Remembering Jane

Jane Grigson’s friends and admirers share their personal memories, explain why her work was a source of inspiration and reflect on her legacy.

Michael Seifert

Remembered with admiration and affection, Jane Grigson will always be with us.

So many people remember Jane for a whole variety of reasons. My particular (but by no means only) memories are of long political discussions, sometimes late into the night and always from our strongly held socialist beliefs. Socialism for Jane came from her heart as well as from her head. The core was a deeply held belief that it was our duty to aspire to a society in which every child – irrespective of nationality or social background – should have the chance to develop his or her self to the fullest potential of their ability. This meant ensuring, as a minimum, that they had food, housing, health care and education.

Many English people will see a contradiction between a gourmet food writer and a socialist.Not so: one can lead a civilised life and still feel compassion for less fortunate people. In Jane’s case, her socialist principles stemmed directly from her childhood experiences. Growing up in comfortable circumstances, Jane was horrified as a child to see other children in dire poverty – often going hungry and not even able to afford a pair of shoes in the depths of winter. Unlike many other people, these memories never left her and unlike others, she didn’t try to rationalise them or to blame the victims.

I can imagine how Jane would have felt today, with desperate parents, terrified of eviction from their homes, enduring the humiliation of queueing at charitable food banks to feed their hungry children. Recent figures show that more than a million children in Britain suffer from malnutrition; And this in early 2015, when we are told that the economy is ‘picking up’.

Jane would have found it painful to watch the gang of greedy, heartless, Old Etonians who run this country tear up and throw away the hard won gains of the last 70 years with dreadful consequences for millions at the bottom of our society.

Jane,you are sorely missed.