This time my yearly visit to Cambridge had a bad start. When I arrived at Harwich from the boat of Hoek van Holland I was confronted with the notice that the train to Cambridge was cancelled. The ticket office wasn’t operational anymore and the ticket machine did not accept my bankcard. Which was a big problem as I did not have enough English cash with me to buy a ticket. Luckily a British Rail Employer was also a mobile ticket office and one of the ticket machines he carried did accept my card. After a railway journey of 3,5 hours (normally 2 hours) I finally arrived in Cambridge.
I took my usual stroll towards the old CCAT-school from the railway station through Tenison Road and Mill Road stopping at Guest Road nr 1. This house, where Steve and Di used to live, was the centre meeting point of our group of friends. Barbara came here often during break time. The house is still in a bad state. It was a dirty badly maintained house when Di lived there in 1977/1978 and it seems that nothing has changed. Looking at the bikes near the front door it seems nobody lives there anymore.
Guest Road nr.1
My next stop was the library of the Anglia Ruskin University (former CCAT). I had a walk through the corridors of the old buildings, looking inside class rooms. It pleased me that the ghastly pre-fab container-offices in front of the art building have finally been removed, showing the old building in full glory.
The art building, the building with the sloping windows, for good lighting for the art students, this is where Barbara made her art work for two years.
The science building with the trees in front is still there
I left the Anglia Ruskin University and headed to the centre of Cambridge to reward myself with some books from my favorite bookstore, Waterstones. One of the books some Barbara fan might recognize. To my surprise is my youngest daughter now an enthusiastic reader of it.
Following my tradition I had lunch in Charlie Chan Restaurant. From a notice I read that this place of memory is unfortunately closing down soon. Barbara had her 19th birthday party here and came here with her mother and uncle every Monday evening to play Mahjong.
After lunch I took the bus towards the graveyard to see the new gravestone for the first time. The bouquets of wildered flowers on the grave indicated that there have been many visitors and also that there was a lot of clearing up to be done.
Satisfied with my cleaning action I had a long sit in the sun in front of the grave.
It was time to meet Andrew in the pub The Green Dragon, an half hour walk from the cemetery.
We talked for several hours about all types of subjects and of course also about Barbara. From what Andrew told me I understand that Barbara had a hard life in Hong Kong and that Barbara’s mother and uncle were very worried about her. As Andrew and I had other appointments and there were still many things to talk about, we decided to meet tomorrow again.
I went to Di’s present house to meet up with Di, Chris, Yolande, Fred, Nick and Steve, for our yearly reunion.
On Saturday afternoon I met up with Andrew again, this time in another pub, The Haymakers. Andrew had been to Barbara’s mother house that morning to look for things related to Barbara. He found the awards Barbara received, from which the glass one surprised us as we did not know she was given this one. Later I asked Chak (from the Hong Kong fan club) about it and he told me that this award was given to Barbara at a Red Cross event where she performed on the 9th of may 1985.
TV-star award 1983
TV-star award 1984
Red Cross award 1985
There was also a drawing Barbara made, if you look closely you can see that Barbara’s signed it.
And a framed painting for a wallpaper design, this painting is also signed by Barbara.
Andrew also found a photo album with pictures of Barbara which I had never seen before. Together we tried to figure out where and when the pictures were taken. The pictures show Barbara modeling in the sitting room of the Chip shop, with two girl friends in Italy, her uncle’s wedding, in her mother’s house in Burrough Field in Histon and many more. In some pictures she looks very natural and sometimes happy, in other pictures she puts on her modeling look.
With the promise to see each other again next year, Andrew and I said goodbye. I went back to Di’s house to meet the others for another long night of chatting about our futures, present and past (we are all nearly sixty years or older now, some are a grandparent and some live alone) . This time there were many memories about the Guest Road house.