Who Is Fanny Bush?

Who is Fanny Bush? I am sure that you would like to hear of my first encounter with Fanny. It was a letter from Miss Bush taking me to task for using the term Big Jobs to refer to a frying pan. I never knew what Big Jobs were until Miss Bush was kind enough to elucidate.

Later, Miss Bush, impressed by my cookery pages, saw fit to send me her recipe for Toad in the Hole and Fanny's Cheesy Delight, accompanied by the following letter:

From: Frances Bush
Spinster
Tunbridge Wells
Subject: Bufo orificii
Dear Hot Off The Internet,

As you are aware, I am a devoted reader of your page of the International Network. I especially enjoy your cooking pages - such a refreshing change from the gratuitous sex and violence peddled by the likes of the Family Planning Association and Rentokil.

Such is my enjoyment of these pages that you have emboldened me to offer some of my own recipes to you in the hope that you will share them with other readers of the International Network. I particularly hope you will try my recipe for Toad in the Hole - my hole has been quite transformed since I discovered what a toad could do in it, and I hope yours will be too.

Yours with moistest good wishes,
F. Bush (Miss)

Realizing that there is nothing so fortunate as to have intimate contact with an emboldened Fanny, and thus wishing to know the source of my good fortune, I engaged a learned friend of mine who currently resides in Birmingham, England to probe, as it were, this Fanny Bush. His efforts, interspersed between fits of playing the cello and prancing about in white pants and sweater on the cricket pitch, yielded the following biography of Miss Bush. I quote from our recent correspondance on the matter:

"Frances Jemima Bush was born in Madras in 1924, the youngest of three children of William Bush, a District Commissioner in the Colonial Service. She had a conventional Colonial childhood - seven years of abusing the natives before being sent away to boarding school in England.

"When her parents died in the terrible poppadom riots of 1933, nine-year-old Frances knew that she would never return to India. Fortunately, the end of her school term coincided with her uncle Richard's release, and from then on she spent the holidays on his farm in Wiltshire. It was there that she developed what was to be a life-long interest in meat in general and sausages in particular, and as she grew towards womanhood, her aptitude for handling a carcass was a source of great comfort to her uncle.

"In 1942, Frances enlisted in the Women's Royal Air Force, where she met and fell in love with Roger Wright-Upham, a young officer who was serving in Wellingtons with her elder brother Ginger. The following year, however, both Roger and Ginger failed to return from a disastrous raid on a Bratwurst factory at Bremen, and Frances, heart- broken, vowed to devote herself to rebuilding the base's shattered morale by providing the young men around her with some home comforts. Her summers on the farm had equipped her well for this, and her cries of "Who's for toad-in-the-hole?" and "Get your spotted dick over here" soon made her a mess-tent favourite.

"Frances was discharged from the WRAF on medical grounds early in 1944 and was taken on as a junior housemistress by a girls' boarding school near Hastings. Her accommodation was spartan, even by RAF standards, but what she missed most was the vibrancy of service life and the handsome young men at the base.

"Help was at hand, though. The approach of D-Day brought a camp of American GIs to a neighbouring village, and Frances got the head- mistress's approval to use the school's extensive facilities to arrange dinner-dances and entertainments for the men. Within weeks, Hastings was the US Army's most popular posting in England and the GIs so appreciated Frances's work that they brought her fabrics and furnishings to help make her rooms more hospitable.

"Frances encouraged the headmistress to help her with the organization, and the GIs responded in kind. Soon, the headmistress had refurbished her own threadbare residence, and by the end of the War, the school had the funds for its long-awaited auditorium.

"By this time, Frances had risen rapidly to become the school's senior housemistress, and when the old head retired in 1951, Frances was the automatic choice to succeed her. She held the post for over thirty years, throughout which she maintained the tradition of close contact with the US Air Force base established nearby after the War. In that time, the school grew from the modest institution it had been in 1944 to be one of the best-appointed schools in England. One notable Old Girl, now an eminent diplomat, said that it had done "More to improve Trans- atlantic relations than the Foreign Office could in a hundred years".

"Frances retired in 1987, when flare-ups of an infection she believes dates from insect bites received during her childhood in India became more frequent. She was awarded the MBE for "Services to the Atlantic Alliance", and now lives with her sister Ginny in Tunbridge Wells. Her old affliction means she is no longer very mobile, but she keeps in touch with her old GI friends via the alt.fanny.bush newsgroup on the Internet, although recent official interest has forced her to curtail her involvement. When she can get out, she likes nothing better than a glass of sweet sherry and a spotted dick at the local Conservative Association.

"She hopes you will enjoy the little taste of Fanny on these pages."

That is all I know at present, but I shall constantly endeavour to bring a little Fanny into your lives as time goes by.


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