Monday, December 17, 2007

once was nancy

Today is another sad anniversary.

Four years ago my oldest friend Snjeza died from pancreatic cancer only a few weeks after diagnosis.

She was one of those friends with whom it did not matter how often we caught up our paths forever travelled in the same direction.

Different paths granted, but parallel nonetheless. Some friends paths diverge so that at some point in time you lose sight of one another. But I could always glance across the road, so to speak, and catch sight of Snjeza.

We first met in Year 11 (5th form) at high school and immediately became great friends. She was Nancy back then, but soon reverted to her real name.

terry and snjeza 1976

terry and snjeza 1976

We had many laughs together.
Like the time she taught me some Croatian.

Apart from the usual ' are you...good morning' etc she also taught me a swag of expletives in that particularly juvenile way that one does when learning a new language. (C'mon - I bet every single one of you knows at least one foreign swear word - if not 20)

The first time I went to her home and met her mother I thought I would greet her in her native tongue.

Unfortunately I mixed up good morning with another popular reproduction-based profanity and effectively told her mother to 'F*** off'. In her own language.

As if this wasn't bad enough, a month or so later her mother had to spend the night in hospital for a minor test.

Eager to make up for my howling error at our first meeting I decided to accompany Snjeza, and by way of a conciliatory peace offering I took a large bunch of chrysanthemums.

When I walked into her hospital room, Snjeza'a father visibly paled with a look of shock on his face.

How was I to know chrysanthemums are Yugoslavian funeral flowers?

But Snjeza and I never really travelled much together. As this is a travel blog I will mention one of the few trips we did do back in 1982.

I had recently finished a Eurail trip around Europe and was at the tail end of my travels. Snjeza was just setting out on her own trip so we arranged to meet up in Yorkshire, England where some family members were living at the time.

We had a brief excursion to Ilkley where we clowned around on the moors ("Heathcliffe ... it's me Cathy ... come home now..") generally acting like 6 year olds.

It was wet and muddy on the moors and Snjeza found it particularly amusing that our English word 'bog' meant 'God' in her Croatian dialect.
("Watch out Snjeza - don't step on the God.")

But the biggest laugh I had was when she and I took a train up to Edinburgh. On the way, following the journey on our map, I managed to convince her that the border between Scotland and England would be clearly visible from the train.

"You see Snej - what they have done is to cut all the hedges, dig the fields and build stone walls along the border so it resembles a huge dotted line right across the country. That way people will know when they have crossed over."

Bless her, she looked and looked and looked - desperate to see us crossing between the two countries.

malcolm, snjeza and terry - eating, drinking and being merry, yorkshire 1982

snjeza with a bit of god on her jeans, ilkley moor.

snjeza, mandy - and me (looking clearly moronic) on ilkley moor.

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