Aunt Mabel was the youngest of the 4 Bruce sisters and never married, though it was said that Gran pinched her one and only suitor (who I am sure was not Grandad).
She was very small and bought all her clothes in the children's departments, though I've never understood how she managed this as I only ever remember her wearing black.
She had a gammy leg, reason unknown, and walked with the aid of a stick or an umbrella - all of which were regularly left on buses, in shops and cinemas, and it was the fate of a great niece to have to retrieve these, which was hugely embarrassing. I think as children we all understood that Aunt Mabel was somehow regarded by Gran and the other Great Aunts as being a lesser mortal or at any rate of considerably lesser intelligence, and probably she was rather silly, but she was very interested in art. All my visits to art galleries and museums as a child were with Aunt Mabel and, providing one kept a weather eye on her umbrella, were hugely enjoyable.
She lived in a succession of hotels in the Cromwell Road by the time I knew her, and afternoons out always ended with a slap-up tea in the current hotel: Macaroons and eclairs, neither of which ever graced a country tea table. I remember that at one hotel a fellow-resident was the mother of Georgette Heyer and she and Aunt Mabel used to have a lovely time talking of their famous connections - Aunt Mabel retaliating with Hester being married to Laurence Olivier's brother!
When she became old and frail she had to move into a nursing home, also in the Cromwell Road, and from then on her life was really rather sad. No more hour-long morning phone calls with Gran, and surrounded by people who would never pass the Mabsy Test. This was two tests really: Mabsy I and Mabsy II, and was on the lines of Mrs. Thatcher's, "Is he one of us?" Fortunately most of her family seemed to scrape through on Mabsy II. Her standards were high.
Her funeral was the saddest I ever went to, only Pippa, Anne and I managing to be there, and the whole thing being treated by the funeral directors with little dignity or celebration of a life, but more as an interruption of their morning. I regret this, and remember her with great fondness.
Many people remember overhearing one relation telling another that someone's new boyfriend (certainly not the word used then) had not passed the Mabsy test. To which the listener asked with shock, "Not even the Junior Mabsy?"