#001: Nell Gifford: 5 Lessons From A School Friend
Helena Bonham Carter said of Nell Gifford, who died last month, and after whom she named her daughter:
"I didn’t see her enough to get irritated by her and perhaps I’m in danger of canonising her now. But she was a living legend and now she’s done the uncharacteristic thing of actually dying she deserves a little canonisation. St Nellie in her armour on a horse. But she’d hate that. What she’d like as a memorial is for us all to continue going on as she so strove to, in search of the wonder, marking but not ignoring the mess and cruelty of life." (The Guardian article is here.)
When the living legend, Helena Bonham Carter, says that YOU were a living legend, it's safe to say that you made a pretty big splash on the planet. Nell did.
I wish I could say I had never been irritated by her but, alas, we saw each other every day when we were both at our most irritating. We irritated each other to distraction on occasion, when we were at school in our early teens, but I also loved her and respected her very much.
The last time I saw her was about a year ago, at her circus. We had a little chat and caught up on old times. When I found out that she had died, I was devastated, but I'm so glad that in that last meeting I told her how much she inspired me and how proud I was of all she had achieved. If the Nell Stroud I knew as a child caught a glimpse of the Nell Gifford she would become, she would have been as awestruck by her future self as we all were. The clues to who she would become were right there in girlhood.
This podcast doesn't canonise her. I cannot wield that sword as well as Helena. However, it shows the real person that I knew and tells the five key lessons that Nell taught me in her short and magnificent firework display of a life. I am so grateful to have known her.