When I was young I always remember my mum singing to herself as she pottered around the house, either doing the housework or whilst in the kitchen conjuring up some exotic dish. Dad however, was always happy for a plateful of pasta; but even the simple pasta dish was always prepared with flair. Mum, like most people, learnt to cook from her own mother who was not only a great cook but an accomplished pianist. I’m getting sidetracked – sorry! Getting back to my mum. As I mentioned in my previous blog “My Creativity” mum, Viviane Elisabeth Borg (née Fleri) , is 87 years of age and has failing eyesight due to macular degeneration; but apart from that – touch wood – she is reasonably healthy for a woman of her age. Mum was always a keen reader, an artist (watercolours and oils), a poet and an author. She loved doing crosswords, playing cards – mostly Bridge, and no matter how much I tried to beat her at scrabble she would always thrash me into submission.
Mum was born in Alexandria Egypt in January 1925; British of Maltese descent she had a totally Italian upbringing and received an extensive French education at the French Lycée. Being a great lover of poetry and literature she aspired at becoming a writer. Her studies were cut short as World War II erupted over Europe. At the age of 18 she was called up to join the military forces and gave her services working at the British Admiralty in Alexandria, where she met my dad, and they were married in 1946. In 1952 my dad obtained a managerial position at a shipping agency at the small town of Port Said where we moved to. We lived there happily until political disruptions between the Egyptian government and Anglo-French interests in the Suez Canal Zone resulted in military intervention. The result of the week-long conflict in 1956, which became known in history as the Suez Crisis, forced the evacuation of all European nationals out of Egypt.
When my parents set up our new home in London, they became a magnet for the rest of our family. Over the next few years since our arrival in 1957 my mum’s family was to join us. First to arrive was our mum’s elder sister with her family, then our grandparents, and soon after her elder brother with his family. Then one by one cousins and friends all came to live in London.
As time progressed however friends and family dispersed around the world and some left the world completely. In 1997 my mum wrote and self published a memoir entitled When the Wind Blows (ISBN: 978-0953681907) [Author name missplet by publishers]. Proceeds from the sale of the books were donated to Cancer Research in memory of her husband (my dad) Hubert who died of bowel cancer in 1989.
Today, mum lives in a flat which she shares with my elder sister in the south of France. I’m counting the days when I plan to visit them in September this year.
RLB – Tomewriter