NOSTALGIA: Greengrocer's assistant from Portsmouth who became Bob Hope's stooge

Audrey Jeans
Audrey Jeans
Claire Udy has come under fire for comments she made on Twitter in 2013 Photo: Keith Woodland

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Doubtless many of you will remember the singer, comedian and all round entertainer Audrey Jeans.

My colleague Pete Cross, the Angel Radio DJ, has asked me to remember her here hoping one or two of you who might have memories of Audrey.

Jenny (front left) with her girls and Captain Lewin on board HMS Hermes in Hong Kong.

Jenny (front left) with her girls and Captain Lewin on board HMS Hermes in Hong Kong.

She was the daughter of a dockyard man, born in Riga Street, Landport, Portsmouth, in 1930 and at the age of 12 decided she wanted to be a dancer. She achieved this and made her way into show business. She later appeared in top theatres all over the country including some in the West End. She then toured Australia with Arthur Askey.

On her return everything seemed to go quiet for her and she gave up her attempt at stardom and worked in a Southsea greengrocer’s.

But after a year she decided to give it another go and her break came when she appeared as a stooge to Bob Hope. This was the lift she needed and the rest is history.

In 1980 while on honeymoon with her second husband in Paris she was knocked over and killed by a hit-and-run driver.

This is Audrey's basic story but I am sure there are readers who have memories of her.

• Last week I wrote about the navy in Hong Kong and the group of women known as Jenny’s Side Party. These were a group of girls led by Jenny who boarded many a warship when in harbour to clean, paint and generally look after ships' companies.

I received this photo from Alan Hudspeth of Jenny alongside Captain T Lewin while she was on board the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes in 1967. It is a bit faded but you can make her out.

Hermes was on a commission which saw her travel around Europe, the Mediterranean, down the Suez Canal to the Middle East and on to the Far East to Australia and home via Cape Town. Marvellous.

• If you like keeping up with what conservation projects are being worked on then Hampshire Building Preservation Trust's magazine is for you.

I was sent a copy and the 60 pages are full of fascinating subjects and colour photographs. It is available for £3 a copy.

Some of the subjects covered in the last edition included Bursledon Windmill Trust, a report from the Portsmouth Society, Cowes Hammerhead Crane Trust, The Basingstoke Canal Society and the steamship SS Shieldhall. To obtain a copy please ring (023) 8027 5153. You will not be disappointed.

• You may have read that the man who played Jason King in Department S and Jason King in the late 1960s has died.

He played the part of a novelist-turned-detective and died aged 90. He was of course played by Peter Wyngarde who was a bit of a dandy, as they used to be called.

Peter must have brought the sale of cufflinks to a standstill for several years as he always wore his shirt cuffs folded over his jacket cuff and the fashion caught on.

• On Thursday, January 18, I published a request for information about a Military Airmail Service letter sent by a relative of mine.

I have received so many replies from readers who know so much about looking up other people's relatives that I must thank you all.

Special thanks must go to Maureen Beirne, Alan Smith and Derek Howard. Many told me of Robert’s family and family of mine of whom I'd never heard.

The abbreviations in the airmail were 149 L/A.A. R.A. M.E.F and stood for 149 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery, Middle East Forces although some say it was Middle East Expeditionary Force. They may have been an Australian unit.

The Airmail was written on a special form and then put onto microfilm and flown to England. The microfilm was then transposed into a letter.

Robert,a battery sergeant major after whom I was named, died in 1979 in Lincolnshire.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS

BIRTHDAYS: Nick Mason, rock musician (Pink Floyd), 74; Mimi Rogers, actress, 62; Bridget Fonda, actress, 54; Alan Cumming, actor/director, 53; Robbie Earle, former footballer, 53; Mike Patton, rock singer, 50; Dean Headley, former cricketer, 48; Mark Owen, singer (Take That), 46; Marat Safin, retired tennis player, 38.