Wednesday, 28 June 2017


On a bench, near the fountain on the inner circle of Regent’s Park there was  a new brass plaque that said
Oh how the night owl calls
calling calling from its tree!
Lolita Aldave Green
Barcelona - St Albans

  I  wondered how it came to be ...
I put the photo of the plaque on Facebook and wondered if there would be any response.
A friend replied within minutes matter of factly:
‘I assume it is a bench set there in memory of Lolita Green and sometimes the family/
friends or those remembering the deceased, attach a plaque instead of simple
having the bench carved with the message... (?)
This seemed a bit prosaic, more of a slightly irritated explanation,or a bit of a tease than a
flight of fantasy and I replied ‘Aah yes of course’ but a possible story was forming in my
head felt there was more to the strange words on the plaque, and then, a couple of
minutes later, she said:
I think the night owl is literal but probably refers to Lolita as well - a way to suggest her
voice remains present in the owls or she is reincarnated as an owl (or something ...).
Perhaps she was a 'night owl' (?) or loved nature. It is very interesting actually and rather
more inspiring than the average engraving on a bench.

Then another friend sent this:
‘The line is from Lorca’s poem, Ballad of the Moon’
I googled it and found a translation of the poem
which included the words
‘Oh, how the night owl calls, calling, calling from its tree!,
I thanked him for letting us know the text on the plaque was a quote from a Lorca poem
And I wrote this possible story (there could be many) born from  true fragments:

She was born Lolita Gonzalez, the youngest of 12 children in a noisy
family who lived selling agua in one of the busiest loudest parts of Barcelona.
Sometimes she escaped from her family from the hot crowded sweaty city to the
hills where she would talk to the owls. It was rumoured that sometimes the
gypsies would come dancing through these woods. She was always hoping they
would so she could run away with the gypsies but they never came and so she
never ran away with them. Disappointed that they never appeared, but still
wanting to escape, she took a train down to Sitges on the coast where, on the
beach, absently walking along deep in thought she met an English film director,
Dave (Al) Green who was showing his English Tourist board funded short 'A
Guide to St.Albans' at the Sitges film festival. The film didn’t fit in with the
other festival films and he didn’t fit in with the trendy euro film scene so he took
a stroll on the beach where he met Lolita. Both outsiders, they fell together,
conspiratorially in love. Well they married and she had found her escape. She
moved to England swapping St. Albans for Barcelona, choosing sparrows over
owls, suburbia over forest, grey drizzle over blue heat, winter coats over sweaty
T-shirts, afternoon tea over siesta, protestantism over paganism, settlers over
nomads, safe living over free living... a typical marriage really, they chose it
living their quiet life of domesticity together in suburbia while dreaming of

elsewhere she spent the rest of her life here, a life so humdrum occasionally she
would wander at night sleep walking the streets of St Albans. Occasionally she
would take a train to London and sit in the park at dusk to talk to the owls who
were her only true friends (apparently). and later in her early 60s she passed on
mourned by her husband. Dave(Al) Green outlived Lolita but, when he was so
tired of being alone and missing his Lolita, he would catch the train to London
and wander round the park looking for owls to remind him of his beloved, but
the owls had stopped singing and he had time to kill before the train went back
up to St.Albans. Dave was caffeine free but he did have a little silver hip flask
containing a double shot of Tesco whisky.
Years later, he died in the house he shared with Lolita. His body lay
undiscovered for weeks and the house was carpeted with owl droppings. An
empty whisky bottle lay near his out stretched corpse and in his hand was an
open book of Lorca's poems.

and if ever I should have any contact with the family of Aldave and Lolita and
hear the true version of the plaque on the bench by the fountain in the park, I
wonder where the truth will entwine with fiction. Facts are just visible points of
the whole story from which threads hang. And this whole story varies from
wherever its told and who ever tells it and this story may be a mirror of some
truths or a big pile of misfires. 

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