After SalfordOnline.com’s tribute to Vinegar Vera Done, a legendary character in Salford, tributes and stories about her have come in to us from every corner of the globe.
Readers and ex-pats from as far away as New Zealand, Australia and Canada have offered their sympathies to Vera’s son Philips ‘Jimmy’ Done, who exclusively spoke to us in this touching tribute to his mother.
Veronica Done was born in Hanky Park in 1938 and grew to be a well-known woman with a sharp sense of humour, a nerve of steel and a colourful character unlike any other.
Her sad passing on Sunday 19 July at the age of 77 drew to a close the life of someone who will be remembered as an archetype of ‘Old Salford’ life; growing up in the now-demolished ‘slums’ of Salford, living and working around the Salford Docks (now transformed beyond recognition into Salford Quays) and being known to what feels like every person in the city.
Poet and author Mike Duff, whose wicked sense of humour would rival Vera’s own, offered this poem to SalfordOnline.com in tribute:
Last thoughts on Vinegar Vera
There’ll be a row outside of heaven
and all the angels there will fear her
there’ll be a bit of song ‘Born Free’
and all of the souls they will hear her
when St Peter opens up those gates
and in walks Salford girl Vinegar Vera
The story of Vera’s passing has been read over 10,000 times already this week.
Readers offered up their own stories which gave us a clear insight into the woman behind the myths and legends.
Peter Flynn said: “I once saw Vera with [her partner] Mike McGuire (The Salford yank) at a bus stop in Eccles and Vera was repeatedly beating Mike over the head with an umbrella.
“When the No 67 bus pulled up all hostilities were ceased and they went upstairs. I just had to follow them. Vera resumed hostilities until the brolly snapped and all the time Mike was whimpering, “Oh Vera.” Eventually she stopped and just sat there staring at everyone as if to say: “Do you want some?” It was hilarious and it made my day, but maybe not Mike’s!”
Lesley Turner wrote: “I also lived on chauffer court in the 70″s and remember meeting Vera for the first time in the lift, a day I will never forget as I didn’t know who she was, she spoke to me as if she had known me all my life, R.I.P. Vera x
Julie Farnworth said: “First met you outside Keystone pub on Salford precinct I’d been stood up and you were fuming what you wouldn’t do to that b—– !
“I thought what a lovely lady just then a police van cruised by and said, “Vera, are you bothering that young girl” to which you replied “f— off”! I soon realised I’d had the pleasure of meeting Vinegar Vera x”
Stevie Mcchops wrote: “First time I met her was in Golden Gate pub I was 16 and she scared the living s***e out of the dude with the cockles and prawns, then came back in with his basket and dished out the plunder, pure Salford class.”
Janet Aspinall said: “Everyone will have a memory and a story about your mum Phil. I remember my mum walking with her to a pub and she was linking my mum and told her “your my effin guardian angel lou, am gonna buy you a pint”,,,,, my mum had only nipped out for a loaf!!! Funny lady. X”
Susan Valerie Bradshaw added: “She was a legend, if you worked in a pub she was a bit of a bugger especially if you had the nerve to refuse to serve her, so sad that she has passed god bless Vera.”
Stacey Olsen said: “My nan was a police matron many years ago and Vera was a regular. Fortunately she liked my nan so my nan was the one to take her in most of the time as the others were scared of her. Vera would only hand her rings to my nan, none of the others, she would always say that my nan made the best sausage butties.”
Joyce Hall wrote: “I live in Australia and had the pleasure of meeting Vera on a visit to see family in the UK. I had all my family in stitches laughing at her antics the day i sat next to her in a pub in salford. I will never forget that.”
Anne Rogers commented: “I’ve worked in Salford for 47 years and met many many characters but Vera must be the one with the most stories good, bad and funny. Wish they had made that film about her life because nobody could ever invent a pair of characters like her and Mike. What a comedy it will be when some production company eventually put all the stories together true life would be far funnier than any writer could imagine. r.i.p.to a true legend whose stories will be related for many years to come.”
Michael Winstanley wrote: “I used to look after Vera some years ago now. She took a liking to me and we used to go out for her favourite, fish & chips. I got to know the real Vera or “V” as I called her, the Vera that she didn’t present to others.
“The real Vera was a very kind, giving, empathic person. A decent lady that had worked hard all her life. She was very proud of her children & talked a lot about them.
“She even used to drive a truck. To me she was a blessing. I am shocked to hear of her passing. I cared about V so very much.
“Love and blessings V and enjoy your rewards in paradise. You more than deserve it.xxxxx
There are many, many more tales of Vera, some of which will surely be recounted at her funeral next Friday afternoon where hundreds of people from all walks of life are expected to go and pay their respects.
It takes place on Friday 31 July at 12pm at St Paul’s Church, Broadwalk, Salford Precinct followed by a service at Agecroft Cemetery at 1pm. All are invited and welcome.
Main image: Vera and Phil ‘Jimmy’ Done