I met Marge in 1996, through my wife Iwona. Marge and Iwona became friends in 1993, Iwona had met her at some function or other just at the point when she was embarking on a freelance career as a curator and publisher. Iwona was officeless, and renovating her house, so basically had no place to work. When Marge heard this, she immediately responded by offering Iwona her office at the top of Conway Street. This was just typical of Marge, an act of spontaneous generosity, without condition or expectation of favour. As it turned out, and again this was fairly typical of Marge, the office at Conway Street proved a bit too chaotic [laughter]. But Marge’s generosity, and the contact they had there, cemented their friendship, and became the basis for something that was very important in all our lives.
I met Marge not long after Iwona and I got together, and the thing that first struck me about her was the slightly distracted, offhand kindness she showed to the both of us. She invited us to dinner as a couple, and introduced us to many of her lovely and interesting friends. She let us use her house one Christmas while she was in Miami, and she often called up with theatre tickets, or offers to cook the most elaborate, delicious meals. Over the years we grew closer, and when our daughter Bella was born, Marge had a hugely beneficial effect on her infant life, by lending Bella’s two rather ignorant and vaguely terrified parents her wonderful book on child development and parenting. I remember thinking, as I read the extremely useful and practical sections on caring for babies, that the book genuinely reflected Marge’s character. It was intelligent, practical, and most important it had no interest in making you feel guilty for not knowing how to be a parent. Our daughter Bella has been doubly blessed in our friendship with Marge, because a few months after she was born, Marge’s first and much-beloved granddaughter Clara was born. This had the effect of drawing our families even closer together, further enhanced by the arrival of her second granddaughter Juno. Marge knew my parents, and also Iwona’s parents, she and Mike and Hellen and the kids shared Christmases with us, and all of it was good. It is our hope, and I think was also the hope of Marge, that our families will remain close, that the children will remain lifelong friends.
My own relationship with Marge was very close, and forged, in addition to the more important connections I’ve just mentioned, in the most unlikely of places, in our shared passion for golf. I think it amused Marge that Iwona, who she knew to be one of the most sophisticated members of the London art world, had chosen to marry a suburban Canadian golfer, and more than that an unemployed suburban Canadian golfer, who had a lot of time on his hands to play golf. And golf we did, in all manners of weather, and on all manners of golf course. Through all of it – howling winds, horizontal rain, childish temper tantrums born of over-expectation – she was fantastic company, cheerful, amusing, and surprisingly competitive. We had great fun; and we met, due to Marge’s amazing talent for friendship, a great many lovely people, many of whom are here today.
But golf was only a small part of what interested Marge. Many of you here will know her through her intellectual interests: her long and serious engagement with Jungian psychoanalysis; her passions for the theatre and for visual art; and her keen and often sardonic interest in things political. Marge had great hopes for President Obama, and was I think of a generally optimistic, liberal disposition, both intellectually and politically. She liked to hear other people’s opinions, and she had a talent for gathering intelligent and opinionated people around her, to the immense enrichment of all those who knew her. Like many of you here today I witnessed and indeed feel in some odd kind of way to have been privileged to be part of Marge’s long and courageous battle with cancer. She fought this terrible disease for over 10 years. It came, and went, and came, and went; and finally came again to stay. Throughout all of it she was to me an inspiration: in her quiet and unremarkable way, Marge was one of the most courageous people I ever had the honour to know. I cannot remember a single moment in all the time that I knew her, when she felt sorry for herself, or complained about her illfortune. As the disease advanced in all its appalling cruelty, she never once succumbed to despair in my presence. She faced what was coming squarely and strongly, without evident fear, and with the most remarkable grace.
I think what Iwona and I will remember of Marge most vividly was her amazing talent for friendship. She was a good and loyal friend, who cared about us for who we were, and not what we could do for her. She was a gift; and we will miss her enormously.