Date: Saturday, 30 January 2011
Subject: Your website
What a lovely tribute to Barbara and what an amazing memory you possess. I am afraid that a lot of that period has slipped my memory. Of course reading your stories, there were a lot of things I recognized, like our Sunday roasts at Westfield Road. I remember that one chicken used to feed us all and then in the evening we would have enough left over to fill some pita breads which we then had for dinner. We spent many a night playing cards and games of risk that would last until the following morning. Lots of cups of tea were drunk . What I didn't realize at the time is that, when Chris and I came to live with Di and Steve, it meant that you basically lost your love nest. Of course it was an economic solution because it meant we shared the rent on the bungalow, but it must have been quite a blow for the two of you.
I also remember coming to your engagement party in Holland and how much in love the two of you were. You were both so happy and your mum and dad were such good hosts. It was a great day with lots of laughter and good food and company.
I never knew that Barbara had become such a famous actress in Hong Kong and China! I remember her as a very pretty and kind but also as a very private and quiet girl. That was not really surprising, considering the banter and quips that used to go on between us and I expect it must have been rather strange for her to hear us knocking each other the way we used to, although it was always in a fun way and never malicious.
Your story about the ceiling coming down in Barbara's flat in London reminded me of that time. We used to live in a bedsit in Golders Green (the Jewish area in London) and rented a bedsit there. Our landlady was not very pleasant. To get around the law where you could not get rid of lodgers so easily, she used to provide us with breakfast every morning. In this way, she was able to give just one weeks notice to get people out, as it was classed as a bed and breakfast. This breakfast consisted of 2 teabags and some hot water, 2 packets of cream crackers, 2 bits of cream cheese (la vache qui rit) and I think two hardboiled eggs once a week. Then one week before Christmas she decided that everybody had to leave. This was very bad timing as most of us wanted to go home for Christmas and had nowhere to go and move our belongings to. We were all so angry that we took the back off the telly and put in a couple of fish we bought from the market. We then screwed the back of the telly back on again. We also made a pact that we would all open every tap in the house and then all leave at the same time. We were lucky because our friend Shirley rented a room in Finsbury Park but, at that time, spent most of her days and nights at her Iranian boyfriend Fariborz flat in Arsenal. She let us stay in her room in Finsbury Park for 10 pounds per week. That place was even worse. We had mice all over the place and every cupboard was filled with mouse droppings. In the bathroom there was a big notice from the gas board which condemned the boiler. This meant that there was no hot water and somehow nobody ever complained about that. Thinking back it was really amazing how these landlords got away with it. It was criminal!
Do you recall the time when you came and visited me and Chris in London. I think it must have been at our flat in Golders Green. We didn't stay there very long because there was not a lot of room to sit, so we went out and had a meal. On the way back we came across a couple of punk rockers and one of them had bright green hair. This made Barbara laugh out loud and the punk rocker got annoyed and punched the mirror right off a car that was parked in the street. At that time, luckily, it was not as violent as nowadays, otherwise I think may be Barbara would have been at the receiving end of that blow.
I was very interested to read that Barbara's mum and Di swapped my cat Asparagus for the white longhaired cat called Donut. Of course I knew that he came from Barbara's house, but not that he had been exchanged for another cat. Asparagus (or Pepi as I used to call him) was the only cat I have ever known to behave like a dog. May be that was because he lived with us in Westfield Road, together with two dogs, Steves Alsation Tanya and Di's black Labrador Jamie. Asparagus paws hardly every touched the ground. He used to move from the table onto a chair, onto a sideboard, jump onto the kitchen surfaces and make his way to the door, so that the dogs could not chase him When we later lived in Great Shelford in the top half of a maisonette, I used to throw the pen tops of a bic pen down the stairs and he would chase after it and then bring it back upstairs and drop it in front of me and stood there waiting for me to throw the pen top down the stairs again. He could keep this up for a long time, despite the fact that he had a weak heart. He used to love this game. Asparagus came back to Holland with me after I left England and he had a very happy life. Unfortunately he died at only 15 because of his weak heart, which was diagnosed when I went to the vet in order to be able to bring him back with me to Holland on the plane. It was such a pleasure to have him as a pet and I will always be grateful to Barbara and her mum for swapping him for Donut with Di, who then let me have him after we all left the house in Westfield Road.
I want to thank you for the lovely reunion we had last week in Cambridge. It was nice to see that Barbara's grave was still so well kept and that there were fresh flowers on it for her.
I will always remember Barbara as being part of a time in my life when we used to have such a lot of fun together.
Take care and lots of love
The cat Asparagus
你的关于Barbara公寓天花板掉下来的故事让我想起了那个时候的一些事。我们曾经住在Golders Green (伦敦的犹太区) 的一个单间。 我们的房东太太不太友善。那时的法律不允许随便赶走租客，她就常常提供我们所谓的"早餐". 这样做的话她可以说我们租的是"早餐和床"式的房间，她只要提前一周通知就可以赶我们出去。这个"早餐"包括两个茶包，一些热水和两包奶油饼干(la vache qui rit)，我记得仿佛还有一周两个煮得很老的鸡蛋。某个圣诞节的前一周，她要我们全部搬出去。那是个很糟糕的搬家时间，我们多数想回家过节，那时即无处可去，也无处可放东西。我们都气极了。我们把电视机的后盖打开，放进了几条从市场买来的鱼，然后把后盖再用螺丝安上。
我们还约好打开所有的水龙头，然后全体同时离开。我们很幸运，Shirley在Finbury Park租了个公寓，她大多数时间待在意大利男友的公寓里。她让我们住在她那里，一周10磅。 那个地方更糟，到处都是老鼠，每个柜子里都有老鼠屎。在浴室里有个大大的煤气公司通知，说是使用该热水器有危险。那里没有热水，大家也没有抱怨。现在想想这些房东真不知是怎么搞定的，那简直是犯罪。
我很感兴趣地读到Barbara的妈妈用后来我的猫Asparagus(小芦笋) 和Di换了那只叫甜甜圈（Donut）的白色长毛猫。我那时知道它是从Barbara家来的，但不知道是另一只猫换来的。Asparagus(小芦笋，我也叫过它Pepi)是我见过的唯一的行为像狗的猫。也许是因为它在我们Westfield路上的家里和两只狗住在一起，Steve的阿尔萨斯牧羊犬Tanya和Di的黑色拉布拉多犬Jamie。Asparagus(小芦笋)几乎是叫不沾地的，它总从桌子跳到椅子上，再跳到餐柜上，再到厨房操作台，然后到门边上。这样子那些狗就不会追它。后来我们搬到Great Shelford的两层公寓房的时候，我常常把记号笔的笔套扔下去，它就会跟着跑，把笔套衔上来，放在我面前，坐在那里等着我再扔一次。
它很喜欢这个游戏，可以这样玩很久，尽管它的心脏不太好。Asparagus(小芦笋)和我一起开英国回到荷兰，过得很愉快。可惜它15岁就死于心脏问题。我为了坐飞机回荷兰带它去兽医那里检查身体时发现它有心脏病。有它做我的宠物我很开心。我很感激Barbara和她的妈妈同意和Di 用Asparagus(小芦笋) 换了甜甜圈(Donut），Di在我们搬离Westfield路的房子时，把它送给了我。
(thanks to Natalie for the translation)