Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tippie Atkinson My Speedway Auntie

Today I found out on Google that my last true Auntie, Tippie Atkinson, had died in 2007. I lost touch with her  many years ago but I did miss my wonderful Aunt. She was 94!

Auntie Tippie was an amazing woman for her time. She married a Speedway Rider, Arthur Atkinson in the 1930's and went on to promote  manage and run West Ham Speedway in London, which in those days was as popular as football is today. A glamorous, high powered and unlikely occupation for a woman at that time. It would be like a woman running Manchester United Football team today and she would possibly do a better job.

Tippie Thorpe was the third of my grandfather's daughters. My mother Honey Thorpe being the fourth. As with all middle class children of that age they were shipped off to boarding school in Belgium and left there for years. It must have been daunting for them both and I know my mother never recoverd. At sometime my Aunt lost an eye but she never let it bother her all her life.

Tippie was most impressive and fiesty. She could be quite forceful if displeased as I found out when I was three! I bit her daughter who though the same age was much bigger than I and would never let me pass on the stairs. This bite caused a family uproar as it was Xmas 1946. Tippie was furious with me packed up her family went home to Southend taking the turkey with her. You can imagine the scene. One family Christmas dinner all set to go and no turkey! My grandmother took three years to forgive her but I suppose even at three I was to blame. I still feel guilty.

Tippie and Arthur were well off by my family standards. Arthur owned a munitions factory in the war and did well. They had  big houses, mink coats, Jaguar cars and world cruises to Australia when the rest of us were on rations but my Auntie was just so nice it didn't seem to matter to me. Think it did to my mother. Living in a semi detached in Stanmore on nothing and watching your sister cruising around the world leading the life of a Movie Star could not have been easy.

Once in M&S I desperately wanted a Mohair Stole like my cousin and Auntie Tip would have bought it for me but my mother's pride did not allow. I shall always remember her kindness that day. When  I was 8 my grandmother died  AuntieTippie could not bring herself to go to the funeral so we sat alone together in the strange Indian Room at my grandfather's home  and she talked  to me seriously and treated me like an adult. It was the first time anyone in my  family had done so. That's what I liked about Auntie Tip, she alone in my family treated me as an adult and not as a silly little girl.

Later Auntie Tippie put on fabulous Christmas parties, real glass balls on the Christmas trees and real pork. Her family had to do without bacon for a whole year to save the rations and I feel sure she saw to it that my Xmas presents were on par with her own children as Mummy and Daddy could never have run to it.

Auntie Tippie showed the 1930's world what a woman can do given the chance! She ran a top class Speedway club for years. I loved watching her putting on the events and she and Uncle Arthur once took me in their Jaguar to Bristol to watch Uncle Arthur ride. I was about eight and it was such an adventure for me. She did not even seem to mind me being sick in the car!

Here is a gorgeous picture of them both when young and in love to remember them by! It was taken by my father and I think it is just so young and fresh and shows something of her enjoyment of life.

Tippie was worth much more than with which she has been  credited. Had she been a man with an education who knows what she might have achieved. I  am proud to be her neice.

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