I couldn’t let today go by without posting about Jersey’s most famous daughter. Here is a monologue I wrote a few years back; it’s a ghostly Lillie appearing at a staff Christmas party that was held in a restaurant in St Helier’s fish market. Hope you like it.
Good evening to you all! I hope you don’t mind me….appearing? It’s just that I was lip reading your conversations – very rude of me I know – and I thought I might join you for a minute? I really hope you’ll excuse the intrusion.
You see it’s all very well and good here in the spirit world, all very comfortable and serene. Spirits don’t have emotions which makes for a carefree existence but…..one or two of us retain a sense of curiosity as to where we used to reside in our past lives. And when the conditions are just right, such as here in this chilly fish market, then, just occasionally, we can break through. I do hope I’m not too scary – am I scary? I don’t mean to be.
You see, I was a Jersey girl once. I used to come here to the markets with my father the Dean, and my mother Emilie. It was long ago in human terms but as if yesterday for me! The markets here in town haven’t changed so much you know. The market hall is much the same, the produce rather more varied these days though I must say. In my day everything for sale was Jersey grown but now it is imported from all over. You’re lucky if you find a locally-caught fish on the slabs out there these days!
But across the road there, where has the old cattle market gone? As a little girl I used to be fascinated by all the activity as I held my father’s hand – the farmers talking, shouting and bargaining. The lovely Jersey cows used to look quite unconcerned about it all. One market day I asked my father if we might buy a cow for ourselves to keep at the Rectory, but we never did.
But now the market place has gone and you’ve built a sort of storage place for your motor cars, stacks upon stacks of them, and all different colours! I’ve seen your motor cars during my occasional visits. Are they noisy? They look noisy. You see, spirits can’t hear so I have to make this assumption. Only when I became an old lady in my previous life do I remember the first motor cars – noisy, dirty black things frightening the children and horses. But when I was young my father the Dean would drive me and my mother down the hill and into town in our horse and trap. People would wave to us and shout a greeting, and we’d wave back. I thought I was the Queen! The roads were so much quieter then. The posh people like us had carriages whilst ordinary people had to walk. Of course you’d meet farmers with their horse-drawn carts – their horses were much stronger! And some gentry would ride by on horseback from time to time and we’d wave to them too.
Oh what a happy and carefree childhood I had. Would that it have stayed that way! I became a young woman and I became bored. I had no friends of my own age, and only older brothers, no sisters. I read the London magazines and the more I read the more I wanted to leave boring old Jersey. At last my chance came! I was wooed by a wealthy man and we were wed at the Royal Yacht Hotel. At my insistence we went away to live in London there to find the excitement I craved. But I had made a mistake! My new husband Edward (for that was his name) was a boring and tiresome man. He cared little for me only that I was a pretty wife for him to show off to his friends.
But my beauty was my salvation! I became much sought after. My portrait started to appear in the society magazines and I seemed to attract the attention of many wealthy men! Well my dears, my marriage vows went overboard and I became the consort of Bertie the Prince of Wales. We spent many happy hours in Bournemouth – it’s rather amusing that our love nest there now bears my name. I suppose I should have been content but flattery and gifts were my downfall. Bertie became rather upset when he heard about the Earl of Shrewsbury – silly me – and the royal favours were withdrawn.
To pay the bills, I took to the stage! My looks rather than my talent led to some success. Presently my daughter Jeanne was born, though Edward had little to do with that! Dear Jeanne lived a happy life and died in quite recent times. I started to travel extensively, to America in particular. I became very famous and at last divorced Edward to marry Hugo. I bred and raced horses and owned a vineyard in California. You might say that I had an eventful life, though I never found true happiness. There is so much more that I could tell you but my time here grows short.
But I never forgot dear Jersey and I returned here on occasion to play at the Opera House. And when I died in Monaco in 1929 I finally came back here for good.
Today I lie within sight of the bedroom window of the Rectory out of which I used to look as a little girl. Should you come to visit me there then don’t ask for the Jersey Lily but plain Emilie Le Breton – I’d much prefer that.