Lovely Mary

Today was the funeral of my mother’s best friend in the village.  Mary was fabulous.  Tall, blonde with flamboyantly stylish dress sense and a love of big hats, loving and enthusiastic with never a bad word to say about anyone, she had a wonderful singing voice and a love of entertaining.  She used to hold musical evenings with a group of friends from church and the Choral Society and 100 or so people would crowd into the hall (her son bought the local Big House some 30 years ago and Mary and her husband Jack lived in an apartment there) and afterwards have supper.  She was born in 1915 and loved the music of the 1930s and 40s, but I’m not sure of the vintage of the song whose chorus she used to make the audience sing along to (I should have checked the words, forgive me darlings) – “Hang on the bell, Nelly, hang on the bell, Your poor father’s locked in a cold prison cell, As it swings to the left and it swings to the right, Remember, the curfew must never ring tonight.”  Nelly’s father was going to be hanged when the curfew bell sounded, but a pardon was on its way, as I remember.

The reading chosen for the service was the first Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, the one about love, or charity if you prefer the King James version.  My mother chose the same passage.  And here are verses 4 to 7 for you.  I don’t know which translation it comes from.

Love is patient, love is kind;
Love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude;
Love does not insist on its own way;
It is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in right.

Love bears all things, believes all things,
Hopes all things, endures all things.
Mary married in 1939 and before then worked at the Pinewood Studios in Elstree, retouching negatives for publicity stills.  She showed us some of the pictures.  One in particular I remember was of herself, when she was standing in for a film star – I can’t remember who, blonde and slender.  She had her back to the camera, it was against a window, looking out at a garden – might have been in a conservatory, I can’t remember that either.  But she showed us before and after pictures, where a leaf that caught the eye was touched out, so was a wrinkle on the dress, a slight bulge at the waist as she swayed to one side – there’s nothing new about the camera deceiving the eye.

8 comments on “Lovely Mary

  1. mig

    She sounds wonderful. Definitely a life to be celebrated and missed.

    It’s interesting that anyone ever thought that ‘the camera never lies’ was the same as getting the whole truth from a photo.

  2. martina

    Remember the “real” fairy photos the young English girls took around 1915? They cut out fairy illustrations from a newspaper, set them up near a stream and then photographed the scene. Fooled people for years!

  3. Mike and Ann

    It is always a privilege to have known people like Mary. They are always a pleasure to look back on, and enjoy in memory. And this is the more reason to appreciate the Maries who are still here with us.


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