10 May 1948 – 14 September 1998
20 Durlston Road
London E5 8RR
28 December 2000
Dear Zoë and Joshua,
Your father asked me to write down my memories of Hazel for you both so that you would know how other people saw her. I hope that what I write will give you some idea of how much I liked your mother and what really good fun she was.
In the 1970s, I bought a house in London with your mum's sister, Pat. That's how I met your mum, through Pat. Pat and I had masses of work to do with that house, repairing and decorating. It took ages and ages. I can't actually remember the very first time that I met Hazel. I think it was about a year after we'd bought the house, so that would make it 1980. The place was in an awful mess: there was not one single room in the house that was completed. And into this mess came your mum!
Pat had the upstairs of the house as her flat and I had downstairs, so if your mum had wanted to be alone with her sister she could have been. But it was never like that. From the very beginning, I was always included. We ate our meals together and spent much time laughing. Having Hazel in the house was just fun -- she was enthusiastic, always laughing, and had masses of energy. I liked your future mum straight away -- she was one of the friendliest people I knew. She saw the state of the house was in and one day Pat and I came back from our respective work to find that she had simply decorated the upstairs front room. So thanks to Hazel (and remember your mum was on holiday here!) we finally had a place where we could sit down in comfort and be civilised. I'll always be grateful to her for that. I remember a number of really cheerful evenings in that room, laughing and drinking the odd bottle of wine together, Pat, Hazel, and myself.
It was on one of those evenings that she told me the spookiest tale, that still leaves me feeling strange, even now. I know you know all about it becuase your dad told me. I hadn't remembered the tale correctly and your dad put me straight on the details. What I do remember though is the icy and disturbed feeling I had as your mum told me the story of going to visit Gila's mother and showing her the photographs Hazel had taken of her holiday around Europe. When your mum related the discovery, by Gila's mother, of Gila in one of the photographs [in Italy], I remember that part of me didn't really want her to go on because I found it so very spooky. Another part of me wanted to hear everything, of course.
I remember Hazel working on the old London taxi that she bought. We travelled around a lot in that taxi, laughing when people tried to hail us and take a ride. Your mother was very adventurous, buying a taxi and advertising for someone to travel in it, for months with her. I know that she was very supportive of the person who went with her and that she was often left paying the bills. Hazel was generous. I don't think I would have been as adventurous or as kind as she was.
As I said, she always included me. On one of her visits here she brought me, amongst other things, a very attractive hand-painted egg cup from Spain. I have it still and it is lovely, but the cup was made for dinosaurs' eggs, not the standard egg of a British chicken! We shared lots of breakfast laughs together as I tried to find my egg (let alone eat it) in that egg cup. It is now used as a small vase.
That's how I remember your mother -- laughing. That's how I see her. I never saw her unhappy or miserable and I never heard her say anything unkind. I was introduced to some really interesting people through Hazel, and when she came to the house I always enjoyed the time spent with her. If I had to sum up Hazel, it would be to say that you, Josh and Zoë, had a mother who was warm-natured, generous, kind, clever and excellent company in being really good fun. They are wonderful qualities to inherit.
With my best wishes to both of you for the New Year and your futures,
Jas was a friend of Hazel’s.