I met Sandie Day in July, 2000. She is a friend of Judy Page’s and is gregarious with a great love of life. I then invited her to my book launch which she came to willingly. After the launch she telephoned my aunt, Libby, and said how much she would like to get together with me for lunch sometime. Libby being Libby,invited Sandie and I round to lunch.
Sandie arrived and Libs then poured us all champagne and we sat chatting together.
“I have a little story to tell you,” said Sandie to me. “I have two friends that are not very well off and as a result always combine to buy me a birthday present. They bought me a book from a little antique shop. The book is not an antique but the pictures inside it are so incredibly beautiful that they knew the book would mean a lot to me. And it does. At your book launch you mentioned that writing the book was an enormous challenge because of your loss of memory. I have thought a lot about it and I would now like this book to be a present to you.”
She placed a parcel on my lap. I was completely taken aback.
“Wow, thanks, Sandie,” I said and began opening the present. I am mad about presents! The book was inside this exquisite material envelope. She is one of the top dress designers in Durban and I can see why. Very gently I drew out the book not knowing what to expect. It was a Victoria and Albert 1984 Theatre Diary. I was a little disappointed, I must admit, because I had seen this diary before. Not wanting to spoil Sandie’s surprise I said: “Oh, how lovely!” I then proceeded to open it.
That was when my world stood still.
Inside the cover of the book was writing that was so familiar to me. Writing from another era. I had written:
60 Bedford Gardens
I looked at it stunned. Breathless. It was my diary. Disbelievingly I began to turn the pages. I began it in January 1984 when I was an au pair in London. It wasn’t just a diary telling me when I had certain appointments. No, in typical Gaynor fashion I had written about the things that I had done, various thoughts that had whizzed through my mind. It was all there. As I turned the pages so the tears began.
Sandie gave me back a piece of myself. With my memory being such a shoddy thing, it is a piece that I will cherish. I have read through the diary and there is a lot that is totally foreign to me. But my memory works like that. I talk about it in my book. I need someone else to help draw the curtain aside so that I can then look out the window of my memory. Sandie helped to draw the curtain aside and over the months a lot of memories have come back. They were a little rusted and tarnished at first but I have finally been able to put away these bright, sparkling memories in my memory bank.
Libby and I went to the antique shop and I asked the owner who had sold the diary to her.
“I bought it from an old woman. She didn’t tell me her name. She had grey shoulder length hair. I had never seen her before and I have never seen her since.”
How did my diary from 1984 come to be in her hands? That is a mystery that will always remain unsolved.
I like to think that she was an angel bringing me back a bit of myself.