New autobiography reveals how hairdresser Pauline first encountered the shy chef who went on to become Deputy Prime Minister.David Holmes reports
PAULINE Prescott has told how she fell for husband John after meeting him under Chester’s Eastgate Clock.
In her new autobiography, Smile Though Your Heart is Breaking, Pauline unveils her relationship with John, how she handled his affair with a secretary and the heartache of giving up a baby as a teenager.
Pauline, from Chester, was standing at a bus stop under the Eastgate Clock in 1957 waiting to go home after a long day working at the hairdressing salon in what was Quaintway’s – now RB’s nightclub – when she encountered the 18-year-old Prescott.
She wrote: “A voice at my elbow startled me. ‘Hi there, it’s Pauline, isn’t it?’. I turned and found myself face-to-face with a man I knew only as the ex-boyfriend of Barbara, a girl I worked with. His name was John Prescott.”
She revealed the former Deputy Prime Minister and retiring MP for Hull, now aged 71, then a steward on the Cunard and White Star shipping lines, was funny if not always a great romantic.
In the summer of 1959, John told her he was taking her for a meal at the Patten Arms hotel and restaurant in Warrington where he worked as a commis chef.
She knew he was going to pop the question but it was en route, in the unusual setting of a train toilet, that the secretly ‘shy’ Prescott decided to propose rather risk embarrassment in front of an audience.
They married at Upton Parish Church in 1961.
In the book, Pauline, 70, also recalls falling pregnant to a US airman from a local American air force base when she was just 15. The airman was actually married and she never heard from him after he moved on.
It was arranged for Pauline to be looked after at St Bridget’s House of Mercy in Lache Park. The baby was born at Chester City Hospital and given up for adoption.
It wasn’t until 2001 that Pauline, who has two sons by her marriage with John, was reunited with her long-lost son Paul, a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Military Police, after he was tracked down by reporters who had been making enquiries at Chester City Council.
Then on April 27, 2006, Pauline was hit by the bomb-shell of her husband’s affair with his diary secretary Tracey Temple after 45 years of marriage. She confronted him: “You damn fool! How could you do this to us? Why?”
Smile Though Your Heart Is Breaking, is published is published by HarperCollins, priced £18.99.