Blue eyes of the belle

It was a John Otway song, back when you didn’t have to explain who John Otway was.

It wasn’t love. It wasn’t sex, although she was pretty sexy. She was one of those iconic girls at school.

And we had several. She was very, very pretty, the type of girl you think you just can’t talk to because she’s so pretty, but then when eventually you do you find out something even more amazing about her. She was kind, and caring, and considerate.

She wasn’t that good at school, I think. She got a job, as people did in those days, in a pub, the Rose and Crown, on the railway bridge in Trowbridge, decades before anyone ever thought to describe it as a rustic-chic pub with live comedy and pizza. One night when things weren’t going at all well for me and I’d stormed out of my parents’ house I ended up there. She and I had hardly ever spoken, but she found out what the problem was. Namely that I hadn’t anywhere to sleep that night.

Utterly tragically she didn’t have her own place. But she tried to find me somewhere to crash, as we said back then. She didn’t have to. She didn’t even know me, really. She was just kind.

She wasn’t in my school photo.

The girl who I’ve meant to write this for, for years, this kind, gentle, pretty girl was called Debbie O’Mara. She really did cross the seas of angry water and never came home again. She took to wearing a full cover-up headscarf while she was working in the Rose and Crown, and everywhere else as well, before she died of cancer, aged twenty.

Sleep well, Debbie. Bless you.

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