Caroline writes Dear Vicky I shall be thinking of you all today and I shall be remembering Louise as a year three girl dressed in her brown and blue North London collegiate school uniform with her hair flying all over the place she dashed around the grounds at Canons . I shall also remember recalling her life at school as I sat with Mrs McCabe and Mrs Prazer at Louise’s memorial service at Cecil Sharp House. Be strong today. we are all thinking of you love Caroline xx
Dot writes Dear Lil Lou, It’s been 10 years since you left us but your beautiful soul is forever with us . You were always a very kind and amazing friend who’s always there for you. Memories of our Fatty Thursdays and great nights out full of joy and laughter feel me up with love but sadness at same time. I miss you very much and so does everyone else. Your beautiful sprit is shining on us all. I’m so lucky to have met you and your family. Love you forever and ever xxx
Laura Campbell writes: Just been sat thinking about Lou and just remembered a night out when I used to stay at yours. We used to flyer for queens of noise for a bit of cash and free entry to the club night. We would take most to a random pub toilet and leave them there. One night we were both quite drunk and waiting at the bar to be served and Lou said she felt sick, so I said quick let’s go to the toilet but she said she couldn’t make it and threw up on the bar ! I grabbed her and ran to the toilets before anyone saw and we managed to get away with it to dance the rest of the night
Friend Susie writes: I couldn’t leave a memory on louisecattell.com – my tech incompetence! – so I thought I’d write the 2 most vivid memories I have of her here.
One is meeting Louise at a station or airport en route to go skiing and she had a purple streak in her hair and the widest smile in the crowd.
In Champoussin there was a double T-bar lift station right below the chalet. One late afternoon Vicky and I were leaning over the chalet’s balcony rail. There was a shortish queue for the lift – probably the last run of the day. Ross took the lift at his turn, and no one joined him. Suddenly from the right swooped Louise, along the queue and in beside Ross – perfect timing just as the T-bar jerked away. “Oh, she does love her Daddy” said Vicky.
Jane writes: I was so fortunate to have your Louise in my life and to consider her a friend, getting to know her in her teens and early adulthood on those lovely family ski-ing and Tobago holidays. She was such infectious fun and always lit up the room – I’ll never forget us ‘girls’ in the wonderful, warm Caribbean Sea singing away with our swimming costumes on our heads (not on our bodies!), encouraged by Louise and Tobagan rum punches! Not just fun, she was such a kind and caring person, and I always thought in many ways, wise beyond her years. When I broke my arm over Christmas in Champery she offered to spend days with me while everyone was out ski-ing and regularly checked in on how I was, even from Australia. I treasured those texts from Australia and when my phone was stolen shortly after her death, my immediate reaction was to chase down the road after the young man, screaming at him, that he had stolen irreplaceable text messages from my young friend and that he had to give my phone back. it wasn’t a question of insurance, I wanted the texts and offered the local lads a £250 cash reward for finding it. I failed to retrieve it of course, but that’s another story. It was such a pleasure, along with my great friend Jane Grisewood, who also adored Louise, to give her advice when she was putting together her application for art school. She will always be with me, and my heart goes out to the three of you next week. I look forward to meeting up when we are allowed, to celebrate and remember her short but action packed, memorable life.
“Can you lend me some money dad?”
We are standing outside Louise’s bedroom and she tells me that she wants to put on a gig.
“I will if you can show me how I’m going to get it back” I tell her. Off she goes and comes back later with a page setting out what she needs to spend – deposit for the venue, cash up front for the sound engineer, cost of flyers, and what she expects to get on the door. I am impressed and cough up the required cash.
Nevertheless I am very proud of her when the day after the event she pulls a wad of tenners out of her jeans and pays me back. I was pretty amazed that the venue, Egg, would even rent itself out to a 16 year old but I guess she did not tell them!
Other gigs followed including the successful ‘Indie Speed Dating’ night at Nambucca. A pair of my shoes featured on the flyer for that one. She did have one upset when she ran an event at Madame JoJos in Soho.
“It’s all the fault of that stupid person on the door” she tells me. Bands and DJs had been booked but nearly everyone who came told the door that they were on the guest list and got in without paying. I bailed her out and she then dutifully paid me back a bit at a time out of future profits. After a few months I let her off the balance but a good lesson in entrepreneurship was learned!
Those friends who remember Louise DeeJaying in the West End, selling vintage clothes in Camden Market or just holding forth in the Good Mixer or the Marathon may be surprised to know that at least for the first years of her life she was a country girl. We lived in Blewbury, a village in South Oxfordshire on the edge of the Downs. In our first cottage we had fields outside the front door and after moving we had a big garden on the edge of the Downs. Louise loved to play outside with her friends and at Easter we would see who could roll an egg the furthest down the side of the local chalk pit. Here she is on a sunny Spring day rather like today in London.
In September 2016 we leave Singapore and come back to Europe, and our house in London is newly rebuilt too. In June Vicky remembers the lovely memorial for Louise five years’ earlier on mid-summer’s day and we see a great turnout at the bench and then later at home.
Vicky’s sister Bonnie (above with Tommy) is also in town so there is a big family turnout as well as friends young and old.
Later in the year Vicky meets up with Tim Arnold at the Roundhouse and makes a visit to Louise’s bench where they find a touching message from some local big issue sellers…
Louise’s friends are growing up with marriages and babies. On her Birthday Vicky organises another get together in Camden and there is a fine turnout including Rainbow’s (Claire) baby – ‘Bow’.
More babies in February as Vicky’s brother Sasha comes to stay with us in Switzerland with his two year old, Milo, and partner Mel. A very cute little cousin for Louise.
Finally on the 6th anniversary of Louise’s death on 2 March, friend Zac organises a great evening in Nambucca, Holloway, where we get another good turnout to listen to Darling BOY, Portland (pka Five Working Days) and the Scarletina. Earlier in the day Vicky meets up with Kylie and Bex who can’t make it later.
Many thanks to Zac for organising everything and all the bands and DJs who helped the evening, as well as Darling BOY who stood in for Tim Arnold and sang “Little London Lou”.
Finally Vicky gave a short presentation to thank everyone for coming and for helping us to raise funds for Mentor (which has now merged with Angelus).
… and we still think of Louise every day. In September Vicky and I visited Mana Pools in Zimbabwe again and this time Tommy and Olivia came too. Our friends had made a beautiful raft of flowers which we launched at the spot where we had scattered Louise’s ashes and watched it floating away in the African sunset.
In November we are shocked to hear that Louise’s bench in Camden has been badly vandalised. To our surprise Camden Council are amazing and replace it at their cost. Three cheers for Camden.
Also in November Vicky wrote a touching piece for the Sunday Times describing how hard it is to lose a child after the news that Nick Cave had lost his son. I have copied the article to the Press and Radio section of this site.
In April Vicky meets up with some of Louise’s old friends in the Hawley Arms – a favourite old haunt.
Finally we continue to travel and spot things that remind us of little Lou and things that she loved. Kids hool-a-hooping in Cambodia, brightly dressed girls in China, giant Buddhas in Japan and cats in Laos. We also get multiple visits each day from our friendly sunbird in Singapore who has picked up a mate. Louise you are always in our lives.
We have thought of Louise a great deal over the past year. In September 2013, this time last year, we went to Africa with a group of great friends and remembered her by launching a little raft of local wild flowers, made by our friend Stretch, from the island on the Zambezi where we had scattered her ashes the year before.
After our week in Zimbabwe we move on to Kenya. We are heading for Lamu, a little island off the coast where Vicky’s mother once had a house and where she spent some of her childhood. We are shaken to find that our arrival in Nairobi coincides with the Westgate siege and as we leave for the coast the next day the smoke is rising from the mall where the Kenyan militia is trying to flush out Somali terrorists.
In 2010 we buried Vicky’s mother’s ashes under a tree on Manda Toto, a little island near Lamu, looking out over the Indian Ocean and the island where she had worked as an archaeologist many years earlier. With our friends we revisit the spot and bury the remainder of Louise’s ashes alongside her grannie.
So we have left reminders of Louise far and wide. In her little garden in the East End of London, in the garden of our family home in North London, in the mountains in Switzerland, the Zambezi river and next to her grannie near Lamu. Lastly we exploded her ashes in rockets above Primrose Hill two years in a row with many of her friends.
Last October the BBC showed a short film about her death (see last post). The Angelus Foundation also made a film about her which you can see here.
In December the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs launched a report on ketamine use and Vicky gave evidence. Angelus made a film on ketamine use presented by Jeff Leach, one of Louise’s friends which you can watch here.
On her birthday in December we were distracted by Vicky’s operation although we managed to get to her bench for a little celebration on her birthday.
Over Christmas and New Year in Switzerland we toasted her and looked forward to Vicky’s recovery. Also at the end of the year our friend Claire gives us a magnificent pictorial memento of Louise – a mixture of painting and collage it captures so many of the great things about her.
In March we were both back in England on the anniversary her death and met up with lots of friends at the bench in Camden for a very jolly, if chilly, reunion. See photos below and more posted on her bench page.
In April my mother, Louise’s other grannie, died and we were back in Golders Green crematorium where we said goodbye to Louise. Sad memories but also a chance to celebrate the life of a 1930s girl from South London who went on to become a successful doctor and inspiration to her children and grandchildren. It is her birthday today.
Back in Singapore while Vicky is getting stronger after her operation a little sunbird comes and visits everyday and sings on our balcony. It could be Louise?
Living and traveling in the Far East we see things that we know that Louise would love, from dressing up in Kyoto to enjoy the cherry blossom to cat cafes in Penang to the strangest fashions that you see people wearing in China and Singapore.
On 1 June Vicky was back in London and had an open house evening for Louise’s friends. A great evening she tells me (I was working). And we continue to get lots of lovely messages on Louise’s Facebook page so many thanks to everyone. Please add your comments and thoughts.