27 November 2018

Mayor, Minister, UK representative at the UN, councillor, Baroness, Bletchley Park codebreaker, socialite and media personality. It sounds like a crowd of people but, in fact, these statements all refer to one person: Baroness Trumpington.

Baroness Trumpington is today being celebrated across social media having passed away at the age of 96.

Lady Trumpington, affectionately known as Trumpers, is perhaps best known for being the first peer to ‘go viral’. She hit the headlines when she responded to a quip about her age with a rude hand gesture. This was just one sign of her inimitable character. But, behind that, there is a fascinating history. Her life took her from Bletchley Park to the New York social scene to the UK Parliament.

She worked in naval intelligence, recording secret messages during World War II at the famous Bletchley Park, passing them on to Alan Turing’s code-breaking team. She would transcribe messages from the German submarines at the top-secret home of the WWII codebreakers. Bletchley Park effectively heralded the birth of the information age with machines including the world’s first electronic computer, Colossus.

This remarkable woman had an illustrious political career, championing women’s rights, and described by the press as ‘Baroness Battleaxe’. I remember reading a piece about her when she launched a book some years ago, in which she says: “Well, no one’s told me that I can’t!” to which the reporter remarks that this is the story of her life. So seems the case.

Own set of rules

Obituaries and social media posts today all remark on the rebellious streak of the women brought up at a time and place where ‘proper’ behaviour was expected of a woman in her position. Instead, she would sneak out to parties and jump into pools fully clothed. And she will undoubtedly be remembered for her outspoken views.

Reading of Lady Trumpington’s life is a reminder of just how important it is to live life on your own terms. Do the things that you believe in and believe that you can do them! Her extraordinary life was very much lived by her own set of rules. She inspired people around her and refused to live an ordinary existence.

In a world full of seemingly endless negative news stories, Brexit causing no end of stress and the winter weather drawing in, remember one of Lady Trumpington’s mottos for life: “If you do things with no humour, you lose.”

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