Dionne never made it to the millennium which is sad as she had so much energy in her as well as a desire to always say and stand up for what she really believed in, and that was not always easy as she moved in circles where many didn’t agree with her.
For a start she was black and she had a white boyfriend Kevin. The group we mixed with at college although not racially homogenous in any way did include a large exclusively male and outspoken black power group. A strong-willed black woman having a white boyfriend did not fit with this ideology at all and I’m sure at times it meant much heartache for Dionne.
Then Dionne was a member and an active member of the Labour party at that. And a moderate within it. Most of our group at college held political views well to the left of the labour party and mainly socialist in one way or another, and even the few Labour party members were also members of the Militant Tendency which was a big issue in internal Labour politics in those days.
Dionne was also the only Leicester City supporter, and a real fan from the town as well unlike the plastic scousers and mancs who had never even been to the cities but adorned themselves in the regalia and watched it all on TV. Dionne kept a withering fire at such false supporters who only followed a team because the team were succesful and they the (plastic) supporters weren’t as Dionne put it.
Dionne was also a practicing Christian although not evangelical with it. We didn’t mix with Christians.
I liked Dionne and always held her as a close friend who could be relied on when others couldn’t even if my one really good memory of her was when as a few of us whiled away a Sunday afternoon in term time playing a drinking game which consisted of mixing a concoction of thunderbird, tennants super, vodka and anything else alcoholic to hand into a pint glass and then sitting around dealing everyone a card from a shuffled pack until a jack came up. First jack could sip the drink. Second jack ment sip the drink as did third jack with fourth jack having to down whatever remained without pause. Or maybe it was the version that involved continuing a rhythmic clapping game until someone got it wrong who then had to drink with obvious consequences to your consumption as you became more drunk. Anyway Dionne wasnt really a drinker. Anyway Dionne had a knack for the luck in such games where she rarely even sipped and almost never had to finish the drink. When there was a knock at the door of the squat I was then living in Dionne was the obvious person to go to the door. When she returned to tell me it was some of my friends with a strange emphasis and a teasing look in the eye I hadn’t a clue she had opened the door to the gang of skinhead fascists that tried, ultimately unsuccessfully, to run a protection racket on any squatters. Unfortunately Dionne had left the door open and by the time my half inebriated brain was working they were already in the room. Later it gave us plenty of laughs talking about the whole event that unfolded but while it was happening it was not exactly pleasant and by the time we laughed about it maybe the attempted reign of intimidation and extortion had already been ended although it was certainly later when Conor also manged to let a smaller group of the fools in.
Helen and I went to get the beer leaving Dionne in the flat she shared with Helen to take care of drying the freshly picked leaves being fast dried under the kitchen grill. When we came back the whole house stank of weed and what remained of the herb certainly wasnt usable in any way whatsoever.
Sometime after we left college I lost contact with Dionne and she headed back to Leicester although on a couple of occasions that weren’t very memorable I did run into her again. After leaving the UK on a visit back in February 1994 when meeting with a group of college friends I heard that Dionne had cancer. There were no details but a year or so later Dionne was dead I later heard.