Rivca and Beata
So my object is a book called The Little Prince, which I kind of didn’t inherit from the person called Beate, but ended up with. And I ended up with it because when I saw her last, which was for a period of about . . . two or two and a half weeks, it was actually at her bedside in the hospital where she’d fallen into a coma, that she didn’t come out of. And the idea was that we read her the book because it was her favourite. And actually, until today, I thought I had the German version and read it in German, but no, it is actually in English and it’s called The Little Prince.
It’s her favourite book, from what I was told. And I have it.
German. Very, very German in everyway that I can think of. And a representative of Germany in this country, and funnily enough actually in Rochdale, where she lived more than Manchester. And for me, she reintroduced me, actually, to a liking of German, the spoken German . . . sorry I should say that again. This is bad, bad English now. Erm she introduced me to erm, liking German again spoken by a German, that I met in England. And for that I’m very grateful. So when I think of people speaking German, she will be the first, is always the first, that I think of, and I can hear her voice. So yeah that’s the first thing I think of. And probably, the most important thing somehow, or the most erm . . . no, it’s not the most important thing, it’s just the strongest thing.
If I could say one more thing to her . . . it’s probably two, but I’ll try . . . that the impact she had on people was far greater than she ever realised in her living time, which we discovered, or I discovered, after her death. And it’s still there. Yeah, that would be it. Positive impact, I should say. A very positive impact.
I don’t have a difficult memory of her, at all. Erm, no. There’s nothing difficult. Her suddenly ending up in hospital was a shock. Erm, difficult? I didn’t have difficulties with her. She was German, so she said what she wanted to say, and I said what I wanted to say. And that meant we maybe didn’t communicate as closely for a period of time. So there were times when we didn’t, because we didn’t quite gel, because of our maybe different working approaches at that time. And then we gelled again and we were a mixture of colleagues, friends, she employed me, I coached her, I mean there was nothing really that wasn’t there. And also I became, she made me part of her patchwork family. So I became an elected family member. But a difficult memory of her? No. Painful? Maybe, in that what she had to go through. And I’ll leave it at that.
Well, I think she’s up there. And I absolutely talk to her, as I talk to others who are up there with her. So I know they’re all having conversation with each other, all the people that have moved on. And whether they do or they don’t, that serves me well in my mind. So she is very aware of this conversation now, which is great, because it means it’s kind of a testimony to her, and it means she carries on, which she does anyway in conversation. It also means she can sort of . . . I feel that she can oversee what’s going on and, erm . . . she may have (and I’m still not sure) sent me some messages via a medium . . . a year and something ago. I don’t know. But yes, it served me very well. They’re all there. Absolutely. They’re all there.
She didn’t posture . . . whilst working in quite sort of high positioned jobs within the arts and equally in very low positioned jobs, for her that was no difference. Whatever that word is; she didn’t ever introduce herself by, if you like in inverted commas, ‘who she was or what she did’.
And I think very, very fair. Very fair.
I think she was hilarious, because in the way she spoke, she constantly brought German phrases to it, which are like metaphors, yeah metaphors, they were metaphors to describe something or sum something up or analyse something, that I’d never heard of before. Or occasionally I had, but they were, all of them were really funny. They were to the point, so they were rich too, they were just rich and a joy to the ear and that
was my, I think, that was the most enjoyable thing about her for me. And its been unmatched by anybody.
Funny, very funny.
I mean it’s not just the one, it’s many. There are many of those and a lot of them happen at this kitchen table . . . on a Monday evening there was a sort of a bit of a get together, or and some other days. And a happy memory apart from that? Funny, yeah, one that I like thinking of actually is . . . is to see Beate having changed phenomenal, and sadly that was only about a year before she died. But she turned her life inside out. She put a closure to something that really needed to end, but in a very, very considered and very gentle way. And closed wasn’t, didn’t mean that she shut the door hard on something, but a new door had opened for her, which involved her also moving to Hebden Bridge into a beautiful flat by the water. But what struck me is how she just took herself in charge. So she, one, she lost a lot of weight and looked really good and reduced her intake of whatever, and looked great for that as well and so, like a whole new person went off and did trapeze work, yeah, and came to yoga with me which was great. To the point that I actually went, "You don’t lose any more weight because that’s just too much now and those trousers don’t work Beate, do not wear them again." I do remember that was a funny moment actually and that’s what we could do between each other, is just to go, "You do not wear them again, erm they don’t do anything for you at all so I don’t want to see them . . . even when I am not around. Get rid!"
I do want to say something about the strange but wonderful thing about having been asked to be part of her elected, what she called ‘patchwork family’. And I remember that actually happening out here in the studio, where she’d thought of it clearly, but the culmination of the thought came out and I remember it in, on flip chart paper, and pens. I’ve not seen the drawing again, or the diagram, but I remember there was like an inner circle and a second circle and a third circle and she’d put . . . myself, Elke and Dot and some other people (I think from Germany . . . couple of guys), into this inner circle and I’m not even sure remembering that she asked me whether I wanted to be part of this patchwork family. I think it was sort of assumed. Maybe there was a question, but again she would have probably assumed that if I didn’t want to, I would have said something about it. So that was really lovely actually, to be part of that very, very moment when that happened. And very honored to be part of it, which at the time didn’t mean anything. You’re just on a piece of paper. "Alright do you want to be part of my patchwork family? I don’t have a family really left that I feel close to, so I’m making my own." So that was lovely. It only became apparent what that maybe meant, and what that might have meant for her (and of course we didn’t talk about it), but what that meant for her in terms of when she passes, or if she passes before anybody else. And so that actually happened. And so it was quite odd, and sort of a sense of responsibility to go, okay, we are her family, so let’s act as her family. Actually go, okay we are now in charge, together with her ex-partner (but who she had elected as next of kin), so four . . . but let’s say the three of us that she’d chosen to make, well to get things going.
It therefore meant that I ended up, I chose to offer to conduct the funeral. So instead of having, well there was a priest or vicar . . . I’m not quite sure. Church of England thingy. Sorry, I do believe in that they are up there, but I don’t really believe erm, I don’t know much about the religions and the names. So I’m not religious. And erm, so the priest spoke for a bit but actually I pulled together what we wanted to say about Beate. So I was sort of the vessel that spoke. And that consisted again of English and German. And what was quite incredible, was that the day before she got really, really ill, which led to her being in hospital several days later, the day before that was kind of her last day out. And that last day out was on a course, that I co-run several times a year, that she’d been wanting to go on for a while. And on that day one of the course, we do an exercise, where she wrote her 101st, err what do you call it? Like a celebration thing, where your life is celebrated. And what you do is you write the speech that you would love to hear. Not the one you think you’ll hear but the one you’d love to hear, so it could also be like an obituary. She and some people chose to do that. She’d chosen it as 101st celebration of her life, and just before, like a few days before the funeral, I suddenly thought, I wonder if those notes are there. And we found them! They were found in the back of her car. So actually the funeral speech started with her own written speech about her. And what was quite amazing about that, I mean it was only written two and a half weeks before delivered, what was quite amazing is that actually I could see the audiences’ reaction. And there were a lot of people there that actually, that all of that was already true.
So the speech that she wrote about how what she would love to hear, was already there, or people felt certainly was gonna be something that she would have made happen. So that was quite amazing. Quite, quite erm, yeah . . . we had a good chuckle there as well, me and Beate. We have a lot of chuckling going on there. Going, "Yeah, good girl. Good girl. You wrote your own speech." And I think that’s fantastic.
Ever since, I thought, okay she’s gonna join [him] and they can both speak German - also können die da dort oben im Paradis Deutsch sprechen, und erm . . . yeah I think that’s it really. So they have got erm, they can carry on what they did here, because she did see him at one point in hospital, so that joy of suddenly switching to erm . . . I’ve lost it now, but the joy of suddenly switching to German, sort of seamlessly und dann plötzlich anfangen weiter zu reden in Deutsch, ohne dass da irgendwas dazwischen kommt, als ob es ganz normal wäre, and then to switch back into English, is something that we did while she was alive, and... they probably do it up there as well.