Teatime at Peggy’s: A Glimpse of Anglo-India. Clare Jenkins & Stephen McClarence
Enjoy the afternoon tales from Teatime at Peggy's and get a glimpse into Anglo-Indian life with Stephen McClarence and Clare Jenkins.

Teatime at Peggy’s: A Glimpse of Anglo-India. Clare Jenkins & Stephen McClarence

Enjoy a warm, humorous and evocative afternoon celebrating the eccentric, time-warped and fast-disappearing world of one of India’s most endangered communities. Travel writer Stephen McClarence and radio broadcaster (and former Newark Advertiser journalist) Clare Jenkins share their tales of visits to the Indian railway town Jhansi, and a glimpse of Anglo-India.

For 15 years, journalists Stephen and Clare made regular visits to Jhansi, the Indian railway town that inspired Bhowani Junction, John Masters’ classic 1954 tale of Anglo-Indian life during Partition. There they spent hours ‘down the rabbit hole’ with ‘Aunty Peggy’ – Peggy Cantem – and her colourful cast of friends.

In Peggy’s tiny, crowded ground-floor flat, they would reflect on Anglo-Indian life then and now: the dances (waltzes, foxtrot, jive), May Queen balls (Anglo-Indian women were famed for their beauty), and meals of Mulligatawny soup, toad-in-the-hole and ‘railway lamb curry’.

Those friends included the ladylike Gwen, Lambretta-riding Buddie, Cheryl with her ‘hotchpotch’ ancestry, Winston Churchill-reciting Pastor Rao, Peggy’s loyal maid May, her cook Sheela and auto-rickshaw driver Anish. Conversations covered Monsoon Toad Balls (to find ‘the most hideous-looking man’), moonlight picnics in the jungle, pet mongooses and the British Royal Family.

There are now only 30 Anglo-Indian families left in Jhansi, many officially below the poverty line. Their first language is English, they often dress Western-style and their homes could be in the 1950s Home Counties, were it not for the mounted tiger’s heads alongside the Sacred Heart fridge magnets; the aviaries of parakeets outside, the three plaster flying ducks inside; the pictures of Buckingham Palace embroidered on the antimacassars.

Teatime at Peggy’s, based on a half-hour Radio 4 programme – is an invaluable addition to the history and literature of this vanishing community.


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About the Authors

Stephen McClarence is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in The Times, Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Daily and Sunday Express, Yorkshire Post, National Geographic Traveler and DestinAsian magazine. A finalist (and winner) in numerous travel writing awards, he won the major National Daily Travel Writer of the Year award for a Times article about Ramji, a rickshaw driver he met in Varanasi. He has also reviewed books for The Times and been an exhibiting photographer.
Clare Jenkins started her journalistic career on the Newark Advertiser, under the editorship of Roger Parlby. After various career moves, including two years on Woman’s Weekly magazine, she became a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, including reporting on women’s lives in India. She has also made hundreds of features and documentaries for BBC Radio, including some from India, latterly via her production company, Pennine Productions, which closed just before the pandemic. These include a half-hour programme about Jhansi’s Anglo-Indians, broadcast in 2015 and also called Teatime at Peggy’s. She has published books about women’s relationships with RC priests and people’s experiences of bereavement, and is a member of the Oral History Society.


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