Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Can you be scared of a number? I am!

Through my life, I have had a number of women who have caught my imagination with such force that I would go so far as to say they have both influenced and inspired me.

Diana, Princess of Wales
On the 29th July 1981, a six year old girl sat glued to the television and watched as the Prince of Wales married his princess.  Complete with replica hairstyle and union jack flag, I watched every second of that day….and must have watched it 100 times afterwards thanks to the miracles of VHS!

I grew up with Diana – she represented my ideal in childhood – a real life princess – and as I grew older, I came to empathise with her struggles and her wish to make a positive difference to those in need.

I was 22 when she passed away in August 1997, and the event hit me hard.  I travelled to the funeral route to watch her final journey to Althorp House.  I went to Kensington Palace the next day and placed my flowers amongst the sea of blooms and balloons that had built up in the week since she had died.  And for several years I made a trip to Althorp House to pay my respects as near as I could to the anniversary of her passing.

At the time that she died, Diana was 36 years old.

Marilyn - Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend
At the age of 11, I found myself sat in front of the TV on a winters afternoon watching Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which for those of you who aren’t familiar with 1950′s hollywood output, is a musical starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.

Ninety minutes and several belting tunes later and I was hooked.  My bedroom walls were soon to be swallowed up with posters of Marilyn, and my VHS collection grew with every accumulation of pocket money as I slowly purchased every film of hers on release at the time.

I loved her glamour, her innocence and her mysterious quality.  She was almost ethereal to me – like an angel.
Marilyn passed away in August 1962 at the age of 36.

In recent years, I have begun to indulge a childhood passion for history and have read so many books on the Tudor period, and most especially the life of Henry VIII.  He captured my imagination as a child and he remains fascinating to me even now!  What I never foresaw when I embarked on my historical literary journey, was that I would learn so much about, and become fiercely protective of the memory of Ann Boleyn.

Ann was Henry’s second wife, and famously the one for whom he broke away from the Catholic church, dissolved the monasteries and eventually beheaded, when he tired of her.

Ann - The second Mrs Henry Tudor
As part of the case against her, tales of adultery, incest and witchcraft were invented by Henry’s court and she was beheaded in May 1536 after a hugely biased trial in which she never stood a chance.  In her final speech, she asked that God and the people of England should forgive Henry and to offer him their support throughout his reign.  She died a dignified death at the hand of a swordsman brought in from France by Henry to ensure that her head came off in one stroke – worth noting that to have made the journey, said executioner would have had to have set off from France even before Ann had been arrested.

Few traces of her remain in record or picture as she was systematically erased from public memory by Henry’s supporters.

Ann Boleyn is estimated to have been born in 1500 – she was 36 when she passed away.

So we have three women who have influenced and intrigued me throughout my life, and all passed at the age of 36.

As a child of 11, learning about Marilyn’s demise at 36 struck me as being reasonable because 36 was “so old”.  When Diana passed in 1997, I was only 22 and again, 36 felt like it was a forever away.

I am now 35 years old and suddenly 36 is frighteningly close.  Suddenly I can see how impossibly young 36 is.  How much life there is left to experience.

So for Ann, Marilyn and Diana – Thank you for the excitement, the glamour, the mystery, the admiration, the inspiration and the magic. 

And as for me……I look forward to my next birthday.  I am just undecided as to whether I will remain 35 or skip to 37.

1 comment:

Panda said...

very good post!! these women area amazing. I remember when Diana passed, so sad. even still.

that last part made me chuckle.
Hope your day is a great one!

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