year I visited Cambridge with Icha. She is a fan of Barbara and she also has
her own website about Barbara (http://riverandlakerealm.blogspot.nl/2017/) . On this website she has
also written about this visit.
I arrived in Cambridge on in the
morning, Icha was going to arrive late in the afternoon. To pass the time
I walked through the old city, looking for the place where the picture was
taken with Barbara and her family near Kings college. This location was easily
walked through the long and high corridors with old wooden or mosaic floors.
the classroom where Barbara followed her lessons was still there. This
classroom was empty except for a setup for lessons teaching pupils to draw
human figures. A cushion on the floor and a circle of chairs around it. I
suppose this is where Barbara did her nude studies. Icha and I had a long
conversation in this room.
continued our conversation sitting relaxed on the couch in the hall where
Barbara and I used to play badminton.
Talking like that with Icha took me
back to those days in the seventies. Where Barbara and I also stayed as long as
possible at school, in deserted rooms, talking all the time. Barbara didn’t
want to go home to work in the fish and chip shop. Staying at school for as
long as possible was an acceptable excuse to her mother for coming later to
From the CCAT building we walked to
Bridgacre, the place of our apartment.
here we walked to the centre of town, crossing Midsummer common, past the
We had a very late dinner at an Indian
restaurant. Around midnight I walked past a graveyard and heard coughing,
hawking and spitting noises coming from the graves, probably from people who
were sleeping there. At 1.30 am I finally got into bed.
I met Icha at the cemetery. We
got rid of the weeds, cleaned the grave stone, removed death and rotten flowers
and Icha placed two new flower bouquets, one for Barbara and one for her
mother. She placed one rose on the gravestone next to Barbara. The woman buried
there never has any visitors and no-one was taking care of her grave.
By bus we went to Histon. We first
went to the house were Barbara lived after her mother moved from the fish and
chip shop. The neighbour was cleaning his car. He told us that he remembered
Barbara and her mother. He said that Barbara’s mother moved from this house
because “the walls where too thin”. The neighbour was very friendly and
talkative, we had a long conversation about all kinds of subjects. Following
his advice we knocked on the door at Barbara’s previous house. The present
occupant was also very friendly and found it no problem that Icha and I looked
around and took pictures. He was also liked to chat. We were pressing for
time now. I had an appointment with Andrew (Barbara’s godson) in the afternoon.
Pity, because these guys had very interesting stories to tell, especially about
We hurried to the fish and chip shop
at Station Road. The owner immediately recognized me and greeted us
enthusiastically. He even gave us free drinks. I had a small portion of cod and
chips, which was still too much and Icha went for the mushroom fried rice, this
portion was also too large for her.
and the back, the window between
the chimneys was Barbara's bedroom商店的后面，烟囱之间的窗户是巴巴拉的卧室。
Luckily the bus took us in time back
to the centre of Cambridge. Andrew was waiting for me in a pub at Regent
street. For more than 3,5 hours we talked. About the new gravestone that is
going to replace the present one, about the items he found so far, about places
where could be more information about Barbara and about the sketch book he had
found and brought with him.
We discussed the book I am writing and
the further areas of research that still have to be done. We divided to topics
of research between us and Sheila. There is still a lot to be done. He also
told me anecdotes about Barbara which I hadn’t heard before. With the promise
that we meet again next year we parted. I went to the Italian restaurant where
Icha was waiting for me. That afternoon she had done some shopping and been
back to the grave, placing there a few more flowering plants.
Icha and I met again at the graveyard.
After taking care of the flowers we took the bus to Trumpington, visiting the
house where my parents used to live. The present owner was sitting in garden.
When I told her that I once lived in this house, showing her some photos to
prove it, she invited us immediately in to come and have a look
Again we were pressed for time as Icha
had to catch the coach to London in the afternoon. Again this was
unfortunate as the owner was very talkative and certainly would have told us
interesting stories. She was a former librarian of the Cambridge university.
She invited us to come round again any time we want.
After saying goodbye to Icha at the
bus stop I took the bus to Di’s place. That is the place where Barbara’s
English friends meet every year. And as always, also this year everybody came.
We talked, drank and ate till the early hours in the morning. We are all
getting older now, needing reading glasses and some of us are already a
grandparent. For those who still have hair, it has turned grey. We all
agreed that the period in which Barbara was part of our group, was the best
period in our life. Living without responsibilities and obligations, no adult
guidance, lots of time, spontaneous actions without consequences and little
All of us stayed over in Di’s little
house. Sleeping on every spot that was available.
After a very late lunch nearly
everybody left. Just Di and me stayed behind. We spend the evening discussing
the book. We talked about the storyline, the themes and writing style. After
several hours of discussion, weighing alternatives and a few bottles of wine we
concluded “This book might work”.
My last day in England. Leaving Di,
visiting the grave again. Someone had placed some new roses, removed wilted
flowers and left a card and some money. The next stop were the botanical
gardens. A place of happy memories for me. Barbara tried to meet me there on
the Saturday afternoons. She would tell her family that she was going to the
gardens to draw some flowers and I be waiting there. We had our hidden places
where we undisturbed could cuddle, hug and kiss. It was lovely to see that
lovers still meet there. The gardens have changed, the romantic atmosphere
After buying some books at Waterstones
bookstore I walked to the Chinese restaurant Charlie Chan. This used to be the
Pagoda, the place where Barbara played Mah-jong. I was hoping to
speak to staff who still remembered that period. Unfortunately little help
there. One waiter knew Barbara’s mother but never seen Barbara and the other
waiter didn’t even know who Barbara was. It looks like I have to find the last
owner (or his sons) to help me out. I just hope he will have some pictures from
that period and can tell some stories.
I was very satisfied when I left
Cambridge going to Harwich where my boat departed for Holland. I received new
information about Barbara, had happy memories relived, there were positive
comments on my plans with the book and I met nice people. Next year again. I
wonder who will join me then.