When my friend Diane Foden arrived on the island five years ago it was the realisation of a dream that she had held for a long while. Ever since early holidays to Mallorca she had always wanted to live here. We met when she wrote to a magazine that I was working for: the email made me laugh out loud, more than once. She became a writer for the mag, and then another one, and we became friends. When the publications went to the wall, she started a blog www.twocrumbliesandacat.blogspot.com
Over the years she and her Significant Other (also known as Norman, also known as Stormin’ Norman to weather fans – never knowingly undersold, well if you don’t count that one time when he said it would be sunny and it wasn’t, but we can allow a little Michael Fish into all of our lives I believe) have become like family to me. Supporting us through some tough times with practical help and the occasional ‘I told you so’, and turning up for the happy ones: birthday parties, opening days, piano inaugurations. We have gratefully received donations of Tipsy Tart, Java Chocolate Cake and the world’s most amazing Piccalilli. She and S.O. are champion quizzers in ESRA and recently Di and I were judges for the International Schools’ debating competition. But perhaps the biggest passion in their lives, apart from each other and their family, is the London School of Samba and the Notting Hill Carnival.
All of this stuff is lovely, and they have had a wonderful time living in Soller, being renegade oldies and generally shocking people with their youth accompanied with grey hair (including absolute outrage when someone assumed they were card carrying Tories). They are interesting people, and now they are living in interesting times. Last year Di started to look a bit peaky, she wasn’t feeling well, something was wrong. After an operation, gory details apart, she was eventually diagnosed with cancer, and treatment began. Throughout all of this she has continued to write her blog, writing honestly about how she is feeling, losing her hair, and being driven mad by Enya piped into the hospital ward when she has to endure chemotherapy treatments. Ever the Scouser, she can find humour in the grimmest of stories.
When it became clear a few weeks ago that the treatment wasn’t working, they made a tough decision: to go back to the UK. Diane wants to be closer to her kids and grandkids, and they absolutely have to go to the Carnival this year as she is being honoured by the LSS and given a throne. She is also the first of twelve models to be photographed by Samantha Hemsley for A Celebration of Women 2012 Calendar in support of the fight against Cancer. She looks stunning in the photos. Di and Norm have also decided to get married (mainly pension related they claim, but I think there’s a sneaky bit of romance in there too), although where or when the wedding will be is entirely down to re-establishing UK residency and whether they snare the flat they want in Harwich.
We went up to Soller at the weekend to pick up excess piccalilli and make arrangements for their cat who is moving in with us, (Mitzi, is old, blind, shy and grumpy: La Gidg might have a job getting her to dress up in doll’s clothes). I didn’t want to say goodbye. Soon as the wedding date is announced, I’m there: it’s my turn to turn up for the party. Two fabulous crumblies heading home: Mallorca will be the poorer for losing you.
(first published Euro Weekly News May 19th 2011)