Only in death is a life story fully known, and in Peg’s own words her life was long, sometimes bloody hard work, and a bit boring toward the end.
It began just a few weeks after the end of the great war, when horses walked the streets and electricity was a new wonder, her century saw extraordinary change.
As a child, the family ran a nursing home in Ravenscourt park near Hammersmith, and when her mother married, her new family moved further North of the river to the fields of Burnt Oak which she fondly remembered. That Peggy was dark and oriental and Joan fair, was explained by their mother Norn, as being due to one having been born during the night and the other by day. A tall story that didn’t reflect the contribution of a Malaysian rubber plantation owner’s son and endured a long time with Joan.
As a girl she won a scholarship to the Henrietta Barnet grammar school, and as a young woman worked at the labour exchange in Kings Cross, where she showed an aptitude for dealing with the “colourful” clientele.
When war broke out again, Peggy was drafted into the ATS, posted to the Orkney Islands, and recruited into the concert party that entertained the troops. She was a natural performer.
She de-mobbed, just before Victory in Europe, pregnant with my mother Sandra, and a few years later met and married Ted. Together they left a war torn London for a fresh start with Suzy their 8 year old daughter, and a new bungalow that backed onto fields at 6 Romulus Close Colchester.
Though never much more than five feet tall, make no mistake Nan was tough, enduring 14 years of very harsh, poorly paid nursing at Severalls hospital.
A powerful matriarch, selfless and constant in her duty, generous with both money and the sugars that somehow made their way into her bag at Debenham’s restaurant. (thank you Steve ;). She was dedicated to her family and caring.
Through nearly 40 years of retirement Peggy lived very independently in her beloved flat, supported by Suzy, Clare, Malc, and Kerri, and delighted by Zak and Leo, Max, Saski and Theo.
I remember a jaded yet bright and lively spirit, who never really grew up.
Whether in panto as Dick Whittington’s cat, making toys magically speak, playing “poo pongos” with her perfumes, or charming every child that crossed her path. Nan had a twinkle in her eye.
Throughout her long life she entertained, most happily before a microphone or on the dance floor. Christmas 2017 saw her last performance.
I hope, up there in spirit world, she and Bevvy have driven to the Manor Ballroom, where a slow foxtrot plays to an appreciative audience, and Tom waits patiently with undivided attention.
Peg, mummy, nanny – we give thanks for your life, your generous and fun spirit, ever sharp wit and selfless duty.
and from Matthew’s gospel –
Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Here are some more pictures of her life
Ashes to ashes