29 Oct, 2020

A nice little article …. and more

A nice little article in The Times caught my eye the other day, a story about the Queen Mother and Baroness Trumpington.  It brought together a few thin strands from my life.

First, a little about the Baroness.  Jean Barker was a strong, larger-than-life character as many will know.  I’ve just read a little more about her.  She was born into the upper classes in 1922 and they say that by the age of 15 she was fluent in French, Italian and German.  She moved in high society circles in Britain and the USA and had a reputation for feisty humour and ‘fun’.  In WWII she worked at Bletchley Park . Later for a time she was Mayor of Cambridge.  As a politician she supported some rather interesting causes, being pro-foxhunting, pro-smoking, pro the legalisation of brothels.  They say she was tough on crime and commendably was very strong on women’s equality.  And I was pleased to read that in 2017, when she was 95 years old and guest editor of the BBC’s Today radio programme, she chose as one of the discussion topics: living with incurable diseases.

But in the later years of her life this is how she’s best remembered, at least how I noted her. It was a moment in the House of Lords in November 2011, the Remembrance Day debate.  Lord King of Bridgwater made a kindly reference to her advanced age.  She didn’t like that so she stuck two fingers up at him.  It was caught on camera.  Instant fame!

So what was the story in The Times?  It seems that the Baroness owned a 19th century painting of The Long Walk, that stunning three-mile avenue to Windsor Castle – see the photo at the top.  Her husband had bought it for £5 in a second-hand shop.  The Queen Mother and the Baroness were close.  Her Majesty admired the painting, and said so.  Now in the 1960’s, in those circles and in those circumstances, it would still be thought correct to offer it as a gift.  How could one not do so for the Queen Mum, her friend?  But she said no.

There’s another link with Cambridge.

When someone is ennobled, i.e.made a Lord or Lady – I’m explaining these things more carefully for non-British friends –  he or she can adopt an official title which refers to a place, and that place is often where the person was born.  It’s not mandatory; it’s just a rather nice traditional option.

My old college stands on Trumpington Street in the middle of town, but Trumpington itself is a village on the outskirts of Cambridge.  You might expect that Jean Barker, who later chose the title “Baroness Trumpington”, had been born there.  But she hadn’t.

This is how the story goes – and I have it on good authority from someone who knew her.  When asked about it, “No way!” she laughed, “I’m Baroness Trumpington!  No way could I use my birthplace!  Can you imagine it?!”

A few miles from Cambridge is the tiny village where she was born: Six Mile Bottom

———————————

Had a message from the National Hospital yesterday.  I’m to be admitted on November 11th,  Anaesthetist tests on the 12th.  GA PEG operation on the13th.  Fingers crossed, home on the 16th.  So they’ll have a third try at piping me.  Third time lucky?  On Friday 13th.

9 Comments

  1. Love today’s piece.. A bit surprised that such a feisty character didn’t go for Lady Six Mile Bottom! Shame.

    Brilliant news about Friday 13th. Lucky for some. Surely this time please…

    Reply
  2. SO pleased with the news! And very relieved for you, Thank you, as ever, for the update.

    I’ve just googled Baroness Trumpington. What a fascinating life – almost as varied as yours! I see that she was also a headmaster’s wife in Cambridge for some years – I’m sure she made life interesting and fun there, too! I do remember her on Desert Island Discs – one of the best ever xx

    Reply
  3. Excellent news about the date for the op old son. We’ll soon see you back home with a vastly improved eating system.
    British public life is undoubtedly the poorer for the passing of the doughty Trumpington. When will we see her like again ?

    Reply
  4. So please you have a date and hope all goes well think of you each day
    and enjoying your blog xx

    Reply
  5. Every good luck for the 13th Dave. Hope this time it all goes really well.

    Reply
  6. David, great news about the op dates. All the very best for completion this time.

    Reply
  7. So pleased to hear you’ve now got another date, trust this time all will go well this time so your present difficulties will be a thing of the past. Always thinking of you with love. Valerie xx

    Reply
  8. Thinking of you so pleased you have a date love. always Barbara

    Reply
  9. So so please you have a date. We will all being collectively crossing our fingers, arms, legs etc for you.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other posts

Rolling on ….

Rolling on ….

I decided to cheat.  On June 5, two blog posts ago, I wrote about the imminent Global MND Awareness Day on June 21 and the challenge for anyone to run 21 miles before that day, even if they only do...

read more
Hip! Hip! …. Boo!

Hip! Hip! …. Boo!

What’s this strange title?  Well, it’s because for an hour a day I’m experiencing the rest of humanity at its hip height. It’s the Peacemobile of course.  Rolling through the streets of London and...

read more
1 ½ miles a day?

1 ½ miles a day?

Something new, or at least new to me: June 21 is ‘Global MND Awareness Day’. Around the world the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations organises fundraising activities to boost interest...

read more