Thank you for having been here.

We were going to dinner.

But this wasn’t just any old dinner. This was an “after the event” dinner. The event where, because of V, we were sitting on the very front row.

The event itself was indescribable. Really! The power of the words and the power of the voice stunned me. The voice so rich and deep and warm. One that felt more like a really comfy sofa that you just sank into until you couldn’t see anything – her voice covering all other sounds with its tones and undulations and silences.

Yes, silences. For each sound was measured and weighed against the lack of sound. Each word made richer and more meaningful by the lack of a word that followed. Each sentence punctuated by silence in just the perfect way to highlight that, what you had just heard was “stand alone”, was worthy of your paying attention.

Oh I could have sat there all night, listening to her speak. Her words or, to be frank, any words she spoke (although hers were always better).

And then we had dinner. We drove to this big hotel that was a former country house – big and grand in a beautiful setting under Welsh hills.

We sat at a large table. I, next to the American First Minister to the Court of St James’s wife. But she was almost opposite me and to the left. I really can’t tell you much about the dinner (although I do have a story about the woman next to me – but not for this post) since I was trying to listen to the main lady of the dinner. To me, more than the Queen – it was a lady of power and strength beyond any other.

After the dinner, we retired to another room for drinks. The lady “held court”, everyone being introduced to her – there were singing of songs, reading of words and, of course, the beauty of her presence and voice.

I was in awe. I was also scared. This was someone to whom I really felt inferior.

Eventually, just before we were about to leave, we made our way to her to speak to her. To thank her for the dinner which she had “hosted” and for her words and for being her.

“Oh,” she said, “I’ve been so wanting to meet you two. You look so interesting.”

At which point, with her words said with that voice seeming to have ripped into my body and squeezed my heart, I lost all sense and reason and reverted back a two-year-old child. Nothing sensible came out of my mouth.

Oh, she understood but that wasn’t the point. I wanted to say something wonderful or, at the very minimum, nice. But my brain had stopped working and, anyway, was no longer connected in a meaningful way to my mouth.

I deeply regret not having gone to her earlier; not being able to say something coherent; not being anything other than a right prat.

However, I won’t ever forget her nor the power of her words with that voice nor the fact that I touched her nor that she spoke to me, nor that I was in the presence of such greatness.

So, it is with sadness that I learn she has passed away.

RIP Maya Angelou.

And, thank you again for having been here and having done everything you did.

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