I have - over the years - wracked my brains to remember how I first met Flo Worthington.
My best guess is that, along with many others in 1966-1967, she came into the Woking branch of Boots the Chemist where I worked as a Saturday boy, in order to buy food for her huge collection (hoard?) of budgerigars. Russ Conway would buy dog food from me, and, when I told him that no matter who he was, he still had to give me the 10 shillings and sixpence for the stuff - insisted on paying by cheque, as his 'chauffeur' stood nearby in mute embarrassment.
Somehow, I found myself visiting Flo's little house on the outskirts of Woking most Saturdays - a 15 year old lad paying his compliments to an (I guess) almost 90 year-old woman who lived on her own, but for about 20 noisy budgies.
She would always be delighted to see me, and always expressed her surprise that a young lad like me would want to visit an old soul like her. I suppose that was what kept me going there.
I would hear the same story each time I visited, and I would drink the same foul tea and eat truly awful cake, made by her in expectation of my visit. On the last visit to her, I swear she had mixed washing powder in with the mix, and I had to stuff the cake in my pocket as she went over to the packed cage of birds, before she saw what I was up to.
It seems that she had been brought up by the Sisters of a local Convent, and being a child-like old soul, had never married. She visited the same Convent every week, and the Sisters always gave her a warm welcome. She tried to help out as best she could by making herself useful around the place. I believe she kept this up for about 70 years. She was very proud of her name, 'Worthington' and always made a reference to the famous beer, so I would remember it. As if I would ever forget.
One Sunday afternoon in 1968, I told my parents that I was off to see Flo again, and got on to my 1938, single-cylinder, 350 cc Triumph motorcycle.
It was a wet, late winter afternoon, and as I took a left-hand bend going into town, I felt the front wheel of the unforgiving bike start to slide out away from me and toward a large steel lamp post on a concrete traffic island. All I could do was try to avoid the lamp post and aim for the 'keep left' bollards which flanked both sides of it.
I hit the sharp kerb of the island, demolished one steel bollard and went flying over the handlebars of the bike, landing flat on my face in front of a party of Sunday School children.
I was winded and incapable of standing up, but the woman in charge of the children insisted that I did - she was in more shock than I was. When I had sorted myself out, I found that I was severely bruised and the bike was too bent to ride home, but I had no broken bones. I was bandaged up in the hospital and went home to recuperate.
That night, our phone rang, and the person on the other end asked for me by name.
"I understand that you know Flo Worthington? Well, I am sorry to tell you that she died this afternoon,"
I am putting up her real name just in case anyone out there knew the nice old dear, like I did.