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Correspondence with Nona Ransom's Godchild and the Pouffe

Nona Ransom (Suzuki's college English teacher) main page

5-22-12 - Received an email recently from a Richard Jefferies:

RJ: I found your web page when I did a search on Nona Ransom and I felt inspired to write to you because I do have a recollection of meeting Nona. It is a very short and insubstantial memory but important to me nonetheless which is why I still remember it.  Nona was my godmother.  I was about three years old and it is my first and only memory of meeting her, and she was already an old lady.  She made me a present of a Chinese pouffe. I still have it and it is one of my most treasured possessions. This physical link with the past is probably why I never forgot the meeting even though I was so young.

First I should say that I am only 95% percent certain that we are talking about the same lady. These are the facts that I can be certain of:  my parents were befriended by a lady called Nona when they were living in Cirencester, England in the 1960’s. They used to visit the “Friends Meeting House”. This was a small church belonging to a religious group known as the quakers.  Years later they told me that Nona was related in some way to the journalist and writer Arthur Ransom. My parents also told me that she had been a missionary in China.

Do you think my godmother is the same Nona that features in the story on your website? It seems to me to be highly plausible. It was fascinating to see your web page. I only have this tiny crumb of information but I hope it might be interesting to you too.

 Best regards

Richard Jefferies


DC note: What's a Pouffe? It's another word for a tuffet or hassock. a piece of furniture used as a footstool or low seat. It is distinguished from a stool by being completely covered in fabric so that no legs are visible. Read more.


I, DC, responded:

Good to hear from you. Most interesting and yes, that's the same Nona. I've been to Cirencester and talked to people there about Nona. You can read about it here:

And there's a link on that page to the Nona Ransom main page which you may have seen. I'll post what you wrote here and anything else you wish in that section.

And I'll Cc Grahame Petchey who knew Nona.

All the best,

Hi David,

RJ:Thanks so much for getting back to me, it is great to have that confirmed.  I am going to try to do some more research about Nona so if I come across anything you might be interested in I will drop you a line. I should also say that I enjoyed the article, as did my mother who I forwarded the link to.  She says “ I vaguely recall Nona's often impatient remarks about the 'ward' she travelled back to UK with, but don't think we ever met him”.  The other consequence of reading the article is that I now have a craving for steak and kidney pie which I can’t do anything about because I am living in Spain, and it is as foreign to the Spanish as it is over there. I will have to plan a trip back home!


DC: I wonder how Harry Rose is doing, if he's still with us. Grahame Petchey might know. Time for me to contact him anyway.


RJ: I hope you don’t mind me writing to you again. I finally got time to look properly at all the Nona Ransom links on your website. I started watching the videos  and I wanted to check with you that there was no sound or commentary on them. I understand that it would be quite surprising if there were sound, given the technology of the time, but I thought I would just confirm that in case it was a more modern problem like my browser not being able to read the file format correctly.

I was also wondering if you had any pictures of Nona. There are none in my family, and in fact I think my parents living in Cirencester predates them getting their first camera. I remember seeing a couple of snaps of the garden at the back of the Friends Meeting House but I think they were taken on a later visit. I couldn’t see any pictures of Nona on your website and I guess that means you probably don’t have them, or if you did you were asked not to put them in the public domain which would be perfectly understandable.

By the way, did you manage to get any word about Harry? He sounds like quite a character!


DC: There's no sound on those films.

I do have a photo of Nona that's pretty good. It was in Crooked Cucumber. I'll post it on I just got all the photos from Crooked Cucumber ready to go on I think I might have another from Brian Power's book on the Emperor PuYi, the Puppet Emperor, but we've just moved and I don't know where that is right now. I don't see where it came from and don't remember. Maybe Grahame. Most likely Harry Ransom Rose sent it to me.

I should call Graham Petchey to say hi and I'll ask him what he knows about Harry.
I'll try to get to those things today or in a few days.


DC note: So I sent him the photo of Nona that I'd just put on cuke on the Crooked Cucumber photos page. You don't have to go there though cause the photo is right here:

RJ: Dave, that pic is so awesome! She looks kind of severe,  just like the impression I had built up of her from the extracts on your website – although the image of her chasing Suzuki around the house after he gave her those onions suggests a fun side too. Maybe that is visible in the fact that she seems to be mixing a generous helping of brandy into her afternoon tea, who knows. The most amazing thing of all though is the fact that her tea tray is resting on the very pouffe that I have sitting in my living room right now, I am enclosing a couple of snapshots of that.


DC: Wow. There it is.

PS. I visited Grahame. He does not know about Harry these days. Here's his contact info. You're in England, right? He'd be happy to hear from you.