The whole Family became very friendly with the Lady my Parents purchased 44 Meath Road Ilford from, all those years ago back in the 60s.
Miss Lee who owned the 3 bedroom terrace house was a real English Lady, her close friend Miss Cooke lived with her along with Lena Miss Lee’s niece.
Miss Cooke I liked immediately she was so sweet and gentle and we got on like a house on fire. My mother had seen the house and was desperate to leave Richmond Road, Ilford not far in fact just a few roads away from Meath Road. Yet Meath Road was like being in a different area altogether, it was quiet and everywhere you looked people kept their houses and gardens so lovely, ours was to be no exception. To my mother she was rarely seen without a duster in her hand, surprised she did not pull one out at my Wedding, she did not approve of.
44 Meath Road, cost £3,300 Miss Lee accepted my Father’s offer of the exact price and when someone came along and offered Miss Lee more she turned them down, there was still honour in those days, unlike now. The Estate Agent told Miss Lee she could get more but she said she had given her word and that was that. Happy days of a sort in Meath Road. My parents not having that much money put the £300 down but had to borrow the £3,000 – little did I realize that when leaving school at 15 and after Pitman’s Secretarial College for a year I started work at The Prudential in London, not what I wanted, I so wanted to be a Professional Nanny but my mother had other ideas. My wages the majority my Father would take each month to pay the mortgage. When my Father died and the house was left to my mother she handed it to my sister, not one penny did I receive.
Anyhow my mother kept in touch with Miss lee now and again and every fortnight I would write to Miss Cooke and she would write to me, we were both fond of each other and she was a funny Lady. On holiday one year in Worthing in Sussex, my mother booked it to my Father’s annoyance the week of the World Cup Final in England, can you believe it she probably did it deliberately. Daddy and myself were so desperate to see the World Cup on the Saturday we persuaded my mother to phone Miss Lee if we could see them! Well we did we were welcomed with open arms, and during the conversation Miss Cooke said the World Cup Final was on, the dreaded England V Germany. (sorry Matt).
The Television was put on and it was so exciting, I was sitting on the floor of Miss Lee’s beautiful Sitting room in Worthing, calling out/shouting with my mother poking me in the back to stop, surprised she did not have her beloved bamboo cane with her. Miss Lee would say it was alright to let me be and Miss Cooke well “oh no don’t stop Anna this is such great fun”. The match was exciting to say the least with the crowd going mad then the final minutes and That goal (sorry Matt if you remember) and Kenneth Wolstenholme’s immortal words “THEY THINK IT IS ALL OVER WELL IT IS NOW” and England had beaten their rivals Germany, always a great team still are great footballers. I was jumping up waving my arms around and my “World Cup Willy” my Father had bought me, he was made of straw I remember that and am still annoyed that my husband threw it out after we moved to this house, these days the original straw “World Cup Willy” are worth money, not that I would have sold it I would have given it to my Sons.
My Mother kept apologising for the noise I made and Miss Lee and Miss Cooke said it had been such fun. So often Miss Cooke and myself would write about that match and our visit and how really jolly it had all been. We were good friends and I was so very fond of her.
Time passes memories fade a little especially with me with dates and times. One late summer maybe early Autumn evening I was standing as I always did in the doorway of the kitchen it was 9pm and my mother was making a cup of tea, suddenly I felt this hand on my left shoulder giving it a gentle squeeze, I said Miss Cooke, why no it could not be, I felt it so much I turned and said “Yes” thinking someone there, my mother said “whats wrong with you” and I told her straight away she said “someone has died in Ireland” (her home) and we thought any minute the phone would go, but no. I had not felt scared it felt so nice gentle loving perhaps, perhaps what Miss Cooke please no.
All that evening and night I could not think of anything else but that hand on my shoulder, and Miss Cooke I read and reread her last letter’ The next morning being a Saturday, I do remember that – the phone rang my mother answered and all I heard was “oh no, oh no Lena, I can’t believe it Anna will be so upset” my mother did not have to say I knew it I knew last night it was Miss Cooke I just burst out crying, I loved her she was such a sweet Lady the type you meet once in your life if you are lucky. My Mother told me that “Miss Cooke died at 9pm last night of a heart attack in her sleep” – 9pm the precise time I had felt that gentle hand on my shoulder with a squeeze, I like to think she was not saying goodbye but was saying “how jolly the football was and WE WON”.
I cry for her now as I cried for her then my lovely English Lady Friend, I know what I felt that evening and I know she is still there somewhere, still enjoying the matches between the two rivals as they say, England V Germany only now Germany always seems to beat England. (good on you Matt)