The Day of Beverly's Surprise Party - and How We Met!

Saturday 31st January 2015


I awake at 9.30 - early for me since my arrival here and the onslaught of jet lag.  I discover Yvonne watching the tennis, Serena is winning, and no, she hasn't been watching all night - she went to bed as the game time was changed.  Phew!

I make pears, strawberries and banana for breakfast and two cups of tea.    I have to pack my suitcase, in case I go home with Bev and Dickie after the party tonight.  They still have NO IDEA I am here!  Bev would love to stay overnight, sleep but Dickie Wants to go back to their home after the party, and if so, I will go with them.  If not, I will return here to Nath and Yvonne’s home, go to a Gospel Service with them tomorrow in Flushing, and get dropped back to Bev and Dickie.

I have brought with me a beautiful dark feathered mask, its enormous, as my disguise for tonight.  All the guests will either wear masks, or will have filled in a card asking a question, which will have Beverly guess who they are.   What would I say on mine, without giving the game away.  ‘UNLIKELY’ - that is what I will say.

Bevrly, Joshua and I met in Singapore thirty years ago, on a bus tour, and that we have remained friends - and developed our profoundly loving friendship - is extraordinary.   Gerald and I were separated at the time, and every January I closed my gift shop Juliana’s in Wahroonga for a month.  Josh and I went on holiday to Malaysia, he was eight years old and had a terrifying experience with one of their cultural festivals, where the men go into a trance, either drug induced or 'mind' induced, and pierce their bodies with needles and large hooks and knives, and attach heavy loads to these same hooks and drag them behind them.  No blood, amazing.  I had not realised the extent of the 'gruesomeness' of this until Josh turned pale and sat down in the road, and so we headed back to the hotel and the pool, where we spent the rest of the week!  

In Singapore, the tour was not as grisly, but we witnessed a lot of strangling Gods, weird animals with several heads and lashing and spears and killing in the artwork, so we left early, and returned to the bus to await the others.  To pass the time, we played a game, of "Guess The Name" of the people returning to our bus, as the tour guide ticked off their names to ensure no none was missing.   Donald Jones.   Yes, that big American guy.   Barry Burns - do you reckon he's the Aussie guy?  Beverly Riley.   Yes, that little pale freckled red haired Irish nurse.   No.  A compact black woman stands up behind us, and in a deep voice, says "That's me!"  I looked at her in astonishment and said "You can't be Beverly Riley!  You look NOTHING like a Beverly Riley!”  And pointing to the Irish nurse, add “SHE looks like a Beverly Riley!"   She laughed and said, "I sure am!”

We spent the next few days getting to know each other, laughing a lot, sharing our lives and the many similarities despite the differences of our beginnings.   We had hair raising rides where we risked our lives on rickshaws in the traffic, drinking Singapore Slings at Raffles Hotel, dressing up in Colonial gear in their shop and discovering how much we enjoyed each other’s company.  One day, we had our fortunes told.  I don’t remember what Beverley’s said, but I remember I didn't want to - as she still reminds me. The man threw the bones (I think) on the ground, I and announced that I will have many, many children.  I looked at Bev, exasperated and righteous, saying "See, what a waste of time and money this is!"  I had one beautiful son, was separated, and had no plans for any more children.   I protested loudly, but he insisted, “There will be many, many - HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN!”  The man was clearly shonky.   But years later after I joined World Youth International, Bev reminded me many times, that I was now mother to HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN.  So he was right.

Anyway, I am now going to pack and do my hair and prepare for THE PARTY.   I’m excited.  I cannot wait to see the expression on the face of my darling friend.   Yvonne is happy, Serena won by two sets, so all is well in our world.

So Let’s Party!!!