Isolation: 75
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Isolation: 76

Friends of long standing, such as Ivor James, May Mukle, Felix Salmond and Harold Samuel also travelled down for a few days' holiday on the Sussex coast, but those friends, both new and old, who lived in or around Friston itself could contribute a great deal to the well-being of the Bridges. The most important was Marjorie Fass. She was both a talented artist - her favourite colour was jade - and a musician, having studied the piano, violin and singing at Brussels (c 1904-7), and would have pursued a career as a professional singer but for continuing ill-health. She had a lively, inquiring mind - she could read and write in four languages - and was deeply interested in all the latest artistic developments. She first met the Bridges during the First World War when they were neighbours in Bedford Gardens, and remained a very good friend thereafter, believing in Bridge's music wholeheartedly. The second of the Three Improvisations, A Vigil, is a musical portrait of her. She was a tall, distinguished-looking woman with an immensely enthusiastic character, and was devoted to both Frank and Ethel, as indeed they were to her. To Marjorie Fass's credit, her close relationship with the Bridges did not pose a threat to their marriage but rather the reverse. Both Frank and Ethel could rely at any time upon her sympathy and understanding on both domestic and artistic matters, and side by side with Ethel, she 'suffered more often than rejoiced with Frank, but helped him tremendously'.32 In return, she took an intimate part in the life of a professional creative artist - she never pretended to being more than an amateur herself - and in this way an extra dimension was added to her own life.

On a more mundane level, the 'Brits',33 as Frank, Ethel and Marjorie called themselves, were always helping each other. Since they were such close neighbours in London, they could look after each other's houses when the other was on holiday. If Marjorie Fass was staying in the country, she would send flowers or fresh produce to the Bridges in town, or vice versa. Ethel hated packing her cases for a journey and so it was Marjorie Fass who undertook this chore. One of the most important influences she had on the Bridges was her 'discovery' of Friston, her first visit taking place in 1921, when she stayed at Crowlink Farm. She invited the Bridges to join her for the Easter weekend and Bridge was inspired to start work on the Piano Sonata. After the building of 'Friston Field', which she supervised since the Bridges were in America at the time, she also had her own house, 'Denshers',34 built at Friston, virtually next door to the Bridges.

32 Letter, Daphne Oliver to Trevor Bray, 2 August 1976.
33 An abbreviation for 'Ancient Britons'.
34 This name was both a corruption of 'Devonshires', the Duke of Devonshire once owning the land between Friston and Eastbourne, and also a pun on 'dentures', which Marjorie Fass had.