Ann Toulmin on Michael Foot

``The kind of clever boy you never make a prefect''

Ann Toulmin was my Godmother, a bombe girl at Bletchley (which was how she came into my life - my father was at Bletchley). A major figure in my childhood, and a wonderful example of a powerful liberated woman for a child to learn from. No male child that grows up with an Ann Toulmin in its life will ever feel threatened by feminism:they will embrace it. A highly intelligent woman with a sharp tongue and a mind of her own. Oh, yes. And a nice turn of phrase. I think that at one point she had my father's old job as English lektor at the University of Basel and lodged with my Grandfather and my aunts. Wonderful company. She was the older sister of Stephen Toulmin (second-rate philosopher, now almost entirely forgotten. In modern times it would've been she not he who had the career and the reputation). Unlike him she never reproduced, which is a real pity....though she did have a number of godchildren. I still have her copy of Prout on Harmony....

She worked in GCHQ and later in the cabinet office and was the model for Sir Humphrey. Well, all right, she wasn't but she should have been. She was not amused by `Yes Minister'. No thank you. (Actually perhaps Sir Humphrey was modelled on her after all . . . . this above remark of hers could certainly have fallen - stingingly - from the lips of Sir Humphrey). She was never one to suffer fools gladly and she saw them wherever she turned her gaze. As long as our civil administration is staffed by people like her we'll be all right.

I absolutely adored her.

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