Thursday, 2 October 2014

Lynsey de Paul

Lynsey de Paul (11 June 1948 – 1 October 2014) was an English singer-songwriter. She has been described by a music journalist as "one of the first successful female singer-songwriters in England, de Paul has had an illustrious career," and became the first woman to win an Ivor Novello award after writing the top 20 hit "Won't Somebody Dance With Me?" Known for her sharp sense of humour, Lynsey was labelled "Looney de Small" by Spike Milligan and was a patron of the Spike Milligan Statue Memorial Fund.

I had the honour of knowing both Spike and Lynsey at a time when all three of us lived within the confines of north London. Hers was one of the most picturesque neo-gothic Victorian houses I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. Spike's was a somewhat larger dwelling (when he relocated from Finchley to Hadley in 1974), and similarly gothic. He spent £10,000 restoring many of its period features to their original Victorian splendour, including a stained glass window depicting Barnet as one of the key sites of a battle in the Wars of the Roses. I spent many a morning drinking tea and eating biscuits with Spike who supported some of my own projects and causes.

I had not seen Lynsey since relocating a couple or so hundred miles away from London in a move not dissimilar to Spike (who eventually quit "Monkenhurst" for quieter environs). His Hadley home was reminiscent of an ecclesial structure and I always sensed that he regretted leaving it.

I was devastated to learn of Lynsey's sudden departure at the age of sixty-four following a suspected brain haemorrhage after she had complained of severe headaches. Lynsey died on October 1st, the feast day of St Thérèse of Lisieux who was my mother's favourite saint. My mother passed away in the same hospital where Lynsey was taken in her final hours, twenty-two years earlier on October 2nd, the feast day of the Holy Guardian Angels. May the angels now look over them both in the hereafter.

My close friend, Diana Brewester,  sadly also no longer with us, and I visited Lynsey de Paul at her gothic house facing Highgate Cemetery East when the first edition of my book "The Highgate Vampire" appeared in the mid-1980s. The singer-songwriter's blue-green eyes lit up and, despite being wrapped in little more than a white bathrobe when we called on her, Lynsey's enthusiasm could hardly be contained at the prospect of being able to absorb a full account of what had been occurring on her own doorstep in previous recent decades.

It was always obvious to me that Lynsey de Paul, albeit diminutive in size, was a massive talent and highly intelligent. Most of all she laughed a lot and had a quirky sense of humour; something we all, not least of all Spike Milligan, shared in common.

May this beautiful, fairy-like creature now find the peace she so richly deserves after so much tumult into which the world has plunged in the wake of gentler times we of a certain age knew and preferred.

Fare thee well, Lynsey, you were someone who brightened the lives of all you touched. Thank you. R.I.P.  †

Vita brevis breviter in brevi finietur,
Mors venit velociter quae neminem veretur,
Omnia mors perimit et nulli miseretur.
Ad mortem festinamus peccare desistamus.

Ni conversus fueris et sicut puer factus
Et vitam mutaveris in meliores actus,
Intrare non poteris regnum Dei beatus.
Ad mortem festinamus peccare desistamus.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. Beautiful homes, beautiful people sorely missed. I regret not being at Spike's statue unveiling, but I was in France.
    Hey ho - times change - soon we'll all be but memories.