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10 May, 2019 — By The Xtra Diary

Artist Judith Downie: settled in Regent’s Park with Earl Kenney after their chance meeting


It sounds like a script- writer’s plot twist – American on holiday hails a cab in the West End, flustered Brit lady thinks it has stopped for her… a brief argument ensues, they end up sharing a ride, and one thing leads to another…

And such a romantic chance meeting was the beginning for a beautiful love story Diary came across this week.

Artist Judith Downie – see the Review – was a fascinating woman, a much-loved teacher, a celebrated etcher, a painter, and on top of that an extremely good cook.

In 1973, so the story goes, she had been to an art suppliers shop in Wardour Street to buy a big ream of special paper. It started raining, so Judith flapped her arms and waved down a black cab.

At that very moment, handsome American Earl Kenney opened the taxi door and climbed in, and when she protested he asked if they could share the cab.

Earl, a management consultant for Teaneck, New Jersey, was beguiled enough, and bold enough, to ask Judith if he could take her phone number, and that was that: Judith quit her numerous teaching posts and headed across to America to be with her new beau.

There he wound down his management business and then they came back home. They settled in Regent’s Park and opened a pet shop in Stoke Newington.

Friends say “…Earl was the man Judith was so crazy in love with that she moved to Teaneck to be with him. They were quite a pair, he was very punctual, very precise and businesslike, tailored suits, cufflinks, silk ties, a passion for photography and the latest in music and computer technology.

“Earl flew on Concorde, Judith taught Earl about art and food. Earl taught Judith about aquariums and tropical fish. Judith taught Earl about vacuuming and clearing dishes.”

So next time you are looking for a black cab in town perhaps glance about you and see if any one else needs a lift.

It pays to share.

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