Nancy Titman’s life is measured out by the ticking of the clock on the steeple of Deeping St James Priory Church.
She lives in its shadows, just three cottages away – or in its precincts, as a vicar once joked – and can glance up to see its clock face when she is in her pretty garden or bustling about in her little conservatory.
The church has been her life for many years, as has the village, where she was born in 1918, and both give her enormous pleasure and comfort.
“You stop where your living is,” says former teacher of 21 years at Deeping St Nicholas Primary School Nancy, “and you can’t find a better place than this actually. There is everything in Deeping. I am very blessed living here.”
If the Deepings and her large extended family have been everything to Nancy, it seems fitting that the sum of all those years – memories collected together for the first time in a book that has just been published – should benefit the parish church.
Swift To Tell: Life in the 1920s and 1930s by Nancy Titman is to be launched at a book signing event on Saturday, May 31 (11am to 5pm) at the Priory church hall. The occasion will also be a birthday celebration for Nancy, who reaches her 96th birthday on June 2. Proceeds from the book, which sells for £9.99, will go to the church hall kitchen fund and furniture for the Lady Chapel.
Nancy feels sure that a lot of people will be both interested and surprised by the book, a social history of life in the 1920s and 1930s as well as being about Nancy’s life.
She said: “I think people will be surprised because honestly, when I read it myself, I thought, ‘Good gracious’. People worked all the time. There was no leisure in those days.”
Born at the end of one war, Nancy talks about life at home – where her father kept animals and was a cattle dealer – as being “idyllic”, although she says: “We didn’t have anything, though we were well off.”
She remembers her brother’s first wireless, or crystal radio, and the local doctor visiting the house to treat some childhood disease pronouncing: “People will lose their hearing because of those!”
Nancy was a bright child and after going to school in the village got a scholarship to Stamford High School, and from there trained to be a teacher.
She was teaching when the Second World War began and remembers the infant school’s evacuation to Buckinghamshire as “an adventure”, mothers and children treating it as an outing.
“There was such a marvellous feeling in the war,” said Nancy. “Everybody helped everybody else and everybody had very little.”
In contrast, she looks at the indulgence of today’s children, and says: “I don’t like the modern world. It’s just the attitude. Everything seems to be getting selfish and greedy.”
Her memories of teaching for many years at Deeping St Nicholas are fond ones, and she says: “They were lovely kids, ever so good and very loving. What struck me in those days was the older ones always looked after the little ones. They were kind kids.”
Nancy admits she never dreamed she would reach her 96th birthday, and says she is equally surprised to be publishing her first book.
“It’s a dream come true, really,” she said.