This past week has seen the tragic loss of two of England's daughters. Elegant actress Natasha Richardson who died suddenly in a skiing related accident, and Jade Goody, whose long drawn out battle with cancer sadly reached its inevitable end.
Both events have moved me very deeply, certainly enough to write on my blog which I haven't had a chance to do in months. Why? I think both were talented beautiful women who in some way have left their mark on popular culture in different ways, despite being from opposite sides of the track. Richardson was a child of the arts and respected amongst her peers in the theatre world, daughter of the talented and beautiful Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson, theatre was in her blood. Whilst not many people will remember her TV or movie career, she epitomised what I think of as a British heroine, elegant and sophisticated, ethereally beautiful and a little untouchable. There are few left like Richardson, as her timeless grace seemed as if from another era.
Jade Goody on the other hand was pure East End. Loud, brash, uneducated with a mouth like a runaway train, she epitomised the lovable English slapper. We watched her grow from a ridiculed Big Brother contestant to one of the nation's most loved reality TV stars. Two books, a perfume line, two celebrity husbands, fitness videos - she must have been fairly wealthy when she died - not bad for someone that has always been deemed 'thick'. Yet Goody's charm was that she made some mistakes, and in doing so educated the rest of us. I went for a pap smear last week because I'd completely forgotten about it until I realised that it was the one little thing that Jade forgot about too - at the cost of her life. Her candid interviews for the News of the World after she was diagnosed with cancer and was receiving chemo are heartbreakingly funny and sad. She told us everything whether we wanted to hear it or not. No doubt about it, she will have saved lives and she deserved the honour she received for that alone. We laughed at her, we laughed with her, many people even hated her, but I think she was a lady with a big heart who had a lot of guts and who would have been fun to have a beer with down the pub.
And certainly last but not least, I was also gutted to hear of the death of Tony Hart recently. Tony died in his 80's after living a fulfilling life, but was such an inspiration to me when I was growing up that I wrote a remembrance on his website: "From far-flung Australia I sadly read the news that Tony Hart had passed on. Growing up in England, Take Hart was one of my favourite shows and I lost count of the number of pictures I submitted to the galleries. He had such a wonderful gentle nature, like everyone's favourite uncle (as I often used to wish he was really mine!). His shoes will be hard to step into in this videogame society our children now grow up in, and with his passing so ends an era. Tony, you are in the hearts of a nation and will be eternally loved by millions. Peace to you, my friend."
Their deaths mean something to me because their existence on our screens has contributed something to my life, whether big or small, and like thousands around the world I feel incredibly saddened by their passing. Goodbye to you all, may your last curtain call be remembered forever, and thanks for such an unforgettable performance.
To paths less trodden...
As I embark on my journey I'd like to thank everyone for their continued support, your excitement for me as I start a new era in my life, and the gift of your friendship. I'm as excited as a kid at Xmas who has just spotted the big bike-shaped present under the tree! Given the past year, I'm sure I may encounter the odd natural disaster. There'll be drinking, dancing, extreme sports, and possibly even a little romance in amongst treading paths both touristic and off-the-beaten track. I plan on patting every mangy critter I encounter between here and Timbuktu, probably at the expense of my travel partner's sanity and my poor mother's health (Caro, you've had your rabies shots!) I want to climb, swim, fly, trek, ride, meander, ski, dive and raft. I'll probably laugh, cry, get sick, get better, wonder, cringe, be baffled, be awed, be repulsed and be bitten by something (no doubt). Temples, mountains, rivers, deserts, beaches, palaces, canyons, meadows, plains and city streets shall all be trampled by my teeny-tiny hiking-boot encased foot.
I hope you enjoy following me around the world. You know it's not going to be boring.