I published my mother's memoirs on 26th March 2023, which would have been her 100th birthday. This is a meaty book, packed with literally all the memoirs, letters and notes my mother left behind. The book tells my mother's and father's life stories in great detail. I could not bear to leave anything out!
How to buy
The print version of the book costs £19.99, (sorry, but it's so huge and print prices have gone up), however, it's only £2.99 on Kindle.
Greenwich Girl on Amazon - standard print version with Prime delivery available.
Greenwich Girl on Kindle - only £2.99, and there is a long free sample on Kindle, because it is such a long book! You can download the Kindle version to almost any mobile phone (the Kindle phone app is free), or to a Kindle device.
Alternatively, you can order a copy at your local bookshop, although some bookshops may refuse to order from Amazon.
What's Greenwich Girl about?
Margaret Green was born in 1923 in Commerell Street, Greenwich. She began her working life as a milliner in Mayfair, a bought ledger clerk at John Lewis in Oxford Street, and a wages clerk at Merryweather's, the fire engine manufacturers in Greenwich.
During the war, she volunteered as an air raid warden on the bomb-scarred streets of Greenwich, and her family provided a ‘home from home’ for three young men serving in the Royal New Zealand Air Force: John Spencer Horan, Leslie Plimmer Russell, and Grant Alan Russell.
Margaret survived danger and loss and went on to train as a nurse at the Miller General and the Royal Masonic Hospital. After witnessing Churchill's victory speech in Whitehall on VE Day, she was inspired to join the war effort in the Far East. She is believed to be the youngest VAD to serve in India.
Her letters trace her courtship with my father, John Green, an ambitious young engineering apprentice from Charlton. She documents their early married life in Grotton and Glasgow, then when John's career with J Stone took him to India, Margaret went with him, this time with two young children.
The family later settled in Brighton and Hove, where as Managing Director of Rayner, John fulfilled his dream of building Britain's first dedicated intraocular lens factory. Retirement brought both joys and challenges, including John's devastating decline with Alzheimer's, and Margaret’s battle for recognition for her husband.
The writing of the book
It was a mammoth job to compile this book, which took me well over a decade! I especially loved the research involved, which included masses of fact-checking, and wherever possible, tracing descendants of my mother's friends and acquaintances.
Some of the editing was carried out while Mike's much loved mother Barbara was staying with us. Sheridan used Word's 'Read Aloud' feature to pick up errors in the text, as it is often difficult to spot your own mistakes by reading alone. Barbara would sit wrapped up in a blanket while she knitted and listened intently to the book. It brought back many happy memories of her own life in the 1930s and 1940s. It was lovely to hear a constant flow of, "I remember that", "I did that", "We had one of those!"
Sadly, Barbara passed away just two days before the release date for Greenwich Girl. I am sad that Margaret and Barbara never saw the finished book, but somehow working on it in Barbara's company has made it feel like a lasting tribute and connection to both of our mothers.
Photos and Cine Films
The book is illustrated with some family photos, and you can watch all my family's cine films on a dedicated playlist on YouTube. My father John was a keen amateur photographer and he embraced cine film enthusiastically. His films date from about 1957 onwards. It is wonderful to see the people and events in the book played out in real life. I had all the family cine film digitised by Timeless Moments, added titles to the films and arranged them in chronological order. I have also started to add some captions to identify people and places while you watch. Sometimes the reproduction is not always the best due to the age and quality of the original film. Eventually, I would like to get the film digitally remastered, but that project will have to go onto the back burner for now.
More topics you'll read about...
There are so many interesting strands in this book. Here are just a few of the many topics covered:
- Life in Greenwich in the 1920s and 1930s.
- The village of North Aston.
- SELTI (South East London Technical College).
- May Queens of Merrie England.
- Wartime Greenwich.
- Training and working in Millinery.
- Volunteering as an ARP Warden.
- RNZAF Bomber Crews.
- Red Cross training during WW2.
- The Royal Masonic Hospital.
- VAD Red Cross Nursing in India.
- Abbotababad and Dehra Dun.
- Westcombe Park Rugby Club.
- Women working at the Midland Bank.
- Grotton, Lancashire in the 1940s.
- Hardgate, Clydebank, Dunbartonshire in the 1950s.
- J Stone and Co in the UK and India.
- Calcutta (Kolkata) in the 1950s.
- Post colonial India and partition.
- British schools in India (Miss Scrimshaw's School).
- Manufacturing in India.
- Rayner Optical Company.
- Rayner Intraocular Lenses.
- An honest account of John's Alzheimers.
I'll give the last word to my husband, Mike:
This compelling life story has been compiled and edited by Margaret’s youngest daughter, Sheridan Parsons, using memoirs, notes, diaries, and letters, to create a captivating narrative of an extraordinary life lived through extraordinary times.