I don’t actually remember being sat down and told I was not their ‘real child’. It was just a given, along with the absence of information about my ‘real’ parents.

I was always asking questions…… and getting in trouble for it! 

Some things don’t change.

Staring out to the night  sky through my bedroom window. I was very little and would lay awake for hours.  Feeling the turmoil and un-wontedness, consoling myself by imagining the ‘people who made me’.  Of course they were always amazing, glamorous and heroic.  ………Little did I know!

When I was nine, maybe ten, the story broke.  My Grandmother, handed me a small glass of brandy.  We were in her freezing cold bedroom, her words forming steam in the air.   She blurted that my real mother was my aunt (her other daughter).  Then, she told me just a little about Ricky, the good for nothing, short-time husband…… AKA my father.

I remember feeling giddy, sitting on the little bedroom chair, a dark wooden bookcase next to me, offering a sense of ‘solid’.  It’s funny how we focus on the strangest detail when our lives are turned upside down. 

It turned out that my glamorous, jet-setting, successful career woman Aunt was actually my real mother!  A double edge sword for me, as she was also an abusive, alcoholic, often out of control, drama queen who would swoop in from exotic climes, with a gorgeous man on her arm, on a regular basis. 

Family squabbles ensued, as a result of my Grandmother overstepping her mark.  I kept schtum – bemused, confused and desperately hurt. Nobody asked me again.  It was the omnipresent white elephant that only I could see.

Many years later I met my Father. As to be expected, it was a bumpy emotional ride but overall went well.  A few years later I was over the moon to reclaim my birth name.  It felt like I was coming home.  Michelle Zelli, was born, again! 

When we eventually met in my forties, I was somewhat relieved to find out my Dad could read and write.  His library of books, love of wordsmiths as diverse as Eminem to Shakespeare was the first golden clue!  It goes without saying that very little of what I had been told about him, after the day of disclosure, was the truth. 

Only in my forties did I hear of the infamous Joe Zelli. My paternal grandfather, who died before I was born.  A renowned night club owner in Paris, with strong Native Indian, Mafia and Royal associations!  You really couldn’t make this stuff up but his colourful life, outlined in the attached article, is well researched and a joy to behold.

A natural rule breaker, he defied societies bigotry and the norms of the day. A reputation cemented by his highly controversial decision to bring black jazz singer, and sexual provocateur, Josephine Baker to perform at his club.   In her day she was a big name and highly controversial.    In those days black singers did not perform publicly in Europe, it is said he was the first to break this now-unimaginable rule!

His love of music and glamour, along with his trademark passion for life and walking on the wild side, fills me with joy.  He was a known womaniser and gambler.  He hobnobbed with Gigolos and Gangsters alike but when the heat got too much as a renowned Parisian Nightclub Owner, he upped sticks and scarpered to New York.  There he opened a Broadway Show which lasted just a few weeks but his story lives on, along with his genes.

Now I raise a glass to Joe Zelli, his rebellious spirit, sense of adventure, ambition and passion.

With a huge, hearty hug, for the little girl who prayed so hard, for so long, asking for a story.

I wish she could have known the universe was listening.

True Inner Child connection is a life changer.

Never stop trying, however hard it feels.

Dissolving blocks and walls little by little, your connection will deepen.

Here’s to Joe Zelli

and little girls who dream big.

For the full spec on Joe Zelli Click the here