to say was, ya know you’re talkin’ about erm, like what life is like now since Glynn died, and what am I doin’ and why am I still here. What are my aims really. Right? All I want is for Glynn to have an exhibition. I’ve been offered one somewhere and it’s very nice of them to do that, but it meant me doin’ a lot of work. And I don’t mind doin’ a lot of work, but it’s out of town, a difficult place to get to. I would have to depend on people to borrow their cars and all that. My aim is to have a big exhibition in one of the galleries in Mima, right? That’s my aim, that’s what I want to put across to people. And that will happen. It’s almost on the cards but it’s the early stages and erm . . . debatin’ and talkin’ about it. And that’s my hope for the future. If I can have this exhibition at Mima . . . after that, I’d be a happy person. I’ll still be sad, but I’ll be happy and contented. I think that’s a good think to aim for. I mean it’s the best gallery we’ve ever had. It’s the best gallery for miles and er, I think it would be just a great thing to do. And I think it would be very successful. And the reason I want to have it not too in the distant future, because I could die, but we’ve got lots of friends who come from all over the country would come. And they’re all crackin’ on a bit now. But they all came, we’ve just had an exhibition of a friend of ours and er everybody came to that. But they’re all getting older ya see. And er, so they’ll all come again hopefully. All of our new friends’ll come, even people who didn’t know Glynn will be there. Because everybody admires his work. Everybody likes coming here and looking round the house.