I sat down today to write about my latest walk, a circular route around Coughton, beginning and ending at the Throckmorton Arms. I had it all planned; I had taken the photographs. I know exactly what I was going to say. But it will have to wait. Why? Because today I attended the funeral of an old school friend. I hadn’t seen Carol from the day when we collected our exam results so why was I driving down the M1 to say farewell?
Well, we had been a school together where, it is true that Carol’s talents had been more sporting than academic. She had been Girls Sports Captain and left school for Bracknell College to take up a secretarial course. At school we shared a couple of passions. School plays and Subbuteo. Indeed, Carol was a regular attendee at the Parry household Subbuteo league evenings, much encouraged by my mother, whose view was that if we were all in my room playing Subbuteo at least the participants’ mothers would know where their offsprings were – even if mum had to produce supper for the lot of us.
School had an active drama production team and few terms ended without a production of some sort. Ali Baba; Pinocchio; The Wizard of Oz all spring to mind. I loved it. Carol shone and later went on to a Sam Kidd-like career rising to an on screen appearance briefly opposite Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”. She even lived close to Pinewood and Elsetree so she cold make the early starts.
Clutching our exam certificates our paths separated. She to Bracknell College and I to Macclesfield. We lost touch. Carol began a career in HR. An unlikely link with modelling but nevertheless she built a successful career as a photographic mode, signing with an agency in London. It is through this she met her husband, Paul, a professional photographer. Together they built both their business activities successfully.
Then, it seems, fate began to take a hand. Illness and episodes of depression began to affect Carol’s life. She and Paul parted although remained lifelong friends and she began to divide her time between Spain and the UK. Eventually a battle with Cancer was added to her other struggles. A battle she was destined, sadly, to lose.
And yet, as I remembered her yesterday, I could only remember a fun loving, attractive and gregarious girl who never quite got the hang of Subbuteo.