Over the Years I have connected with quite a number of people among whom I have made good friends either through my blog or my writing activities. A stand-out example of this was Stacey Haggard Brewer who edited Living Life Backwards and who was working with me recently on a new collection of short stories.
She was the gentlest, most supportive and encouraging person you could imagine and to have her on your side was to be rich indeed. You can imagine my sadness, then, when I heard through a mutual friend that she and her husband had been killed in a road accident while out on their motor bike, albeit doing something they loved.
The outpouring of grief and admiration this cruel event has sparked amongst those who knew her and her husband says so much about their characters and I for one will miss her gentle encouraging presence in my life. One of her favourite posts of mine, and the one which inspired “Living Life Backwards” was “Sunshine That Colours The Mist,” and I am re-posting it here as a tribute to her memory. May you and your husband sleep peacefully Stacey.
Sunshine That Colours The Mist
Sunshine That Colours The Mist Margaret Potts looked down at the passport application form and frowned: her first name which I shall repeat for the incredulous was ‘Sunshine That Colours The Mist’. A name full of resonance and possible meanings, but which takes quite a long time to get off the tongue, even when sober.
Those reckless free-spirited folk at the passport form design department, hidden deep within government offices, where baldness is encouraged and tans are frowned upon, had thought of many things but never how to cram the first name of someone whose father was a breeze sipping hippie into a box designed for individuals touched by some aspects of the normal.
“OK guys” they had said. “Chuck it at us. Don’t spare your punches.” Names of every faith, culture, colony and sect were inserted in a trial run which often involved working through the night and took some weeks to complete: jackets were removed. Finally, its authors were confident their design was fit to tackle the wildest variations thrown up by an exotic and multi-cultural world and to date this had proved to be the case.
What these ‘Form Freaks’ had not taken account of was some odd hippy-like figure, now in his sixties, who earned an uncertain living selling rare vegetables on a hillside in a county unspoiled by prosperity or a sense of common purpose. ‘Misty’ or ‘Sunny’ or even ‘Colours’ as she was sometime called, realised that getting her full name in the required box would require very small writing, and a note pinned to the form advising those who read it to employ the services of a magnifying glass! What to do?
I can hear voices muttering with various levels of bewilderment, “Why didn’t she just change her name?” Good question, I should have thought of it myself. The short answer is that she loved her father, and could never do anything which might distress him. He loved her name, which encapsulated his attitude to life. No, I don’t know what his attitude to life was either! His appetite for subtlety had left him isolated and living dangerously beyond the frontiers of common sense.
You are talking about a guy who obtained his electricity from a number of small windmill generators scattered over his fields, with each generator being painted a different colour. Who dyed the strands of pasta in his spaghetti bolognese in different colours, because it “renews our perception of the dish”. Who was clearly obsessed with ‘colour.’ (Try saying the word several times in various accents. OK, nothing happened here either, but it was worth a try.) Who thought that in some unspecified decade of his life, a rainbow would settle magically on his land and reveal the secrets of life in several languages. Other than that he was a dab hand at chess and a bit of an amateur cross dresser.
I could talk more about ‘Misty’, ‘Sunny’ or whatever, but suffice it to say she had recently dived into the world of online dating. Among other whimsical requirements this only suggests you add your real name, false name or a short recipe for biscuits. In other words, the world is your oyster. ‘Fry me in Lemon Grass’, a lover of all things Thai, who lived a couple of continents away had spoken to her soul, chatted to her heart and whispered in her ear. She had to meet him. She must meet him. He was the beacon on her magic hilltop, but he was stuck in his home town by the needs of a sick grandmother and various other flights of fancy.
Who to confront? Her father, currently involved in a heated but mystically charged correspondence with some algae in the pond at the bottom of his garden, or the Passport Office. She thought about it for some time and decided to write to the Passport Office. “They love a challenge” she thought. “Dear Sirs or Madams, I have a problem you might be able to help me with”. With them, she thought, I can at least appeal to reason. She had had very little to do with government departments.