Judy was born in a condemned cottage near Billingshurst in Sussex where her father
had evacuated the family. There was no power, water was drawn from a well and there
was a privy in the garden.
She was the third of four children with a distant, authoritarian father who became an absolute pussycat in his old age and a mother who was obviously good at making the best of things.
She was bright and intelligent but found the petty rules of social engagement difficult to get her head round. Her psychological and emotional make-up mitigated against the formal education her father proposed for his children so it wasn't until she attended the progressive New Sherwood School in Epsom that she was able to relate to academic subjects in any way.
Having a talent for music the traditional route of piano lessons and grades dismayed her to such an extent that she deliberately failed her exams, and ballet, which she loved, was taken from her as she grew too tall so, in her early teens, she decided to train as a secretary, an aim she subsequently fulfilled for many years.
Income brought independence and a bed-sit, a double-edged sword as it also resulted in a date rape and a subsequent nervous breakdown. It was in hospital recovering from that where the next part of her life began.
The following video is comprised of photos taken of Judy with members of her family.
Whilst in hospital Judy met, and fell in love with, a handsome rogue who was serving
his probation there. They should never have been allowed to meet as he was technically
under arrest and she was vulnerable but he either blagged his way into the patients
common areas or security was lax.
They decided to run away together, he skipped his probation and they hitched from Surrey to Scotland where they married and eked out a living doing menial work, living in bothies and a 14 foot caravan (external dimensions) in the middle of a trotting track in the outskirts of Glasgow.
Life was hard and she wasn't much more than 7 stone when she fell pregnant. Her husband wasn't impressed and beat her up so badly she fled to the police who arranged for her to be returned to her parents.
The birth of her first child, Joanne, followed and then divorce. Initially she lived with her parents and worked as a secretary but disagreements over child-minding meant she needed a live-in job where she could keep Jo with her so she went as au-pair/housekeeper to a variety of different families.
A couple of years later, whilst on holiday in the Channel Islands, she met, & fell in love with, Norman. Marriage followed swiftly due to the impending arrival of her second child, Gary.
But Norman was by no means an ideal husband, 12 years her senior, he expected a traditional style of wife and only grudgingly allowed her to work, a necessity as far as Judy was concerned as he wasn't prepared to fund the family (including a son from his earlier marriage) to the extent necessary for a 'stay-at-home' wife. Her situation was made worse a couple of years later when, in her mid twenties, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and became very ill, including three weeks in a psychiatric hospital with a reaction to the heavy doses of steroids she was receiving as treatment. Norman had already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, although he made a point of not following the advice of the medics, refusing to give up smoking and change his diet. He dealt in pornography and was a gambler and as the years went on Judy found the relationship ever more taxing. After another spell in hospital she came home to find that Norman had, that day, been rushed into hospital after a heart attack from which, a few days later, he died. Although still faced with many of the problems of widowhood, a teenage son and a household to run, her children were always a consolation.
The following video is comprised of photos of her with her children and grandchildren.
The house was sold, her children had left home and, for the first time, Judy found
herself in control of her own destiny. She hunted, unsuccessfully at first, for a flat
so she dossed with her daughter and friends. She worked as a secretary for as much of
the time as her illness allowed, she dated, but not seriously, and she travelled around
Europe. Eventually a suitable flat turned up but by then her ability to type on old-fashioned
typewriters was waning and new technology was beginning to make them obsolete so she put
the cat into a cattery, left the flat in the care of a boyfriend and enrolled on a
residential course in word-processing at Queen Elizabeth's Training College near Leatherhead.
It was there, in 1988, that we met.
She valued her independence "I don't want to wake up every morning with another toothbrush on the shelf" and "I'm never going to iron a man's shirt again." No problem as during the week we were at college and we both had other 'interests' that claimed some time, but we did spend some weekends together, either at her friends or mine or just together.
She'd booked a holiday for the end of her course so we bid each other farewell on Victoria station, her to the Gatwick Express me to Leatherhead to complete my course. (Later she admitted that, though she enjoyed the holiday there was something missing and when she saw me striding across the concourse of the airport to greet her she thought "That's my man.").
So life carried on after our courses. We temped most weeks from her flat but I would slope off back to Kent for a few days each month taking my toothbrush with me and to iron my shirts. By this time we'd divested ourselves of our other 'interests' and one day as I was packing to go she said "You don't have to go you know."
The following video is made up from photos of the two of us together.
Judy loved to get out and about. As a teenager she travelled with her family to Austria.
She, Norman and the family had holidays in North Africa and after she was widowed she
travelled back to Austria and extensively around the Med, especially Greece and its
islands where she spent several months learning the language and enjoying the culture.
But I am no traveller and, as her infirmities worsened, foreign travel became more difficult so her horizons became limited. We had several enjoyable holidays in the North York Moors and she liked attending agricultural shows and discovering the highways and byways around our home town and, in her latter days, visits to Longleat but she also liked sitting in the garden sketching, listening to and recording the birdsong.
This video follows her around some of her favourite places.
Her appearance was important to her, she liked to make a statement wherever she went.
Although not a great user of makeup, a bit of lippy and highlighter usually sufficed,
but when she could, she spent time on her hair with curling tongs and brush and was
rarely seen without earrings.
As her infirmities worsened she took it in her stride, having her hair cut short and wearing looser clothes but in her latter years she decided to let her hair grow long again and to wear it straight.
This video shows many of her outfits and is accompanied by Antonio Forcione and Adriano Adewale, musicians she had known for many years, and Seckou Keita a kora player we had grown to love through his solo work and in partnership with Catrin Finch.