Sunday 28 September 2014


I took late afternoon tea with Turner at the Tate (a story that requires its own post) after waving off my nieces at Heathrow. Their little feet looked ready for travels.

On a train out of London to Cambridge, you come upon countryside all of a sudden. You thought you would organise yourself, have a rummage around your bag, you had only just left the station. And then, midst scrabble, you see them. Horses, cows, sheep, living grazing beings. Constable territory. England. And you are glad you looked out of the window just then.

I have sheep days; weeks when all I seem to do is graze and low, and wonder why I was born human but act snail. Not so the last several days. In fact, I have been positively greyhoundish most of this summer and now, as autumn approaches with ever deepening hues, I really should not be surprised that I feel haunted with exhaustion. (There comes to mind, at this opportune moment, the memory of Turner's mask residing in a corner of the exhibition, cast immediately after his death... a grisly idea).

But just as I was getting ready to fade away and succumb to the inevitable horrors, I had a visitor. The first part of her Chinese name refers to that particular shade of brilliant light that comes with sun and moon meeting. And then, at the moment of their embrace, peace. Ming-an. She, of the famous Brantingham-Hayes-Cattell lineage from Taiwan, Ohio and Brantingham, England, the original ancestral seat.

Jeanne, of the many names and connecting threads, has just brought her wonderful business venture, Bunnies By The Bay, to English shores for generations of babies and children to fall in love with. Xiao Bao (Little One of Her Tribe), is the sort of person who sat beside the late great Dr Maya Angelou at a dinner given in both their honours - and captivated Maya with her storytelling gifts - and didn't Ming savour telling me that particular tale! I made her tell it twice. Jeanne, who offered to help my mother in any way she possibly could when I was critically ill, although she had never met me - had only decided to love me because of my words on a blog. Jeanne, the artist at Wu Feng Road, who posted a parcel to me after I was released from hospital, so I could have her art on my walls...
And here she was, my first overnight guest, curled up on my sofa, engrossed in the first chapters of my novel. And her gift to me? A pen, bought in Saigon, with a dragonfly carved into its velvet skin. I placed her travelling journal of art, and paint pots, next to my poetry journal...

Some years ago, when I went on retreat to Plum Village, a monk gave me my official novice name, which translates from the Vietnamese to Radiant Joy.

Jeanne's Chinese name means Bright Peace.

Soul mates find each other. All it takes is a little time. And the length of a red thread.


The Blog of Bee said...

What a wonderful post. With one thing and another, I haven't been around much lately so have missed so much. I am trying to get myself together to be here more often. Jeanne sounds to be a wonder and you are both blessed to be in each other's lives.

Marcoantonio Arellano (Nene) said...

what a beautiful gift to each other. the pen is beautiful and given names and titles you referred, in translation, are all so wonderful.

have a wonderful and fulfilling day

gracias for sharing

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is such a lovely post - I have watched Jeanne's lovely comments to you over the years and your two names are extremely suitable. The word I always think of, when I think of you, is Radiant, for your spirit shines so brightly. I love the look of that journal of fantastic paintings - and cant believe Jeanne gets all that beauty from a regular little old paint pot.........Such a lovely visit you are having, my friend. Yay!

Anonymous said...

Hello! I've nominated you for a Liebster Blogger Award for your beautifully written blog. Thoroughly well deserved.

Click to leave a comment