Penelope Corfield loves big city life and lives in Battersea, South London, with her long-term partner, Tony Belton. They have an open relationship, which means that, at times, they have both had other love interests. Nevertheless, their primary commitment is to their shared lives together, bonded by their love of history, politics, theatre, jazz, gardening, country walks, dinners with friends, and long, intense discussions about everything under the sun.
A medical note: PJC was diagnosed in her 30s with adult-onset coeliac disease, which means that she became allergic to gluten in wheat, barley, oats and rye. Initially, this condition was quite a difficult one to manage. It is treated not by drugs but by diet, with a total avoidance of the gut-irritant gluten. Nowadays, however, things are much easier. Not only do restaurants, shops and food packagers provide clear information about ingredients but public attitudes to dieters are now much more sympathetic than they were. Once people used to insist, wagging their fingers with great emphasis: ‘Penny, food allergies are all in the mind’. But now they don’t. This medical enlightenment has happened pretty well all round the world, so that coeliacs can now travel with reasonable confidence that their needs will everywhere be understood.
In terms of local political involvement, PJC was a Councillor on the London Borough of Wandsworth in the early 1970s and an active participant in a progressive Labour administration – a formative experience. Since then she has been a sometimes more and sometimes less active grass-root in the Labour movement, whose minimum wage legislation in 1998 she welcomed and whose top-down educational audit regime (rendered ever more draconian by successive governments) she continues to deplore.
Among PJC’s hobbies is researching the history of London’s south bank and writing plays/pageants/scripts on Labour history. She gives occasional lectures on local history; and contributes to Battersea Matters, Battersea Society’s quarterly Newsletter. It’s good to be involved in a local area, as well as enjoying all the attractions of metropolitan London.
In 2008 Penelope Corfield also scripted and created an hour-long video on Battersea’s Labour History, in partnership with the directorial brilliance of the late Mike Marchant (1949-2009). The DVD is entitled Red Battersea: One Hundred Years of Labour, 1908-2008 (2008). Over 2,000 copes have been sold and/or distributed; and rare copies are also to be found on EBay. The following short commentaries offer reflections upon the enjoyable experience of making the DVD, plus a personal tribute to Mike Marchant.