If you knew Suzie…

Suzie Armani Penrose. 08/05/1930–27/03/2024

Suzie visiting me in Tourrettes sur Loup

If you knew Suzie like I knew Suzie…Yep, that’s the tune that always comes to mind. 

Oh what a gal…She sure was. Although I am so sad that I will never see her or hear her laugh again, whenever I think of her, she makes me smile, big time. 

That’s a great legacy to have, I reckon. 

Picture taken during a visit to me in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, France.

***

It began with a tickle and a Werther’s original at Gatwick airport.

I can’t be sure but probably in 2007. Funny how quickly a short acquaintance felt like a lifetime. She had that gift. 

The tickle was mine of the cough variety and Suzie offered a Werther’s original. 

When I started care work in 1993, my first client was like the grandmother I never had. Suzie was like the mother I never had. However, I am sure all four of her children would tell she was incredibly, frustratingly stubborn at times ( often to do with her own health) but hey, no one is perfect. 

Here is our attempt at cycling along the promenade in Cagnes sur Mer. We were useless and soon got off, laughing!

Girls get pedallingSuzie was unique. I have met many, many people over the last seventy years but none has had the same quirks as Suzie.

The first one that springs to mind was her penchant for rearranging chairs in restaurants. 

It was a compulsion. It just had to be done. I think most waiters were too surprised to tackle a 5 foot red head of a certain age as she dragged chairs into a ‘better’ configuration. 

I bore this in mind when inviting Suzie and her sister, Michelle (Michou) to tea at Le Negresco. 

The seating was a banquette. 😉

But the first story that she loved to tell ( I soon realised a grain of salt maybe wise) was about coffee. 

She told me that when English friends once came to visit her they proclaimed how wonderful it is to have PROPER coffee with a French friend. Apparently, her friends were seated in her living room and Suzie was already in the kitchen…where she immediately started making percolator noises…

(I have to say her rendition was pretty convincing.)

And she swiftly hid the jar of Nescafe instant in case one of them came into the kitchen to help. 

Talking of kitchens, I suddenly remember her 3 large sweet  jars of sugar sachets from around the world. Wonder what happened to them?

Suzie loved entertaining when we first met as did Michou. Here is Michou’s idea of a light lunch. Scrumptious!A light lunch with Michou.

They were such good company. I always took a fresh pineapple and a tart tropezienne, her two favourites until I realised she struggled to cut the pineapple so I bought her a gadget to cut it with. 

Needless to say, the gadget was mislaid and so in future…chunks it was. 

I can hear her now saying…I know it’s here somewhere! 😉

But although she would describe herself as a little scatty she was also very accomplished at many things once she put her mind to it. 

She started to learn the Cornish language which she admitted was mainly because it allowed her ‘some fancy title’. I can’t recall what exactly. 

One evening she entertained myself and friends to a musical soiree on the organ, aided and abetted by several Martinis. A musical soiree thanks to Suxie.

Enthusiasm always outweighed accuracy. She was fun. 

But she was absolutely capable of taking charge when necessary. In 2010 I had to have emergency surgery and Suzie arrived at the clinic immediately after I called her.   

She even managed to make me laugh then! In a hospital gown and attached to a drip she insisted on taking my picture ( which I can’t find) but she was a rock and I am forever grateful.

Suzie had perfected the French shrug which came in handy when thanks to Covid her family could not visit for her 90th birthday. Her response? 

Oh well, I’ll just have to be 89 a bit longer. 

Even when telling tales of less happy times they were always encased with humour.

Soon after I met her she told me…I could tell you 50 things about my ex husband and 5 of them would be good. 

She was passionate and immensely proud of her children, grandchildren and her sisters. In fact all her family. 

Once I got the news that Suzie had passed away I had to wonder about the pact that she told me she had with her sisters but I didn’t mention it at the time as it seemed inappropriate. 

But as I recount Suzie’s love of ‘telling stories’  I think it’s time to share this one. 

I do bear in mind that there were times when Suzie wouldn’t let the truth get in the way of a good story so here goes…

Suzie used to talk about her parents and particularly her policeman father whom she clearly adored and I think she romanticised about some kind of ‘gangster affiliations’

Anyway, she told me, more than once, that the three sisters had a pact to make sure they were really dead, they would have to chop off a finger. 

As Janine in Corsica had predeceased Suzie I am hoping Michou did not have to carry out this grizzly task!! 

A less entertaining story but a complete lie of course was when she told one of her grandchildren that the Mai 8eme bus stop was so named after her birthday. 

However, I have to end with the most useful thing she taught me. 

Pure economics. It went like this. 

Suzie: I was in Southampton one day and I bought a dress for £20.00 but it was really free. 

Of course I queried how this was possible…She continued. 

Well, it was starting to rain and I could have taken a taxi but I didn’t so that saved £10.00

I could have gone into a cafe and had coffee and cake but I didn’t so that was another £6.00 saved. It was only a light shower but I was tempted by a lovely scarf and…

I added: It was £4.00 ? 

Suzie: You learn fast. You will go far my girl.  

**

This was my first book signing in Vence, France for All Expenses Paid ( granny sitting in the south of France) 

Suzie, seated, was there to support me and drum up customers 😉

Suzie, seated at my book signing in Vence, France.

Oh and she loved English trifle. Here is one I made for her a few years ago. 

Trifle for Suzie

 

 

 

 

 

So, here endeth just a few of my memories of a true friend. I will always miss you and always smile at the memories. That’s odd, the screen just went all blurry…

 

**