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The Departure Of Viscountess Boudica

August 3, 2016
by the gentle author

Boudica & Boudica

By the time you read this, the Viscountess Boudica will already be gone – taken her leave from London forever and slipped away from Bethnal Green early on Tuesday morning in a van loaded with her possessions – driving up the Great North Road towards her new home in Uttoxeter.

Before she left, I accompanied the Viscountess upon a last sentimental pilgrimage to the statue of her namesake in Westminster and, on the train back to Whitechapel, she explained to me the circumstances of her departure.

Viscountess Boudica arrived at her council flat in Bethnal Green on January 31st 2002 and she remembers it clearly. ‘A friend with a van helped me move from Poplar and we arrived at 10pm. The previous tenant had died in the flat, leaving piles of rubbish and hole in the plaster,’ she recalled, ‘While we moving in, they smashed the windows of my friend’s van and, after three days, I started receiving hate mail telling me to leave.’

Yet in spite of this inauspicious beginning, the Viscountess painted her flat pink and created a life for herself, becoming celebrated as a trendsetter for her flamboyant colourful outfits which made her popular among the crowds at Brick Lane Market. When I met the Viscountess six years ago in Cheshire St and began publishing interviews with her, I was shocked to learn of the frequent violence that the Viscountess received walking around the streets of the East End.

‘I’m not the kind of person that gives in,’ the Viscountess admitted to me then, ‘I find each area is different, you can’t ascertain in advance whether you’ll get mugged or chased, but you only have one life and you have to live it as you think fit. The kids abuse me and the police are useless, so I have to take care of myself. You have to stand up to them. They say they don’t like how I look, and I tell them, ‘If you don’t like it you can put up with it,’ because I’ve been through so much that I’m not going to be persecuted anymore.”

I will never forget the time she changed her name to Viscountess Boudica Denvorgilla Veronica Scarlet Redd by deed poll and persuaded me to fill out the section in her passport application form, vouching for the veracity of her new identity. It was an unlikely collaboration we enjoyed over the course of more than twenty stories I wrote, photographed and published in these pages, documenting the Viscountess’ seasonal celebrations, recording her remarkable collection of domestic appliances and her coloured outfits – all of which have now been destroyed. I shall miss visiting the pink flat in Bethnal Green to undertake interviews at the court of Viscountess Boudica and encountering her irrepressible courage and good humour, which always sent me away in a buoyant mood. She never failed to astonish me with her originality of thought.

In the end, it was not antipathy and prejudice which drove Viscountess Boudica out of Bethnal Green but a combination of welfare policy and bureaucratic indifference. Like thousands of others, she had her benefits reassessed recently, accompanied by a demand for repayment of money already paid out. The Viscountess found herself in debt and without income, yet facing demands for payment. Any possibility of resolving this mess disappeared when the powers-that-be lost her paperwork. Instead, the Viscountess received a Court Summons for non-payment of Council Tax and Eviction Notices for rent arrears. In the midst of this, she told me the council decided to increase the rent of her one bedroom flat from £100 a week to the ‘market value’ of £700 a week.

The crunch came with a burglary this spring when intruders trashed her flat and destroyed her bed, leaving the Viscountess sleeping on a chair for months. No wonder she asked to be transferred elsewhere and, when a bedsit near Uttoxeter in Staffordshire was offered at £68 a week, she leapt at the opportunity.

‘If you stay in a place too long, it becomes over-familiar,’ she informed me, summoning Dutch courage as we sat in her empty flat last week, ‘I feel there are no more opportunities for me here, but Uttoxeter is a large place with a lot of different people and it will be a new challenge. There will be a period of adjustment but adventures feed the imagination.’

‘I was overcome by people’s generosity,’ she confessed, referring to the online fundraising campaign, as we made our farewells, ‘I’d like to thank all the readers of Spitalfields Life for their emotional support and financial help. If anyone would like me to do them a drawing, send me an email and I will do it for them…’

The East End will be a lesser place without Viscountess Boudica, a kind soul who discovered bravery in the face of cruelty and a neighbourhood dandy we were all proud to know.

You can contact Viscountess Boudica direct at boudicaredd@gmail.com

‘As they said to me in Islington when they saw my outfit, ‘There’s not a lot of people that’s got the courage.’’

‘I tried going out in Bethnal Green and the reaction was very hostile – from children who threw bottles at me – but I thought, ‘I’ll persevere because fashion is too drab and life should be full of colour.’’

Be sure to follow Viscountess Boudica’s blog There’s More To Life Than Heaven & Earth

You may like to take a look at

Viscountess Boudica’s Domestic Appliances

Viscountess Boudica’s Drawings

Viscountess Boudica’s Blog

Viscountess Boudica’s Album

Viscountess Boudica’s Halloween

Viscountess Boudica’s Christmas

Viscountess Boudica’s Valentine’s Day

Read my original profile of Mark Petty, Trendsetter

and take a look at Mark Petty’s Multicoloured Coats

Mark Petty’s New Outfits

Mark Petty returns to Brick Lane

41 Responses leave one →
  1. Robert Green permalink
    August 3, 2016

    Sad to see you go, your colourfull presence in Sclater Street market has been a constant focus of inspiration to many people, in what can sometimes be a drab sterile society where most people are afraid to be individual and stand out from the crowd you have been a refreshing alternative and I admire you for it, I will miss our little chats when you visit my pitch and the way you make me laugh with your funny and amusing little tales, whatever trials are bestowed upon me I always find it impossible to be downbeat when you appear to brighten the mood with your flamboyant appearance and gloriously sarcastic sense of humour, I know you have faced some opposition and unfortunately such is the nature of less enlightened people I expect your new home will not come without it’s share of problems to but Im equally sure that whatever comes your way you will face head on with your head held high in defiance, from what you have told me the despicable circumstances that lead to your eviction should cause the people involved to hold their heads in shame at what they have done but in reality they probably either couldnt care less or are sitting behind their tax payer funded desks counting paper clips and sniggering at what they have done, well hopefully one day THEIR time will come, it’s a long way to your new home so I doubt you will find it easy to return so all I can do is wish you the best of luck for your new start and maybe see you again one day, who knows ? GOOD LUCK.

  2. August 3, 2016

    I hope things are better in your new home, best wishes honey, and keep being fabulous!

  3. kristine dillon permalink
    August 3, 2016

    I am saddened to read this story. I wish Viscountess Boudica nothing but the very best.

    I want to thank the Gentle Author for sharing stories about the Viscountess. I love and admire individuals who march to their own drummer, they add beauty to the world because they make it a colorful place.

  4. Ardith permalink
    August 3, 2016

    My sincere compliments to Viscountess Boudica on her strong will, perseverance, dynamic style, vivacity, and most of all…her courage. Her grace and steadfastness in the face of such unwarranted meanness is incredible. The cruelty she experienced only reflects on those who directed it. They are the ones who should feel shame. I must apologize to her on their account, since they clearly are incapable of it themselves. I also apologize for the unthinkable, vile behavior of those in government who are supposed to be supporting, in fact answering to, its citizenry. Shame on them.

    I hope the viscountess will finally enjoy a peaceful existence, in an environment that truly embraces acceptance that most human beings only profess to share.

  5. August 3, 2016

    Wishing her all the best in the new home, and a good start in a new, and hopefully more tolerant place. Valerie

  6. Paul van Gelder permalink
    August 3, 2016

    A message sent to Mark aka Boudica:
    We’ve never met, but I wish we had. So sorry to read in the Gentle Author’s poignant and inspiring post today of the awful circumstances in which you’ve been ‘evicted’ from your home. Inspiring because of your own courage in the face of such heartless, thoughtless cruelty from a bunch of faceless pen pushers and bean counters.

    Sorry too that you and all your London friends and fans will miss each other. A bright light has gone out in London, but will now be reignited in Uttoxeter! May you shine on up North and bring colour like the resplendent bird of paradise you surely are.

    I read the following in Wikipaedia about Uttoxeter :

    ‘Perhaps the most famous event to have occurred in Uttoxeter is the penance of Samuel Johnson. Johnson’s father ran a bookstall on Uttoxeter market, and young Samuel once refused to help out on the stall. When Johnson was older, he stood in the rain (without a hat) as a penance for his failure to assist his father. This event is commemorated with the Johnson Memorial, which stands in the Market Place, in the town centre and there is also an area of town called Johnson Road, which commemorates him.’

    You surely deserve your own statue in Spitalfields. I can imagine it now! A splash of colour.

    Take care and best of luck. It will take time make new roots and meet new friends, but all your old friends will be with you in spirit. I see the wonderful Peak District is nearby… What a wonderful place for peace and contemplation…

  7. August 3, 2016

    What a shame. I hope the Viscountess is happy in her new home. Perhaps, Gentle Author, you can visit her when she has settled in.

  8. August 3, 2016

    Sorry to see her leave the area, she has a powerful personality. Bounce back; surely she will with her e- charm and her media know-how. I must say she has had great support from GA and Spitalfields Life over the years also lots of background help from her supporters. There at least 7 blogs to prove it. Life is not over for the C0untessa and I am sure we have not heard the last of her, or have we! So later colour coat lady to conclude, tell S.L all about your Uttoxeter move you owe to all your friends in the big city.

  9. Michelle Yates permalink
    August 3, 2016

    How sad that there has to be a move! People can be so cruel!!
    Why can we not live and let live?
    Michelle

  10. Paul Howard permalink
    August 3, 2016

    I’m saddened that flinty hearted bureaucracy achieved what local thugs could not. We live in mean times. I shall miss seeing Viscountess around Bethnal Green. I always promised myself that I’d one day I’d say hello, now it seems the opportunity has gone. I look forward to future updates from you, Gentle Author, about her progress, and thank you for bringing this remarkable person closer to us.

  11. richard permalink
    August 3, 2016

    Bethnal Green is a duller place without you :(
    Every blessing.

  12. LYNNE ELLIS permalink
    August 3, 2016

    Dear Vicountess . I’ve enjoyed reading the GA’s articles about you and I feel like I’ve got to know you through them . I’m sorry to see you leave Bethnal Green ,but you must ultimately choose your happiness and wellbeing. I wish you much happinesses in your new home . Good luck for the future. Lynne Ells

  13. August 3, 2016

    May the low life scum that persecuted Viscountess Boudica rot in hell I shall miss this lovely harmless character I loath the way she was treated by the stazi like authorities that are now in charge
    I wish her the most best of luck in her new environment and we must be updated on her progress long live Viscountess Boudica

  14. August 3, 2016

    So sorry to read about the Viscountess Boudica’s move. The East End will definitely be the poorer for it. I wish her the best of luck in her new home, and many new friends!

  15. Sharon Carr permalink
    August 3, 2016

    Bethal Green’s loss will be Uttoxeter’s gain. Wishing the Viscountess all the best in her new home.

  16. August 3, 2016

    Very best of luck VB, lovely pictures of you and the other Boudica and I too hope we hear of you and from you again in Spitalifields Life
    good for you, for being you
    xxx

  17. Shawdian permalink
    August 3, 2016

    This is outrageous. I am very saddened that this kind of bullying method takes place by ‘all’ those involved in this sorry state of events, not just the scum who broke into the flat (a mans/womans home is his/her castle after all) leaving me with the feeling all those involved are utterly ‘shameful’. I admit that on first seeing the Countess on this blog she was a bit of a shock really, but then I took a look at myself, for you can not meet another person with more strongly held views on the moral rights to be allowed to live as ‘you’ yourself and who ‘you are’, for that is all we have ‘our self’. I continued to read the Countess articles and see the person behind the bright clothes and the red hair and the Countess is not that cary anymore just an eccentric (like us all) trying to get on being herself and is not BORING. Funny how it is the most boring of personalities who prejudice against those who sparkle with individual personality and whom have something to say and celebrate about being alive. I hope the Countess will be happy living in the new bedsit seeing the Council decided £700 pr week was more important than a human being having a roof over their heads and she is able to live in peace as is everyones right. Countess just let your new home SPARKLE & be BRIGHT and enjoy your new journey.

  18. Christine Swan permalink
    August 3, 2016

    How terribly sad! I’m so sad that the Viscountess is relocating. Alas, I am also an East End economic migrant who relocated to Worcester. Generations of my family lived and worked in Bethnal Green but I couldn’t afford to stay. What is wrong with people that they cannot be tolerant and accept people who are unique and make life more interesting? I’m so sorry but looking forward to adventures new. If ever you find yourself in Worcester, I’ll be you a cup of tea and we can talk about East End times past. Bon chance!

  19. Candice permalink
    August 3, 2016

    I, too, wish her the very best in her new digs. I’m so sorry that she had to go through all this. Sometimes makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    Your friend from the U.S.

    Candy

  20. August 3, 2016

    Farewell and fond regards to a warrior queen, Ian & Ian , Hunky Dory, Brick Lane
    We will miss your colourful presence on ‘the Lane’ IXIX

  21. Corvin permalink
    August 3, 2016

    Sadly predictable. The East End lights that shine brightly through and out of the Spitalfields Life pages are but a few. Ironically Vicountess Boudica would probably have lived more happily in the neighbouring square mile amongst its City types who are enlightened by comparison.

  22. August 3, 2016

    All the very best to you, Viscountess Boudica.

  23. August 3, 2016

    London Town is a cosmopolitan and large-minded place, I believed — but now such a sad story…
    I hope that all challenges of Viscountess Boudica will be worth it! My best wishes to you.

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  24. Susan permalink
    August 3, 2016

    So sad to hear this; London just lost a bit of its color and beauty with the Viscountess’ departure. I hope that she finds happiness and tolerance in her new home.

    Thanks to the Gentle Author for sharing Viscountess Boudica’s stories and pictures with all of us. I will always be glad I had the chance to meet her this spring. (I was the American at the Society Club event in May.)

  25. August 3, 2016

    Very sorry to read about the harsh treatment this most original person has been subjected to.

    Also, how can anyone afford a bedsit at £700 a week? Lots of people don’t even earn £700 a week. Who will be left in London? I added it up and it comes to £36,400 a year in rent. For a small council flat? This suggests that anyone on less than £50,000 a year could not live in a council flat in Bethnal Green! How on earth do working class and lower earning professionals like nurses, junior doctors, paramedics and main grade teachers survive?

    I feel so sorry for people who are forced to leave London, although we are very sweet in the North and the Midlands, where you can rent something rather swish for £700 a week.

    I wish the Vicontess all the best in her new affordable home and hope she makes new friends there.

  26. Barbara Haigh permalink
    August 3, 2016

    I had the privilege of sharing a stage with V.B. one evening at The Bishopsgate Institute. We took part in a debate about “Trouble Makers” – a deliberate misnomer. We both courted controversy – she being colourful; a little outrageous; deliberately different and utterly innocuous…! I had been one of the original Playboy Bunnies in London.

    I had never met her before although felt I already knew her because of G.A.’s journal. What a joy she is…!! What a decent, polite, intelligent and articulate soul she is. What a shame it is, in this day and age people cannot see beyond a little eccentricity.

    Heigh-Ho Boudica, a new day, a new location and new challenges. Embrace it and be true to your namesake – absorb her strength & courage, hold your head high & strut your stuff..!
    Kisses, Barbara.

  27. Ros permalink
    August 3, 2016

    I too am very sad to read this. Market forces are no substitute for a caring and balanced society. I wish the Viscountess good fortune and plenty of courage in the next chapter of her life.

  28. Judith permalink
    August 3, 2016

    Good luck Dear Lady! I have enjoyed and admired your adventures in these pages

  29. Patty/NS, Canada permalink
    August 3, 2016

    Farewell dear, I hope you find a better welcome than London gave you. Wishing you health, happiness and tolerance in your new community. Shame on the council and police!!! Disgraceful how you were treated! Onward and upward I say, may your loving spirit never be broken. xo from Canada

  30. pauline taylor permalink
    August 3, 2016

    I too wish Viscountess Boudica exciting times and many happy hours, days and weeks in her new home, I have always enjoyed seeing her decorations in her home, especially the Irish ones, and her clothes, and those lovely high heeled shoes, great fun. If only those who have treated her so cruelly over the years had half her imagination and flair the world would be a better place, but London’s loss is Uttoxeter’s gain. Keep in touch Boudica we shall all be anxiously awaiting a glowing report, with lots of colour please, of life in Uttoxeter.

    Keep your chin up and Bon Chance.

  31. August 3, 2016

    i’m sending love and good wishes to dear viscountess boudica
    and am so sorry to hear of all the meanness directed towards her.
    i hope all goes very well in her new place.
    if you can, gentle author, please give her a hug for me;
    let her know people all over the world love her.
    xoxoxo
    wendy in wisconsin usa

  32. Chris F permalink
    August 3, 2016

    Very sad… Bullying from the council, bullying from the benefits agency, bullying from ill bred children and intolerant adults…. None of these groups want you to be an individual, but you are and should remain one… The world can sometimes seem to be a dull and dismal place but people like you add some warmth and colour to our oft dreary streets. Good luck with the relocation and I hope you find someone to care for you and to share your life with… No one should be on their own forever……..

  33. August 3, 2016

    What an awful tale of prejudice and beaurocratic bullying. So sad to hear that VB has had to relocate…I am sure she will be sadly missed in East London. Good luck VB in your relocation to Uttoxeter a town which I am sure you will brighten up in your own inimitable way and hopefully TGA will report on your future in Staffordshire. Every good wish in the future and thanks for brightening up our lives in the past.

  34. martin permalink
    August 4, 2016

    God luck in Uttoxeter, i hope it’s a nice tolerant place with good down to earth people like yourself.

  35. Susan permalink
    August 4, 2016

    We will all miss her so! I do hope the gentle author will go and visit sometimes – especially on holidays, which seem to be VB’s special gift.

  36. vanda permalink
    August 4, 2016

    Viscountess Boudica, may you have many happy, peaceful years in your new home. I cannot understand how people can be so hurtful and disgusting to one another. Unfortunately it takes all kinds to make a world. God Bless

  37. Kate permalink
    August 5, 2016

    This is so, so sad. I have really enjoyed reading about the Viscountess over the years and she has always brought a smile to my face with her joie de vivre – just so sorry never to have met her in person. Does she know how much joy she has given to us? Please, Gentle Author, keep us posted. I have a vision that the Viscountess may soon be taking Uttoxeter Racecourse by storm in all her wondrous outfits and finery. Long may she prevail.

  38. August 11, 2016

    Blessings and best wishes to you VB in your new life, you are a unique light in a dull and mean world. What a shocking tale of rental bullying. Lots of love x

  39. August 28, 2016

    Good luck Viscountess Boudica. We will miss you!

  40. Melanie Gadsdon permalink
    February 15, 2017

    I have just read this article and I did not realise that sweet Viscountess Boudica has moved to Uttoxeter from Bethnal Green. I’m upset to hear that she was forced out by the evil and greedy council and that the flat was vandalised for whatever horrible reasons. I really hope she will be happy there but the town is predominantly white and may not be tolerant of colourful characters like her. The East End is so colourful and very cosmopolitan which suited us and her. She may like to go to Uttoxeter horse racing, perhaps she will feel not so out of place there. I do hope you’re happy there Viscountess. Keep in touch.

  41. Gilda Maurice permalink
    October 29, 2017

    I was wondering why I hadn’t seen Viscountess Boudica down my road for a long while!
    I am very sorry to hear this happened – I miss seeing you in the neighbourhood. Good luck in your new home!

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