A Charmed Life


29 Comments

always my princess

It was Sunday afternoon, I was stood with my mother in the carpark of Pak’nSave Johnsonville when I heard the news. I have no recollection of how I heard; might have been on the radio, or a fellow shopper but the words registered: Princess Diana was dead. All I remember after that is silence. The two of us loading the car with our groceries in silence, the wordless drive home, every now and then our eyes meeting in silent acknowledgement that it was true. The tears would come but for the next hour or so it was just silence. Shock in silence.

That was 20 years ago this week.
20 years! Looking back on my own life next month I hit my own 20 milestone, as it will be 20 years since I left New Zealand. I have lived a whole lifetime in that time, the world’s landscape has changed drastically and there is now an entire generation who know nothing about that Diana magic.

And she had that magic, there can be no doubt about that, she had IT whatever it is. She was my consummate princess from the moment I met her in February 1981 when she became engaged to her prince and for the next 16 years I was my mother’s willing accomplice in all things Diana. There are so many Diana moments throughout my life; from pouring over magazine articles, to collecting merchandise, watching the wedding (I was eight and it the first time I was ever allowed to stay up past midnight) to going to an exhibition in Sydney of her dresses, seeing Diana at Government House on the Royal tour of 1983 to paying my respects at the British High Commission in Wellington the day after she died and at Kensington Palace when I would later visit London.

She was worthy of it too – my love – our love. She was beautiful and she rocked a tiara, she was a people person and she cared deeply for humans especially the downtrodden, she loved her two boys and she brought them up to be compassionate AND she was as flawed as the rest of us and she never presented anything but, she was real and as such her death felt personal to millions of us, the global outpouring of grief we witnessed in the aftermath of her death is testament to that. And 20 years on her legacy continues on through her lovely dynamite boys William and Harry and the service they do particularly in their focus on difficult issues like AIDS and mental health.

That day at the British High Commission in the condolence book I wrote “I am heartbroken at this reality, gone way too soon beautiful Diana, you will be missed so very much, rest now angel” and as I am sat here writing these words thinking about her I am also reminded of the times we live in, and this thought crossed my mind – it isn’t so much that she is missed though she is, it is more that the world could do with more of her kind of caring right now.

Diana – the Queen of People’s Hearts, always my princess 1961-1997

Sat Nam

And… I am loving Twin Peaks, in my very bias opinion it is the BEST television to have graced our screens since… well since Twin Peaks screened 25 years ago but before this series started I was wary about how David Bowie’s character would be used if at all. I wanted Agent Phillip Jeffries to be included but casting another actor would have been a disservice to our beloved Starman, so bravo Mr Lynch for the dedication (S3 E14) and the inclusion of Phillip Jeffries  – superbly done in Twin Peaks style. Cannot believe its ending already, only two episodes left, oh my days!#andWhoistheDreamer  Okay so P!nk has always rocked but how awesome was that speech on Sunday.  If you haven’t heard it, please click here, we need to be hearing and speaking this kind of speak more and more for this is how love wins #WearetheChangeMakers And lastly sending prayers of blessing and protection for those in Mumbai and Texas. May all be guided to safety and may the rains be calmed by the hand of God #OneLove

Advertisements


10 Comments

for Eve and for Adam

always.jpg

When I first started this blog, I knew one day I would write about Eve and Adam, two people who are no longer with us but who deserve to be remembered not least for the impact they made on my life.

Once upon a time in the 80s there was a little girl called Eve who had been born premature and one of the life-saving blood transfusions she was given at birth infected her with a then little known virus. Unfortunately she lived in an ignorant country where, because of the stigma attached to this virus, people would cross the road to avoid being in close contact with her and they made it difficult for her to do normal kiddie activities like going to kindergarten. This prejudice eventually led to Eve and her family moving countries to somewhere she would be embraced and know nothing but love.

The ignorant country was Australia, the welcoming country was New Zealand and the little known virus was HIV. Eve would live till she was eleven and half and in her short lifetime she would touch many hearts including that of Princess Diana and mine. I never got to meet Eve but I collected stories about her from magazines and would watch her television interviews because back then I guess you could say she became the unofficial face of HIV/AIDS in New Zealand.

It was because of Eve I gave a speech on AIDS to my form two class, it was 1986 I was twelve and I remember writing with a thick black marker pen ‘AIDS’ by my name as my speech topic. I’m not sure why I felt compelled to choose it except that I knew Eve had been treated badly and that there was a stigma attached to this illness which I didn’t understand – my logic then (and still) was someone was sick they needed to be helped and loved no matter what. As for the speech, I had to have most of what I ended up saying, first explained to me by my aunt who was a nurse; imagine being that young and trying to understand the workings of the immune system and male coupling (I didn’t even know about heterosexual sex and here I was learning about male on male action!) After this informative and somewhat shocking education, I had to recite my finished speech in front of my teacher and headmistress so they could deem it appropriate before I was allowed to give it in front of my class. To both their credit they didn’t censor me at all, in fact they were both really encouraging.

I have often wondered if, because of this encouragement and my aunt’s thorough explanation, that is why I never got caught up in the controversy of HIV/AIDS, because haters were all around me, remember this was in the 80s when there was very little known about it, no cure in sight, very little funding provided by governments around the world to find a cure yet millions of people dying – which combined created widespread ignorance. I remember this one DJ on the radio who without fail whenever he played a WHAM song would follow up with ‘and that was by We Help AIDS Multiply,’ wonder how his life turned out, karma’s a bitch.

To this day that speech I gave is the one I am most proud of and I have given a fair few in my time. In hindsight knowing how much intolerance there has been and still is with HIV/AIDS, I am proud that I stood up against the haters. Because of Eve I would continue to be an advocate for the AIDS cause, and I still am.

♥♥♥

Then there was my Adam. Still feels wrong to use the past tense in regards to him. To know him was to know a very present person, his being filled every room he walked into. Adam and I met in our teens and we bonded over our love for Madonna, Basquiat, Keith Haring and Mapplethorpe. We would talk for hours about taking a trip together to New York to see the works of our favourite artists and watch Madonna perform at Madison Square Garden and we spent many a Friday night dancing away at Wellington staple Alfie’s. Our friendship grew distant when he moved to London to do his OE but we kept in touch via the odd letter – well letters from me. I think in the whole time he was away I got maybe three postcards from him. Then after four years away, he slipped quietly back to New Zealand and settled down to suburban life with his boyfriend. I caught up with him a few times but I had moved on in my life so our catch ups got rarer and rarer until they stopped.

About a year after having had no contact I bumped into his mother and I asked after Adam. She looked at me with such sadness that I felt a pang in my heart. She went on to tell me he was unwell and that he would love to hear from me. I can’t remember why but I didn’t make contact with him for another three months. When I did, he invited me over to his house and I remembering thinking it odd because we had never been to each other’s homes before, but the reason for the home invite became plainly obvious the second I stepped into his bedroom.

My friend Adam was a beautiful boy, he had modelled briefly in Europe that’s how beautiful he was on the outside and on the inside his soul was equally beautiful, he had such natural charm and gentleness. I think I was always a little in love with him. This was the Adam in my mind as I walked through his house not the man I saw lying in bed, so altered by illness, so frail I thought he would break when I hugged him, I was so shocked my grief caused my body to convulse. After many tears I learnt he was dying of AIDS. It remains one of the most surreal moments of my life. That night I slept beside him holding his brittle hand. I remember I kept waking up through the night to check if he was still breathing. He died less than three weeks later.

♥♥♥

I was twelve years old when I first heard of Eve’s plight and illness, through her I learnt social responsibility. I was in my twenties when my Adam died of AIDS and he is missed every day (every time I go to New York, it isn’t the same without him). For Eve and for Adam and for the others who are no longer with us and for those who continue to live in different stages of this disease I continue to be a wearer of the red ribbon and an activist for an AIDS free generation. #WorldAIDSDay #GlobalCitizen #WeCanBeatThis

Sat Nam