I wrote The Golden Girls’ Getaway about three women, Vivienne, Mary and Gwen, who are neighbours in a house in London. Vivienne, 72, occupies the top flat, Gwen the ground floor, and Mary, the oldest resident at 80 years old, lives in the basement. Throughout the lockdown situation, they have become more supportive to each other. Vivienne, an actor in a popular soap, is often out at work. Mary has her own routine: cooking, shopping, listening to the Dubliners, and Gwen is lonely, practising her singing to keep herself sane. But the current difficulties have thrown the three women together and, united by proximity and necessity, they have learned to support each other more.
Then, as the bad times come to an end, there is the opportunity to move forward, to embrace a new freedom, and Gwen finds herself borrowing a motor home and suggesting that she, Mary and Vivienne set out to explore the UK. Mary wants to have fun; Vivienne longs for the Cornish coast she visited as a child and Gwen has not returned to her native Welsh village near Rhossily for years. So, the three of them set off to rediscover parts of the UK, different types of wild, quirky, rugged, quaint and beautiful landscapes. And although they are dissimilar as characters, the three women soon become firm friends.
The word neighbour means near-dweller, from the old English neah and gebur. Such close proximity with other human beings can vary in terms of its desirability; some neighbours are better than others. My own neighbours are truly great; we share so many things: home produce, jams, bread, fresh vegetables, and we enjoy a good chat every time we meet. Occasionally we drink together, eat and laugh together, and we look out for each other. We share skills, helping each other lift ridiculously heavy things, borrowing tools, collecting parcels, feeding animals, and what is most important, we offer each other warmth and emotional support. The distinction between neighbours and friends is a narrow one: I would turn to my neighbours if I had a problem and I would sometimes tell them the contents of my heart. I love and respect the people they are, so I that makes them friends.
Similarly, Vivienne, Mary and Gwen begin as neighbours who pass each other on a daily basis. They share the same landlord and they understand his foibles. They invite each other round to their various flats for coffee, a chat, a drink, canapés, curry. Then the friendship develops. When Mary suffers a health scare, Gwen and Vivienne rally round, and the motivation to go on holiday is born.
They begin the ‘getaway’, a trip from London to the South West and then on to Wales, ending in North Yorkshire, as neighbours who quite like each other but are aware of their differences. Three weeks later, they are friends for life. However, such bonding comes at a price, and that includes crazy moments, adventures, laughs, a few heartaches and some powerful shared experiences.
I enjoyed writing The Golden Girls’ Getaway immensely; it is a story of three individual yet interdependent people, of friends who come to terms with each other’s foibles and qualities in order to better understand their own. All three women have a journey, a path to tread; they travel to some beautiful parts of the UK and, while doing so, they discover a great deal about themselves; they come to terms with their pasts and arrive, by the end of the holiday, at a place where they can embrace the wonderful things the future has to offer.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading The Golden Girls’ Getaway as much as I loved writing it!
2 thoughts on “When neighbours become good friends…”
A wonderful opportunity to explore the way the anxiety and frustrations of lockdowns have also created opportunities for people to shine. There is so much emphasis on the negative reactions of the few to coming on board with taking care for each other and being responsible friends, neighbours and workmates. The fact is, there are so many examples of kindness and selflessness as well, and this book promises to be a celebration of just exactly that! Great work, Judy!
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Thanks Peter. More than anything, I just wanted to cheer everybody up… 🙂