AELFTHRYTH, SHIPTON VILLAGE HALL, 9 FEBRUARY 2013.
INTRODUCTION BY JOHN GITTINGS
As many of you will
know, Aelfthryth and I have over the years organised many different kinds of
parties and gatherings -- four years ago
in this hall. And it seems very strange that I have had to organise this event
without her being here although you will not be surprised to hear that I
haven’t done so without her approval. In
fact all the items on this programme were specified by Aelfthryth before she
died and in some detail.
It has been
my task to arrange them and I am very
grateful to all the musicians and speakers who have agreed to take part. I
would also like to thank Lee, the manager of this hall, and Caroline, the
manager of the catering, for all their help too, and I would\ like to thank all
of you for coming to this celebration. It is a great tribute to Aelfthryth that
so many of her relatives and friends are here today.
It is impossible to sum
up half a century together, 53 years to be precise, But I would just like to
share with you two or three thoughts
about us together and about Aelfthryth herself.
First I would like to tell
you how we first met properly. We met in a hall
in Oxford, where Aelfthryth and I
had been given the task of organising a CND exhibition to commemorate Hiroshima
Day.And together in that meeting room one can say that we clicked. We clicked
both personally and politically, and we would continue to do so throughout our
years together in both, equally important spheres of human life.
Second, quite a few of you in your messages have said
that we made a good team together, and looking back in the last few months,
Aelfthryth and I came to the same conclusion, that we had embarked on a great
enterprise, not always quite knowing where we were going, and that it has been
a great success/ One of the photo panels
exhibited here is labelled Cats and Boys, and at times it seemed as if this
enterprise was mainly concerned with bringing up and looking after Cats and
Boys, but it was a lot more than
that. Aelfthryth managed to re-start her
working career while she was still pregnant with Max: she also managed to
sustain me in my own work in a generous and unselfish way.
would like to just enumerate some of the things which Aelfthryth enjoyed, some
of the things which she loved.
She enjoyed giving
parties, especially in recent years on the mulberry lawn at Shipton Court, and
cooking delicious food with great skill and attention to detail.
She enjoyed doing
crosswords and was better at them than anyone else in the family.
She enjoyed keeping
things straight, whether it was the contents of the Gatehouse, or the files and
folders of the Oxfordshire and Wychwood Probate Groups.
She enjoyed chatting
and laughing == quite a lot of these at
meetings of both of those groups.
She loved visiting churches,
abbeys and cathedrals, and she had a particular taste for the Norman and the
She loved our foreign
travels, from Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Hong Kong, Cambodia and the trans-Siberian
railway with two small children in the 1960s, to China, Cambodia -- again
-- Vietnam, Turkey, Crete, Greece, Italy and France in the last decade
But most of all, she loved
her own children and grand-chlldren, and she loved the children of many others.
Finally, a word about
the photo panels on display here. I have not tried to label everything, but do
please look at them and if you have any questions about them please ask myself
or Danny, or Tom or Joe or Max. Right
now, I would just like to draw your attention to one remarkable feature which I
have noticed while putting them together. Please look at the very first photo
sequence, a photo of Aelfthryth at the age of four in 1943, with a smile on her
face. Then look at the photos in recent years, more than 60 -- nearly 70 = years
later. The smile is exactly the same.