Ziggy's mistress, my third cousin Norma Morris, was murdered. Not only stabbed to death in her Green Lanes flat in London but decapitated as well!
It was 1985 and social workers, who should work in pairs and never invite a mental health client to their home, had no protection. I believe now they are taught self defence. Apparently my cousin responded to an attempted suicide call. But how come the murder took place in her flat? We will never know what happened to poor Norma but Ziggy was the terrified silent witness.
Her murderer was an African and it must have been a ritual killing. I was sent a photocopy of the newspaper cutting months later by her sister Vivian who bundled Ziggy up in a warm blanket and moved the little mite to Richmond to be loved and cared for.
I hadn't heard the name Ziggy, apart from David Bowie's famous Ziggy Stardust, for decades until a woman got on the 49 bus yesterday with another Ziggy in a doggy bag. The dog was similar to Norma's Ziggy, a white Yorkie with hair over its eyes. I often 'speak' to dogs on buses and ask the breed or the dog's name so when I was told the name Ziggy, the trigger brought back memories of my cousin.
Norma grew up in suburban Liverpool close to where I grew up. She had left home to live in London running away from her harridan of a mother, the formidable Sadie Berg. Thus her younger sister, poor Viv, had no option but to go into the retail fashion business in Old Swan even though she was university material. Sadie did not believe her daughters should go to university but work for a living as she had been widowed and funds were tight.
Norma became a high flyer secretary cum PA first in London and then New York. A far cry from the demands of coarse ignorant fishwife Sadie who had, I was told by Viv, an adorable but henpecked husband called Eli.
Viv was 5 years older than I was but we socialised when I was 17 and she had come back from South Africa minus a husband! In the 1960s that was what Jewish families did. They shipped their hopeful daughters, young potential 'brides' off to relatives in The Cape or Jo'berg hoping that they would make a good catch! Thank God I had other plans not to become a suburban homemaker.
So Viv and I entered the Liverpool Scene together at night despite our 5 year age gap. I was involved with John Gorman before he found fame in The Scaffold in the 60s. Life in bohemian Liverpool with its well known art school was exciting in that decade with a lot of musical, artistic and poetic talent around.
Cousin Ruth from Southport, my first cousin, trapped a bright academic intellectual lawyer husband Lionel. After he died in the 90s, she confessed to me, after swearing to secrecy throughout their long marriage, that he had been a spy for the Zionists to prevent the Nazis from infiltrating South Africa as they had done at the invitation of Peron in Argentina.
But back to Norma. Originally called Naomi, she reinvented herself when she escaped Sadie's tentacles. Her best friend in New York was an art dealer called Sheila Robinson from Chicago who I would later befriend with an introduction from Norma when I spent a few months in Greenwich Village in 1980 renting a railroad flat on Bleeker.
The last time I saw Norma, I was invited to the flat in Haringey she had bought for dinner and had just acquired the love of her life, Ziggy, as she lived alone. I must say he was a cute doggy. She even took him to work where she was a probation officer for the council having a senior position.
We were never to meet again.
I remember that phone call from Liverpool to give me the tragic news months after the event. My mother had gone to the local supermarket and gossiped with a neighbour of Sadie's. They didn't, however, hear the gory details about the decapitation.
Viv had moved to London having sold the shop after Sadie's death. She re trained as a mature student with the CAB. At 40 she met a younger solicitor who worked one day a week for that CAB branch in Islington. Boom! A match without the matchmaker. I recall the wedding was in 1981 because I had just met my future husband Martin but he had gone to Hawaii and so I couldn't invite him as my escort. Viv went on to have her only child at the age of 42 called Nicole who became a 'daddy's girl'.
I remember picking up the phone to dial Viv. What can you say when a close family member has been butchered? A whiny unrecognisable voice answered, still in shock. I gave my condolences and asked about Ziggy in his new abode. Fortunately Norma had not died intestate so Viv had been left her flat.
All those memories of Norma and Ziggy were locked away since 1985 until yesterday on the 49 bus when they came flooding back.
Written in Yo Susi in Brighton watching the tempting Japanese platters going round and round on the belt. November 2016.
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