Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A Chat with the Formidable Jane Leonard

Today I am talking with the amazing Jane Leonard from Magnolia House, a formidable woman in every way.

Peggy: Hugging her guest. ‘Hello Jane, thank you for taking the time to come along and see me. Do sit down.  I know it’s been a trying time for you of late. I’m talking her from experience because I know families can create mayhem and not stop to think of the consequences.’

Jane: Sitting down opposite Peggy. ‘Never a truer word said, Peggy. I only wish I could turn the clock back, but then don’t we all from time to time.’

Peggy: Reaching forward pours two cups of tea. ‘It’s a terrible business selling your house at the best of times, but after nearly five decades it must have been impossible. How on earth did you cope with all the stress?’

Jane: Sipping her tea. ‘I nearly didn’t. Have you any idea what it’s like having strangers traipsing through your house, poking their noses into your rooms, cupboards and personal effects? Not to mention all the measuring up that went on. I can tell you Peggy when that Estate Agent hammered into my lovely lawn that great big vulgar sign, For Sale; I thought it would be the end of me.’

Peggy: Pointing. ’I shudder at what you must have gone through, but there’s a box of tissues if you need them, don’t worry about me, I’m only glad you can now talk about it.’

Jane: Smiling. ‘That’s kind of you, but I’ve shed all the tears I’m going shed. I’ve been to hell and back in the last few years and I’ve learnt a lot about people and life. Oddly enough despite everything, I’ve come out of this a stronger person, I’m an old lady and I’ve lost almost everything I had, almost.’

Peggy: In a soothing tone. ‘I know it all happened after you gave half of your house to your only son.’

Jane: Reflecting. ‘It had happened years before my signing over half of Magnolia House. The events that took place back then I had at last come to terms with. It was one of the reasons I gave my Ben half of the house, it seemed the right thing to do, but who knows what the future holds for any of us? None of us do Peggy. I only wish I had coped better and then things might have been different.’

Peggy: Finishing her tea. ‘I admire you Jane, I’m not sure I would have coped so well.’

Jane: A rueful look crossing her face. ‘You know, I spiked their guns at first, but it was all in vain in the end, I was a fool and silly old fool at that.’

Peggy: Picking up a book and flicking through the pages. ‘I see Pauline Barclay has written a book about your Magnolia House. What do you think about it?’

Jane: Smiling. ‘I’m glad you’ve a copy, you see it’s not just about me. It’s also about the sale of my lovely home, Magnolia House. Pauline has included the people and families who form part of the events that took place during that time and if I say, rightly so. As you know, I had to sell Magnolia House, I had no choice and in the end it changed my life. It also changed the lives of the people who were part of the selling chain. Looking back it was momentous, a lot of tears where shed, many happy as well as very sad.’

Peggy: ‘Are you bitter about having to sell Magnolia House?’

Jane: Biting her bottom lip. ‘I was at first, I was so angry I couldn’t think straight, I felt betrayed and dreadfully let down, but everything happens for a reason, so I’ve been told, and on reflection it does.’

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