When I first met Cleone, she informed me I was “a silly boy” – I was then aged forty-five. Over the next eight years, Cleone often had cause to remark upon my foolish ways, and one of her time-proven cures for self-pity was working in her garden. Thanks to her, I am now a skilled wheelbarrow driver, tomato plant waterer, composter, and outdoor furniture cleaner. She also had a positive vendetta against hair pomades for men and never accepted my argument that Brylcreem was the tonic of choice of David Niven and Kenneth More. For this reason, I was obliged to don a hat when travelling in her car – “that yucky stuff” apparently had a dire effect on Ford Fiesta upholstery.

Yet, I must not give the impression that Cleone was prone to issuing stern edicts, although she was undoubtedly a lady for whom the term “strength of character” might have been invented. No grandchild committing a breach of etiquette could avoid her scrutiny, with reprimands delivered across the length of a crowded Park and Ride bus in Winchester. It is a trait all three of her daughters have inherited, one also mirroring her mother’s bold driving. To witness Cleone making the notorious right-hand turn at the Angel-on-the-Bridge at Henley is to understand how her eldest child came to pilot an Austin Maestro with such aplomb.

In fact, one of Cleone’s most notable traits was her sense of curiosity. Some time ago, she paid me the great compliment of allowing me to escort her to the Classic Car Show at the National Exhibition Centre. The Press Room, this writer’s usual haunt, was put on notice that a great lady would be a guest that year, so could they please refrain from using foul language for once? So, Cleone sat, drinking foul NEC coffee and smiling beguilingly as various scribes bowdlerised their vocabulary. Her conclusion at the day’s end was – “They are all rather fanatical there”, possibly having witnessed a spirited debate about Austin Maxi bumpers in one of the halls.

And, of course, so many visitors and staff at the NEC responded to Cleone, for her goodness was as charismatic as it was wholly innate. Be at the Chateau or her house in Oxfordshire; people naturally gravitated towards her. Some seem to have the ability to form a vacuum in the middle of a crowded gathering, but you felt like an old friend of Cleone after the shortest of times. I would water the plants in her front yard, not simply for gardening duties but because it was the least I could do for one who had helped me so much. Countless other people in Henley share these sentiments.

My favourite time of the year with Cleone was Christmas, when we would mark the holiday by viewing Trading Places and the 1951 adaptation of A Christmas Carol featuring two local residents, Alistair Sim and George Cole. This year we also planned to watch the  1955 Ealing Comedy that featured her screen template. Many readers will be familiar with the plot of The Ladykillers, in which a dear little old lady defeats five hardened criminals and walks off with their money. But had Cleone portrayed the heroine, the film’s running time would have been approximately 20 minutes, as she would certainly have set the mobsters the task of tending to the vegetable garden. Otherwise, they would receive no afternoon tea and definitely no biscuits.

And that is why I shall re-watch The Ladykillers this evening in honour of Cleone Augur. She really was Mrs. Wilberforce.