So who was the mystery woman? What did I know about her? Well, lots, but little of it verifiable. There was one thing I could track down and that was the Sloane Ranger Handbook. A quick journey to Amazon gave me the names of two authors: Peter York and Ann Barr. I can be fairly sure it’s not Peter York, not unless her life was even more fascinating than she made it out to be.
I quickly Googled the name, and clicked on this article, where alas, I could see from the picture that this was not the woman who I had encountered. She was a bit younger and thinner and a glasses wearer. However, reading on I found that the book had been written with the help of three others, significantly Vicki Woods and Sue Carpenter.
Sue Carpenter now appears to live in Los Angeles, which seems to rule her out; despite the story I was told about how my train companion had once had tea with the heir to the Campbell Soup Empire, and how she had two private planes, one to transport the family, one for the pets.
Now interestingly enough, Vicki Woods seems to be based in England, and appears to write for the Daily Telegraph. I saw this article, and immediately got excited. It talked about how the writer worked for the magazine where the whole Sloane Ranger phenomenon started. It talks about Scotland, where my companion’s family lived. But then as I read on, I realised that the writer had not actually been to Scotland until the 90s, just her husband that knew the place well. Here’s a short bio here; this time too young... The stories just don’t match up.
Where to now? Reading the first article about Ann Barr further, I found another name, a sub-editor called Martina Margetts who actually coined the name in the first place. Could this be the woman? This lady is a lecturer at the Royal College of Arts, Senior Tutor in Critical & Historical Studies. There’s a bit about her here. Some international background, books published, but no picture, and no evidence to suggest she was the person involved in the whole Sloane thing. And no picture, alas.
With nowhere else to go, I went to the The Good Schools Guide website, and unsurprisingly, found rather a large list of contributors, none of which matched the name’s I had come across already. Although frustratingly there was a Sue Wood. Could I have sat next to a complete loony? A habitual liar?
Well one tiny thing makes me think that it wasn’t all complete balls. Remember her encounters with the Warner Brothers? That her father went on to be director of Playtex. Read the latter half of this page, there is a connection between the two. Rough – but could this be the nugget of info that proves that it wasn’t all made up? I cannot know for sure.
If you’ve got any further ideas or avenues for investigation, then by all means, let me know...