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Wendy Wood - Nationalist

When Wendy Wood died in 1981, at the age of 88, a memorial service was held at the Highland Tolbooth Church in Edinburgh, headed by Lord Birsay. Many of the great and good of Scotland attended. People had disagreed with her during her life, but nobody disliked her and many loved her.

This nationalist firebrand was actually born in England, and spent much other earlier life there and in Africa. Scotland, however, affected her like a heady wine, and she threw endless energy into the independence movement. Wood was outraged by the appearance of EIIR letterboxes, since the Queen is the second Elizabeth of England, but only the first of Scotland.

She did everything with the same enthusiasm. She had studied art under Walter Sickert in Chelsea. and painted incessantly, both oils and watercolours. She was friendly with Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells and other London notables. More appropriately, she counted people such as 'King' John MacCormick, the Scottish nationalist leader, and Robert Cunmnghame Graham (Don Roberto) among her friends.

She wrote all the time, too, poems and children's stories. These were broadcast on the BBC to three generations of children. Married twice, in her passion for sexual equality Wood refused to use her husbands' surname but one of them had no hesitation jumping from a balcony in St Andrews Hall in Glasgow to protect her from a threatening crowd at a meeting.

Once, she began a fast to force the idea of a Scottish assembly on to the London government. Twice she went to prison, once to Holloway after refusing to pay a fine imposed for her insulting behaviour at a demonstration in Trafalgar Square; and once to Duke Street gaol for refusing to pay another fine, punishment for her objections to making National Insurance contributions. Both times, friends rallied around with money to have her sprung.

She led an assault team on Stirling Castle to tear down the Union flag and put up the lion rampant. She endowed an award for children writing about Scottish history. Compton Mackenzie dedicated a book to her moral courage.

Wendy Wood's watchwords were Faith, hope, love and lettuce; faith in God, hope of independence, love of fellow men and women, and a green salad every day.

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