A eulogy to my niece’s dog, Susi, by my niece, writer Gille Easdon.
One of the wonderful things that transpire when you write a book is that old friends emerge from your past.
Two of these friends were show business journalists Ron and Don, Ron Base from the Toronto Star and Don Short, a columnist for London’s Daily Mirror.
Ron dates back to my days as a unit publicist (1974-2007). He visited my first film set Black Christmas, which became a cult film starring Margo Kidder, pre L.A., but his favourite was Middle Age Crazy where he was kissed by Ann-Margret.
He contacted me when Nanaimo Girl came out –wait a minute, let’s get this right – when Nanaimo Girl was published in April, 2020.
Generous soul that he is, Ron created the celebrity collage on my home page. He read my book and I read The Sanibel Sunset Detective Goes to London, one of his Sanibel Sunset Detective series which is published by West-End Books.
Don goes back even further to my days at the Savoy (1968 to 1973) where we knocked back – wait a minute, let’s get this right – sipped rather a lot of champagne. I tracked him down in June 2020 having learned that he’d written his memoirs, The Beatles and Beyond. Published by Wymer Publishing, the book chronicles his years writing and hobnobbing with such celebrities as the Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Harris. How to find Don? I Googled “Don Short book UK”. Up came his UK publisher. I emailed the customer service saying, “Can you please forward my query to Don Short, ‘You’re in my memoire, and I want to know if I’m in yours.” I received an answer the very next day. Consequently he ordered my book and I, his. Trans Atlantic transactions.
To top it off, an email from my publisher informed me that Nanaimo Girl hit the number one spot on Amazon’s Bestseller List for Entertainment Biographies.
I felt a little bit stunned and a lot excited.
When I picked up the Vancouver Sun in Oak Bay, I saw that Ivy’s, the bookstore across the street, was half open. By that I mean that the top half of their door was open, a Dutch door. COVID precautions. I paid them a visit.
“Are you selling Nanaimo Girl?” I asked standing outside on the sidewalk.
“Yes.” Came the reply from deep inside the store.
Retorts the pushy author (me), “You should put it in your window.”
“It was in the front window,” says a defensive voice.
“Put it back,” says I, “because it’s on the front page of the YOU section in the Vancouver Sun. You will sell lots of copies. I’m the author. Would you like me to sign some copies?”
“Oh yes,” says the voice, now enthusiastic.
They set me up, still outside, on a small rickety table, sprayed my hands with disinfectant and I signed eight books.
What a thrill.
A lovely surprise: baby Prudence and Rena.
After Nanaimo Girl was released in April 2020, this photograph, taken 82 years ago, was sent to me “from one Nanaimo girl to another”.
The “other Nanaimo girl” was Linda, daughter of Rena, the beautiful woman holding me as a baby. She was Mum’s helper for many years and died at age 101, three years ago.
When daughter Linda read Nanaimo Girl, she sent the photo to me. “Rena was a wonderful cook and baker and your mother, who sent us a Christmas card every year, played a large part in her apprenticeship,” she recalled.
I recall Rena dressed as a traditional maid in a black dress, white apron and cap. When Mum tinkled a small brass bell in the dining room, Rena would emerge from the kitchen to wait on us. I don’t know if this memory was a childhood fantasy or not. I would’ve been four or five. Now that I’m in my 80s, I sometimes wonder if Mum fancied herself as a bit grand. The doyen of Nanaimo! Or if she was influenced by Dad, whose mother also had a brass bell.
I only wish I had known Rena was still alive so few years ago. It would have been wonderful to reconnect.
Social distancing epitomized during an enduring walk in Oak Bay. Just want people to know that we’re following the rules! Which is unusual. Liked the friendly dog who paid us a visit.
Awarff awarff awarff; rrrrrrrrr, rrrrrrr, rrrrr! What’s going on? Two ladies with notable hair– silver and red –are barking at the deer which wander freely around Oak Bay in Victoria much as sacred cows do in India. I don’t know what the sacred cows graze on, but everyone who has a garden in Oak Bay knows, their precious plants and vegetables here one day, gone the next, chowed down by the deer.
Once in a while the gardeners threaten to have the deer culled, but the public outcry puts an end to that.
Inspired by the deer, Ann Nolte and I formed an exclusive club, “The Deer Barkers.” Any time we see a deer, we bark ferociously. The funny thing is, the deer don’t pay us the slightest bit of attention. They might raise their heads and pitch their ears in our direction, but that’s all the action we get. They ignore us to return to their grazing.
We might be viewed as, “Failed Deer Barkers.” But as long as it keeps us 80-year-olds laughing, we consider it a triumph.
As if my book arriving was not exciting enough, my sister phoned me to say there was a long review, very long, on Amazon Canada. I clicked my way to the site, and there was a wonderful (and long) review from my old friend, journalist and author Ron Base.
We had hung out on many film sets together where I invited him to interview actors: Peter O’Toole in a Toronto corner of Avenue and King, Tony Curtis in Israel in the sun, and Angie Dickinson in Barkerville in a snow storm, but the highlight for Ron was being kissed by Ann-Margret back in Toronto.
Fast forward 40 years, Ron and I have reconnected. Retired from journalism, he is now a successful author of the Sanibel Sunset Detective series. He purchased Nanaimo Girl and subsequently wrote the review of all reviews.
But Ron didn’t stop there. Two days ago, he emailed me a celebrity collage featuring head shots overlooked by me and my book and a horse. A brilliant cutting and pasting job to help promote Nanaimo Girl. You’ll see it on the homepage of my website!
Everyone should be so lucky as to have a friend like Ron.
After a five year wait, my long anticipated memoir, Nanaimo Girl, arrived at my door via UPS on April 1, 2020. In fact, a box of ten author’s (moi!) books were delivered simultaneously in a box from my publisher, Cormorant Books, and an envelope from Amazon.
The reason I ordered my own book from Amazon was that in November 2018, believing the book was about to be printed, at least a dozen friends ordered Nanaimo Girl from Amazon. They received their copies two years later. Which meant that they were reading my memoir before I even held a copy in my hand.
But on the memorable day when I first clutched my memoir, I kid you not, it appeared to be luminescent. The book that is, not my hand!
We may look as if we’re about to have a cup of tea in an olde English inn. But in fact, I’m on a film set with Gail Harvey who is directing Ruby, a Netflix series shooting on location in Victoria, B.C. The show marks the North American film debut of the Australian identical twins, Raechelle and Karina Banno. Gail and I worked together on many films when she was an outstanding still photographer and I was a unit publicist. I remained a unit publicist while Gail soared on to become a director.