The Girl from Murrayfield is not a story about a girl from Thailand but a story about a beautiful young girl from South Africa. Murrayfield does not exist in the land of smiles. However Murrayfield does exist in a suburb of Pretoria in South Africa. Pretoria you may have heard, came to world attention as the place where paralympian Oscar Pistorius, better known as "The Blade Runner" because of his prosthetic legs, lives. Oscar was convicted of culpable homicide for allegedly murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Reeva was born in 1983. It's also the year my story begins.
Unfortunately the story about Reeva and the story I am about to tell you have a comparable tragic ending. But I'm not here to tell you about Reeva. For that you can follow Reeva and Oscar's story in the news. However there are similarities here to the lives and the passing of two beautiful young girls whose premature deaths both came from gun shot wounds.
The Third of September is a day I'll always remember for on this day the girl from Murrayfield (the topic of my story) entered the world. Her name is Andria. Later the songs "Papa was a Rollin' Stone" by the Temptations, "Careless Whispers" by George Michael and "Cruel Summer" by Bananarama were to play a crucial part to this story. The Third of September is a day of sadness. It's the birthday anniversary of my beautiful blond haired, blue eyed fiancée Andria. She was born on this day in 1966.
The lyrics to the psychedelic soul song "Papa was a Rollin' Stone" was written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. It was originally recorded as a single in 1971 for the group The Undisputed Truth but later in 1972 Whitfield also had The Temptations record it, with much greater success. It was this group that I remember most. The lines of the song goes something like this... It was the Third of September, the day I'll always remember, cause' that was the day my daddy died.
On the 15th of November 1984 Andria passed away from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Somehow Andria got hold of a hunting rifle and then shot herself in the stomach. I've no idea how long she suffered. Andria was just eighteen years old. At the time I was miles away and as a result, never got to see her alive again. As I write my story, I sit all alone, lost in thought and intently fixed on the only photos I have of the two of us together.
Andria was a beautiful young lady who I still miss very much to this day. The photos were taken at my elder brothers wedding in Cape Town South Africa. This is the way I, Grahame, would like to introduce myself and to also share my story with you. Andria's memory is never far from my side. The little time I spent with Andria was without any doubt the most loving.
I thought it best to start at the very beginning of just how Andria, the girl from Murrayfield and I first locked eyes with one another. It all came about while completing my military training in Durban, a city on the east coast of South Africa. The year was 1982 and I was off duty at the time. I originally came across Andria's sister Luanne reading a book alongside a hotel veranda and I simply had to meet her. She was sitting all alone so I made a decision to approach her. And she readily accepted my invitation. We were soon to be lost in translation. However it wasn't long before Andria turned up with her then boyfriend and they sat down beside us. Not long after that I had a date with destiny. Luanne and I immediately became good friends.
The next day Luanne, along with Andria and her their younger brother and dad returned to Murrayfield. The children's mom had not accompanied the rest of the family on their brief holiday in Durban. Luanne and I kept in contact writing to each other until one day she wrote to me to say that she was getting back together with a previous boyfriend. I felt heart-sore but nevertheless wished her well. It wasn't until later the next year that I received a phone call. It was Andria on the line and she said that she would like to meet up with me. She was visiting her grandparents in Cape Town. Little did I know it then but that phone call would change my life for ever.
Without to much as a thought, I hopped into my little red sports car and headed out to meet up with Luanne's younger sister. I remember that day well as Andria greeted me with such charismatic enthusiasm. Her natural high spirit captivated me like no other girl I had ever met before. Or after for that matter. At the time I had no idea that this would be the beginning of a fully blown love affair. However our close bond was only to last two years, albeit wonderful. Most being spent as a long distant relationship.
You see Andria was to fall deeply in love with me and I too with her. The problem at the time was that (if you see it as a problem) Andria was still at school. She was just sixteen years young and I had already turned thirty.
Now you may be asking yourself why a guy fourteen years her senior would want to get hooked up with someone as young as Andria was. Yes! I know Princess Caroline of Monaco married her lover Philippe Junot when she was twenty one when the age difference between them was seventeen years.
Next thing I knew was that Andria wanted desperately to marry me. Over the phone one day she made me promise that we'd get engaged. Andria was then seventeen. Though I got on well with her parents, the truth of the matter was I wanted to wait until I could approach her parents to pop the question. More so I wanted Andria to finish her schooling. Andria simply wouldn't wait and made me honour my word that I would take care of her. It was a difficult decision but at the same time I didn't want to disappoint.
I had the ring designed, hopped on a plane and flew out to meet the girl from Murrayfield I was so crazy about. I spent a week with Andria and then had to return home for work commitments. I shared some very special times together with Andria and her family. Andria's parents knew the age difference and accepted me as one of the family even inviting me to a live performance of Rod Stewart who had come to South Africa to perform.
Little did I realize that when I lovingly kissed Andria goodbye at the airport in Johannesburg, I wasn't going to see her pretty face ever again. Andria had previously visited me in Cape Town on many occasions and we wrote to each other often. Being an artist I would draw images on the outside of envelopes just like the Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon did when he sent letters to his friend in Spain. I would also paint small colourful images on Andria's face whenever we went out dancing at nightclubs. Those were very special times for us and we were to have many more of them.
After Andria's passing I would go to some of our favourite places where we had shared special moments. There would be times that I would see her in the crowd only to be disappointed when in reality the pretty blond girl I thought was Andria, wasn't. And for years after that I would write short messages of comfort in the local newspapers to try keep her memory alive.
People often ask me why Andria took her life at such a young age. It's a difficult question for me to answer. Perhaps there were warning signs that her family may have known about but one that I didn't see. Like the fact that Andria's brother drowned in the family swimming pool at the tender age of two when Andria was just six. Or that Andria tried to take her life once before at the age of fifteen. That only came about when I read an article her father wrote in a magazine shortly after Andria's final fairwell. I continually search for possibilities but still I don't have any answers.
Every now and then I would break out in tears because I felt it was my fault that Andria is not here with me now. It's been thirty years since Andria's passing and I still find it extremely difficult to bury her memory and to simply let go the past. Because of this I often feel urged to share my story. This is the first time I have decided to put pen to paper and tell it as it is.
To rub salt into an already large wound, a movie I took out from my local video store after Andria's tragic death, overwhelmed me even more. The movie I'm referring to is called "The Girl from Trieste". This movie still haunts me to this very day because of its many similarities to my story.
For this reason I chose the title of my story "The Girl from Murrayfield". It's based on a movie that had all the hallmarks surprisingly similar to that of my extraordinary relationship with Andria. "The Girl from Trieste" also known as "La Ragazza di Trieste" is an Italian romance-drama. I'd be lying if I told you I've watched this movie only a dozen times. I watch it over and over again to see if I can find solace to the madness and sadness.
The movie, released in 1982, tells the story about an older American artist and a beautiful young dark haired Italian woman named Nicole. They become lovers. At first the artist is smitten by Nicole's youth, beauty and free spirit but soon realizes something is amiss. Their frenzied love affair is short lived when the troubled girl drowns herself in the ocean.
Could it be a coincidence that being an artist myself and being the older guy who falls hopelessly in love with a beautiful young girl who, like the girl from Trieste, would take her own life. Isn't it also a coincidence that Andria and I first met in 1982. There's far to many similarities to both the movie and my story that ended so tragically. Is it strange that some time later I would take in a house-mate in Cape Town who was born in Trieste.
And is it also uncanny that many years after Andria's passing I began a tempestuous love affair with a beautiful dark-haired girl named Nicole who is strikingly similar to the girl from Trieste. The affair lasted six months.
Before Andria's passing there were many songs we would share together but there were also a few songs that would leave a lasting impression on me long after her passing. One such song is "Careless Whispers" recorded and performed by George Michael. Whenever I hear or play the melody, emotion takes its toll on me. Below are the lyrics to "Careless Whispers". The song was release in July 1984. Andria passed away in November 1984. By means of empathy, please feel free to watch the video below.
The only change I personally and purposely made to the original lyrics was where in the line it says "I should have known better than to cheat a friend" I replaced it with "I should have known better than to leave you all alone" The truth is I didn't cheat on Andria but somehow I felt guilty leaving her all on her own when she needed me the most. Now it's me who's all alone.
I feel so unsure
As I take your hand
And lead you to the dance floor
As the music dies
Something in your eyes
Calls to mind a silver screen
And all its sad goodbyes
I'm never going to dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it's easy to pretend
I know you're not a fool
I should have known better than to leave you all alone
And waste a chance that I've been given
So I'm never going to dance again
The way I danced with you
Time can never mend
A careless whisper of a good friend
To the heart and mind
Ignorance is kind
There's no comfort in the truth
Pain is all you'll find
Tonight the music seems so loud
I wish that we could lose this crowd
Maybe it's better this way
We'd hurt each other with the things we want to say
We could have been so good together
We could have lived this dance forever
But now who's gonna dance with me
Now that your'e gone
Now that your'e gone
Now that your'e gone
Was what I did so wrong
So wrong that you had to leave me all alone
"Cruel Summer" is the title of a pop song performed by three very cute British singer/song writers known as Bananarama. This song still leaves a huge impact on me. The title itself says it all. As one of the band members said, there was a darker side to their melody than other summer songs.
"Cruel Summer" was first released in the UK in 1983 and then later in the USA in 1984. These were the two years Andria and I spent together and it's also why, whenever I hear the song now, I think of my summer days without my girl from Murrayfield. The blond Bananarama girl seen smiling to the right of the video below bears a remarkable resemblance to Andria.
Hot summer streets
And the pavements are burning
I sit around
Trying to smile
But the air is so heavy and dry
Strange voices are saying
What did they say
Things I can't understand
It's too close for comfort
This heat has got right out of hand
It's a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It's a cruel, it's a cruel, cruel summer
Now that you're gone
The city is crowded
My friends are away
And I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle
So I've got to get up and go
It's a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It's a cruel, it's a cruel, cruel summer
Now that you're gone
You're not the only one
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