Ladies Lunch at Ilgaz, North Cyprus

For the past few months a private Ladies’ Lunch has been arranged with a guest speaker and I am so pleased that I was included on the invitation list.  We have had some very good talks given by various people who can put over their subject in an amusing, interesting and factual way.

On 13th November, 43 ladies descended on the Ilgaz Club for lunch, to be followed by a talk by Jacqueline Smith about her book “The Other Grocer’s Daughter”.   The Ilgaz Club is a lovely place for this type of event, with a large rear terrace for summer dining and a spacious indoor dining area for the cooler weather.   We had all pre-ordered our meals from a choice of 3 starters and 3 main courses and as usual the food was delicious and all so well presented.  

We all tucked into our meal with a lot of lively conversation and eventually when everyone had finished, the guest speaker was introduced and she proceeded to give her talk with, as she said,  “not giving too much away about the book”.    I had been given a copy of the book as a present and unfortunately forgot to take it with me for signing but Jacqui kindly offered to sign it for me if I would take it to her at her place of work, so this is something I must do in the very near future.

Jacqui started her talk by saying she did not intend to liken herself to Margaret Thatcher and at the time she decided to write an account of her life the title was inevitable as she was indeed a grocer’s daughter and the title just came naturally.  At the time the book was published and she was doing book signing, Stephen Day who was an MP during Mrs Thatcher’s time, commented that having read the book he did not think Jacqui knew just how like Mrs Thatcher she was in many ways.

Fate had played a large part in Jacqui’s life and where she had visions of an ordinary life with children like other people, and as a young women wanted to be loved and meet the man of her dreams, this was not the case initially and there were so many instances where events happened which shaped her future life.  At the age of 5 her brother, who was aged 7, died of poliomyelitis and she was made to kiss the body which had a very lasting effect on her.   Again when the family were in Kenya during her father’s military service her best friend who had taught her the Swahili language was killed by the Mau Mau.   When his military service came to an end Jacqui’s father started a smallholding in the UK but this failed and it was then that he became a grocer and Jacqui became a grocer’s daughter.

The account of her life was in the early days to be a record for her sons, who had never known their father and she had chosen not to tell them about him.   Later when she had thought about a book, she was working at The Colony and a writer from Cyprus Today (who shall be nameless) took it away to assess.  He returned the next day and declared it was “rubbish”.  Of course this totally disillusioned Jacqui but shortly afterwards she had an email from John Hughes Wilson who had been obtaining information about The Colony for his own book and wanted to gain knowledge of the people there so he started with Jacqui and said he would like to read the account she had written.  The next day she received an email saying he thought it was brilliant.   So from then on the book took over her life and she realised she was not at all ordinary and there was a story to tell.

Jacqui has had 3 husbands, one of which committed suicide, and she was totally disillusioned at the time of her first marriage, with a mother-in-law from hell who invited her son’s former German girlfriend the night before the wedding day on which occasion her husband-to-be committed the ultimate sin (I am sure you can guess what) and in fact the act was witnessed by 2 maiden aunts – wait for it – Gert and Daisy.   So it looks as if the marriage was doomed before it started.   Further trauma happened in Jacqui’s life when she developed breast cancer but the operation could not take place as it had been discovered she had a serious case of tuberculosis which had to be resolved first.

Eventually Jacqui did meet the man of her dreams and they had a wonderful marriage of 27 years together.  After his death the writing of the book was the best therapy she could have had and was successful in getting rid of all the demons inside.   Jacqui asked the audience if there was anyone who felt they could write a book about their life.

This was a really good talk and I am sure there will be many reading the book, if they have not done so already, it was amusing and at the same time brought home how fate plays a huge part in people’s lives.

Following the talk the raffle was drawn.   The proceeds of the raffle were to be donated to the British Cemetery Commission for the purchase and planting of trees and shrubs at the new Greenhill Cemetery to give shade and enhance the area which has already had a tremendous amount of work carried out to make it a tranquil and attractive haven.

I am sure all of the ladies thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the talk and are looking forward to next month’s event.   I wonder who the guest speaker will be?

By Margaret Sheard