The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world


Is Nanny so under appreciated? When I was a nipper, I was lucky enough to have had several people look after me in my early years. My first, Nanny Roberts, was a cross between Margaret Rutherford and a rugby prop forward from Pontypridd in Wales. She was absolutely terrifying complete with white apron and hat like a server from Mickey D. I was always free to question her decisions, but rarely had the temerity to do so. She could probably have made me pee in my pants.But then again I adored her! She foisted upon me manners and life lessons along with traits and hang-ups that still haunt me now. I can still hear her hiss at me “Don’t eat with your mouth open or the tooth fairy might come along one night and pull all your teeth out!” It takes every effort for me not to blurt that out if I see someone munching open mouthed at another table in a restaurant, some sixty years after I last heard her say it. The fact that some expert told Cosmopolitan Magazine ‘that chewing open mouthed may actually help to release more of the volatile organic compounds, contributing to our sense of smell and the overall perception’ would have only confirmed her very dim view of the magazine. But when I was ill or hurt she was the ultimate comforter. And if someone biffed me at school she would make her displeasure known to the offending child’s parents, usually suggesting they get a decent Nanny to pump some manners into their offspring. Having been grilled over my appearance, told to always comb my hair, and forced to wear sensible lace up shoes when going on walks, she at least left me with the ability to tie a bow… let alone a sense of complete shame if my fingernails are dirty. Later on we switched to Au Pair girls, some of whom were breathtakingly beautiful. I remember a blond Danish girl called Bambi who was the spitting image of Julie Christie. I got to spend every evening looking at her with my eyes as wide as an owl’s. She taught me a Danish nursery rhyme that I can still perform at the drop of a Danish bacon sarnie. I cannot repeat with such clarity anything else from that period.

...and another thing

I am always amazed if someone from a wealthy background turns out to be a rotten egg and that the papers never dig out who was their nanny. Goering, was a super wealthy aristo and really should have known better. Frau Nanny might have approved of Mussolini for getting the trains to run on time and his natty uniforms and hats, but she surely should have looked down on Adolf Hitler as being just a grubby little Austrian painter.

God knows what happened to Lord Lucan. He ended up murdering his kid’s nanny (albeit mistaking her for his wife). Churchill being a true aristo had Elizabeth Anne Everest, whom he admits had a tremendous influence on his life. I wonder if she smoked cigars or put champagne on her Corn Flakes or brandy in her hot chocolate?

As for Harry and William, they had the gorgeous and wonderful Tiggy Legge-Bourke to pull them through after Diana’s death. Without her things would have been far worse. I’d love to know what she thinks of Megan, though.

...and another thing

Whilst Nanny Mcfee, Mrs Doubtfire and Mary Poppins are all fictitious, Baroness Maria Von Trap really did exist, though I understand she never ran through the hills of Austria belting out “🎶The hills are alive, with the sound of music…” She also, sadly, did not look anything like our saintly Julie Andrew’s.

The truth about Nanny is if you were fortunate enough to have one, they were a buffer zone between you and your parents. They could be eye-wateringly strict, but never ratted you out to your parents. They became confidents and remain burned in my memory more than any other adult at the time.

So wherever you are Deidre, Bambi, Margaret, Angie and Nanny Robert’s, I hope to God no one has got their elbows on the table!


Keep safe

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