Sunday, May 29, 2005

Patsy Calton

Very upset this afternoon to be paged with the news that Patsy Calton had died. In my heart of hearts the news was unsurprising but none of us ever wants to believe the worst. Prior to this week's swearing in I had not seen Patsy since the "new intake" dinner in December 2004 (I am an honorary member of the 2001 intake).

Patsy was a feisty lady. She was energetic and principled but above anything else I shall remember her tremendous sense of fun. When first entering parliament she was "Mrs Angry" but this all changed when her husband, Clive, started work as her researcher. Almost overnight she became more settled and focussed on her constituency and much much happier. Wednesday nights were reserved for "friends" and it was not uncommon to have a drink or two in the Pujin room, meet in Members Dining room or generally do something relatively relaxed.

The sad thing is that none of us were really told how ill she was. Looking back I wonder if Patsy really knew that the writing was on the wall. There was a moment in the last parliament when she was having chemo and had taken to wearing a hat. One of the cancer charities had persuaded Labour female parliamentarians to wear hats to highlight the charity (I think it coincided with Ladies Day at Ascot or some such thing) and Patsy was very upset. She was wearing a hat at the time to hide her lack of hair. Patsy promptly took her hat off - thus highlighting the reason why women wear hats and summing up why the cancer charities "campaign" was so poorly though through.

Ultimately though - all of this pales into insignificance. My thoughts are with Clive and family and the bottom line is that Patsy will be missed by many.