Clarissa Dickson Wright, “the larger of the Two Fat Ladies,” passed away recently aged 66.
She was the daughter of very rich, but alcoholic and abusive, father. At age 26, she inherited 2.8 million pounds, thereupon embarking “on almost a decade of extravagance and debauchery.â€
The Telegraph obituary reports that:
By age 40, she had blown it all on â€œyachts in the Caribbean, yachts in the Aegean, aeroplanes to the races â€“ and drinkâ€. â€œIf Iâ€™d had another Â£100,000,â€ she conceded, â€œIâ€™d have been dead.â€
She had studied successfully for a law degree, and been the first woman admitted to the Admiralty Bar, but in 1980, she was charged with professional incompetence and practicing without chambers. She was disbarred three years later.
At rock bottom she went to the DSS to ask for somewhere to live, only to be told: â€œWeâ€™re not here for the likes of you, you know. Youâ€™re upper class, youâ€™ve got a Law degree.â€
She began to cook in other peopleâ€™s houses. â€œOf course itâ€™s only the upper classes who will become domestic servants now,â€ she reflected. â€œOther people feel it demeans them.â€ One day, when preparing to cook for a house party, she was on her knees, cleaning the floor. â€œI looked up,â€ she remembered, â€œand said ‘Dear God, if you are up there, please do something.â€™â€ The next day she was arrested for refusing a breathalyser. â€œI was carted down the long drive just as the house party was coming up it. From then on, I was inexorably swept into recovery.â€
BBC producer Patricia Llewellyn found her running a bookshop in Edinburgh and teamed her with the also colorful and eccentric Jennifer Paterson, then a columnist at The Spectator. Their program, Two Fat Ladies, achieved enormous popularity by flying in the face of healthy eating and enthusiastically embracing traditional items of cuisine, loaded with fat, sugar, calories, and cholesterol.
She smoked a pipe, boasted of having had sex behind the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Commons, and defied the Hunt Ban by attending a greyhound coursing exhibition, and when prosecuted told the Press that she would be glad to go to prison “for hunting.”
She was even a friend of Steve Bodio’s.