Saturday 31 December 2016


Dear Aunt Alice,

Somewhere, in other worldly places, you must surely know that I have inherited your perfect signet ring. Initials AJ carved in pretty curving script. I have been wearing your ring from the moment I received it from your niece Mary, because she thinks I am an aunt worthy enough to be in your mould. I thought of taking it off before a jaunt into London to keep it safe, but decided I wanted to take you with me since I suspect the last time you tripped around London as a young woman was, perhaps, a hundred years ago.

Liverpool Station was freezing cold, but once we were in London proper - Oxford Street proper - I warmed up. No snow to offer you this Christmas, but the lights! An assortment of charities paid towards these giant leaping angel figures. Beautiful for the crush of humans below to behold.

Shopping commenced. I'm not sure you would have approved of my purchases, but they were safe enough - a cosy camel turtle neck sweater, a leather bag and a pair of sunglasses. All on sale! Mind you, the prices, even on sale, would probably shock you. To ease the shock, my sister Angelina ordered cronuts and hot chocolate from a famous bakery called Dominique Ansel. Now this would have impressed you - a marshmallow cut like a crown was dropped into steaming hot chocolate, instantly blooming into a flower...

Later, on Great Marlborough Street, we stood outside Liberty and admired the Tudor Revival frontage. Did you know the timber was built from the ship HMS Hindustan? Or that in 1885, Liberty brought forty two villagers from India to stage a living village of Indian artisans? These handy facts are available from an extraordinary web of information us global villagers dive in and out of 'online'. I wonder what you would have made of Wikipedia? Here is something Wikipedia doesn't know: my father had three of his watercolours exhibited and sold by Liberty in the 1970s. Wikipedia you may have been on the fence about, but my father you would have loved.

I did feel a trifle faint in Liberty - so many people! - so was glad first to plop onto an inviting bed in Anthropologie, and then to mesh our way from Carnaby and Kingly Streets towards a Japanese restaurant, which also served my favourite Korean dishes, and to my delight, a delicious plum wine. For a nineteenth century Englishwoman, I suspect your gastronomic tastes possibly didn't stretch to the Orient, but maybe Mary will surprise me and tell me you loved experimenting with the new!

I got muttered at by a stranger for temporarily blocking the entrance to the tube - did I mention this was the day of the human crush? At these moments I am very much the hokey local from a tiny Cambridge village. By the time our train was hurrying us home, we were shattered and ready to slide, submerge and otherwise disappear into sleep. I hope you enjoyed the day out. Today is the last day of the year 2016. Soon 2017 will be upon us. 2016 has been a truly difficult year, for most of us, not least your beloved Mary. If you possess any magic, wield away. We need some magic. I can only be sure of one thing in the new year - I will continue to be the most loving and creative aunt it is possible to be. Keep your spirit beside me!

With love,
Your new friend-in-auntyhood across the century,

Photos courtesy Debra Edward


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Sigh. I loved making this jaunt with you. LOVE the giant angels, how shimmery-beautiful. Loved the whole post. Bless you, Shaista. May 2017 bring you much magic, and only good things.

Shaista said...

Thank you Charles, that is so kind of you to say! It was such a beautiful day...

Shaista said...

Oh Sherry if only your wishes were instantly transformed into realities - but maybe in some slow way they are - I always feel your good wishes willed for me, beside me xxx

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