Magazine article The Spectator

Candida Lycett Green: Love, Care and Laughter

Magazine article The Spectator

Candida Lycett Green: Love, Care and Laughter

Article excerpt

Remembering Candida Lycett Green

With Candida, you learned to expect the unexpected. She said she might make the charity sale at my house on Thursday, but not to rely on her. I didn't. But on Friday, a bright red pick-up truck turned into the yard and out got Candida with a bagful of contributions. But she also brought a birthday present of a beautiful Alice Temperley skirt for my younger daughter. The red pick-up was a present for Candida's own birthday, thrilling her as much as any red bike for a six-year-old.

'I'm an old hippy,' she once said. Perhaps. She was certainly a child of the Sixties, when half the aristocracy's offspring were hippies. She was not an aristo herself, though you could be forgiven for thinking it, just a remarkable free spirit, and her generosity didn't stop -- or start -- at clothes by posh designers, either.

I arrived at Uffington once to find several children at the kitchen table scoffing a huge pile of buttered toast. They were waifs and strays from the village, drawn to the house, its fields, animals and freedom, but even more to Candida. 'I worry they don't get enough to eat,' she said, piling on more toast. They certainly ate it as if they were half-starved.

Something always happened when we met, nothing was ever straightforward or every-day, and whatever it was led to laughter-till-we-cried. We went to an Open Garden. I had my four-month-old border puppy but there were fierce notices about Strictly No Dogs, and an even fiercer gatekeeper. 'She won't set paw on your grass,' Candida said airily, and sailed through. 'I'll hold you to that,' gatekeeper growled, 'and as for what my wife would say....'

So we walked all round the extensive gardens taking it in turns to carry the puppy, which then, inevitably, needed to pee, so Cand took her behind a bush while I kept guard, both of us in convulsions of laughter.

Her own beloved dogs were never unremarkable either, like Star, whom she taught to shut the door after you, but Spot, her last Jack Russell, was extra special. Even during the final few weeks of her illness, Candida emailed and tweeted dozens of photos featuring Spot being funny or adorable, the last of her sitting compliantly on a garage forecourt in front of a pump of Spot Petrol. …

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