Slideshow: The Life of Ena Pedley
PUBLISHED: 17:16 28 July 2008 | UPDATED: 08:33 02 June 2010
SHE smoked roll-ups, drank pints in the village pub and swam in the river. With her colourful clothes and big hats Ena Pedley was a truly larger than life character. Miss Pedley was not a wealthy woman but her legacy is rich in humour and imagination and
SHE smoked roll-ups, drank pints in the village pub and swam in the river. With her colourful clothes and big hats Ena Pedley was a truly larger than life character.
Miss Pedley was not a wealthy woman but her legacy is rich in humour and imagination and gives a fascinating insight into the village where she was born and lived all her life.
The woman who was deemed by many to be an eccentric, who chose to live alone with just her pets for company, had one passion in life - writing poetry about her life and the lives of others in Tydd St Mary.
It is a legacy which may have never seen the light of day but for the patience and determination of one man who has spent a huge amount of time reading and re-reading the hundreds of poems she penned in her lifetime and putting them together in a book.
Miss Pedley appointed retired smallholder John Bliss as an executor of her affairs, his father had been a cousin to Miss Pedley. When Miss Pedley's house was cleared after her death in 2003 he found himself in possession of dozens of boxes of papers and artefacts.
Mr Bliss, 73, said sorting through the poems, having them typed and then printed in a collection was simply "the right thing to do".
'Pedley's Potty Poetry' - a name given to the collection by the author, not Mr Bliss, has been handed out to relatives and others who will not be offended by the contents.
Mr Bliss who also lives in the village, said: "I hope they read them in the spirit in which she wrote them. She was not spiteful and didn't have any enemies. She had no close friends but everyone knew her."
Miss Pedley wrote on all subjects. She said:
"I write on all subjects from vicars to village cops, of things seen in shelters near the bus stops.
Comments on the weather, be it wet or fine and of funny things I see out on the line. Of farmers and foremen and all the working men all's grist to the mill and work for my pen.
From bakers to butchers and their joints of meat and also of things you can't possible eat.
From strawberry growers worried in the summertime to ancient buildings discoloured by age and grime.
From retired railwaymen to the landlady's daughter also mentioning a certain daft newspaper reporter, who'll have to watch out or he'll lose his head, if, one day I catch him in the bar at the 'Spread'.
From dogs and cats down to insects and grubs and some rather rum landlords now keeping pubs.
I wish good health to all those I've mentioned here but beggar the baskets who put up our beer.
Ena Vi Pedley was born in April 1930 in a small cottage near the church in Tydd St Mary. Her parents George and Annie were both aged 40 when she was born.
Before she started school the family moved to a bungalow known locally as 'The Marsh'. It was tied accommodation in the middle of a large farm run by Dixon Spain Estates. The area had been used during the First World War as an airfield and the bungalow was next to a large aircraft hangar which had been converted into a potato chitting store.
Ena was educated at the two village schools and was a bright pupil with a reputation of being a rebel. She was a leading light in school concerts. She started writing her poems while at school and was quick to criticise her classmates.
Tydd St Mary School 1940
Now Nancy Stagg is a fool
One of many at our school
Besides that she is lazy
As well as being seven eighths crazy.
Derek Payne is jolly good
With a knife and a block of wood
But when it comes to use his brain
He's left outside in the rain.
When she left school aged 14 Ena worked at Newling's Farm, Four Gotes. She went on to spend a short time working in a food factory. Mr Bliss said: "I assume she found the discipline difficult to tolerate."
She spent the rest of her working life working on the land, doing seasonal work such as picking flowers and strawberries.
Her father died in 1969 and her mother in 1971 after which she remained living on The Marsh taking over the responsibility of keeping the coke burner going which heated the large converted aircraft hangar.
She never owned a television and her interests apart from her writing included reading science fiction books, teaching herself to play the piano and listening to music. She enjoyed a pint of beer, drinking in many local pubs including The Five Bells and The Spread Eagle.
Miss Pedley left The Marsh in 1979, moving to a council owned bungalow in Hix's Lane. She died from cancer in a nursing home in August 2003 and her ashes are interred in Tydd St Mary Cemetery in her parent's grave.
Mr Bliss said: "She was very well known in Tydd St Mary, Tydd Gote, Tydd St Giles, Sutton Bridge and parts of Wisbech possibly due to her eccentricity, sense of humour and gaudy dress sense. She would not take advice from anyone or let anyone interfere with her way of life.
"It took us a very long time to go through all the poems and writings, we never thought they would be so extensive. I really enjoyed doing it and it did become addictive once I started going through them all."
Miss Pedley was never afraid to criticise herself and her poems are full of language as colourful as herself. The poems are often read at family gatherings and are guaranteed to raise a smile or two.
Gas factory on legs
Oh, Ivy looks at me as though I am half cut
And some people do regard me as a nut
I never bother about dressing up, I don't really care
What my dial is like or what I've got to wear.
I cannot go courting I would have you know
Here are some of the reasons I cannot go
I eat foods so highly spiced, pickled onions and pickled eggs
That the poor blokes would think I was a gas factory on legs.
Also as some people have already found
I resemble a barrel, when measured all the way round
My bust is forty six, my hips are fifty two
A chap couldn't cuddle me, it's more than he could do.
He couldn't set me on his knee I certainly know that
A bloke in Wisbech tried and it finished him quite flat
That happened at two-o-clock and when they closed at half past four
The landlord and another chap were trying to scrape him off the floor.
He laid there for an hour and all he did was moan
When they tried to lift him he said 'Oh, please leave me alone'
They tried to revive him with whiskey, beer or rum
But all he said was 'keep that elephant off my tum'.