S. came to London from New Jersey at the end of the swinging sixties believing that the Beatles would provide the music for dancing in the streets and that she would meet one of them.  Instead she met me, lived with me, and travelled with me.  She was short, with a glowing lure of of blond hair and sculpted thighs in which the scuba diving knife of her street fighting days would have nestled.  On her fingers were a setting of a Roman intaglio which had been given us by our friend Bruce, and one or more puzzle rings.

In London, she went to film school, I was a junior public servant, and we played at film and photography in our space time, and ate the first kebabs and tandoori chicken to hit the London streets.  It was with S. that I first visited the Greek islands.  I can remember that first trip to the islands over whatever huge span of years almost viscerally.  Me and my American girlfriend Sheila were travelling with two other Americans, Mike and the delectable Janie, who, she said, would do anything for icecream.  Those were more modest days before Janice Joplin raised the odds in terms of Mercedes Benz, Colour TV etc…  En route they described arriving by night in an enchanted land of cubiform houses lit like soap bubbles.

On one of our September trips to the Greek islands, S. just kept on going, on the well-worn hippie trail.  She found, not her private Indian ashram, but something more sinister in the back streets of Kabul.  She dyed her hair black – perhaps she was tired of its challenges – and changed the spelling of her name.

Although we had some good times, we were not good together.  I was naive and found it hard to compete with the frequently recurring ghosts of her past.  When we were parted by this trip I dropped her but not in a clean good way.  I still have some vinyl and some books.

This spring I learned that she was dead at the age of 59.  A mutual friend who brought me the news told me that her obituaries indicated a full life, a ‘happy ending’, which my friend appreciated. I was glad of it too, and had never wanted to see her again, but the impossibility of her death still gnawed at me.

Perhaps part of us  always expects to be able to revisit lost loves and lost islands, whereas in truth both are always inaccessible second time round.