I have always had a passion for lilies, not your flimsy pastel or obscenely coloured varieties with long stamen and masses of pollen, but, your average white trumpet Arum lily, one that is usually described as the “death or peace lily”, and often features a top many a coffin whilst the deceased lies cold and breathless beneath. These lilies are hardy critters and can be found in pots at many a nursery, in hedgerows, gardens, clifftops and by the sides of ponds, streams and rivers.
Ten years ago, almost to this day, (February 2006) I said goodbye to my beautiful home, this was due to a culmination of my serious bad management and ill health, HM Inspector of Taxes took me to Court for the princely sum of just over £3000, fortunately I had a ridiculous amount of equity in my property, but unable to raise the actual cash, sadly, Mr Inland Revenue would not accept a payment plan due to my health status, and after numerous amounts of correspondence I was dragged up in front of our local Judge, this rather large lady, with carrot red hair and beautifully manicured emerald green nails beckoned me into her chamber, armed with a bad cold and a walking stick we entered into what appeared to be a somewhat informal soiree, six of us, including my mate.
The Building Society representatives and HM collector of Taxes were already grouped around an extremely large conference table that was so big, that if we had not of held on we would surely have gone around like planets in orbit, this woman of great presence sat behind her bench and glowered down at us whilst she surveyed her territory and scrutenized her prey present, I was looking at the way she put fear into almost everyone there, however, it did not bother, worry or intimidate me as I had already been up in front of her many times before, I knew she was revered, and bore the label of “Tyrant” but, she had been extremely kind to me at a hearing regarding parental access to my daughter Sophie, many years previous whilst I navigated the tumultuous “ocean of divorce”, so ….
I remained calm and politely addressed her as “My Lady”, whilst lots of correspondence was shuffled about and much striking out of paper with a fountain pen, I sat and kept quiet, only nodding when prompted, (every time the carrot stared at me over half rimmed glasses, I said yes) and approximately after forty five minutes of deliberation, much much cogitation and mutual agreement, she eventually handed down my *sentence* ………. …….. I hobbled out of the court, rather relieved that it was all over, but also concerned as to where the next step on my journey in life was heading. I had in no other terms unilaterally made myself homeless, the opinion was to auction the property and Uncle Fester would eventually have his money and I would be able to start afresh, it was, as she quoted “the most sensible and principled thing to do”, also “My Lady” & her associates were going to oversee all paperwork on my behalf as I was in no state to do so whilst recovering from the recent stroke I had been dealt.
Immediately I had to go and break the news to my Father, it could not have been a worse time, as my Mum had only passed away the previous October, he *had had * a Ten Thousand pound stake in the now *not* my property, to say he was livid was an understatement, I think he was more upset that I had not gone to him for the cash to actually pay the bill, but he eventually realised this was something I had had to do for myself, and with Chris my best friend, the Courts guidance, and a third party liason officer I would not be without a home or a roof above my head. ….. So, I hear you ask, what has this to do with lilies? … Finally!
Just a few days before I had to eventually sign my home over, the actual reality was setting in, it was like hitting a brick wall head on, trying to find a place to live was proving difficult, again, fortunately by word of mouth, I was given a lead, I went to look at this property for lease, a one bedroom flat, immaculately presented, even the gloss on the skirting boards was still wet, the Victorian detached building stood high on a cliff top, this the whole ground floor over looked the bay, across to Paignton and Torquay and the Jurrassic Coast beyond, the strange thing that struck me, was that the view was almost picture perfect to a painting I had bought the previous summer.
Strangely enough, I could not understand why for the life of me, that before he would or could magically produce this amount of money out of thin air, he had to see the house in question. (get on with it !), whilst sipping coffee, pleading my case quite pathetically and begging for the cash in a cafe, I noticed a printed picture on a postcard rack, only a small 5×7 inch picture, simply entitled “Lilies”, this was a sign, surely.
Even Russell Grant with his infinite wisdom could not have predicted this term of events, so, early, on the morning of 27th February 2006, with the help of my dear friends, two rather excited puppies and a Ford Fusion *we* moved into Rockleigh. Today, almost ten years later, the view is grey, but definitely something of beauty.
As for the small print of the lilies, I actually found the artist, and like Victor Kyam, “I liked it so much” I bought the original.