Edith, Eva, Stanley Baker and Me

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Edith was all corduroy and whispers, a girl who tended to flirt with the tip of the odd cigarette and look daringly into the eyes of anyone who chanced to look back. She was a charmer, afforded the dreams and time which youth lends sparingly, but takes away with crow’s-feet. Edith lived with a mysterious fellow, of whom I knew little, only that two plain clothes police officers used to stand around his gate and they certainly were not there for her.

I was with him once when he smashed up a harpsichord, “The damn thing just made me feel like I was drowning in the sound of tin rain drops striking stained glass,” I remember him yelling.

Edith loved him though, amid every sensibility that the creaky age-old word had been welded together to mean. For him, Edith was company.

She used to read books about Eleanor of Aquitaine and dream about Kay Kendall, two women whose example she used to fend off the dashing but destructive blues with which she had been born. Yet Edith spent each Wednesday evening with Stanley Baker, who would sit at the foot of her stairs, holding a mirror to that aging face, while whispering “I’m still looking for something, in everybody’s eyes.”

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