Sunday, July 22, 2012

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Dorothy Nixon scores Cricket at the Royal Selangor Club in 1952, captured in a March of Time TV program about the Malayan Emergency and posted on YouTube. Dorothy is my grandmother and the subject of my eplay Looking for mrs. Peel.  She was also the Librarian at the Kuala Lumpur Book Club.

(We have the same name, which is the reason I started researching her life, but that's another story.)

Well, what do you know?

I knew there was a 1953 March of Time about the Malayan Emergency kicking around in archives, but I didn't know that it was on YouTube. (Posted recently.)

Even though I entered 1953 March of Time into YouTube just the other day. But the title of this video is Kuala Lumpur 1952...Cricket whilst fighting goes on.

It's been put there by the same person who has uploaded that superb video of Malaya in 1964, that I often talk about.

Malaya Cricket Video  on YouTube. So see for yourself. The bit with Dorothy is in the last minute of the 7 minute video.

The voice over says "Dorothy Nixon is a fixture at the Club." There's an irony, as the bit talks about how the Club has opened up allowing non-europeans, yet I know that she was the ONLY woman allowed in that section of the club.

I knew my grandmother was the "Grand Dame of Cricket" in Malaya. For a while they were giving out the Dorothy Nixon trophy.

I read this in the Malaya Straits their archives.

My Aunt Denise had visited the Royal Selangor Club and seen her score books, meticulously rendered, she told me.

I have this still of Dorothy and the team from 1947 or so, before this March of Time.

This was in 1953. I would be born at the end of 1954. I wonder if my Dad saw this March of |Time on the Television? He never mentioned it. It would have shocked him. I don't think he saw his Mother since childhood, even after the war.

He told a story of her wanting to come to Oxford to see him after the war but he declined giving the excuse that there was no place for her to stay. 

I do believe that the first time he saw his mother since the 30's, (when she visited him at School in Durham) was in 1967, the era my eplay opens.(After the war she returned to England briefly. Suspicious as I know that her boyfriend was in Oxford after the war.)

But I'm not 100 percent sure and there's no one alive to tell me.

Here's a Wikipedia cricket score book. (I think I will TRY to find a copy of hers.) Scoring cricket is complicated, or so a Mrs. Hague of Montreal (also a Child of the Raj) told me. She had learned to score cricket at her school and then became a scorer for Singapore. My grandmother must have learned it at her Quaker Co-Educational School in North Yorkshire.

My brother taught me how to score baseball. That is not hard at all.

So 15 years later this tiny  'girlish-looking' woman (who had survived the Changi torture chambers during the War in the Pacific) comes to visit us on our ordinary Maple lined street in Montreal and I see only a wizened Old Crone, always with a cigarette in her hand and often with a tumbler of gin in the other, and always frowning. (A friend of made fun of her.)It's all written in my story Looking for Mrs. Peel

No pictures remain of her at our house on her visit in 1967, but these images are emblazoned on my brain. She did not enjoy herself cooped in our duplex,  in a strange city,  unruly teens all around her. (Typically, She hadn't raised her own children.)

My grandmother went from here: (Teesdale Durham) to here Kuala Lumpur in the 60's

No wonder so many people were contemptuous of Colonial Women. Giles Playfair (who seemed to admire my grandmother in his book Singapore Goes off the Air) says that these women lorded it over servants and attended illustrious parties when -if they had stayed at home- they would have been "sweeping out a four bedroom cottage."

Below: a page from my grandmother's 'memoirs' I used to write Looking for Mrs. Peel.

and on a related note: a picture I took of Plomari Greece, on a hot hot HOT Sunday, a special holiday, all the church bells were peeling and this young woman was leading this old woman up the steep road to church. A granddaughter and grandmother. The way it should be?