Intellect & interest
When Janet died quite unexpectedly on 30 January 1964 – she had a brain tumour but it was thought it had been destroyed - a psychiatric social worker who had helped to treat her and had become a good friend of Elaine’s was concerned that Elaine was suppressing feelings of grief and gave her several sessions of counselling. Elaine was not sure it achieved its aim but felt it helped her cope with the anxiety states she had experienced from childhood.
Elaine enjoyed listening to music and doing cryptic crossword puzzles ('Telegraph' and 'Times'); she would wander about with a clipboard holding the crossword she was working on. She also enjoyed occasionally playing the piano, reading and she loved acquiring knowledge; she was incredibly learned. She taught herself languages including Russian and Welsh; she was already quite fluent in French. Many of her maths and science reference books contained scraps of paper with her comments and corrections. She had an immense scientific knowledge. She wrote vast quantities of notes in her tiny writing on scraps of paper and on a wide range of topics. They included her attempts to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem, which had defied mathematicians for over three hundred years. These notes were often written on the backs of old letters and the letters reflected other aspects of her life: A letter thanking her for making a door to door collection for the Blind, another asking her to help to judge a Youth Speaks Competition and so on. She wrote witty verses but also prose and plays, just for the love of experimenting with ideas and with language.
Nothing was thrown away that might later come in useful and she did all she could to be 'environmentally friendly'; she would cycle around Watford rather than drive. She was always very active and, until a few years before her death, regularly played tennis and swam. In middle age she took up sailing, acquired a sailing dinghy, and went on courses so that she could help with the WGGS Sailing Club. She was an immensely practical person. She could not only fix a car engine but also very effectively repair and re-spray the bodywork. Around the home she was a great exponent of the Heath Robinson method of repair!