In the days when the Oxford Mail’s local – and mine – was still known as The Waterman’s Arms, Rosemary Shorter was probably its best known, and certainly its oldest, regular customer.

She was the latest in a distinguished line of ‘oldies’ who did not so much patronise as hold court in this little local (now The Punter) beside the River Thames on the corner of Osney Island’s East Street and South Street.

Having been born on the Island – “I’m a frog,” she would always say proudly – she returned to live there again in old age.

This was in the days of landlord Steve Denny, the first person I heard mention her name.

“Rosemary’s gone missing,” he announced, adding that she had had a little more than her usual lunchtime pint and gone for a walk along the river. She was found some time later, asleep on a bench.

I got to know her well in succeeding years as she enjoyed her lunchtime – actually, pre-lunchtime – pint at her corner seat next to the bar.

So did the Rosemarie in my life, to whom the older Rosemary would always explain on every meeting how she came to be given the name.

“One of my grandmothers was called Rose and the other was Mary,” she recounted proudly.

On one occasion ‘my’ Rosemarie’s mother, Olive, rang the pub asking for her daughter.

“Which of the Rosemaries is that?” asked landlord Henry Dean, presumably tongue-in-cheek.

She figured prominently in national newspaper coverage of the Island floods in 2007.

The Independent reported gravely that she was missing from her seat, trapped in her house.

She was actually enjoying her beer with me, rather closer to home at the Island’s other pub, The Hollybush.