Published: 08 March, 2012
by PAVAN AMARA
FORMER Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s mother-in-law stole his ties during his time in Downing Street.
Pauline Macaulay revealed her secret during a trip to Swiss Cottage Library on Thursday night. She told how she turned them into a quilt which she gave back to Mr Brown on his 60th birthday last year.
Ms Macaulay was opening the London Quilters Exhibition 2012 with Mr Brown’s wife, Sarah.
“I wanted to surprise Gordon,” said Ms Macaulay, a teacher at Swiss Cottage school.
“Over time I started to take his ties when he wasn’t looking, because he had so many of them. He rarely noticed that I was taking them, or I’d take a bit of fabric from his trousers, and I just don’t think he had the time to notice what I was doing.”
She added: “Then I made a big quilt for him, mostly of all his ties, but I also included material from his old suits. When I finally presented it to him, he was very happy, but the first words out of his mouth were, ‘Are my ties really that bright?’.
“I said to him that it’s obviously more overwhelming when they’re all sewn together. But really it’s a collage of memories of his time in Downing Street.
“It’s amazing what you can do with ties. I think he will keep it for a very long time.”
Mr Brown’s father-in-law, health professor Patrick Vaughan, who was also at the launch, said: “You know Gordon, he’s a straightforward man, so when he was in office he wore the same type of suit, the same make of suit, nearly all the time. But his ties were what he expressed himself with.”
Camden’s leisure chief Councillor Tulip Siddiq, who once worked as a press aide to Mr Brown, said she recognised some of the ties in the collage.
“I remember that red one from his election campaign,” she added. “Look at all the red ties in there, I suppose because red’s the Labour colour, that would be the dominant colour.”
Ms Brown spoke of the “excellent” Swiss Cottage library, and how she was “only too pleased” to pay it another visit.
“I attended Acland Burghley and then Camden School for Girls so I feel very much at home here,” she said. “My mum wanted me to open the exhibition, and who can say no to their mum?
Quilting is very good for self-expression. When you look at different people’s quilts you can see different personalities, different passions, and different tastes. The quilt says a lot about the person.”
Ms Brown urged those in the audience, and New Journal readers, to buy raffle tickets for a large, star-themed quilt created by 50 quilters over a year.
Money will go to the charity Ms Brown founded, Piggy Bank Kids, which helps vulnerable children, and to Arthritis Care.
Two years ago, when a quilt was raffled by London Quilters it raised £4,000.