This morning, fuelled by upset, I entered the dark hole of the photo box marked Work and Shoots. The first photo I picked up was of Mandy laughing. It was so unflattering I know Mandy would have been furious. So all text for now.
I feel a bit of a fraud writing this as I haven’t hung out with Mandy properly for a few years, but then, whether we like it or not, that is what happens with friends over time.
We just don’t see each enough when work and stuff gets in the way.
But there is always a connection. Except when there is not. We know we are always there for each other. Except when that is no longer true.
Mandy is gone forever. This is impossible to take in. It is ridiculous. Stupid Facebook for making us believe that are friends are always a click away. Turns out they are not.
But their spirit is.
Mandy’s spirit is so stupidly strong, her strength, her wit, her energy so unique and marvelous, her smile infectious. Who would dare to be negative with Mandy in the house? Moaning is for pussies, there is fun to be had.
When I was at Grey, for fifteen years, I always said it was like being in a new agency every few years. There would be a change of ECD or an upheaval in Management, often enough to keep it fresh. Clients shifted, the office got re-jigged (who remembers the Coloured Floors, dear Lord). Imagine that for Mandy for twice as long. Including a proper move to Hatton Garden and a jolly, temporary, rebrand.to Valentstein and Fatt.
She was the one constant marvelous island of stability as the agency boiled and bubbled around her.
We were a proper team back in the day, the department was fierce. Mandy and I had an office without a door, so we chose to put up a cheap beaded curtain in the entrance. It was constantly tangled and terribly shabby, but it was in the spirit of Blue (back to the Colour Floors) so had to be tolerated.
My everlasting favourite Mandy quote was this:
“You see those girls with their big hair and white stilettos? They are just wannabe Essex girls. Not one of them knows where Liverpool Street station is” Of the 90s, it was a pre cursor to TOWIE.
She was an early adopter of a good cause, and who can forget her immortal words to the chairman in the lift when he asked her what her Red Ribbon stood for “Its for Aids. Aids Awareness. Its alright Rog, I ain’t got it”. Go for it Mand, make a suit feel awkward.
One of my memories is of she and I grappling with the Adcost system one Friday afternoon, she in pain from her kidneys but insisting that we get it sorted. Trouper as ever. Another producer coming in asking us where to get her glasses fixed, and a phone call letting us know there was a bomb exploded at the Admiral Duncan. I can’t shake that one, it still has a profound visceral feeling of sadness. From now on, unbearably so.
Rock DJ has just come on the radio. A timely reminder of the time we were sitting by Robbie Williams in Soho House and Mandy was so beside herself that she ended up in a puddle of excitement under the table calling home with the words “I may be some time”. As I recall we then did a tour of parties just checking where he might be next. Never found him, obviously, but giggled the night away.
Mandy should know that I still use the cookbook she bought me for my 50th (in the future!) Birthday. I don’t think I told her it is terrific for Soup recipes.
The night of my 40th (a little bit in the past) she arrived with tales of sniffer dogs on the overground and a thirst for champagne. We decided at some point to leave the party and join someone else’s. Why? Because it was hilarious. She did make sure I went back to my own guests eventually.
She told me, not so long ago, that sometimes when she had a thorny production problem she said to herself “What would Susie do?” Which was nice and flattering. And redundant.
I would like to think that Susie would have been as courageous, as positive and undeniably likeable as Mandy was. As great a producer. I would like to think that Susie did as good a job with her kids as Mandy had done with Mia (I suspect that I do get that one). I do know Susie would never dance as long and hard as Mandy at any party ever anywhere.
Mandy, my Mandy. You are a terrific soul. We are all the better, so very much better, to have had you in our lives. Robbie Williams, you missed out.