I knew her many years ago when we both worked on a programme called Pictures of Women, which was one of the very first Channel Four series ever to be broadcast, I think.
At one of the many Sarf London parties I attended, we all sat round and talked about a TV series, and the taskes were shared out. 'I'll be the director, you can be the producer, you can do graphics, and Helen, you can write some music', said someone.
'OK', I said, assuming it was a bit like one of those games you played as a child, Cowboys and Indians, you be a Cowboy and I'll be an Indian.
It actually came to pass; I wrote fourteen jingles and some incidental music and Joanna came in to play some classical-sounding piano music. That's when I learned about mixing desks and all sorts of other technical stuff that people don't exoect when they see me out shopping at the supermarket with the kids.
She was lovely, and told me about an occasion when she wrote a trumpet part that was too high for the trumpet player to play, and he was scared to tell her because she was the composer. She hadn't realised it was out of his range, and couldn't work out what the problem was.
We all went to see her play some Rachmaninov pieces at the Purcell Room on the South Bank; she was wearing a beautiful sparkling coffee-coloured Zandra Rhodes dress and she charged at the piano with fantastic energy, flinging her long curly hair over her head, visually thrashing the keyboard, but sounding delicate and precise at the same time. I have loved Rachmaninov ever since.
Later, when she had become quite well-known, she invited me to visit her at her flat in Bayswater. I was too embarrassed to go; by then I had become a leggings-mum, having hit a trough of relative poverty, and I was ashamed of my non-existent musical career and hopeless outlook. I know now that that was silly; in every interview with her, I see that she has not changed a bit and she is still self-effacing and completely absorbed with interest in all kinds of different music and musicians.