Erect statue to a Bri­tish woman

Western Morning News - - Letters -

There are many great Bri­tish women who merit our re­mem­brance and a statue. I would not in­clude Nancy Witcher Langhorne As­tor among them. Pos­si­bly my jaun­diced view of the lady arose be­cause her name first im­pinged upon my con­scious­ness in the song DDay Dodgers which I heard sung by the fab­u­lous Yet­ties and which in­cludes the lines “Dear Lady As­tor, you think you know a lot. Stand­ing on a plat­form and talk­ing Tommy rot.” This song is a witty ri­poste to the claim, al­legedly made by Nancy As­tor, that the brave sol­diers in­vad­ing Italy were merely dodg­ing the dan­gers of D-Day.

The sec­ond time I came across her name was in a re­ported ex­change with Win­ston Churchill, in which As­tor said: “If you were my hus­band, I’d poi­son your tea.” To which Churchill replied “Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”

Nei­ther of th­ese paints Nancy As­tor in a ter­ri­bly good light. Even the event for which I un­der­stand that the pro­po­nents of a statue wish Lady As­tor to be com­mem­o­rated, namely that she was the first woman to take her seat in the

Com­mons, is less spe­cial than it might seem at first glance. She was only the sec­ond woman to be elected to the House of Com­mons; the first was a mem­ber of Sinn Fein, who, in ac­cor­dance with that party’s pol­icy, did not take her seat. More­over, Nancy As­tor merely stepped into her hus­band’s seat when he was el­e­vated to the peer­age.

Nancy As­tor was

Amer­i­can. Are there no Bri­tish women more mer­i­to­ri­ous than Nancy Witcher Langhorne As­tor?

David G Tubby

Il­fra­combe

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