Proprietor of the Lingerie Longa shop on the High Street, Maria Ferrini has lived in the UK for all forty-four years of her life, only visiting Italy on three occasions as a young girl, when her grandparents still lived in the village of Pieve di Compito near the northern town of Lucca. In the early 70s Maria was taken on by a central London modelling agency and, after a number of years of fashion shoots, reached the pinnacle of her success as “the girl in the ruby port advert”, which, she admits candidly, involved little more than “sauntering scantily-clad around a stately home of England“. But within weeks, hers was a face and figure (if not a name) recognised throughout the UK.
At a promotional party in late 1983 she met her future husband, the Rt. Hon. Selwyn Monk, Eton- and Cambridge- educated, who had enjoyed a distinguished military career before retiring, aged 38, to enter politics. He was, at 41, eighteen years older than the captivating Maria. Within two months, their wedding photographs were featured in Tatler and they had embarked on honeymoon to Antigua. Monk’s popularity soared just from his attachment to such a beauty, and he was soon being tipped for Cabinet status. But then one particular Sunday tabloid got a sniff of a story about her amorous encounters with a professional footballer, and the media sank their jackal teeth in until her blood was all over the front pages of every paper except ‘Exchange & Mart’. Within three months, the marriage was over and so was Maria‘s public profile. She sold the London apartment, moved to Stonking and invested the remainder of her capital into Lingerie Longa (or, as her bank manager was wont to refer to it, Shifting Shortly), thereby making both the female and male residents of the village all the happier.