The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

The Lady of the Woods
by Jilliana Ranicar-Breese

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 life!

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 true.

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!

Written 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