Janette Hastead was born as one of five children in Ayreshire, Scotland, in 1942 to a Scots Guards sergeant father and sweetshop-owning mother.
She moved to London to make her living in the 1960s and applied for a job as a housekeeper.
After her funeral service on Friday at St James’s Church, Prebend Street, her son Michael Hastead, 43, said she only got the Ringo Starr job because she said she didn’t like the Beatles.
She worked at the former Beatles drummer’s home in Highgate where he lived for four years from 1969-1973, but was “not swept away by it all”, just glad she earned a comfortable living.
“She was a proud Scot, and very down to earth, not at all like the screaming girls they were surrounded by, despite her being about the same age as many of their fans,” said Michael.
“One day she was wiping the kitchen surfaces clean and two gardeners came from the back garden and started eating the food in Ringo’s fridge, then they started going in the pantry.
She told them to get out. She said they had started laughing and she couldn’t believe the cheekiness, so she said they had better stay out of the kitchen. They did stay out, until an hour later when Ringo came back home and introduced the two gardeners as John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
“Mum said she was horrified at what she’d done, but they both thought it was hilarious. They put an arm around her and reassured her that they couldn’t walk out onto the street without being screamed at, so it was quite refreshing.”
Singer Lulu was a regular visitor at Ringo’s and she eventually started to bake Jenny cakes.
“They were both Scottish,” said Michael. “When Lulu was waiting around for Ringo they’d have a good chat, and Lulu loved to bake too. So they started to compare each other’s cakes.”
Jenny seemed to have a habit of running into musical legends, as she made Elvis Presley his first British cup of tea.
“Before she moved to London she had a job in the canteen of Prestwick airport. It was Elvis’s first time in the UK with the army, and mum was tasked with making his cup of tea.
"She made him a standard one sugar pot of tea, and he said it had been excellent. She was rather proud to have fixed him his first cuppa.”
But in the 1970s Jenny needed a change of scene and moved with her four sons to America, before feeling homesick and moving to the Packington estate in the 1980s.
Jean Smith, who knew Jenny for 30 years, said she had a reputation as “an incredibly generous soul”. She said: “She went round calling everybody hen, mostly because she couldn’t remember anybody’s name. But she was always the one anyone went to when they needed to borrow a pound, or a bit of sugar, if she had it she would help anyone out. But she also said everything from the heart.
“Prince Charles came to our estate about a decade ago, and he looked at the plastic bag she was carrying and said ‘Just come back from shopping have we?’ and she said ‘No, actually Sir, I’ve just been to get my gas key from the shop, it’s terribly expensive if you pay it monthly rather than weekly’.
He quite liked that and he had a good chat with her. She treated everybody the same. Jenny was Jenny and that was that, she didn’t try and be anything else.”
In later life Jenny enjoyed line dancing, bingo, “a good drink”, and was settling in to her new home.
“She had been rehoused along the Regent’s Canal,” said Jean. “She quite liked it, we had some funny times on our estate, and she would give her sons a good slap around the ear if they got up to no good. But she believed the new housing helped our community.
“She went far too soon, she had too much zest for life.”
by Pavan Amara