Follow by Email

Monday, 10 October 2016

Victoria Wood - Comedy Genius - her life and work by Chris Foote Wood


Victoria Wood Comedy Genius - her life and work by Chris Foote Wood is published by The Memoir Club at £15 + £2.75 P & P. Advance copies can be ordered via 
email: or telephone 0191 419 2288.

Author- Chris Foote Wood

REVIEW - DAILY MAIL Saturday 8 October
Stanley Wood was a handsome ex-naval officer whose diverse gifts as a scriptwriter, author, producer and pianist foreshadowed his youngest daughter Victoria’s supreme talents as an entertainer.

He also had a northerner’s predisposition towards bluntness. A caustic entry in his journal for September 7, 1969 records, ‘V (Victoria) fatter than ever and has more spots. For breakfast Vicky had toast thickly spread with jam and two pieces? Then lunch 30 minutes later. I calculate she watches the telly for eight hours.’

He also comments unfavourably on an early boyfriend of Victoria’s and observes that any children they have will be like ‘balloons.’

Should such censorious private musings about the 16-year-old Victoria Wood, who went on to become one of the nation’s best loved and most garlanded comedians — embracing singing, song writing and acting with equal deftness — and who died six months ago, ever have been made public? Should we be privy to her father’s barbed remarks about her teenage over-eating; her insular, sedentary lifestyle; her over-weight boyfriends?

The eldest of Victoria’s three siblings, her only brother Chris Foote Wood, 75, has this week defended his decision to publish excerpts from their father’s private diaries in a soon-to-be published book, Victoria Wood Comedy Genius: Her Life And Work.

He has written a biography which offers extraordinary insights into the bizarre upbringing of his famous sister, who died aged 62, from cancer; a woman who guarded her personal privacy so closely that only a tiny coterie of her immediate family — Chris was not among them — even knew she was ill.

Chris, a journalist, broadcaster, author and former politician, says: ‘I’ve been castigated for saying Victoria was an unhappy teenager, that she spent her time in her room eating; that she got overweight and depressed. But I’m just repeating what she’s said publicly herself. She said in an interview for Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 2007 that she was overweight and miserable in her teens.’

Actually, Victoria went further, revealing the depth of her desolation and isolation when she was at the fee-paying Bury Grammar School for Girls: ‘I went under. I was a mess, a misfit. I didn’t have any friends, let alone try to be funny. I didn’t do any work, didn’t have clean clothes and didn’t wash.

‘If I didn’t have any money, I’d steal from people and if I hadn’t done my homework I’d steal someone else’s. I was envious of all the groups: the horsey group, the girls who went out with boys, the clever ones. Looking back, I feel really sorry for that little girl.’ Chris comments that father Stanley did not confine his scathing remarks to Victoria: ‘My father wrote cruel things about all four of his children; also amusing and kind comments. He made fun of us all.
‘I hope Victoria’s story will inspire other young people who might feel lonely and unhappy as she did, to make a success of their lives.

‘She left the most fantastic legacy of work and the tragedy is, she had so much more to give. I’m one of her biggest fans.’

Indeed, Victoria Wood left a dazzling comic bequest to the nation. She still holds the record for the most sell-out shows for a solo performer.

She also combined this prodigious creative output with motherhood, and was married for 20 years to Geoffrey Durham, the magician The Great Soprendo, with whom she had two children, Henry, 23 and Grace, 27, whose privacy she strenuously guarded. 

Responding to criticism that he has disregarded their feelings, Chris says: ‘It’s totally untrue. I wrote twice to them, said I’d been asked to write a book and offered them the chance to be involved. I asked them to get in touch if they had any concerns. They didn’t respond.

‘I’ve been asked: “Did you get permission?” But when was a law passed decreeing you had to have permission to write about your sister?’

He’s also keen to point out that he is not doing it for the money: all proceeds will be donated to ‘charities close to Victoria’s heart’, although he hasn’t decided which ones yet.

It cannot be denied that the insight Chris gives into the eccentric upbringing of the Wood family is tantalising. Stan and Nellie Wood had four children: Chris, born in 1940, Penelope, who arrived five years later, Rosalind, born in 1950, and Victoria, born in 1953.

Because of the relatively large age gaps between them, the children became self-contained and self-reliant. ‘We weren’t a convivial family who gathered together for evenings in the sitting room. We all retreated to our own bedrooms,’ says Chris. Chris, 13 years older than Victoria, only spent five years living with her in the family home before he left for university.

He insists that there was a sharp disparity between Victoria’s down-to-earth northern girl image and her affluent middle class upbringing.

‘She was very conscious of the “Victoria Wood Brand”, which was that of a working-class girl — which she never was,’ he says.
‘By the time she was four our parents could afford to live in a very big house in the country, overlooking a golf course and the Irwell Valley near Bury.

‘Victoria used to refer to it as a bungalow, which strictly speaking it was. But it had been a convalescent holiday home for 24 boys and eight staff. Each of us had our own huge bedroom, father had a study and dressing room; mother had her sewing room. There was a vast entrance hall, big enough to hold a dance in, with a baby grand piano in it, and later Victoria had her own piano in her bedroom.’ 

It seems, too, that while Victoria lacked pretension, her mother Nellie — a complex and difficult character — was, according to Chris, a remorseless social climber who made strenuous efforts to cut off from her roots in working-class Manchester.

Nellie — bright and frustrated by the constraints of motherhood — was one of eight children born to a father invalided in the First World War and a mother who worked in a cotton mill. Nellie had left school at 14 to work in a steel works.
That she resumed her studies aged 49, and gained a BA and a Masters degree before beginning a new career as a lecturer in English literature, is well documented.

Only her immediate family, however, knew about the multifarious complexities of her ‘dark character,’ says Chris.
‘Nellie had been a vivacious, outgoing woman in the younger days, and when she met my father Stan it was a love match,’ he says.

‘But in later life she became a recluse. She turned her back on the world. And she was a very hard mother. She never showed us any affection; certainly never cuddled us, praised us or told us she loved us. She became grim, morose.
His diary records that in 1950, three years before Victoria was born, he received £100 in one month for a sales bonus alone, and almost £700 for a radio play. (The national average wage at the time was £400 a year.)Meanwhile, Stan was supplementing his healthy income as an insurance underwriter by writing radio plays and songs, and producing stage musicals.

‘Often she’d only speak to me through my father. She’d say: “Tell the boy this . . .” when I was standing right by her. I’d call it mental cruelty.

‘When we were small I remember her rubbing our faces so hard with a flannel she nearly scoured the skin off them.’
Nellie also dissociated herself from her working-class family, to the astonishing extent that she pretended to Chris that his maternal grandmother was dead when she was still very much alive.

He recalls: ‘One day when I was 14 — Vic was still a baby — I got my bike out to cycle over to my granny’s. Mum said: “You can’t go. She’s dead.”

‘I asked when she’d died and mother said: “Three weeks since.” Then I asked why I hadn’t been allowed to go to the funeral, and she said dismissively she didn’t think I’d want to. I never saw my granny again even though I later learned she lived for another eight years.’

Chris finds it hard to fathom why his mother so brutally truncated his relationship with his grandmother — and in so doing, also severed links with his many cousins, aunts and uncles still living in Manchester.

The kindest interpretation he has is this: ‘When I was 13, at about the same time as Victoria was born, I’d caught tuberculosis (TB) — a disease associated with overcrowding and poverty — from one of my cousins. I can only assume she was worried I’d go back and get ill again, and bring the infection home. But our mother’s behaviour certainly wasn’t natural.’

He remembers, however, that his mother’s public face was a gregarious one. Nellie pursued a path of upward mobility, joining the Ladies’ Circle and Costume Society.

‘She’d decided her own family were beneath her socially and she started to mix with prosperous middle-class women,’ he remembers.

He wrote scripts for the actor and broadcaster Wilfred Pickles and later for Coronation Street. By the time Victoria was born they were a prosperous family.

‘As a small child she had blue eyes and mass of golden curls,’ says Chris. ‘She was a lovely baby; always smiling and she grew into a cheeky toddler who made us laugh.’

It was from Stan, of course, that the prodigiously talented Victoria inherited her love of theatre, comedy and performance.
Touchingly, her father’s diary also records her first joke: a seven-year-old Victoria was listening as her dad told her a story about the Three Musketeers, when she asked: ‘Were they deaf? You just said they “must get ears”!’
Nellie and Stan were polar opposites. ‘Nellie was very severe,’ says Chris. ‘Like Victoria, she waged a lifelong battle against her weight and although she cooked for us all when I was a child, she used to pass food through a hatch into the dining room and never ate with us.

‘Stan was tall, good looking and an outrageous flirt.

‘I believe he was monogamous, but he was a terrific ladies’ man. He played the piano for the Ladies’ Circle and when they were considering putting on a Costume Through The Ages show, he suggested, “Why don’t you do underwear?” They agreed and he orchestrated it for them.’

It was Stan who gave Victoria her first piano lessons teaching her to play Polly Wolly Doodle on their baby grand by marking the names of the notes on the keys. Much later her brilliant comic songs, played at a white grand piano, became her hallmark; her homage to suburban lust, Let’s Do It, earning its rightful place among comedy classics. That her parents were each, in their own way, exceptional is undisputed and it is evident that she inherited traits from both. But while she has only hinted at the darkness of her childhood — the solitary meals eaten in her room; the addiction to sugar; the diet pills she took from the age of 12 — her brother confirms it.

Nellie, he says, was prey to arbitrary, black moods. She developed an antipathy to her only son — according to Chris, it was never explained why — and when he left home to go to Newcastle University aged 18, she severed links with him completely, refusing ever to speak to him again.

Indeed, she remained alienated from him for the ensuing 40 years until her death, aged 81, in 2000.
According to Chris, Nellie also tried to ban him from his father’s funeral in 1993. But it was Victoria’s then husband, Geoffrey, who stepped in.

‘He told Nellie: “Not only will Chris be there, but he will also help carry the coffin and read during the service”, which I did,’ he says, adding, ‘Geoffrey has been a very good friend to me, the very best of brothers-in-law.’
The conundrum of Nellie’s unkindness has never been resolved.

‘My sisters all said to me: “We don’t know why she was like she was”,’ Chris says now. ‘They encouraged me to go into therapy, because of the way she treated me — she didn’t disown her daughters, of course, only me. But I didn’t see a psychiatrist.’

Instead, his catharsis was to write a book about his mother ten years ago. Called Nellie’s Book, it drew on her journals and memoranda as source material – and through it, he says he learned ‘to love and admire her’.

Chris, a widower whose second wife Frances Foote died three years ago from cancer, clearly also admires his famous sibling. The sitting room of his modest terrace house in Darlington, County Durham, is cluttered with memorabilia: photos of Victoria are interspersed with those of his late wife.

Despite her busy and hugely successful career, Victoria always found time to meet her brother once or twice a year – the four siblings would gather at Christmas or New Year – and Chris would regularly go to see her shows.

‘We used to play parlour games at Christmas and Vic was always incredibly competitive,’ he recalls. ‘She had to win. And when her children were on the same side as her, they’d wipe the floor with everyone.’

It was the same talent, tenacity and determination that had always burned in Victoria.

Far from finding fault with his overweight, awkward, youngest daughter, one entry in Stanley’s journals shows just how proud he was of her.

New Victoria Wood biography - publication postponed
Family was told about it in June

The publication of a new, in-depth biography of comedian Victoria Wood by her brother Chris has been postponed for a month while the text is revised.

Originally planned for the end of this month, the new publication date is November 25th. This follows criticism of the book Victoria Wood Comedy Genius - her life and work (*) which describes the teenage Victoria as “fat and unhappy”.

The hugely talented, multi-Bafta award winning comic, writer, actor, singer-songwriter, producer and director died in April this year aged 62.

Author Chris Foote Wood said: “I have discussed this with my publisher at the Memoir Club and we both agree that I have given too much emphasis to Victoria’s early problems with her weight. I am revising the book to ensure that this aspect of her life is reduced and put in its proper context. However:

“I cannot and will not leave it out altogether as it is an essential part of Victoria’s story. She wanted the public to know about her early problems with her weight, and she spoke of them at length in some very candid press interviews.

“I am a huge fan of Victoria. I admire her all the more for overcoming her early problems to build her hugely successful career. She also had many disappointments at the start of her career, and it was years before she finally made her breakthrough. She succeeded against the odds through her force of character and sheer determination.

“I make no apology for writing this book. It tells Victoria’s story, her full story, from unpromising beginnings to national treasure. It cannot be a ‘betrayal’ to tell the full, true story, especially as Vic herself has made public her early problems.

“And I must put the record straight. To say the rest of our family did not know about my book is totally untrue. Back in May and June, I wrote to my two remaining sisters, and both of Vic’s children, telling them of my intention to write a biography of Victoria, and asking them if they had any concerns to let me know. None of them responded. In other words, they left me to it.

“It has now been announced that Victoria’s children, Grace and Henry Durham, have authorised another biography of their mother, written by a ghost writer, to be published next year. This is fine by me: the more books about Victoria, the better. I hope both of our books do well”.

Foote Wood - who added the name Foote when he married his late wife Frances Foote in 1977 - includes extracts from his father’s diaries, his own reminiscences as well as many from Victoria’s fellow actors, directors and other professionals. Chris has agreed to donate all his royalties from the book to charities supported by Victoria.

Chris Foote Wood has also set up a Crowdfunding appeal to pay for a life-size, lifelike statue of Victoria in her home town of Bury, where a site has been agreed. Bury Council is supporting the scheme and will maintain the statue once erected. Donate via

(*) Victoria Wood Comedy Genius - her life and work by Chris Foote Wood is published by The Memoir Club at £15. It will be available through bookshops and Amazon etc. Advance copies can be ordered via email or telephone 0191 419 2288.

For further comment and book signing events contact the Author: Chris Foote Wood (Northern Writers/Three Kings Productions) “Prestbury” 30 Brook Terrace Darlington Co. Durham DL3 6PJ Tel: 01325 483 660 Mob: 07984 060615 Email: web:

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Carnock Letters by A L Bryan Nicolson of TARANSAY Hon.DLitt, FSA Scot, G.C.E.Tr.

The Carnock Letters, a series of letters sent to A. L. Bryan Nicolson, this led to the ultimate and final conclusion that Lord Carnock would succeed to the Chiefship of ‘The Clan Nicolson’ the first 
Nicolson Chief for over three hundred years.

This book is a companion to              FOR THE ANCIENT RACE

also written by A L Bryan Nicolson
PRICE: £7.50  available from The Memoir Club, Jasprint, 12 Tower Road, Washington. NE37 2SH Tel 0191 4192288 or email

The Right Hon. David Henry Arthur Nicolson    
The 4th Baron Carnock
Baronet of Carnock
Baronet of Lasswade
The Chief of Clan Nicolson

AUTHOR: A L Bryan Nicolson of TARANSAY 
           Hon.DLitt, FSA Scot, G.C.E.Tr.

I first came to my Scottish Ancestry when I was about eight years old, although there was not anyone in my immediate family who wore a kilt, played a bagpipe or spoke the Gaelic language. All this would fall to me being taught to play the bagpipe from the age of eleven years. At this time a Pipeband was formed at Sunderland in 1957. Fortunately for me the place where members held their first weekly practices was in the village where I lived at the time. When I was two years old I had heard a Pipeband play at Durham, and this was my first hearing of the bagpipe, something must have stirred in me and consciousness, and has never left me. The science of heraldry came to me when I was on a visit to Durham Cathedral with my parents, when I was eight years old, and has been with me from that time. I find heraldry a most fascinating subject, especially the artwork and its coming together and final construction.
I knew that we were of Scottish descent, but not much more and at the earliest time did not know we were one of the most ancient of the Scottish Clans.
I hope what I have put together and correlated what will be regarded as a working tool on the subject, and all who come to it will find the work to be of great interest.
I send my best wishes to all those of the Clan Nicolson and to those who are a Sept of the name, you are a welcome part of the family.


It is with great pleasure, at long last, that I have set down these letters received from David Nicolson the 4th Lord Carnock, over a span of many years. Dealing with the Chiefship of Clan Nicolson and other matters of Nicolson history and Heraldry, and with reference to family genealogy. The final and deciding matter of the Nicolson Chiefship, would come to Lord Carnock recognised at the Court of the Lord Lyon 3rd Sept 1983. Lord Carnock died on Boxing Day, 2008. The Chiefship would now fall to his cousin, Adam Nicolson, the 5th Lord Carnock, with the Chiefship would be the baronetcy denominated Lasswade, which is an additional baronetcy for the Carnock family. Further to that is the Chiefly Arms of Nicolson. David Nicolson 4th Lord Carnock, would be the first Nicolson Chief in over three hundred years.
                                                                                                                                A. L. Bryan Nicolson

Friday, 20 May 2016

General Sir Brian Kimmins - At Your Service - To be launched September 2016

At Your Service A Belated Autobiography of Lieutenant General Sir Brian Kimmins KBE CB DL
augumented by Malcolm Kimmins. Foreword by Field Marshal the Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank GCB LVO OBE DL.

                                           Edited by Malcolm Kimmins and Biddy Chittenden

It is unusual for a soldier to achieve forty years of unbroken service. That Brian Kimmins reached this milestone is testimony to his commitment, loyalty and devotion to duty in the defence of our country and our values. This span included two World Wars which makes the story yet more remarkable.

There are added dimensions. Letters from his preparatory school, a World War One Diary and some marvellous photographs all make for a  captivating record of a life of exploration and adventure, lived to the full.  

This is a story that could so easily have never seen the light of day.

The General was persuaded, with some difficulty, to put pencil to paper on his retirement from the Army at the age of sixty. There was no thought that it might be of interest beyond his immediate family, let alone be worthy of publication to a wider audience.

The manuscript, such as it was, moved from house to house, from cupboard to cupboard, until a grandchild used it for a school project and another was persuaded to type it out in some sort of order. From such a modest concept we now have a fascinating insight into what was truly a life spent ‘At Your Service’.

Brian Kimmins had an Army career of forty years spanning both World Wars. His name may not be as well-known as some senior British soldiers but his contribution to the country’s war efforts was immense.

It is fortunate that he kept a World War One diary and recently the memoirs of his much admired and inspiring Battery Commander, Major Dick Archer Houblon, were rediscovered. Extracts from both add greatly when it comes to describing the fear and horror that the nineteen year old must have had to overcome as a very junior officer.

Kimmins clearly had a happy childhood and a loving and supportive family. From Orley Farm, with the help of a scholarship, he went on to Harrow. He was academically bright and well prepared to cope with officer training and the rigours of RMA Woolwich. If it had not been for the war he would almost certainly have gone up to Cambridge to read Classics.

World War One did much to shape his character. He put into practice all he had learnt on training and leading frightened men who would have preferred to be anywhere but where they were. Although Kimmins only arrived in France in August 1918 he was soon in action and quickly saw just how ghastly war can be.

In 1919 he was posted abroad to begin ten years of Foreign Service and a love affair with India and Egypt. He took every opportunity to hunt and fish, to play polo, to enjoy pigsticking and to travel widely in the subcontinent. In 1928 Kimmins, who had moved to Egypt with his regiment, was invited to be an ADC to the High Commissioner to Egypt and Sudan. This was very different from regimental life and gave him experience of the political and diplomatic life which would prove invaluable later in his career. On his return to England he made steady progress in an Army which knew sooner or later it would have to fight the Germans again.

On 3rd September 1939 war was declared and six days later he was in Cherbourg with the leading elements of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Eventually the impossible position of the BEF became apparent and Kimmins, who had spent much time liaising with formation commanders including Montgomery, was ordered to Dunkirk. On 1st June 1940 he embarked on the destroyer Keith which immediately came under attack and was sunk. He was bombed and machine gunned in the water before being picked up and brought to England and safety.

His ability was widely recognised and he was given increasingly important posts on the staff. At the beginning of the war he was a Major, by the end a Major General. The posts in which he was most influential were in South East Asia and in the war against Japan. Lord Mountbatten liked and trusted him and Kimmins reciprocated. Much of his time was spent visiting Headquarters throughout this vast command in India, Burma, China and the USA. His schedule was punishing and meetings required all his diplomatic skills, as the Allies had different views as to how the war should be fought and what should be the outcome once the Japanese were defeated. He arranged the Japanese Surrender Ceremony and remained for a time to help locate prisoners and internees who were scattered throughout the Far East.

On coming home he held a number of appointments including Director of the TA, Head of the British Military Mission to Paris to observe on the European Defence Community conference and finally the testing Command of all troops in Northern Ireland as a Lieutenant General.

Brian Kimmins had a remarkable career in the Army. He was an extrovert, clever and able to communicate with the great war leaders, Alanbrooke, Montgomery, Slim and Mountbatten, and with Churchill and Stalin. From early in his Army life he developed the skills required to become a superb strategic planner at the highest level.

The story is well written and edited and tells us much about the British Army both at war and at peace in the first half of the twentieth century.
Field Marshal Lord Guthrie GCB LVO OBE DL

Quotes taken from the book:

We were rather frightened of our headmaster Mr Hopkins - 1907

Resplendent in my Sam Browne belt I felt a real pride in myself - 1917

I saw my first battlefield, dead men hanging grotesquely on the wire - 1918

I nearly got mauled by a large black bear which attacked me downhill - 1924

One very senior lady always arrived tight - 1928

Not realizing the date a complete April fool was made of me - 1930

We saw one bomb released at us from low altitude - 1940

Stalin, in what looked like a butcher’s coat, made a dramatic entrance - 1945

The family found it oppressive to be guarded day and night - 1956

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Brian Greenwood - Use It Or Lose IT

Contact The Memoir Club, Jasprint, 12 Tower Road, Washington. NE37 2SH 0191 4192288 or email

PRICE £7.95 or 3 copies for £20  includes UK POSTAGE

Brian Greenwood


USE IT OR LOSE IT may very well add many years to your life!  Following the common sense advice, with which it is packed, will certainly increase your happiness in the latter part of your life.
 This book is unusual in that its author is not a young man expounding a theory but is in fact a man of eighty-seven who practices what he preaches and is able to draw on all the varied experiences of a long life.
 That experience has been backed up by careful research and the result is this guide, which Lord Norman Tebbit describes as ‘This excellent book’.
 Similarly an eminent Cardiologist says ‘This book will help in great measure to provide crystal-clear lifestyle guidance’ and a widely experienced General Practitioner confirms – ‘This book gives examples of how advancing old age can be challenged’.
 The Headmaster of one of the North’s leading independent schools describes ‘Use it or Lose it’ as ‘Homespun wisdom grounded in careful research and sound common sense’.
 This is a book for everyone aged forty and over and younger people also will do well to read it with either an eye to the future, or with a view to giving good advice to an older generation. It is, of course, an ideal small gift for an older person – man or woman – about whose future you care. 

Read it – you will not be disappointed!


Lord Tebbit CH
This excellent book.
This splendidly comprehensive manual of how to maintain a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Paul Silverton MDFRCP Consulatant Cardiologist
An entertaining and highly informative treatise. This book will help in great measure to provide crystal clear lifestyle guidance.

David Humphreys Headmaster Woodhouse Grove School
This is not a guide for mere survival but a series of timely remindes about making the most of your life and living life to the full.

Dr Georgina Haslam Ret GP
This book gives examples of how advancing old age can be challenged. Use this book as a springboard.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Professor Anne Jones - The Education Roundabout

                                                                                                            Author as a Senior Civil Servant

The Education Roundabout: published 2015.

A memoir written by Anne Jones.

This book of 400 pages covers Anne’s life/work as well as providing an analysis of what has been happening in Education in the last fifty years or so. The book is full of humour and also sharp comments and examples of ways to improve the quality of learning and academic achievement for learners of all kinds, including Lifelong Learners. Lots of original manuscripts included, clear fonts and fascinating photos. It’s not a novel, so you can enjoy the pages which appeal to you at leisure and in any order. Lots of snippets about Royalty, Ministers, TV programmes and newspaper articles included and lots of laughs. Thirty years ago, Anne was predicting the present Muslim/West crisis. She also spotted that Britain was way behind Korea, Japan, Singapore, and the East on levels of achievement in maths, science and technology. This means that Britain still has too many unskilled workers for the needs of industry and we have to import skilled workers.

The following document gives a brief idea of the contents of each chapter. a leading example of a women breaking through the glass ceiling. Anne is an experienced broadcaster, eg Question Time, has written many books such as Counselling Adolescents in practice and Leadership for Tomorrow’s Schools. A Headteacher for 17 years, she was the Senior Civil Servant, who directed the Technical Vocational Education Initiative, a professor developing on-line learning systems, an Eastern Europe Advisor for OECD. She is an Emeritus Professor of Lifelong Learning. This book will be of interest to students, teachers and serious researchers into Education, Community Schools, Lifelong learning and casual readers, who enjoy her wit and wisdom.

Education over the last fifty years or so: 1950 - 2015 

Has anything really changed or do we just go round in circles? Anne thinks we do. For example, the new government proposals for five tough GCSE’s take us straight back to the old School Certificate and matriculation, which was abolished around 1950, when O level was introduced.  Only the brightest passed. What effect will the e.bacc have on raising educational standards?

Chapter 1. Student Life, teaching bright girls from top schools, counselling adolescents, having children

Chapter 2. Deputy Head (Thomas Calton) Teaching Peckham children, training young teachers

Chapter 3. Head, Brixton, Vauxhall Manor multiracial Girls’ School, improving results. Job opportunities, access to university.

Chapter 4. Head of Cranford Community School near Heathrow. 1300 pupils and 1300 adult learners/sports people (11 acres).

Chapter 5. Senior Civil Servant getting the Employment and Education Departments to work together and prepare young people for the world of work and be more enterprising.

Chapter 6.  Professor Making lifelong learning a reality at Brunel University and learning on-line, tracking achievement.

Chapter 7. European Expert Adviser for OECD and ETF, Training the Economies in transition from Russian control to become independent and self-managing.

Chapter 8. Bringing Lifelong Learning to Life in the Antipodes.

Chapter 9. Lifelong learning for leisure.

Clear text and lots of photos bring it all to life

The Education Roundabout by Anne Jones: Comments

Professor Alan Smithers: Anne Jones has been a teacher, a pioneering Headteacher, a Senior Civil Servant a Professor of Lifelong Learning, a wife and mother, and a TV personality. The Education Roundabout draws on her life in Education to provide fascinating insights into being a teacher, leading schools, unfolding educational policy and running a Research Centre. In the school chapters, her wealth of personal experience will greatly enhance the understanding of all those interested in education, particularly teachers and those in training.

Dr Grey Giddins MDMRCP: If you prefer fact to fiction, then this book is for you. Professor Jones could not have had a more brilliant career in Education, with Lifelong Learning at its centre. Her work with children who were deprived and multi-national should be compulsory reading for everyone. Our understanding of the problems of the young would be enhanced. Read it – you will be amused and fascinated.

Mike Duffy,  former President of the Secondary Heads' Association
I enjoyed reading The Education Roundabout. It was great to be reminded of those exciting days in the 80s when so much seemed possible and you were firing up so many of us with you energy and passion.. And particularly in the Secondary Heads Association booklet, a View from the Bridge which was, in all fairness, mostly your vision and your words. Looking at some of my writings at that time. I see how often I drew on your ideas. One comment remains with me to this day: 'the best pastoral care is the best teaching.'

David Threthowen, Warden Park School. Sussex: When your book ‘Leadership for tomorrow’s schools’ (Blackwell ) came out in 1987, all we Heads bought it. It is the best book on Headship I have ever read, both because of its easy lucid style and because of the way in which theory has been interwoven with practice in the content.

Professor Bill Jones: Professor Anne Jones is rightly proud or her title as one of the first to be a Chair in Lifelong Learning. This is an engagingly curious book. He briefly touches on Anne’s interests and achieve- ments including TVEI, (Technical Vocational Education) e-learning., careers guidance , changing the culture of training in former Russian States, community colleges, improving career opportunities for women and for adults who want opportunities for to continue their education and training. He concludes: 

The wider Lifelong community will read this book with interest: it is an engaging read: honest, enthusiastic and celebratory.

Anne says: 'It could have been an academic tome but I wanted my family and friends to understand better how and why it all happened. So I have included my own commentary and some humour as well. My life itself is a story of Lifelong Learning’.

Ann Gittins: former Head of a large Comprehensive School 
As a hardworking mother of three, Anne Jones brought a woman’s perspective to what was a largely male dominated field of educational leadership. She shows that strong and successful leadership involves not only the analytical skills that may have been traditionally regarded as masculine but also the emotional intelligence which was perceived as a feminine trait. She demonstrates that she has always practised what she preached at every stage of her career. The need for people with Anne’s capacity to see through the detail and raise the fundamental questions is more urgent than ever.

Anne brought a woman’s perspective to what was then largely a male-dominated field of educational leadership. She showed that strong and successful leadership involves not only the analytical skills that may have been traditionally regarded as masculine, but also the emotional intelligence which was perceived as a feminine trait. As Professor of Lifelong Learning, looking back on her personal and professional journey, she demonstrates that she has always practised what she preached. At every stage of her career to language teacher, to pioneering school counsellor, deputy head and then inspirational Head teacher, Civil servant, she demonstrates that she has always practised what she preached. She has constantly reflected upon and articulated the essential principles that underpin her work. Her papers provide a fascinating picture of the recurring themes of education in the last fifty years. As these themes reappear the significant signs of progress remain open to question. The need for people with Anne’s capacity to see through the detail and raise the fundamental questions is more urgent than ever.

Don Wix M.Ed, MBE, Hon D Lit: This is a remarkable book, based almost entirely on Professor Anne Jones’ incredible input into the world of Education over the whole span of her career. She has never advocated standing still, but rather to find new ways for education to adapt to a rapidly changing technical world. If you have learnt as much as I have from this book, you will have far better perceptions of the channels through which new systems can override existing features of schools, colleges and universities.

Comment from a Senior Civil Servant:
‘Fascinating transformations from stellar Headteacher, to policy guru/ big programme spender, to reflective academic: highly successful in all three careers............. Anne is a wonderful example of what can be achieved by combining energy, intellect and enthusiasm’,

Anne Jones is Emeritus Professor of Lifelong Learning, Brunel University and was a Director of her social club Phyllis Court 2009-2015. Formerly she was a French teacher, school counsellor, Headteacher, senior civil servant, European expert adviser, author, broadcaster, Professor of Lifelong Learning and founder/MD of Lifelong Learning Systems. Anne has vast experience of leading organizations and people into the future. 

JONES, Prof Anne; da of Sydney Joseph Pickard (d 1987), and Hilda Everitt, née Bird (d 1999); b 8 April 1935; Educ Harrow Weald Co Sch, Westfield Coll London (BA), King's Coll London (PGCE), Univ of London (DipSoc); m 9 Aug 1958 (m dis 1988), Cyril Gareth Jones, s of Lyell Jones (d 1936); 1 s (Christopher Lyell b 24 July 1962), 2 da (Catherine Rachel (Mrs Spencer) b 8 Aug 1963 d 2015, Rebecca Madryn b 15 March 1966); Career asst mistress: Malvern Girls Coll 1957-58, Godolphin & Latymer Sch 1958-62, Dulwich Coll 1964; sch cnsllr Mayfield London 1965-71, dep head Thomas Calton Sch London 1971-74; head: Vauxhall Manor Sch 1974-81, Cranford Community Coll 1981-87; under sec (dir of educn) Employment Dept 1987-91, visiting prof of educn Univ of Sheffield, educn and training conslt 1991-; Brunel Univ: prof of continuing educn 1991-, dir Centre for Lifelong Learning 1995-2000, prof emeritus 2001-; ceo and dir Lifelong Learning Systems Ltd (LLS) 2001-09; advsr: European Trg Fndn, OECD, Br Cncl; dir: West London Leadership 1995-99, Business Link London NW 1995-99; chair: Assoc of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 1979-80, Area Manpower Bd for London South and West 1983-87; ind lay chair Complaints NHS 1996-2005; conslt EDGE 2005-07; former memb: Schools' Broadcasting Cncl, Home Office Advsy Ctees on Drugs and on Sexual Offences; former memb Cncl: UCL, CRAC, NICEC, Grubb Inst, W London Inst of HE, RSA; tstee: The Westfield Tst 1992-2005, Menerva Educnl Tst 1993-2004 (chair 1993-99); govr The Abbey Sch 2004-12; chm: Henley Choral Soc 2005-09, Boathouse Reach Mgmnt 2005-10; hon memb City and Guilds Inst; Hon FCP 1990; fell Queen Mary & Westfield Coll London 1992 (memb Cncl 1992-2002), FRSA (former memb Cncl 1992-2002), FCMI (chm Reading Branch 2004-08); 

1. School  Counselling in Practice. Ward Lock Educational 1970
2. Counselling Adolescents in school.  Kogan Page  1977

Work books for schools
Male and  Female, Living Choices , Time  to spare. Hobsons. 1984, 1987

4. Counselling Adolescents in  school and  Beyond : Kogan Page 1984
5. Leadership  for Tomorrow’s Schools, Blackwells  1986, reprinted 1984
6. Human Resource Development, an Employer’s  Guide, The European Training Foundation, Turin 2001
Chapters in edited books
1. The Disruptive pupil in The Secondary School Ward Lock 1970
2. Truancy: problems of school attendance and refusal: John Wiley  1970
3. Studying school effectiveness: the Falmer Press  1984
4. Schools and External relations: managing the new Partnerships: Cassells Educational 1989
5. Bringing Learning to Life: the Falmer Press  1995
6. Employment and the future of work :  the Institute of Policy Studies, Wellington 1996

 Available to buy from The Memoir Club, tel 0191 4192288 or email 
£15.00 P & P £3.50 UK (£5.00 Europe £7.50 ROW)

Sunday, 14 June 2015

John Bridgeman - I REMEMBER IT WELL


by John Bridgeman

PRICE £20 + £3 P & P UK 
available from The Memoir Club, Jasprint, 12 Tower Road, Washington. NE37 2SH
email:   or tel 0191 4192288

Star Pool on the River Driva. Watercolour by Guida, 1922

This book is about the recollections and art of three generations whose lives span the 170 years from 1845 to the present day. As it was written by six different people, each section is very different in both style and content. The art of each generation is represented by many beautiful watercolours and sketches.

Part One recalls the diaries that my paternal grandmother, who was born in 1848, wrote for the benefit of her children, memories of a life of privilege and duty, and her years as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary. They include some of her astonishingly obsequious letters to Queen Mary and her revealing daily letters to her husband while ‘in waiting’ at Windsor during the Irish crisis of April 1914.

Part Two is a light-hearted account of my grandfather’s travels in Spain and Morocco in 1887 along with his friends Lord Rowton and Lord Claud Hamilton. 

Part Three aims to include some of the most interesting of the recollections that my maternal grandmother recorded in her old age in a book entitled Avenue of Ancestors. Sir Compton Mackenzie in his foreword to it wrote that: Since I first read Walter Scott’s Tales of a Grandfather when I was eight years old I have not been beguiled by so many fascinating stories of the past. I hope that this book will include some of the best of those stories, as well as adding others equally beguiling.

Part Four incorporates extracts from the diary written by my father on his journey to India in 1908 via the recently opened Trans-Siberian Railway and on HMS Bramble, the gunboat commanded by his brother Dick some 500 miles up the Yangtze River.

Part Five is the diary written by my father’s friend Archie Stirling, about his trek with my father in Kashmir in 1913 where, along with my father’s spaniel, they climbed to over 17,600 feet in search of snow leopard, bear and such game as they could find in that inhospitable terrain. 

Part Six brings these memoirs into a third generation and a third century by including a few extracts from my own diaries and recollections of the past seventy years. These include such diverse experiences as a private visit to the Sistine Chapel, memorable fishing experiences, the rigours of the Brigade Squad, dining with Dr Hastings Banda, dancing with the Queen, bird watching with Lord Alanbroke, on a grouse moor with Paul Getty, going round the world on a shoe string and much else besides.

John Bridgeman's book has just arrived and we are enjoying it hugely.  Well done him and well done you!                                                                                                              Jack and Caroline de Jode 

The best £20 I have ever spent. A. S.
What a wonderful “magnum opus” you have produced.   However long it took & whatever the hard work entailed, us lucky ones who have read and enjoyed it all know that your efforts have been hugely appreciated& enjoyed!! P. N.
 How interesting I found your book.  My goodness, you must have put some hours in doing all the research & preparation for it.  It is marvellous for the family to have a record like that to which to refer.   J. B-S.
It is the perfect "dipping in" book.  The edition looks so good after all your trouble.  C. W.
I have just completed his grandmother's diary.   I am lost in admiration as to how she got about the place and moved in such exalted circles.   What a fascinating life and great for the family to have this recorded for posterity.  What a labour of love the research must have been. M. A.
 I read your book on holiday which I greatly enjoyed.  I really enjoyed each section. It will be wonderful for future generations to read.  I loved the contrast of HGOB watching man land on the moon on a TV having been brought up in Victorian England with footmen in powdered wigs. M.G.O.B.
I have just finished and much enjoyed reading your book. I found your father’s experiences on the trans-Siberian express and in China fascinating. R.T.

We are loving ‘I Remember it Well’  - another huge achievement.  I can’t believe the research and hard work that must have gone into it.  What a fabulous legacy to leave for the future generations.   We are delighted that every time Rory calls on us he asks where it is and sits down to read another chapter. C. H.

We are captivated and rather awe struck by the content of the book and the massive research involved.  C. M.

                                                          Drumlanrig Castle - Book Launch