Dr. Evadne Hinge
Dr. Evadne Hinge was born in 1920, a couple of years after her lifelong colleague and oldest friend, Dame Hilda Bracket. A fact which she mentions at every available opportunity.
Dr Evadne Mona Montpellier Hinge comes from a Scottish family, and a musical one on her father’s side (her mother was the whisky heiress Maureen McWhirter). Her father, who claimed descent from Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald (or at various time from just one or the other of them) was the scholar, composer and bagpipe virtuoso Hector Hinge. He encouraged young Evadne to study music and from a very early age it was obvious that her uncanny musical skills (she gave her first public performance – of Liszt’s first piano concerto and her father’s Variations for piano and orchestra on ‘Annie Laurie’ – at the age of twelve) were indeed something beyond the ordinary. Immediately after her first public appearance she enrolled at the University of Lang Hall to study for a music degree, and was awarded her Doctorate at sixteen. Fortunately it was four years after her graduation when the famous disaster occurred – the occasion on which a large number of alumni and most of the faculty perished in the Great Scottish Slip of 1940. In later life she was understandably fond of the saying, “It pays to be in the right place at the right time.”
A somewhat mysterious and ill-documented period followed. It is rumoured that Evadne went ‘into variety’ for a period, using the name Marina Montpellier; first as a dancer, and later, featuring her well-known skills on the tenor banjo and a little known expertise in ventriloquism. Incontrovertible evidence is scanty, but a few playbills of the period do advertise an act called Joe and Co., in the course of which, we are told, ‘Marina Montpellier plays Bach and Forth’ and ‘Little Marina presents Cheerful Charlie Chalk’. This may or may not be the same person – certainly, in later life, Evadne always denied the rumours. It is true that Sir Harry Lauder always claimed to remember Evadne in the 1930s in a context of ‘blue material and off-colour jokes’, but of course, his motives may not be disinterested – it is a matter of record that Evadne (or strictly, Dr Hinge by then) turned down several proposals from him, one of which may even have been for marriage. To this day she can’t hear ‘Come up in my aeroplane, Mary’ without having to lie down.
Mystery also surrounds Evadne’s activities during the war years. She claims that the interests of National security prevent her from revealing any relevant details, but has let slip that, since she was recently de-briefed, the day may not be far off when these matters can be discussed freely.
She rejoins the written record in 1945, when she applied for and was awarded the position of assistant to the assistant musical director of the Rosa Charles Opera company. It was there of course, that she crossed paths (and swords, rumour has it) with the rising young soprano, Hilda Bracket (not yet Dame) And the rest, as they say, is history.
Since the above was written, it has come to our attention that Doctor Hinge has finally agreed to allow publication of her memoirs, transmitted through the agency of her close friend, Mr George Logan. The first volume is already available – The Naked Doctor was published in 2014, and clears up some of the questions raised above. We are told that the second volume, provisionally entitled The Doctor in Uniform, will appear in 2015.