It is with very great sadness that I write about the death of long-standing City Voices stalwart Lily Meigh, who passed away on 12th December 2018, aged 84. On 8th December Lily and her daughter enjoyed the City Voices festive meal, so the shock of her demise for Lily’s family and close friends can hardly be imagined. Lily suffered from Parkinson’s disease and like everyone “senior” had some health problems, but this scarcely ever prevented Lily from attending City Voices meetings and events, and lots of other social activities with her great friend and fellow CV member Anita Oxford. It might sound like a cliché to describe someone as “a lovely lady” yet that is exactly how Lily was – lovely and a true lady (albeit with a wicked and rather naughty sense of fun!)
Lily was modest about her writing, but always read with great expression and often with humour. Her contribution to the CV anthology of short stories “Telling Tales” was a rather risqué tale of two old Stokie men discussing their past and present whilst being a bit the worse for wear. “Outside the Slug and Lettuce” made everyone laugh, as did her never-to-be-forgotten performance in “Under Milkwood” which we read at a meeting last year. For some of CV members, Lily will forever be Mrs. Cherry Owen.
In her own words, Lily says that as a child she I remembers her father reciting short nonsensical poems and stories which were made up as he went along. Lily was just 12 years old when her father passed away, and says that although she was never encouraged to talk about him she wrote down her thoughts and memories of the time spent together. This proved to be the start of Lily's interest in writing, and credits two English teachers for her love of the English language. ‘That Boy’ was the title of Lily's first attempt at story writing, at about the same time as a poem called ‘My Mother’.
After reading about City Voices in the local newspaper Lily went along to her first meeting, and says she was very nervous! Our founder Paul Williamson and other members "put me at ease and I was made to feel welcome. With guidance and encouragement from the group, I like to think my writing has improved, I know my confidence has!"
The thing that most people at CV have said about Lily was that she was the first to make them welcome when they, as new members, crossed the threshold into our (rather large) meeting room. Lily was universally popular, and I guess we were all a bit guilty of taking her presence for granted sometimes. However I have vivid memories of her enjoyment of meetings, of her always joining in, and in particular how much she relished meeting guest poets and writers. I think she was particularly charmed by a Welsh/Italian poet who shall remain nameless!
Lily always said she did not like to write “ad hoc” or on the spot; nevertheless she did. Eventually she was persuaded to put her writing together in a book entitled “Billy Big Feet”.
Below is an extract from Lily's story “Outside the Slug and Lettuce”
Five minutes later the pair were still standing in silence both of them unsure which way to go.
Suddenly Albert piped up “You know Harry, I’ve still got the hots for our Maud. Do you think she would say yes if I proposed to her?”
“You must be crackers if you think you can keep up with Maud, she‘s a fast mover” laughed his friend.
Albert glared at Harry and asked “Are you trying to tell me you’ve been dating her?
“Don’t be such a nunky head, I prefer a woman with a bit of style”
Lily will be missed by all at City Voices. She was a modest, fun, and truly beautiful person. She was a writer.
Rest in Peace, dear Lily.