The life of a politician’s wife, 1960s

After watching BBC Parliament’s wall-to-wall coverage of the 1966 general election (yes, sad, I know) I couldn’t resist buying Peter Paterson’s biography of George Brown, Harold Wilson’s famously unreliable deputy and the man who inspired Private Eye to coin the euphemism “tired and emotional”. Drink, though, doesn’t play a part in this story:

There were other, even more trying burdens Sophie had to bear in addition to George’s explosive temper. She suffered a good deal of ill-health throughout their married life, but her husband could scarcely bring himself to acknowledge that she was ever ill. In 1962, at the age of 50, she suffered a heart attack, awaking in the night with a pain that was “tearing my chest apart”. George attributed the pain to indigestion, telling her, “Try to go to sleep again. I’ve got a terribly important meeting in the House first thing, and then another in Belper.” Unlike most women of a later generation, Sophie simply crept downstairs to make herself a cup of tea rather than disturb him. In the morning, he went off to his meetings, and the following evening, with George away in Derbyshire, she was taken to hospital.

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