Mum having died at St Helier Hospital on Tuesday evening there is little else that I can reflect on at present. It is good to be a member of a large family (7 children) at a time like this but very hard for dad who himself will be 94 later this month.
Mum was from Bethnal Green and dad is from Whitechapel East London. In their childhood days there, many neighbours in that part of London were Cockney English, Irish immigrants and Jewish people working their ways up. Of course refugees and other poor immigrants later began to arrive as the older inhabitants began to move out and so in many ways it is still today.
Mum herself was the daughter of a protestant mother who I knew and loved as 'nana' until her death and an Irish catholic father who died in 1949 just before I was born.
Mum reported that the only help for poor London families in her part of the East End at the time was that:
"...of the workhouse; the teachers at St Anne's (catholic) School Whitechapel and Notre Dame Southwark..."
Mum's father fought for jobs at the East End docks; and she recalled how hunger was often the worst burden to bear. Mention is made in the foward to one of her 17 books of: "...Dutch herrings taken from great smelly barrels, the saveloys and hot salt beef and cucumbers pickled but not too sour, the jellied eels..."
Dad loves jellied eels but I have never been able to stomach them despite her description of their being "such a lovely glassy green."
Interestingly she mentioned the desperate conditions of the late 1920s and early 1930s giving rise to extreme fascist and communist groups of the East End which the Catholic Church denounced.
Later she passed an examination for Plater College Oxford which I believe used to be called "The Catholic Workers College". Life has changed in many ways since then of course but I believe Plater College was named after Father Charles Plater SJ.
In one of her books mum mentions with gratitude the Jesuit principal of Plater College "for furthering working class education."
Mum, in addition to dad and my six sisters and brothers leaves many grand children and great grandchildren including the newest great grandchild Emma who happily shares mum's date of birth 28th October, albeit 97 years later in 2013.
Mum will be remembered by many with great love and affection.
May she R.I.P.