Up to now it has been a very varied, enjoyable and for me at least, entertaining life for the most part. So far I have managed to live in something like 11 different countries and had a pretty wide range of professions, all (well most of them) totally enjoyable and I continue to find life both fun and an interesting challenge. And plan to stay as long as I can to see what comes next.
The beginning in Britain:
So I shall begin at the beginning, seems a good place to start.
For me this was on 28th June 1942 in a hospital in North London during an air-raid. Many years later my mother told me that as I was being born, young German pilots were dropping bombs all around us in an endeavour to bring my life to a stop before it had begun – Happily they failed in this simple aim.
My mother (on the right), her sister Liz and a Sailor called Joe (apparently) Being romantic in the middle of a war.
To make it even more memorable for my mother, she tells me that on the floor below her room, a large number of religious people were conducting a very noisy and fervent prayer meeting. So killers above, singers below, and generally a noisy affair – A good start to a life I feel, and one that probably was more formative than she realised at the time.
Lorraine and Gerry Striding out in war time London. Gerry was my real father.
Obviously my memories of my first few years are vague, more a series of impressionistic pictures and sounds. Why is it that we can never remember things from the first 5 or 6 years of our lives? Always struck me as rather odd that – probably the most dramatic period in most lives, and we can’t recall a damn thing about it. Lousy arrangement I have always felt.
For me the most powerful part of this impressionistic period consists of a feeling of anxiety whenever I hear that particular type of siren that was used by the British to warn of air raids. Even now at the good age of 78 I still have this whenever I hear that particular wailing sound. A feeling of discomfort and a strange feeling of fear of I know not what. Odd but powerful.
The only other thing I can bring to mind of my first few years is a sort of overwhelming greyness and women in dark coloured bundled-up clothing and large dark hats. I suppose fashions then were somewhat depressing, but I seem only to remember the worst of them. And a general sensation of dreariness and poverty. Not a good set of memories.
I gather that shortly after I had been born, a V1 rocket landed just outside the house we were living in in London, and the drawer (yup, drawer in a chest of drawers, a normal place for small babies to sleep in then as one was protected from flying glass and falling debris in there) was shot out and across the room with me sound asleep in it. I always was a sound sleeper, something I shall return to later in this saga.
So I survived the war unscathed and went on to start growing up as one does.
The only other memory of the period before we went to Australia that I can recall is the snail races that we held in the nursery school I went to. We each collected and brought snails to school for this purpose, and the idea was that all our snails were lined up at one end of the classroom, and whoever’s snail got to the other end first was the winner. Of course most of the snails didn’t co-operate and wandered all over the place but not to the end point of the race. Silly, but fun.
By this point my mother and father had divorced (no idea why) and my mother had married a splendid Australian soldier who had been based in England preparatory to the invasion of France (Plastic surgery for wounded soldiers and airmen being his thing). This man, Russell Cole was the man I regarded as my father, and loved him deeply, a strong and very likeable man, if given to silences – He was a dentist by the way.