Janis Ellen Lewin (nee Manterfield)

7 September 1957 – 9 November 2017

 

Janis Ellen Lewin (nee Manterfield) 1957 - 2017 (A4)Monday the 27th of November 2017 was a very sad day. It was the funeral of my lovely sister Janis. I wanted to mark the day in memory of a very special person.

Janis was wife to John, Mother to Amy and Tom, Sister-in-Law to Sue, Aunt to Alice, relative and friend to many others and my only sibling.

Janis’s funeral took place at Loughborough Crematorium at 11am, with a wake afterwards at The White Horse on Leicester Road in Quorn. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the turn out for her funeral was astonishing. The crematorium was completely full, all the seats were taken and people were standing all around the room from end to end.

Order of Service for Janis's funeral (27 Nov 2017)

This is the eulogy that John, Amy and Tom Lewin put together, read by Suzanne Buckeridge during the service:

“Janis Ellen Manterfield was born on the 7 September 1957 in the family home at 5 Front Street, Birstall to Dennis and Betty Manterfield. A sister for older brother Roy. Jan’s father gave her the nickname ‘Pod’ because she was so small when she was born, he thought she looked like a pea in a pod. This affectionate nickname stayed with her all her life. Growing to the height of 4ft 10½” tall (always aspiring to be 5ft, but never quite making it!), Pod was living proof that good things come in small packages!

Two years after Jan was born, the Manterfield family moved to 56 Denegate Avenue in Birstall, with a big garden that was landscaped by Dennis. Janis loved spending time in the garden with her Dad; making bonfires, planting seeds, and drinking cups of tea. The large garden also enabled them to have many family pets; so many that at one time the nickname ‘Manterfield Menagerie’ was coined! The pets ranged from dogs and cats, all the way through to Charlie Jones the tortoise. The Manterfields were an active family, going on family holidays around Britain, and regularly attending clubs, such as the Bowmen of Birstall.

Janis left school at 16, and after 6 months at BPX Electrical she moved to the British United Shoe Machinery Company where her parents worked. It was also the place where she met a long haired, bearded individual called John Lewin. Jan always got a lift to work with her Dad, so before work started, she would sit in his office reading the paper. Janis was initially cool to John’s advances and decided instead to hide behind her newspaper when he visited the department. A decade later, fate played a hand when John was on a Saturday night out with ‘the boys’ and happened to bump into Jan. John asked Jan if she would like to go out for Sunday lunch the following day and she agreed. 

After a couple of years together, John and Jan planned their first holiday abroad – to the Greek island of Santorini. This first holiday to Greece was very memorable because one night, while walking on the beach in the sunset, John got down on one knee in the waves. It was a good job that Jan said ‘yes’, as the tide was coming in; John had wet trousers all the way back to the apartment!

John and Jan were married on the 2 August 1986, after another holiday in Greece. When the DJ announced that it was time for the first dance, instead of ‘Always and Forever’ as they were expecting, the opening bars of ‘Zorba’s dance’ started playing as John’s friends arrived dressed as Greek dancers! Throughout their time together, Jan and John enjoyed many wonderful holidays to Greece, France, Turkey, Egypt, America and more.

In April 1988, Jan gave birth to her first child, Amy. Jan was over the moon to be a Mum, and took to it perfectly. Three years later, in April 1991, Tom was welcomed into the world. To Amy and Tom, Jan was the best Mum in the world: caring, loving, patient and kind.

When Amy was born, Jan made a decision to go to a local ‘Mum and Baby’ group at the health centre in Syston, as she didn’t know any other young Mums, and wanted Amy to grow up with friends her own age. A large group of friends was quickly formed there.

Jan originally worked as a secretary and shorthand typist, but when Tom started school, she decided on a new career direction, and became a healthcare assistant at PPD. This was the perfect role for someone with such a caring nature, as she was able to put her natural kindness into her work. When PPD closed, Jan continued in a similar role at Bupa. She always enjoyed working with people, and the camaraderie she shared with her colleagues.

Her family meant everything to Jan, and she was happiest with those she loved around her, or on the end of a characteristically long phone call. She also loved hearing from her French friends, and her relatives in America and Brighton. While bringing up her children, Jan remained tireless in supporting her parents and auntie, dedicating herself to their care, as she did everyone who ever needed her.

Her many friends – as we can see here today – played an equally important role throughout Jan’s life; friends who loved and supported Jan as she loved and supported them. Jan was often the life and soul of the party with her feather boas and her happy smile. She had a musical ear and loved to dance, as everyone who has been to a party with her will agree.

Jan was well known for her thoughtful words, cards and notes. Any occasion, Jan always sent a card in her neat handwriting, usually with appropriate, sparkly confetti inside. She wrote notes to Amy and Tom in their lunchboxes all the way from their first days at school, to the end of sixth form. Notes were left inside the door if she had gone out, and upstairs if she was working a night shift. Such was the care and thought that went into everything she did.

Everyone who knew Jan said that she was lovely, and she truly was. It is customary to focus on a person’s good points in their eulogy, but the truth is that Jan really was a good person, beautiful inside and out. It was her way to focus on the good in life, and to see the best in everyone.

Jan considered herself to have led a happy life, filled with the love of the many people who mattered to her; and that is the way that she would want to be remembered. Happy, and loved.”

 

Now it’s an immeasurably sad time, but Janis had early onset dementia, so in one way it’s a relief to know that she is no longer so confused and anxious. It was terrible to see my bright, caring, smiling sister gradually fading to the awful illness. I really don’t know how John coped from day to day with caring for Janis during the last couple of years.

 

Janis was born when I was five years old; she is the only person I’ve known for the entirety of their life. On the day she arrived, at home in Birstall, I couldn’t wait to meet my new sister. I whiled away the time drawing on a small blackboard easel, then Dad came to fetch me and we went up to my parent’s bedroom where Mum had just given birth.

Mum was in bed, the District Nurse was fussing around and tidying up, and my little sister was wrapped up and sleeping. I remember being slightly surprised because Janis was shiny, almost glistening, a tiny bit wrinkly and quite red with blue tinges. Being already familiar with how babies looked, I had expected her to be much paler.

Perhaps because I was a few years older or maybe because we were simply compatible personalities, but whatever it was we always got on very well. We played together, building dens with boxes and blankets, dressing up and posing our poor long suffering menagerie of pets, setting up lending libraries with our books, play fighting with sticks and dustbin lid shields, and probably many other games that I’ve since forgotten.

I frequently teased and joked with Janis; we laughed and giggled together at many silly things. I miss our familiarity and companionship, or siblingship, or whatever it might be called.

I always looked forward to her visits while I was at art college in Leeds and after I moved to Nottingham to work, and the many holidays we had together, with family and with partners.

It was a huge privilege to know Janis and I will miss her so much.

 

I’ve been touched with the kind thoughts and comments made on social media since I posted the composite photo of Janis at different ages. Here are just a few of them:

“Very sorry to hear this, No age is it, seems like she was cheated. I hope she enjoyed her life, I suspect from the photo’s that she brightened many. Thinking of you.”

“Really sorry to hear that. My condolences to your family. If personality does affect the face as we age she must have been a delight, her smile is wonderful.”

“She’s beautiful. I’m so sorry you had to lose her so young.”

“Best wishes and my thoughts to all.  I love that she was smiling through all those images.”

“I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful smile Janis had.”

“Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing. Condolences to you and all she held dear.”

“What great photographs, she looks like a lovely person. Thinking of you all x”

“I’m happy you had such a wonderful sister and I’m sorry for your loss. She was born about 10 months before me.”

“She looked to be a sparkle of life to many. 💖 My Condolences.”

“Such a sad loss to you and your family. What a beautiful sister you’ll always hold dear.” https://youtu.be/IMtnLkXCKlY

“My condolences Roy. Her pictures indicate a happy demeanour. – Bet you made her laugh lots.”

 

The following photo montages are six panels I put together with images I had of Janis, family and friends, and that John arranged to be printed and displayed at the wake.

Janis Lewin - Panel 1Janis Lewin - Panel 2Janis Lewin - Panel 3Janis Lewin - Panel 4Janis Lewin - Panel 5Janis Lewin - Panel 6

 

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Whoopee…

A post on social media reminded me of my obsession with practical jokes as a child in the early 1960s. I spent my pocket money on quite a few from the Ellisdons Jokes, Magic and Novelties catalogue. Ellisdons sold all manner of practical jokes; rubber beetles and spiders, wind-up butterflies, whoopee cushions, and realistic looking rubber things such as food, soap and bars of chocolate. I had, for example, a very lifelike chocolate finger biscuit made of brown rubber.

Practical jokesI also had a handshake buzzer, which never really caught anyone off guard, but the floating sugar cubes and imitation rubber snail with a real shell were both winners; I suspect the snail put many friends and relatives off salad for life.

I loved the floating sugar cubes; a family friend’s grandfather spent an incredibly long time with a teaspoon trying to make them sink, it was only my barely controlled mirth that eventually caught his attention.

I’d also forgotten about the imitation dog turd. I had a brilliant shiny metal one, very realistic. It’s probably still in the attic somewhere. I left it on the rug in my grandmother’s best/front room on a visit once and all hell broke loose. Both the poor dog and I were in so much trouble, but it was worth it…

Ellisdons 1960s Joke Catalogue

 

 

Another ‘about’ MumblingNerd

Roy Manterfield (23 Feb 2013)Some things that I like, appreciate, use and think about…

Enthusiastically | Frequently | Occasionally | Specifically | Previously

But not in any particular order… ah, well, actually they’re in alphabetical order ►

Afternoon tea Airfix
Alaska Alzheimer’s Society
Amnesty International Archery
Art galleries Atheism
Avaaz BBC
Beaches Beatles
Berlin Bettys Café Tea Rooms
Birmingham Black Adder
Blogging Blondie
Blueberry pancakes, bacon and maple syrup Books
Bookshops Boston
Bread Breakfast
Brussels Brussels sprouts
California Carl Sagan
Castles Cats
Cheese Chicago
Chocolate Cinema
Coastline Coffee
Comedy Cotton
Cumbria Dawn chorus
Death Valley Delicious bookmarking
Derbyshire deviantART
Devon Douglas Adams
Draft Guinness Dr Who
Eating Edinburgh
Facebook Family
Fawlty Towers Fencing
Ferns Foo Fighters
Fruit Genealogy
George Carlin Glasgow
Google+ Google Chrome
Grand Canyon Graphic design
Groucho Marx Hancock’s Half Hour
Hats Helvetica
History Holidays
Hotel Chocolat Hot weather
Humour Iain M Banks
Ian Dury and the Blockheads I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue
Interlaken Internet
iPhone Jazz
John Lewis Partnership Just a Minute
Lady Gaga Laughing
Leather Leeds
Leicester Lego
Liberalism LinkedIn
Maine Maps
Marmite Merlot
Milton Jones Monty Python
Morecambe and Wise MSWord
Museums Music
Neil deGrasse Tyson Newcastle
New England News
Newspapers New York
Northumberland Norway
Nottingham Nuts
Oak trees Oslo
Paper Parks
Paris PC
Photography Pianos
Pink Floyd Pinot Grigio
Pinot Noir Pinterest
Ponds Prague
Public libraries Public transport
Punk Rock Puns
Punsr QR Codes
Radio 4 Railways
Reading Robin Hood Tax
Rock pools Rolling countryside
Rolling Stones San Francisco
Savannah Saxophones
Scotland Seattle
Sequentiality Sheffield
Shopping Sid Meier’s Civilization
Sir Patrick Moore Snowdonia
Social networking Speculative fiction
Spicy food Spring
Star Trek Steam engines
Stephen Fry Stone
Stranglers Strawberries
Sushi Switzerland
Tea Teddy bears
Television Tim Minchin
Toast Tommy Cooper
Torchwood Toronto
Touchscreens Trams
Travelling Trees
Twitpic Twitter
Typography Vancouver
Venice Victor Borge
Violins Wargaming
Washington DC Water
Wikipedia Wimbledon Championship
Wine Wood
Woodland Word play
WordPress Words
Yoga Yorkshire
Yosemite National Park Zurich



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…cut into chunks, weighed and wrapped

Legion Stores, Birstall

Legion Stores, 13 Front Street, Birstall (c1954)
Legion Stores, 13 Front Street, Birstall (c1954)

We owned a small local shop in the 1950s; Legion Stores at 13 Front Street, in Birstall, just north of Leicester in the English East Midlands.

The shop was in the oldest part of Birstall, quite close to the River Soar and opposite the very old St. James Church; relics of a Saxon window were found during major restoration works in the 19th century. The peel of church bells always takes me back to childhood Sunday mornings, either in the old shop, or at number 5, an old cottage we’d later rented, just down the road.

For the first few years that we had the shop food was still rationed and Mum used to bone and slice the bacon and measure out all the rationed portions of cheese and meat.

Mum and Grandma did most of the serving in the shop because Grandad didn’t like working behind the counter; he didn’t have much patience and always said he couldn’t put up with the ‘chatting women’.

Nellie and Betty Manterfield serving in the shop (1954)
Nellie and Betty Manterfield serving in the shop (1954)

Almost everything had to be weighed and measured out by hand, hardly anything came pre-packed. Things like sugar came in big bags and were measured into small bags for the customer, bacon was sliced by hand and parcelled up, cheese, lard and butter had to be cut into chunks, weighed and wrapped.

In the kitchen at the back of the shop we had a small butter churn, like a small wooden barrel with a turning handle that we used to make our own butter. I don’t actually remember if we churned the butter that was sold in the shop, although I do remember my Mum and Grandma patting the measured chunks of butter into blocks with wooden paddles and wrapping them in paper.

Betty Manterfield in Legion Stores (c1950)
Betty Manterfield in Legion Stores (c1950)

Particular delights for me were the rows of jars full of sweets, unfortunately out of my reach. Something I could actually reach were the eggs, dozens of them in stacks of trays. My mother told me that one day I picked up some of the eggs and when she told me to put them down, I just dropped them on the floor. I bet the cane that she kept behind the bread board came out that time.

One of my favourite parts of the shop were the rows of little wooden drawers behind the counter and below the shelves of sweet jars, tins and jams. These drawers were full of various dry goods, such as salt, with small metal scoops used to measure the contents into bags. The drawer I liked most of all contained lots of button badges, these must have been given out by the suppliers, because I seem to remember them advertising things like Saxa salt.

The shop did steady business and just about paid its way for a few years, but self-serve food stores started to become popular in the 1950s, gradually turning into the chains of supermarkets that most of us buy our food from today.

5 Front Street, Birstall (c1955)
5 Front Street, Birstall (c1955)

By the late 1950s the old shop on Front Street wasn’t doing very well, loosing customers to the newer shops in the village at Sibson’s Corner, so when Mum and Dad moved in 1959, to a new house on a new estate off Greengate Lane, Grandma and Grandad Manterfield gave the shop up and moved into the old cottage that we’d rented at 5 Front Street.

So that was the end of our little retail experiment, but it left me with many happy memories of a quieter time in a small corner of a very old village.



If it smells okay and there are no unsightly slimy bits…

Betty, Dennis and Roy Manterfield by Legion Stores (1953)
Betty, Dennis and Roy Manterfield by Legion Stores (1953)
Nellie Manterfield in Legion Stores (c1950)
Nellie Manterfield in Legion Stores (c1950)

Hello, I’m Dandy

The etymological, not entomological, origins of my school nickname.

Roy Manterfield (1959)
Roy Manterfield (1959)

At school, well at junior school, I was known as Dandy, which had a dual or ‘punning’ basis, coming both from my alleged dandyism and from watching, and being somewhat obsessed with, the Saturday matinee film series of Zorro at the local village cinema.

The theatre was the Lawn cinema in Birstall, just north of Leicester, run by Bert Pollard. According to the Leicester Mercury the cinema had been opened on Monday 5 October 1936. It was named after Lawn House, which had previously stood on the site in the centre of the village.

I loved the Saturday matinee; it was the entertainment highlight and treat of the week for quite a few years and my introduction to cinematic science fiction through Flash Gordon and to the wacky humour of Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello & The Three Stooges.

'Pictures' by Roy Manterfield (April 1958)
'Pictures' by Roy Manterfield (April 1958)

I can’t remember exactly how much the matinee cost; it was quite cheap, somewhere around 4d or 6d, and my favourite sweetened, pink and white popcorn, sold in a greaseproof paper tube for about 3d.

The Lawn keep going for 34 years, finally closing in October 1970. After it’s demolition a supermarket was built on the site.

Anyway, I’m deviating; this minor historical tangent has little to do with my nickname, just happy memories of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

I was fascinated by Zorro’s spectacular fencing techniques, but my friends, instead of calling me Zorro, named me after Zorro’s unmasked screen character.

Zorro (Spanish for fox) was the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega; this was heard by young ears as ‘Dan de Yaygo’, which in turn became ‘Dandy Yaygo’, and, in the case of my nickname, was abbreviated to just ‘Dandy’.

The perception of me being a dandy, the secondary source of ‘Dandy’, arose through my mixed pronunciation from having an East Midland father and a south coast mother. Words such as grass with the short ‘a’ of the East Midlands and north would often emerge with the longer ‘ah’ of the south. Likewise I would sometimes pronounce words such as plant, dance, branch, demand with the long ‘ah’ sound (plahnt, dahnce, brahnch, demahnd).

Due to this intermittent southern, or posh, pronunciation my school friends erroneously perceived me as having an upper-class background. So ‘Dandy’ fit both the perception of who I was and my obsession with Zorro, whose alter ego, Don Diego de la Vega, was thought to be a bit of a dandy anyway.

In a slight revisiting of my school nickname I did take up fencing in the 1970s, starting at night school and then with the Nottingham YMCA Fencing Club for a few years, where I met my wife Sue.

YMCA Fencing Club (June 1979) - Me far left, Sue centre (between the moustaches)
YMCA Fencing Club (June 1979) - Me on the left of the photo, Sue in the centre (between the moustaches)