Saturday, July 02, 2011


Today is the 71st anniversary of the sinking of the Arandora Star, a shameful episode in British history for which no British government has ever apologised.  It is, therefore, an appropriate day on which to remember my friend, Margo Giovannone, who was instrumental in the successful fund-raising campaign for a memorial to Welsh-Italian victims of the tragedy.

Campaigns formed an important part of Margo's life and I was often amazed at the speed at which, well into her sixties, she could march on demonstrations!   I'm sure she has a picket organised on St Peter's Gate by now.  Her political hero was Tony Benn and she even named her beloved cat, Wedgie, after him.  Margo lived according to her socialist and multi-cultural principles and  was always true to her Rhondda Valley roots:

Dyfnant Male Voice Choir - There's a Valley Called the Rhondda

Nowhere were her ideals on multi-culturalism more evident than in her classroom and she was the best ESOL teacher I have ever known.  Margo's classroom  was a refuge where difference was celebrated and many now integrated Cardiffians owe their English language skills to her.  In her classroom there was always laughter but this tiny woman was also capable of defending her charges like a lioness protecting her cubs.

Her interest in politics, contact with young people, travel and her tireless search for her Arpino ancestors kept Margo young at heart so this is for you, my friend:

Frank Sinatra - Young at Heart

A few years ago, not long before I moved to Italy, I was unhappy over a man and it was Margo who picked up the pieces and took me along to line dancing classes which, to my surprise, I enjoyed immensely.  This was one of her favourites:

Desert Rose Band - One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

Margo died on June 13th of breast cancer and I ask, in her name, how many wonderful, witty, life-enhancing women have to die of this disease before governments the world over divert even one tenth of the money they spend on killing people into cancer research?

My special Welsh-Italian friend also loved this so "Ciao, bella" and be sure to sing it on that picket line!

Rita Pavone - Bella ciao

For Margo Giovannone, please remember the Arandora Star and cancer research today.


Saretta said...

I'm so sorry you have lost your friend. This is a wonderful tribute to her life, a life that seems to have been fully and well-lived.

Bev said...

Thanks for sharing this Pat; it's very personal and shows your love for your friend.

Not long ago I read your account of your move to Sicily. Very gutsy of you and I am sure it's one of the best things you've done. But then, I think like that because I adore Sicily and the life I saw there.

And one more comment...I see you are Liga fan. I was just on the Ligachannel site. :-)

LindyLouMac said...

Oh Pat what a lovely tribute to your friend. My Mum was actually a breast cancer survivor and despite that not being the cause of her recent death we had a collection for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, a charity she supported, in her memory. You will miss your friend I know but stay strong and recall the good times.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Saretta. Yes, a life fully and well lived. Many thanks, Bev. She was an original. Thanks for your kind comments about my account of the move. I know you love Sicily too. Yes, I love Liga! Hi, LindyLouMac. That was a nice way of celebrating your mother's life. Yes, I'm remembering all the laughs I had with Margo. x

Cuby said...

I found this a wonderful tribute to your very special friend. She sounds a fabulous person who lived a full life and enhanced the lives of those fortunate to know her. Thanks for sharing this.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

It's very nice of you to say so, cuby poet. Yes, she lived life to the full and enriched the lives of many.


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