Obituary: Barbara Ker-Seymer

WHEN I first encountered Barbara Ker-Seymer during the Second World War, writes Marie-Jaqueline Lancaster (further to the obituary by Val Williams, 29 May), I found her intimidating in the way she summed up the young with that amused look which signalled every likelihood that he or she would be found wanting.

We seemed to meet mostly in the more salubrious of the subterranean bars and night-clubs where the sounds and effects of the continual bombing of London would be muffled. She was often to be found iwth the Surrealist artist Johnny Banting at his most morose, when she could only deflect his despairing, suicidal moods with her mixture of compassion and humour.

One such evening I remember vividly. Barbara, who was sharing a banquette with her old friend Goronwy Rees, beckoned me and my then companion, John Rhodes, to join them. I was anxious as to whether Barbara would like John but all too willing to sit beside the devastatingly attractive Goronwy. As the night wore on I became aware of our foursome having turned into distinct entities - Barbara and John on one side of the table, Goronwy and myself on the other. I suppose I should not have been so surprised when a few weeks later John and Barbara were married]

Not so long afterwards when I, too, was newly married Barbara gave a party to show a short jazz film by her great friend Len Lye, that endearingly eccentric master of the cartoon film and exponent of jazz. As the film was so short it was immediately run through again and in the appreciative silence that followed I heard my husband's only too audible voice saying: 'I preferred the second film.' I cringed with embarrassment but Barbara turned this gaffe into wit.

There were other parties with tantalising, half-recognised faces, combined with wickedly strong drinks that sent shyness flying, but family life intervened when John and Barbara's son Max was born.

One day Barbara brought Max to nursery tea, humping his pushchair in and out of buses from one end of London to the other. The occasion was not a success as Max would keep launching himself like a missile against the nursery window while my two girls cowered under the tea-table. How odd it was to see Barbara totally content with late motherhood and sublimely unruffled at what I feared were going to be young Max's last hours on this earth.

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering