|Barbara Yung's grave, Cambridge 28 July 2016|
Since I started writing posts about Michael and Barbara last year, I had wanted to visit Barbara's grave in Cambridge UK. I finally had my chance when the UK immigration finally granted me a tourist visa for a visit this July.
I went to visit Barbara's grave in Cambridge last week on Thursday (28 July). It was raining when I arrived around 2 pm at the Cambridge City Cemetery. I had with me two bouquets of roses: 10 yellow roses and 10 red, pink and white roses. I also brought a pot of small red roses, all for £10 in the Thursday Cambridge market.
Located at Lot 29, at the north corner of the Cambridge City Cemetery (diagonal from the main parking lot), Barbara's grave wasn't looking as sad as when Rob Radboud came in June 2012. Back then, a yellow rose bush was growing unattended, blocking the grave. Rob had to hack the bush with his own hands without garden scissors or a knife, for he wasn't expecting that the grave wasn't attended. This time, last Thursday, I saw "only" two bunches of flowers wrapped in plastic, half a bottle of mineral water that someone used as a vase, and growing weed. Still a mess though, which made me sad...
|Barbara's grave as I arrived, before I cleaned it up|
But then, on the right side of the grave "garden", I noticed that some fans had planted some peonies, small pink roses and another type of flower I couldn't recognise, so I felt happier. You can see these flowers on the first photo above and the third photo below. I also saw a metal grave vase on the left side of the grave (it has holes on it to hold flowers). Some fans have put white chrysanthemums into the holes, which is nice.
Despite the rain, I decided to start working. Good thing it wasn't raining hard, lest I would have to wait under a tree, considerably rather far from Barbara's place. I first played Alan Tam's "Who Can Change" (the theme song for Fearless Duo 1984), several times. Then I suddenly cried. Really cried. I'm sorry that she died like that, that she couldn't live life to the fullest. I'm sorry for her and Michael, for the love that was not given the chance to grow (I do believe they loved each other at one point, but they decided not to grow it into a proper relationship). I cried for Michael, for being so devastated due to her premature departure (his first interview about her was in 1996, a good 11 years after her death).
After crying, I set to work. I think the rain stopped for a while. I played the songs of her other movies, particularly the Chor Lau Heung themes and the first and third LOCH themes. Then I took out the tulsi scented candle I brought with me. The rain alternated between drizzle and pouring, but I wanted to lit the candle as I worked. Then I realised that Barbara had a candle lantern on the right side of her grave, next to the Angel boy (on Rob's photos in 2012 and 2013, the lantern was on the left side. So, someone had moved it to the right side and planted it rather deep into the ground). The lantern has a lid with some side holes to facilitate the airflow. I opened the lantern lid and indeed found a spent candle holder there. Excited, I took the old candle holder out, put my candle inside, lit it, and placed the lid back. Soon, the fragrant scent of tulsi or holy basil filled the air as I worked my way through the grave.
I put on my gloves, pulled out the weeds and cut the tall grass with the garden scissors. I dismantled the two flower bouquets from their plastic wraps. One of the bouquets contained somewhat fresh flowers, might have been left behind by a fan three days prior. That's good, I thought, cos I could reuse the flowers. But the other bouquet contained totally dried flowers, which made me wonder why the previous visitor didn't just chuck it away when he/she arrived a few days before my arrival (that bouquet must be dried already when he/she arrived). I threw away the dried flowers. I also plucked out some withered flowers from the first bouquet. Then I arranged the remaining fresher flowers with the roses I brought with me. The vase that I found was very useful for that. I left the white chrysanthemums attached to the metal grave vase, for the mums were still rather fresh.
Come to think of it, perhaps the vase was there for that purpose: to contain the flowers brought by fans. After all, fresh flowers in a vase is much better than flowers in a plastic bouquet. The latter only works its magic for one day. Two days later, it will look very much like a garbage already. By the way, the vase wasn't there in June 2013 when Rob visited the grave. A fan must have left the vase afterwards. Thank you, Anonymous Fan.
Overall, I was very pleased with my work. The second photo above was how Barbara's grave looked like when I arrived. And this is how it looked when I finished working on it (also the first photo above):
|The white vase (left) and candle lantern (right) are very useful!|
I'd like to think that Barbara would be pleased with the new flowers and candle...
After cleaning up Barbara's grave, I played some music again. I had to stop playing music when I worked, for it rained again and I had to use my umbrella to cover me, hence the iPad had to be tucked away. I still played some songs with my iPhone, but battery dropped quickly hence I had to be conservative with it. I replayed some theme songs from The Foundation, and again, Fearless Duo, CLH and LOCH. I also played Leslie Cheung's "The Moon Represents My Heart". I also said the Christian Lord prayer and some other prayers from the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. I actually had Alan Tam's version of the Heart Sutra with me, so I also played it. I prayed that Barbara is in peace now, free of attachments, and, if she does reincarnate again (because I believe in reincarnation), I hope she leads a much more wonderful, peaceful and meaningful life.
The rain stopped about 20 minutes before I left at 4 pm-ish. It was hard for me to leave the grave. I kept looking at the candle, hoping that the candle will burn until it really is spent. Hoping that the candle will burn there for Barbara, at least for one night. The last two music I played for her was Alan Tam's "Who Can Change" and his version of the Heart Sutra. I walked out of Lot 29 with those songs. I turned to see her grave again before I lost sight of it, hoping that I can visit her again next year.
|Barbara's grave as I said goodbye|
Visiting Barbara's grave was very special for me. She's not only my first favourite actress. Visiting her grave is part of the process to come to terms with the fact that Michael didn't end up with Barbara. See, I dreamt of Michael Miu on 19 July, perhaps because i was reading about Babs' grave before I slept. In my dream, Michael was his 58 years old self. We were watching a wuxia series together (wouldn't it fun to watch a series with your idol??). Then, the actress in the TV series was shown to wear a yellow Qing dress that Barbara wore in Fearless Duo 1984. I turned to tell Michael that the actress wore Bab's dress. He smiled, but his eyes looked misty and he then looked pensive. That dream was very special to me.
But apparently, not only Michael and Barbara fans though that they had good chemistry back then. In fact, because I stayed with my friend in Surrey, I told her the reason why I wanted to go to Cambridge; not just that Cambridge is the resting place for Barbara, but also of her relationship with Michael. I showed my friend some photos of Barbara and Michael. Looking at the photos of Michael holding Barbara's shoulders when Babs just finished crying, and also of him in his CLH costume holding her in modern clothes, my friend then said that there was definitely something between Michael and Barbara. "They didn't look like they were just friends, the way she leaned on him and him holding her." Bless you, my dear friend...for being able to see such a pure affection at once...
I hope I can visit Barbara's grave again next year. By then, I hope I am more in peace with the unfulfilled affections between Michael and Barbara. The 2017 Legend of Condor Heroes will be finished by then, so I can make another MV of Michael Miu as Huang Yaoshi, the father of Barbara's character back in 1983. I hope I can play the MV as I clean the grave. By then, I hope I smile more, thanking her for her gifts to us, and not focusing on her sad ending too much. I did thank her this time, but I also cried a river...
And I hope that the grave is more maintained during my next visit. If not, well, then I just need to do some cleaning again.
|The Angel boy holds many talismans from fans. |
(The white chibi Chinese pendant reminded me of Michael's theatre costume in Fearless Duo...)
For friends who visit Barbara's grave in the future, please allow me to give you some tips. Definitely bring garden scissors, gloves and garbage/plastic bags for debris, dried flowers, used plastic wraps etc. Please spend time to clean up the dried flowers, cut the weeds and rearrange things to look nicer for Barbara. If you bring flowers wrapped in plastic, please take off the plastic wrap, for it only looks nice on Day 1, then the plastic becomes a waste. Please use the vase provided there for your flowers. If you have time, please bring a candle (with the match) with you and place it inside the candle lantern. Bring a talisman if you'd like, hang it on the statues. There are so many things we can do for a lovely person who had coloured our childhood with beautiful memories...
Also, here's the map of the clusters within the cemetery. Rob Radboud's website has a Google Map of the location, but I screen shot mine as well here:
Take Bus 10, 11 or 12 from City Center, only 17 minutes or so, with return ticket of around £ 5. As I previously mentioned, Barbara's site is at Lot 29, the northern corner of the cemetery. Just take the diagonal direction from the main car park, and you'll get there. And when you do, please give my love to her...
A post-script note to self (lest I forget):
Spend one night in Cambridge next time, for I also want to join the punt (boat tour) and visit the Fitzwilliam Museum for Hendrick van Anthonissen's whale painting. So, if I fly directly from Europe, I can fly to London Stansted Airport and take an hour's train to Cambridge for less than £ 15. Or if I'm in London already, I can take the early bus from London Victoria to Cambridge (return was £ 14), arrives around lunch time, check in, and go to Barbara's grave before dinner. Then the next morning, I can leave my luggage at the hotel, go back to the grave after breakfast (or before breakfast) to check the candle, lit another candle, etc (I really really wanted to do another trip yesterday to Cambridge, but just didn't have time). Then do the punt tour, the museum tour and get back to London in the afternoon, arriving just in time for dinner.