SURROUNDED by dozens of birthday cards, grinning Gresford resident Kathleen Copcutt can be justly proud of the latest in a long line of landmarks.

Not many writers bring out their debut work aged 93, but that's exactly what the determined Kathleen has just done with the publication of 'Yer Never Knows Wot's Hanging 'Til It Drops!' which looks back on her long life with a combination of wry amusement and vivid memories.

Stretching from her birth in 1926, through her years as teenager in London during the Second World War, and on through a period living in South Africa before her move to North Wales, Kathleen's book is full of stories, many of which portray her love of family, music and animals.

"The book was written in response to young people," explains Kathleen. "I had a heart attack and while I was recovering one of the young nurses said to me 'you must have been around during VE Day - did you hear about it?' I laughed and replied 'I didn't just hear about it, I was there!'.

"Some other young people asked me about whether we had a social life in London during the war and I said, 'yes - we didn't let anything make a difference to us - we were happy to dodge the doodlebugs!'"

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Kathleen, the youngest of seven, grew up in Harrow in North West London. After convent and then commercial school, she became a 'secretary bird' in London, working in the BBC Music Department.

"When the V1 engines cut, we dived under our desks, for want of better cover," she remembers. "I won't say 'cowered', since we still answered the phone when necessary.

"When the war ended we walked down to Piccadilly Circus to join in the celebrations. People were dancing, singing, climbing on cars and buses."

In 1946, Kathleen flew to South Africa in a converted Lancaster bomber. She became aware of apartheid, worked in the wool trade and then had a stint of employment in mental health, returning to England in 1960, having acquired both a husband (Phil) and a son (Paul).

"I was always keen to go to South Africa because my father had told me so much about it," she says. "It wasn't like it is now where you can just go to an airport. We had to go to a hangar and there was this aircraft which we had to walk across mud to get to. The flight took three days and we stopped in Cairo and Nairobi - I was only 20 and the crew were all very nice to me and let me sit in the second pilot's seat.

"South Africa was very nice but once the hard-line Nationalists came into power in 1948, things changed and they clamped down. I always got on with the Africans who worked for us very well and Katie, the African lady who worked for us, adored Paul and I trusted her with him more than anyone. We decided it was good time to go when the Nationalists got in again and a lot of our friends started to leave, so we came home."

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Kathleen Copcutt and Phil Copcutt cut their wedding cake

While her husband worked with the MOD, Paul funded his own education with scholarships to choir school, The King's School, Canterbury and Magdalen College, Oxford. Kathleen took senior secretarial posts for the next 20 years until her husband's posting to North Wales and a job at Sealand, with the couple moving to Cilcain, before Phil died aged 68 and she moved to Gresford.

"I was going to just write the first part and that would be it when we moved to South Africa," says Kathleen, who is also a keen painter. "But somebody I showed the book to who writes book and teaches at a university said he wanted to know what happened next, so I wrote the third part which contains a lot about music and Paul's career.

"Everyone has said how proud I should be of the book, but I just think thank goodness that's finished now because I'll never write another one!"

'Yer Never Knows Wot's 'Anging 'Till It Drops!' by Kathleen Copcutt is published by Brown Dog Books and is available from The Bookshop in Mold or from