Tuesday, August 08, 2006
R.I.P. Elizabeth Tolley
A late night phone call - after midnight - and I'm told you had passed away, earlier last night. I never knew you closely and seldom saw you, but it didn't matter. We had been acquainted over a long period of time and I knew that there was a connection between us.
You were inspirational - a goddess of my time. A pantheon of light and style, I looked up to you - almost as a 'big sister' - when I first met you in small-town New Zealand. You were a shining star - dressed with exotic, gypsy flair. I sometimes imagined living my life as you might live yours. You sold me an old cotton lace dress, dyed black, from the vintage clothes shop you operated. The lace is handmade and I still have it. For several years, if you saw me, you would ask if I would sell it back to you.
In Sydney, you were in your element. You have been indispensable in injecting new life into the fading glory of Kings Cross's bohemian chic. Working at the legendary 'Piccolo Bar' in Roslyn Street for some time, you were fabulous. Stunningly beautiful, sassy, wise, funny, mysterious and always so incredibly stylish, you kept the legend alive. You ARE a legend. It's not hard to imagine you fitting in perfectly with the icons of 1950s Sydney bohemia. I even saw your name on the credits of 'Fashionista' (SBS fashion doco) one night. Perfect.
I heard that you had been sick, struggled and triumphed and then, relapsed. I heard there were two relapses. I can relate to this, because I have been through something similar - though comparisons are, of course, always dubious. Yet, I know how difficult it must have been because I know the pain and anguish of just getting through each 'day-at-a-time' day. And I can clearly comprehend what it is like to reach the moment when it is simply impossible to go through any more. So I am glad that you can finally just rest now, Elizabeth, even though the world will miss you.