The summer’s been an eventful one. We were in Aldeburgh during the festival, though we didn’t go to any of the events. Music was all around us, nevertheless, and my Tascam and I tried to make something of it all. First attempt here.
Here she is on the eve of 1995, at the flat that Richard and I rented near Preston Road. I insisted that night that we all jumped off the sofa ‘out of the old year and into the new’.
Yesterday, she would’ve turned 49.
I’m really excited about these! I’m giving a series of free creative writing and poetry workshops in the Reading Room at the Wellcome Collection. They’re drop-in ‘pop ups’, so won’t appear on the Wellcome’s website, but will be advertised in-house on the day.
All the sessions run from 2 pm to 5 pm, and you can stay for as much or as little as you like – and we’ll definitely take a break half way through the session, to help percolate ideas.
The sessions are on the following dates:
Friday 3rd March
Thursday 9th March
Friday 17th March
Saturday 25th March
Thursday 30th March
Saturday 1st April
In them, I want to think about the idea of discovery with you – how it happens, what different forms it takes, what it means to different people, who gets to do the discovering and who gets ‘discovered’ – and the idea of hiding and being hidden – why it happens, how it happens… as well as making use of the art and objects and books in this lovely space. We’ll be doing plenty of writing exercises and a bit of talking. Maybe see you there?
I couldn’t find a photo of Tara from 2006 – or from 1996, for that matter, so here is one of her and Simon from 1998, out in our back garden. It’s the photo that the Lord of Longitude and I have on our mantelpiece.
I think this might be the last post to commemorate her death. Not that August 11th won’t always be a stone, weighting down the calendar – but maybe remembering her on her birthday might be better …
… I’m struggling, here …
… I want remembering Tara to be more than about her death. I want it to be about her intelligence, her friendship, her kindness, her wit, her sense of fun, about saying, look, I knew this REMARKABLE woman, she had such an effect on me in ways obvious and not and I will never forget her.
So, look, I knew this remarkable woman and was lucky enough to be her friend, and I still miss her, it is cruel beyond belief that she died and I still don’t believe it, these three years later, but there it is, and meanwhile all of us who loved her try to get on with our lives and somehow here she is, still, the things she said, the jokes she made, the way she listened, her laugh, what she cared about, all of the stuff that made her Tara, still here, not forgotten, never forgotten.
Tara Louise Few
22.03.68 – 11.08.13
Something unusual happened the other day: my neighbour and I had a chat. She lives a few doors up from us, and was out in the sun, tidying the front, as I rounded the corner. I’d just come back from a wonderful writing retreat* and was beaming at everyone.
We said hi, and something prompted me to stop. She is wry, very funny, friendly and is soppy-silly over the babies and littlies in her family, but we don’t seem to chat beyond the occasional sarcastic remark about boy racers or loud music in the street. Usually it’s just a friendly wave or a ‘hi’, maybe a ‘nice weather’…
So we chatted about the weather.
‘Let’s hope it stays this way.’
‘Yeah, though it makes fasting hard.’ Ramadan starts in early June and the long days mean long, deprived hours. ‘Still, Allah will give us patience.’
I wished then I knew the words for ‘Have a good Ramadan’.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this is what electing Sadiq Khan does for us? Reminded us of who we are, got us talking to each other. Or maybe this is what Islamaphobia has finally done for us. With an ‘extremist’ poised to run for US President, with both blatantly and covertly racist political campaigns in this country, maybe London has decided it’s time to make a stand.
Congratulations, Sadiq. And to those of you that will be starting your fast in early June, I wish you Ramadan Mubarak.**
*It was the SCBWI British Isles Spring Retreat. It changed my life!
**My thanks to the writers of this site for educating me.
- My second con ever (the first was LonCon last year).
- An inclusive geektopia where everyone is welcome.
- Scene of some awesome cosplay that made me want to try it (never been tempted before).
- Provider of Quiet Rooms for people like me with very low thresholds for stimuli and with a tendency towards introversion.
- Scene of huge cringe as I mistake a Spectra costume for a Thundercat. Great kindness and grace from cosplayer who accepted my token and compliments and put me right – and absolutely no fandom-ier-than-thou gatekeeping from anyone. Lovely, lovely people go to this con.
- Scene of more huge cringe as I ask if ‘this lady’ can go to the head of the toilet queue because she’s on a panel in ten minutes. ‘This lady’ identified as a woman but THAT’S NOT THE POINT. Ever since I read Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time at the age of 16, I’ve been in favour of and tried to use gender-neutral language. In my 16 year-old’s idealism, I firmly believed that in the future there would be no Mrs and Misses, only Ms.s, no poetesses or policemen, only poets and police officers and that ‘per’ or their/them would replace he, she, his, hers and so on. Of course, the future turned out to be more complicated than that. And also a bit less beautiful. But at Nine Worlds, you can pick what pronoun you want to use, stick it on a badge and everyone will respect it. So what antideluvian part of my consciousness dredged up such an antiquated phrase? It’s a mystery. Suffice to say, I’m practising using ‘this person’ and they/their/them a lot at the moment and with renewed vigour. And eagerly awaiting Nine Worlds’ gender-neutral, gender-inclusive, non-binary heaven next year. Marge Piercy’s utopia is real (if only for one weekend a year, and in Heathrow) and more plural and beautiful than that, even, and it’s wonderful.
- Just over the road from the hotel (and through a fence, past some buildings) is a runway where planes take off in all their whooshing, noisy glory. I like planes. (Don’t know why, just do. They’re like magic.)
- Kind, kind people who – when I was exhaustedly and constantly getting lost and couldn’t even remember my room number – would give me directions and refrained from rolling eyes or going ‘It’s RIGHT THERE’.
- The Spoiler Alerters; two young fans who reminded the fabulous Eve Bennett that not everyone has seen every episode of everything Joss Whedon has made. This is a very family-friendly con and the kids really make it excellent and special. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see a mini-Groot knocking around the place? Or a toddling dragon? Come ON! (I speak as someone who chose not to have children, too – I don’t say these things lightly.)
- Eve Bennett’s talk: Female Weapons in the Whedonverse’. Really intelligent, really interesting, really illuminating and made me want to watch all the Whedons all over again.
- Ditto Vanessa Thompsett’s talk on ‘Dystopian London in Fiction – The Unreal City’. And as with Eve Bennett, another super-engaging speaker with a bright future ahead. I shall be acquainting myself properly with ‘V for Vendetta’ – in fact, the first thing the Lord of Longitude said to me as we left the talk was ‘I’ve GOTTA get V for Vendetta’
- Geek Feminism. We rock.
- Lots of talks and thinking about Utopias, Dystopias and Apocalypse. I’m really interested in all three, but particularly Utopias, which border on my research interest in the pastoral, relations between country and city (Raymond Williams is a god), ecotopias, ecowriting, psychogeography, sub/urban spaces blah blah blah you get the picture.
- Naomi Alderman. Her talk on addressing our inner, personal biases (particularly when writing character) was illuminating, funny, perceptive and bang on the nose.
- Films and bean bags. There were lots of both, in a darkened room where you could stretch out with lots of other film-lovers and just shut up and watch films. Bliss. Which were impressive – I saw quite a few shorts. I fervently wished for better representation in the sci-fi shorts (3 women characters, 2 victims, 1 mother; all protagonists white cis males; no people of colour), but at least they were very well made, quite gripping. I think several are going to be made into features.
Well, ok, 16.
LORD OF LONGITUDE: So the question is, do we take advantage of Nine Worlds’ super-early rate and –
ME: YES. Book it. Book it now. Book it. We’re going.
Maybe I’ll see you next year?
Sometimes it seems as if I’ve been missing her for such a long time. Time stretches out and I can’t remember what it was like to talk to her, or what we talked about, or even how she moved, where she was sitting. The last time I saw Tara seems so long ago. It seems so long ago that sometimes, I can’t really believe she existed.
Other times, I can’t really believe it’s been two years since she died. The shock of her absolute gone-ness just ups and smacks me in the face. Preposterous. Outrageous. No, surely not. Not Tara.
The last time I saw her it was very early Spring up in Norwich. I was recovering from a very nasty virus and was still feeling odd, sounding hoarse: our conversation swam in and out of the other conversations in the caff and I had trouble holding onto it. Rachel was there as well – my other sister-friend from Uni – and we ate veggie food and cackled at each other’s jokes and I whinged about feeling isolated and anxious and Rachel and Tara were kind and funny and supportive. My memories of that day are so bound up in how I felt, what a dick I was being, going on and on…. if I’d known how little time we three had left together, I might not have wasted it on all the self-flagellation.
But I have a strong image of saying goodbye to Rache on a street corner; grey pavement and iron-hard, East Anglian cold, busses, all of us hugging and wishing we had more time, promising to get together more often. And Tara joking, as she and I ducked back into a bar for a quick drink, that the staff would think she was speed-dating or something – she’d been in there with Rachel before our meal. She seemed happy: still in love, and with her daughter doing well, and working freelance so that she could scale the business up and down as needed. She was frustrated too: child-care is hard work and so is running a business, and so is juggling, and she had so much she wanted to do. But life seemed good.
Then it was time to leave, knocking back the last of the wine, swapping the bar’s wooden benches and fairy lights for the opaque sky, the raw air. More hugs. I bounced away, feeling a little more substantial, a bit more capable. She had that effect on me, Tara.
It’s a good memory to have. I miss her.
Tara Few, 22.03.68 – 11.08.13