Kind Gestures and Caring Words
I wrote this post (Thank Goodness for Barbra Streisand) when I first launched my blog but I think it is time for a rewrite. When you’re busy and tired and have a lot to remember, it’s hard not to get lost in the everyday. The quirky, slightly mad, care free parts of yourself can fade. They were definitely flickering when I first wrote this. I’ve removed the final paragraph of my first post. I am happy to say it’s no longer true.
My parents did a great job of keeping me healthy and happy as a child with regular hospital visits, physio therapy and endless oral and intravenous antibiotics. However, when I was five years old I had a particularly aggressive chest infection. I was absent from school for a week or so and spent my time buried under a duvet at my Grandparents’ house whilst my Mum worked. It was just after Easter and to avoid weight loss I was allowed to eat an endless supply of left over chocolate Easter eggs.
On one of those genuine duvet days my Nana recorded the film, Hello Dolly whilst I slept and when I woke up she had a hot cup of tea and an Easter egg waiting for me, with Hello Dolly ready in the video player. I watched it twice before falling back to sleep and loved it. Hello Dolly became my remedy for everything. My Mum bought Funny Girl on Video when I was 6 because she and everyone else in my family had come to learn the Hello Dolly script word for word and desperately needed a change. After that (around the age of 7) I watched Yentl and was given the sound track on tape from a family friend. In the winter my Mum would run me a hot bath with eucalyptus oil and Vicks to ease my breathing and leave “Pappa Can You Hear Me” playing in the hall.
In was difficult to source videos in the 1980’s but as they became more easily available, my collection grew. It was easier to locate music so I had an impressive collection of Barbra tapes and records.
I was the odd little girl who sang Barbra Streisand songs in the playground. I remember spending several lunch time breaks singing “Memory” whilst my friends, (Joanne and Amanda) danced.
On another occasion when I was really ill, my Grandma (a different side of the family), wrote to Barbra Streisand’s record company. I was 6 when she wrote. They replied by sending me the artwork for her Broadway album and a copy of One Voice on vinyl. I can’t remember exactly when it was, it was a long time ago, but it was likely to be early 1987 when the package arrived, which would have made me 7. I remember my Mum helping me remove the items from the packaging and telling me that One Voice hadn’t even been released in the UK at that time. She told me that the record company must have thought I was “very special”. As a child you hold onto kind gestures and caring words.
When I was 10 I was in hospital for three weeks. My Grandma wrote again. One afternoon, mid physio therapy session I heard a commotion on the Children’s Ward. I came out of my room to see two life size pictures of Barbra Streisand being walked towards me. The delivery guy said my name and I replied “yes”. He brought the pictures into my room with a nurse and said, “These are for you, to brighten up your room”. The pictures came with a hand written note on a compliments slip saying “From Barbra” It was bizarre, it made me laugh, it cheered me up and it did, indeed brighten up the dull hospital walls.
As a ‘grown up’ I have somehow always managed to make it to a concert. To his huge credit Hubby has been with me on all but one occasion, often involving long haul flights and the complete reorganisation of our holidays.
In 2006 Hubby and I flew to Washington to attend her concert. The following year when she brought the tour to the UK, I took my Mum to the O2 and we watched together.
I attended the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn on 11 November 2012, with Hubby. I met Alan and Marilyn Bergman, the songwriters who wrote the words that have kept me sane. They coped extremely well with the over enthusiastic Brit who gushed at them until they signed the concert programme.
Hubby and I also watched the extension of the tour in London at the O2 Arena in June 2012. I was 5 months pregnant with H. I could barely climb the stairs to my seat but I was determined not to miss it.
In November 2016 I overcame my (post-natal) fear of flying (and most things really) and spent a few crazy, wonderful days with Hubby in Houston, Texas ending with The Music…The Memories…The Magic tour, which I watched from the front row.
There was and still is something about Barbra Streisand’s voice that creates an emotional response. Throughout my life her songs have wrapped up my memories and when I need to release them or just feel something different to what I’m feeling that moment, they offer a failsafe.