Sunday, November 07, 2010

A confession from Felipe González, a quiet week, remember remember the 5th of December, an air crash in Cuba and remembering Aunty Gloria. A Papal visit, a Bahai wedding and a dog that adopted a piglet.

Aunty Gloria, my wonderful Aunt who died so tragically in an air crash with all her family in 1971

Hello again

I am writing to you this sunny Sunday morning in November after reading the papers and being astonished by the confession made my Felipe González in an interview with El País. He was the charismatic longest serving Prime Minister of Spain from 1982 to 1996. In the interview he admitted he had the opportunity once to blow up the ETA terrorist leaders. He said he didn’t do it in the end but is still not sure his decision was correct. I wonder too as they are still one of Spain’s major problems. It is a suspected fact that the German government did blow up the leaders of their terrorist group, Baader Meinhof, and I am sure Felipe González had that in mind when he was faced with the decision.

Felipe González, Spain's longest serving Prime Minister

The week as you can see in this week’s headline has been very quiet, a bit too quiet for my liking. It has been a bit uphill in many ways probably because of a lack of anything much to do. Plus the Dukan diet I am following is proving difficult. Finally though today the efforts of this week have paid off and I have now lost a total of 7 kilos. You need an awful lot of discipline and above all an iron will power to succeed with this diet. It’s no easy task I can tell you.

The excitement of the week came with an invitation to Oslo in mid December for a Communications Team Meeting. I haven’t been there since I was a teenager on inter rail and I don’t remember much. I am hoping Eladio can join me and we can spend an extra couple of days together. It will be cold but Christmassy and I much look forward to it.

Some Christmas excitement came too with the delivery of my latest Marks and Spencer online order of 6 boxes of 12 crackers each as well as wrapping paper and present labels. Good old Marks and Sparks, that’s probably one of the main things I miss from not living in the UK. I am not so happy though with Recently they announced free delivery to Spain for orders over 25 pounds and promised deliveries would take from 3-7 working days. I immediately took advantage and ordered 6 books (including the Dukan diet book) on 16th October. I have been waiting for them eagerly only to see yesterday on the site that they haven’t even been despatched yet. Rather disappointed I tried to find a number to call them. It’s well hidden on their site but then only works for UK customers. Further agitated I tried leaving comments on their FB and Twitter sites to complain but there has been no reaction yet. Obviously their customer care service is very lacking and I for the moment am a disappointed customer.

More excitement came from my visit to the dentist but this time the excitement was not pleasant. Dr. Garralda extracted two roots from my mouth where eventually he will be putting in two implants. The timing was not good either as it was just before lunch on Thursday meaning I could only have cold liquid food for lunch and dinner! But thanks to gazpacho and yoghurt I survived. Luckily I am responding well and was able to have lunch out with the girls on Friday when we went to De María in Majadahonda and I was able to get one side of my teeth into a nice piece of steak with salad.

Actually Friday was the most important day of this week. In the first place it was 5th November, the traditional English Guy Fawkes day, something I also miss from not living in England and something I haven’t celebrated since I was a child. My friend Kathy reported on FB that they had baked potatoes with melted butter, steeped peas, sticky sausages, pork pies with mint sauce, I imagine with fireworks in the garden. I would have loved to have been there as I have fond memories of Bonfire night, as it also called, when I was a child in Bradford. In those days we didn’t celebrate Halloween, just Mischief Night on the 4th November (the night Guy Fawkes was caught implementing his plot to blow up the British Parliament) but the big celebration was on the 5th. I love the rhyme which I have never forgotten and which goes like this: “Remember remember the 5th November, gun powder, treason and plot, I see no reason why gun powder, treason should ever be forgot”.

Bonfire Night in England, a tradition I sorely miss

Funnily enough this year, the Indian Diwali festival (5 day festival of lights) was on the same day as Guy Fawkes and I thought of our Indian friends Sandeep and Sumit. Last year the girls were in India, staying at their home town of Chandigarh and were able to experience this amazing festival first hand. This year my friend and colleague, Belén and her partner are there right now and will also have witnessed it first hand. Great thanks go to Sumit for accepting to be their reference point when they visit Mumbai where he works as a script writer for Bollywood films.

The Diwali Festival of light was on the same day as Guy Fawkes day this year.

On Friday there was a terrible air crash in Cuba killing all 68 people on board. It was flying from Santiago de Cuba to Havana and 28 of the passengers were foreigners, probably tourists, including one Spaniard.

Every time I read or hear about an air crash I remember our own personal tragedy. I think I have only written about it once so now is the time to record it properly. On 23rd May 1971, my own family, Aunty Gloria, my Father’s only sister, her husband Uncle Derek and their children, my cousins, Jackqueline (aged 12), Michael (aged 9) and Anthony Orchard (aged 7) perished whilst landing in former Yugoslavia, in Rijeka (Croatia) on a Russian Tupolev aircraft having flown out from Gatwick airport. It was a terrible tragedy, a whole family gone in one sweep. We heard the news on the television. We knew they were going there on holiday, their first trip abroad together but we didn’t know when. Of course my Father rang them but got no answer. The next morning, I heard later, my Father received a phone call with the terrible news. My mother told me later that when he put the phone down he said: “now I only have you left”. My grandmother had just died a few months before and ironically Aunty Gloria and her family were actually able to go on holiday because they no longer had to look after her and probably because they had inherited some money.

They chose Yugoslavia, or rather the Island of Krk, because that is where they fell in love. As the papers reported, cuttings of which my Father gave to me only very recently, “Derek Orchard met and fell in love with his wife Gloria, 14 years ago, on the sunny island of Krk. They died taking their three children on a “second honeymoon” to see “daddy and mummy’s island”.

My cousins were amongst the many children who died in the aircrash, Jacqueline, Michael and Anthony Orchard.

With their death my Father had lost his whole family. First he lost his fun loving and mechanically able younger brother Raymond who died of polio when he was just 15 in the 30's.  He lost his equally fun loving and charismatic Father, my grandfather, an English canon, John Lloyd, who died of a stroke after a fall on his walk when he was only in his early 70’s. Then after his Mother, Dorothy Gertrude Lloyd, died in 1970 in her 70’s too he was to be met one more terrible blow with the death of his adored sister Gloria and her family in that terrible air crash in Yugoslavia 37 years ago.

My Father's brother Raymond just before he died aged 16 of polio in the 30s. 

I dearly loved Aunty Gloria and my cousins. They were our closest family and we would spend every Christmas with them in Ickenham where they lived. We would go on lovely outings together to places such as Burnham Beeches, Windsor or to the city of London. In the evenings we would have English tea with jam sandwiches in their very English dining room and later we would play monopoly. I always remember their address: 18 Ivy House Road. We would travel to London, to Kings Cross by train from Bradford and then take the metropolitan tube line to Ickenham. From Ickenham station it was a short walk and you could see Ivy House Road from a distance as you walked towards their house. I will never forget how we all (my Father, my Mother and my brother George) took that journey for the last time, to their funeral and how walking up the road, somewhere in my mind I hoped they would still be at their home in Ivy House Road but they weren’t.

I will never forget either the funeral at St. Giles Church in Ickenham. The place was absolutely packed and I could hardly find a seat. I know I must have cried all the way through. Aunty Gloria and her family were very active members of that church and it was a big part of their social life. They were to be missed of course but also their death was a big event in the life of the small town of Ickenham in Middlesex, just outside London.

St. Giles church in Ickenham where Aunty Gloria and her family are buried

After the funeral we went into the empty house and I walked upstairs to Jackqueline’s bedroom, my closest cousin. I was 14 when she died and she was just 12 and it felt so unfair that she would never live her life through as I thought I would. I saw her hairbrush and took some hair from it which I kept in a locket around my neck for many years. I know that my Father stayed on in the house on his own for many hours that night and it must have been terrible.

I went back once to visit their grave.  It was in May 2001 when I was in London for my own brother George's funeral.  I remember searching all over the St. Gile's churchyard together with Eladio desperate to find the little plaque which had been overgrown with moss.  Finally I found it and bent down to look.  At the time I did not remember the exact date they had died.  I looked and saw 23rd May 1971.  The day I looked was 23rd May 2001, exactly 30 years ago to the day.  It was very uncanny.

In amongst the file of letters and newspaper cuttings, I found the last letter Aunty Gloria ever wrote to my Father, one I will keep forever. Here is last side of it where you can read how they were frantically preparing for that fatal trip to Yugoslavia. I carry them in my heart and have missed them over the years, missed my cousins growing up with me and wondering what they would have done in life if they had lived. But most of all I miss my wonderful Aunty Gloria who I looked up to so much when I was a teenager. She was small and of slender stature, dark haired and a very no nonsense sort of person. She was very active, had a sense of fun and was very practical. She played the piano, played tennis and was in the ATS (The Auxiliary Territorial Service)  in the Second World War where she was a chauffeur to high up military staff. She had the sort of family values which seem to be dying out these days and above all I loved her and wish I had known her better. This is my tribute to her. The Cuban air crash brought back the very vivid memories of this tragedy, one I will and cannot ever forget.

Aunty Gloria's last letter to my Father before she met her tragic death with her family in Yugoslavia in 1971

Aunty Gloria, a practicing member of the Church of England, would not have been very interested to know that Pope Benedict XVI was visiting Spain this weekend. He landed in Santiago de Compostela yesterday and today is in Barcelona. I myself feel a little indifferent to his visit. I find the man very uncharismatic compared to  Pope John II but also cannot relate to the Catholic Church in a positive way after the issue of child abuse at the hands of poedophile clergy in Ireland and other countries and which has still not been resolved properly. I find the paraphernalia around his visit rather disturbing, the huge security needed and of course the cost involved somewhat indecent in these unstable financial times. I read somewhere that people who lived around the cathedrals he will be visiting had to have passes to go into their own homes, something I find quite unacceptable. Other people, of course will be delighted, which I fully respect.

The Pope in Spain today consecrating Gaudi's Sagrada Family unfinished cathedral

And from the Papal visit, the next topic of my blog reports on a Bahá’i wedding that took place yesterday. Olivia’s close school friend Miad, of Iranian origin, got married yesterday and Olivia was invited. In fact she was also invited to read this lovely Bahá’i marriage prayer which I helped her to practice before leaving. The marriage took place at an estate in Aranjuez in the south of Madrid. Not really knowing what a Bahá’i wedding is like, I looked it up on internet and was surprised to read that it is very simple. There are only 3 things to be respected and everything else is up to the bride and groom’s imagination. These are 1) permission from the parents to marry, 2) a short vow: "We will all, verily, abide by the will of God.", 3) this vow must be taken in front of two witnesses. I was happy to read too that Bahá’i marriages are founded on the equality of women and men. During the wedding yesterday, Miad’s father, who is a violinist in the RTVE symphony orchestra, played some lovely pieces, accompanied by a piano including one of my favourite Russian songs, “black eyes”. Otherwise the wedding was not very different from other weddings. Olivia did remark though that there was no alcohol, something the Bahá’is do not drink. Gosh, imagine a wedding without “booze”.

Oli and Begoña with Miad (in purple) in Israel last year.  It was Miad's wedding yesterday

Whilst Oli was getting ready to go the wedding yesterday, Suzy was packing to go to Lisbon with her boyfriend. They will be there until Tuesday which is a holiday in Madrid, to honour the Patron Saint, “La Almudena”. I love Lisbon and haven’t been for many years. Maybe that could be one of our next weekend break destinations. Who knows?

I am now at the end of this week’s post. So before I end, let me include a piece of news I found very amusing and also rather tender this week. It was reported on Spanish television and the BBC picked it up too. In Extremadura, in the west of the country where most of the good Spanish ham comes from, there was a story about a piglet called Bingo who must have lost its mother to the slaughter house. Amazingly it was adopted by the farm dog Diana, and joined its litter of puppies. You can see the incredibly video here. I couldn’t find any photos anywhere, so took a shot from the video to illustrate this part of my blog. Fascinating and cute don’t you think? Well certainly it is unusual.

The Spanish farm dog Diana who adopted an orphan piglet in Extramdura this week

Well that’s it for this week folks. Hope you have enjoyed the post.

All the best till next week



Laura said...

Masha it's Laura from NYC. I just read your family story and wanted to tell you it is so touching. I'm amazed by your life, it's like you could write a novel. Now I understand why you are so special!!


Masha Lloyd said...

Thanks Laura. It's true it's full of some amazing things. One day I will write that book and you will read it. Más besos Masha

Anonymous said...

Masha, I found your site whilst looking for some info on the Krk aircrash as my husband's 17 yr old sister was killed on that plane along with the entire family of the friend she went with. I don't know what to say other than the tragedy has never left. At age 18 he had to go out there and make arrangements with an older sister to bring her home. I never knew her but we hope one day to go out and find the memorial to those who died. It was strange reading about it in your blog.

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