Lovely's Mum- the original Spice Girl
There are a few things about Lovely's Mum that you might not know.
She might have appeared a quiet and unobtrusive person, but underneath that exterior there was the heart of an adventurer; a free spirit with a sense of humour, a keen wit and an eagle eye. Long before ‘Girl Power’ Lovely's Mum was doing what she really really wanted!
She was born on her mother’s birthday and grew up as an only child, describing her own childhood as quite lonely. However this forced her to be self sufficient and to seek out her own entertainment. When she was evacuated to rural Shropshire with her mother during the War, she became a teenage rebel. Her mother fretted as Lovely's Mum became fascinated with the local gypsies, running off into the woods to watch them roasting hedgehogs over their open fire.
The War was a difficult time and she spent much of it in fear of what would happen to her if the Germans invaded. However, these experiences seemed to spur her on to explore and discover other places and cultures. Shortly after the end of the War she and a friend got on their bikes and cycled through Northern France wearing the shortest of shorts! They started in London and made it as far as Reims, a distance of some 269 miles as the crow flies. France was still recovering from occupation at the time and they made people laugh by asking for coffee with cream, something that had not been seen for a while! They slept in fields, on one occasion in a brothel and on another in the cell of a local police station, when the local Gendarme took pity on them. And it would seem that this love for cycling was something which Lovely's Mum passed on to the little Lovelies!
|Lovely's mum in her shorts|
Also around this time Lovely's Mum became pen-pals with someone in Minnesota, as part of a project organised to link up young people from different cultures. Lovely's mum and Loris wrote regularly to each other for the rest of their lives. Loris visited London in the 1960s and Lovely's mum repaid the visit in the 1980s, making the news in the local papers and radio. The last letters they exchanged were last Christmas.
|Lovely's mum and Loris|
She also visited the Soviet Union before the end of the Communist regime, with a friend from work. Her one frustration was that she couldn’t speak any Russian and communicate with the people she met.
She would never turn down an opportunity to travel when she was in good health. When Youngest Lovely was sent on his first business trip t o New York, he half jokingly said to her “you can come if you want”, not really expecting her to say yes. Well he obviously underestimated her tenacity and she jumped at the chance; and so Youngest Lovely was accompanied on his first proper business trip by his mother, who enjoyed several days of 5-star luxury in the Big Apple!
She also enjoyed many walking holidays and her most recent trip was to Eastbourne in May, with friends from her apartment block. In one of Lovely’s last conversations with her she said that she was still planning to visit her in her new house in France when it was finished and would soon sort herself out a new passport.
Lovely's Mum was not a drinker, although she would occasionally have a glass of wine. This aversion to alcohol stemmed from her 21st Birthday party. Her parents had organised a big family party and she celebrated by downing a whole bottle of port. The ‘other side’ of her character then emerged and the quiet Lovely's Mum was replaced by a far more outrageous version as she systematically went round all the invited guests and told them exactly what she thought of them. This was much to the embarrassment of her mother who refused to talk to her the next day (although in later years it was a story she loved to tell everyone). From that day Lovely's Mum decided that the excesses of alcohol were not for her and she preferred to keep her wilder side well and truly hidden.
Lovely's Mum met Lovely's Dad on the tennis courts at the Civil Service sports club. A friend bet him that he couldn’t get a date with this young girl, as he was quite a bit older than her. They underestimated Lovely’s Mum's sense of adventure. She described Lovely's Dad as being far more dynamic and energetic that any of the men her age. Marrying someone 26 years your senior was a controversial thing to do in the 1950s but she never let what people thought stop her from doing what she felt was right. When people said, “well with that age difference you won’t be having any children”, she replied by saying “oh yes we will, lots”. She refused to wear a white wedding dress, saying the colour didn’t suit her, and on the morning of her wedding she returned from the hairdressers and washed out the shampoo and set, preferring a more natural look.
|Lovely's Mum and Lovely's Dad|
Lovely's Mum never liked to push her opinions on others but she did have them and was not averse to expressing them in a well penned letter. She was particularly fond of the cricketer, Ian Botham. She entered into a serious correspondence with John Junor of the Mail on Sunday when he wrote an article accusing him of being a foul mouthed yobbo. She concluded her letter to John Junor by saying
“When I read your remarks I felt like “planting one on yer” which is what us true foul mouthed yobbos say!! “ and signed the letter
“Yours ever, Lovely's Mum”.
The following year she sent a letter to Ian Botham himself when he announced his retirement. It said
“Just a short ‘thank you’ note for the many hours of wonderful cricket. I have enjoyed your playing career especially because you have always appeared to be so competitive and keen to win. Cricket will be the loser on your retirement, but thank goodness for ‘son of Botham’- there is still hope.”
As a mother, Lovely's Mum had a very relaxed approach to parenting. She certainly didn’t “sweat over the small stuff”. Domesticity was not one of her great loves and it suffices to say that from fairly early on we all learnt to do our own ironing, if we were being fussy. She was loyal, loving and always there to pick up the pieces if things went wrong. In her own quiet way she inspired us to be true to ourselves and lead the lives we really wanted to.
Lovely'a Mum did not like being the centre of attention and she will probably be cringing now at all this fuss. She would want to be remembered as she was in life; her own person, determined, adventurous, thoughtful and considerate to others and definitely not ‘plain vanilla’.
|Lovely's Mum on her 80th birthday with the little lovelies|
Signed The Little Lovelies, August 2012