The Lady of the
I used to have
a very close friend who was Sephardic Jewish in
the mid 80s called Lisette Baruch from Istanbul.
We had met in a writing class in London and
subsequently became close friends speaking daily.
We shared our writing and Lisette related her
childhood in the minority Jewish community in
Istanbul attending a French convent school,
marriage at 18 when her parents moved to London
to an older Turkish Jewish business man called
Joe, who refused to let her work, years later his
refusal to let her set up a chocolate boutique in
Hampstead and her final decision to leave him and
find her true self. Lisette was an excellent
descriptive writer and it is sad that today, even
after having had her plays performed, she has
ceased to write devoting her life to her
grandchildren in London and New York.
In the mid 80s there was no internet dating but
there was The Guardian for putting 'lonely hearts'
adverts. One day she asked me if she could give
my postal address for replies instead of hers. I
agreed and forgot all about her request until one
day a handwritten letter arrived addressed to 'the
lady of the woods.'
My husband, magical Martin, opened the letter
because of the title. Being a man of magic and
mystery he was curious but then annoyed because
he thought it was addressed to me, his wife! The
letter was from Jack X an older businessman in
the East End of London searching for a
relationship. Could he take her out for dinner?
There was an office phone number and so Martin
phoned it demanding to know who this perpetrator
was. An apologetic PA answered sounding shocked
that her boss would write such a letter
confessing she knew nothing about his personal
As I spoke daily to Lisette, I told her about the
letter. It was then she told me that she was the
'lady of the woods' because she lived in St John's
Wood. That Sunday, as usual, she read The Sunday
Times at breakfast. The accompanying annual 'Rich
List' supplement was enclosed. Having lived a
luxurious life with her husband, Lisette was used
to the good things like expensive holidays abroad,
fine jewellery, wines and gourmet dining. Lisette
herself was also an excellent cook specialising
in Turkish, Italian and French cuisine. She
devoured the supplement with interest looking at
the photos and noting the amounts of millions
each one had accumulated.
And there he was further down the list. Jack the
lad! To phone or not to phone that was the
question? It was true Lisette liked material
possessions and enjoyed a comfortable life but
she looked for other qualities in people and was
certainly not a gold digger after a sugar daddy.
When she finally divorced her rotten husband for
mental cruelty after cutting off the electricity
in winter leaving her and their two small
children freezing in their big house somewhere in
north London, she did well out of the disputed
settlement. Enough to buy a two bedroom flat in
prestigious St John's Wood and start a new life.
Her best friend who hankered after discarded Joe,
asked Lisette if she could have him. 'Take him.'
she said knowing his meanness. Of course their
subsequent relationship was to go Dutch,
splitting every bill, including dinners and
holidays. He even refused to pay for his daughter's
wedding in New York to an art dealer. Lisette,
who was a generous soul had to pay the bill.
Subsequently her daughter broke off her
relationship with her father. Unbelievable but
Lisette took the bull by the horns and phoned
Jack not letting on, of course, that she had
discovered his true identity. But why would a
successful businessman use The Guardian to find a
companion? We will never know.
Jack announced they would dine at his apartment
at the Marina and would send his chauffeur in the
Bentley to pick her up. She took a chance to go a
man's lair on a first date but after speaking
with him at length and the need for privacy, she
felt she could trust him not to jump on her!
They had a pleasant evening with dinner served by
a butler in his luxury abode overlooking the
Marina. Jack was a self made man from the East
End but not Jewish. I forget now what his
business was. He was divorced of course but she
did not fancy him enough to begin a relationship
more than a platonic one and Jack wanted more,
bien sur!! They went out several times but
eventually she gave him the chop because they had
nothing much in common apart from fine dining.
Lisette was attracted to a man who loved to read,
go to the theatre and listen to jazz. Jack
did not tick those boxes and despite having his 'silent'
millions, had to go!
The 'lady of the woods' continued to buy The
Guardian still searching for love!
at Hotel Casa de los Bates, Motril, Spain 2/2/17.
The Sunday Times Rich List.
Over the years she would be a mother to her go
ahead daughter married in New York to a
successful art dealer. Although divorced she
would remain friends with her ex husband who
subsequently took up with Lisette's best friend.
"Take him, I don't want him." She would
say giving her permission.
Lisette still with lovers and admirers felt alone
after splitting up after three years with a
dentist in Brighton she met on a dating site.
This was the best