The merry and the melan­choly wid­ows

Daily Express - - NEWS -

ON Tues­day night I went to see Jane Birkin in con­cert in London. Ac­com­pa­nied by a full orches­tra she sang beau­ti­ful songs by her former lover Serge Gains­bourg, a man who was a drink­ing, smok­ing def­i­ni­tion of the word louche. When he died in 1991 the French re­garded it as a na­tional tragedy. Here all we re­ally re­mem­ber of him is the much banned or­gasm ode Je T’aime, sung by Birkin in 1969. She was his muse. Though they were not mar­ried and broke up in the early 1980s she has, like a widow, kept his mem­ory alive.

After wid­ow­hood – or its un­mar­ried equiv­a­lent – most women even­tu­ally pick them­selves up and dust them­selves down. Oth­ers are poleaxed by grief. And some – espe­cially those mar­ried to fa­mous or pow­er­ful men – trans­form their lives into an act of re­mem­brance. Deb­bie McGee’s gutsy ap­pear­ance on Strictly is very much a trib­ute to her love for Paul Daniels be­cause she al­ways talks about him. Since the death of her hus­band Des­mond Wil­cox, Es­ther Rantzen has cam­paigned for older, lonely peo­ple be­cause she is so lonely with­out him. Yoko Ono keeps Len­non’s mem­ory fresh. Jane Birkin sings Serge’s songs more than a quar­ter of a cen­tury after he died. They are all women full of life and ta­lent yet con­nected for­ever to a lost part­ner.

Love eh? What can you do?

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