Believe it or not, melancholy and that ‘groundhog day’ feeling can come about, even on a beautiful sub tropical island. It’s the usual symptoms; long working days, so much on the to do list that there’s no longer time to even administer the to do list; fatigue which needs a weekend to sleep off; letting people down; letting yourself down; not exercising; drinking alcohol too often and generally burning out. Well that’s where I’ve been for the last few months.
Not just me. Helena said to me yesterday that she needs to remove the repetitiveness in life – out soon shall come the list of things to do evenings and weekends to get away from the monotonous cycle.
On top of this was the finale of the build up to Lydia and Emma leaving. Very emotional.
I met Lydia on my first RMS St Helena voyage. After 2 or so days on the ship, a mutual friend said to me ‘I’ve seen a girl I think you should be friends with’. It took another day or so before I met Lydia, her dad and her godmother.
It turned out that they came from Edgware, a mere 4 miles from where I grew up in Kenton. My mum worked in Edgware. Lydia had studied at the school my sister had studied at, and her mum knew one of my best friend’s mum. And there is a thing about growing up in that part of London – this is not something I can explain easily, but people from the same parts have certain similar friendship values. When my mum was a kid, everyone used to have their little gangs and look out for each other, and serve justice in a kind of collective way. Well, people have your backs. I don’t know if it’s just a North West London thing. But us kids are loyal. And as soon as I became friends with Lydia, I knew she had my back and I had hers.
When we arrived on Island, Richard Boulter drew me a map to get to Lydia’s house from mine, and one evening I walked up there and hung out. We hung out most days. We chewed the fat.
And that carried on until I came back married, and the dynamics changed. Not that we saw each other any less! Lydia got a job in my office and sat next to me and we were in each others presence for practically 35+ hours a week.
^Lot’s Wife’s Ponds 2 January 2017
Emma is also one of the people I’ve been closest to on St Helena; uniting often over a cup of tea hungover on a Sunday morning after a big night out made Emma abandon her country retreat to my spare bed in town. The first time she stayed over she brought me tea in bed. The second she made pancakes. I mean what kind of a legend does that! And we’d sit slouched in our pjs in the courtyard spinning a yarn for hours and hours, usually until a phone call from her boyfriend came to remind us that she had some place to be.
I didn’t meet Emma until a few months in when she had returned to St Helena after a few months break back in the UK, and after a few awkward conversations covering ‘maybe we can be friends, who are you, what do you think about things’ we became friendly.
I love eccentric people, and Emma is an eccentric goddess. Red hair, incredible fashion whether it be a night out or a long walk, and smart as hell. Philosophical. Such a wise cookie. And I say all this nice stuff to her; I recall what she said to me last night; she said ‘Nicole the day I knew we would be friends is when we went to Prosperous Bay, and remember when you were trying to get out of the sea and you fell over, like really bad you just styled it out and I thought – she needs to be my friend’. I’m glad I have finesse..
^Emma (in the headdress) having acted as a tea reading psychic at the ‘John and Mike Fest’ on 5 May 2018.
St Helena for me isn’t just a beautiful island. It’s people. There’s been some characters who have left over time, especially those who I met from the first year, and when they leave, it changes the thread of the place, it’s like tipexing out a bit of the picture and smudging over the paint to retouch the environment. Genuinely it is hurtful, and I understand many Saints who say they don’t want to befriend expats because it breaks their hearts when they leave. A LOT of hearts were broken today.
Today Lydia and Emma left, with an entourage of Lydia’s parents (who will return), Emma’s boyfriend (who will return) and Tersius and Margo on a holiday. Having two people leave who were such big parts of my life means I have to adjust too. And I think now is the time to have a new routine, live differently. It will start with a bit of quiet rest and recuperation. Some exercise. Seeing the island with fresh eyes again. Getting out and about. And spending some quality time with my other close friends here, because you never know how long you have with people.
In September I will take a 2 week holiday and reboot. I will say goodbye to Rhys who returns to the UK and readjust again. And hopefully in a few months will be a less tired, more balanced version of myself.