The beautiful eulogy given by Beverly Edgington at Deb’s Funeral on 10 June, 2015, inspired by the words of remembrance of her friends, family and acquaintances, seems a fitting way to conclude the ‘Not Quite Ripley’ blog:
Daughter, Sister, Aunty, God-Mother, Fairy God-Mother, Deborah, Debbie, Our Deb, Yumpy, Deb Deb, Princess Deborah of Kentish Town, Best Friend, Dolly 61, Dilly Dolly Daydream, Ripley or just plain Dolly. So many names for just one person. But for a person whose love of words created a bond with so many people, how fitting that a plethora of descriptions were required.
I am sure that it will come as no great surprise that Dolly (excuse me if I use my own term of endearment) Dolly and I met in a cocktail bar. It wasn’t any old cocktail bar, but again that should come as no great surprise either. We met in St Lucia on what was the first night of my holiday and about the 4th of hers. Dolly had an ear infection and thought she was speaking very loudly when in fact she spent the night whispering. I couldn’t hear her and she couldn’t hear me! And from that a great friendship was born! We laughed at each others jokes despite not having a clue what the other was saying and each time she whispered something I just nodded, each assuming we had said something along the lines of “do we need another cocktail?” and the rest, as they say, is History. We are the epitome of the Holiday Romance that worked. Dolly, a girl about town from North London, frequenting Selfridges and Harvey Nichols as often as I, the stay at home Mummy from Essex, frequented Tesco and Mothercare – it shouldn’t have worked but it did. And for that I will be eternally grateful.
I am acutely aware that I could stand here for far too long describing my relationship with Debbie. About the fun and games that we have had along the way. About the places that we have visited, the bars we have drunk in and the bar stools we have fallen off. The cocktails we have sampled, the champagne corks we have popped, the wine ‘flu we’ve suffered from and of course the shopping SHE has done. But is that me or all of us? I could equally stand here and tell you about the quiet times, the whispered conversations about hopes, dreams and more recently fears. The fairy stories she has read to our children and the desire that each and everyone of them pursue their dreams. The words of encouragement that she has said to me and I to her. But is that me or all of us? Despite a distance of 5000 miles between us we were closer than ever in the last 12 months. I was blessed to have been able to be “entertain” Debbie in my new home and the island adopted her as if she were one of their own. Equally I was so happy to be able to spend time with Dolly in her very own Little Yellow House. As I have already said, it shouldn’t have worked but it really, really did. Even as close as the last Christmas we spent together, unbeknown to any of us we all purchased Forever friend bracelets for each of us to wear. I tried, when I received the call, to get back but you don’t realise how far 5000 miles is until you can’t just magic up a Dr. Who teleporter, or the Mother Ship. I will never be able to thank Andy and Nicki enough for placing my bracelet in Dolly’s hand so that she knew that I, and all us, were there with her. Andy, you have those bracelets now and guess what – you are stuck with us!! Another of Debbie’s legacies!
This is not just about Debbie and I. It is about Debbie and her relationship with each and every one of us here today, or those of who are here in mind and spirit. So I have “borrowed” (fear not, no plagiarism) words that the family, Nicki and I have received over the last dreadful week. Words of encouragement, words of support. Words of remembrance and words that others have used to describe their relationships with Debbie and the effect she has had on their lives. One of the most stand out lines that made Nicki and I turned to each and smile was the one-line prayer “Let me not die while I am still alive”
Debbie above all else you were an awesome and inspirational lady to so many. Everyone who met you wanted to know you more. You spurred me on to writing sillier and sillier things. “With a John Belushi look to the camera and a bashful but blatant wink”. A delightful lady, a scandalous heroine, generous and caring and naughty to the very end. A mischievous sense of humour combined with inspirational courage. An incredible combination of things, topped up with champagne and bottomed out with only the very cutest heels. Easy glamour but without even a touch of frost – instead a bubbly, giggly, warm, glowing girlish delight. Gorgeous, generous, inspiring, intelligent, beautiful and of course witty. A woman with a beautiful spirit and wonderful smile. Debbie inspired trust but also gave people a reason to believe in themselves and re-find their self-respect. Knowing Debbie makes someone a better person, she inspired confidence and self-confidence. But Debbie was the type of person that you couldn’t just “know”. Her merest presence lifted people’s spirits, challenged and then made them snort with laughter. She was a force of nature. She made you think how small and precious life really is. How you can be grounded just as you take off. She leaves us knowing we have benefited from knowing her. Debbie loved beautiful things and thought that the Rothkos at the Tate belonged to her so how fitting that some of those who cannot join us today are in fact meeting in front of the Rothkos.
Whether in person, or on-line. Whether quiet conversations or a short text. Whether a witty repartee using only 140 characters or a thought provoking blog, Debbie has left an amazing legacy behind through her eloquent and elegant use of the English language. Debbie would be “chuffed to pieces” that her blog has been read by nearly one thousand people in 39 countries in the last week alone. That the hashtag Dolly61 trended for a while and that Clare Balding tweeted a message of condolence.
The last time I was with Debbie it was her birthday. I hugged her tight and said “See You Soon” and I meant it.
Rest in Peace in the knowledge you are the recipient of all the love that we possess. Rest in Joy.
Raise a glass of vintage champagne to the greatest cocktail party ever to be known with each and every star of bygone ages vying to get the attention of the brightest star we all had the pleasure of knowing.
Whisper “Be Good Sweetheart” and listen closely for the response which will be a cheeky “I’ll try”.
More than Chips.
This is Ripley, signing off.