Our Family and Other Stories

Chapter 1: Early Background

I was born in a house called “St. Anne’s”, 60 Wellshot Drive, Cambuslang, a suburb of Glasgow. My father was James Gray Paterson, the middle son of five born to my grandparents, William Craig Paterson and Robina Paterson (nee Lambie). I didn’t know them well.

”St Anne’s”

Later in my life I got to know my uncles better. Uncle Bill was the eldest, probably born in 1908. Then Uncle Andrew, then Dad, born on 15th June 1911, at 60 Govanhill Street, Glasgow.[1] After him came Uncle Bert and then Uncle David, our favourite and best known uncle, born about 1914/15. Ten years later my Aunt Rosemary, always called Pat, arrived.
I was very like her as a child; there is a photo of the whole family taken when she was ten which I thought was of me when I saw it, we were so similar. I have always been very  ‘Paterson’ physically, small, fair, quite neat, punctual to a fault (which is not always a good thing), but with my mother’s green eyes – Paterson eyes were almost uniformly blue.

The Brothers Paterson – and sister “Pat”, c.1925 [Jim, third from right]
I understood when I was younger that the family had lived in the Gorbals, a notoriously poor district of Glasgow, overcrowded at the time with immigrant families from Ireland, the Highlands and Southern Scotland in search of work. However, as Dad’s birth certificate confirms, he was born in the much more “des-res” district of Govanhill in a flat in one of the finer tenement blocks, overlooking Govanhill Park. In Glasgow, then as now, the “better” addresses are often found cheek by jowl with deprived areas.

Govanhill Park outside the Paterson home, c. 1915 with young James (inset)
Govanhill is now pretty much as it was in terms of street layout; the original buildings have been cleaned and the flats on each floor have been brought up to modern standards. This picture of the block that contained the Paterson home at number 60 gives an idea of it.

Govanhill Street today – no. 60 is on the near corner of the nearest red block


Each separate house within the block occupies part of one floor; the entry at number 60 probably served 8 to 12 flats depending on how many to each floor. The rooms were quite big, but there would not have many of them to a family.
My grandparents had become members of the local Corps of the Salvation Army which was very strong in the area (there were 14 separate SA Corps in Glasgow in the early 1900s), and so the boys were all members of the Army band, all teetotallers and probably non-smokers, growing up. Neither of these two traits lasted into adulthood with any of them. It was customary for Salvation Army Corps to keep Sunday as a very full day of attendance at meetings held in halls usually called Citadels, but Saturday evenings were more relaxed with the various bands and choirs of Songsters travelling around and holding musical evenings – usually called festivals – at local halls or meeting places. The five Paterson boys all played brass instruments and as a family group, were much in demand for appearances. (I was told about this when I was a student in Glasgow between 1963-1965, spending a lot of time with the Robertson family who were close friends of my parents and who introduced me to others who had known mum and dad in Glasgow).

My Grandparents William and Robina Paterson in 1957 – 50 years married!
Grandpa Paterson was a master baker, well respected in his area. He trained all his sons to be master bakers in their turn although only Uncle Bert remained a baker all his life. Uncle Bill and Uncle Andrew did various things.
At one point Uncle Andrew and Dad were in partnership and produced an individual biscuit which they called a Lambie Crisp (after their mother’s maiden name).

Crunch time for Andrew and Jim
When they started to sell these locally, Mum and Aunt Dorothy (Andrew’s wife) were sent round to all the grocery shops in the area – and there were lots – to ask for Lambie Crisps, spreading the word and leaving each shop wanting to know more about these new delicacies. I don’t know if this worked but Mum and Aunt Dorothy, who were great pals, had a lot of fun doing it.
Dad had been picked out as having the potential to become a Salvation Army officer and sent down to London to the SA Training establishment in Denmark Hill. He was there for two years, became commissioned as an officer and had been fast-tracked for further promotion when he spotted a young lady, Wyn Coles, at an SA meeting. She walked on to the platform with her parents, also officers – Lieutenant-Colonels – and Dad always maintained that he decided there and then that she was the one he was going to marry.
Jim Paterson and Wyn Coles
My mother had had a very different childhood and upbringing, though it was similar in that she also grew up in a Salvation Army family. Winifred Evelyn was born on 30th July 1914, the youngest child of Edward John and Jessie Caroline Coles (nee Bradberry), both commissioned officers from the East End of London. She was the first child of a commissioned army officer to be born in the Salvation Army Mothers’ Hospital, Clapton Road, London N.E. Her mother wrote to an Army publication called “The Deliverer” praising her care in the hospital; her letter was published in November 1915, together with a photo of Mum, 10 months old, sitting up, chubby, with a head of golden curls.
Places like Epsom Forest and Folkestone figured in Mum’s recollections of London but when she was six, Grandpa Coles answered a call to the Salvation Army mission field and decided to take his family – who had never been further than Folkestone – abroad.

The Coles Family: Wyn Coles, front centre
My grandmother was a tiny little woman who had had four children: Dorothy, then Wilfred, then Hilda, then finally Winifred Evelyn, my mother. Winnie was 12 years younger than Dorothy and didn’t get to know her very well in childhood. Dorothy was already in training (as an officer) herself and decided to stay in London and not accompany the family abroad. Wilfred was about 13 but Hilda was closer in age to Winnie, probably about 9 in 1920 when they sailed from Southampton to Kingston, Jamaica, their first posting. Mum had only vague memories of Kingston and I think they were not there for long as presently they moved to Buenos Aires in the Argentine, where they lived and worked for the next seven or eight years.
As far as I know they did not return to England at all during the missionary years – Mum never mentioned doing so. The children all became fluent Spanish speakers and even much later in life, Mum would chat on the phone in Spanish to both Hilda and Wilfred. They were all embarrassed by their father’s lack of similar fluency and corrected him whenever he mde a mistake in pronunciation or grammar. It must have been difficult for him as the girls in particular became very confident speakers in both English and Spanish. Never lost for words! (Dad said that Mum still thought in Spanish when he met her).
 The picture is of old houses in Buenos Aires; I don’t know how old they were but Mum always remembered it as a very colourful place in which to live, and she had loved it.

When Mum was about 13 the family moved again, this time to Colombo in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). What they all thought about such a transition from South America to the Asian culture of Ceylon, I don’t know. Conversations about it with Mum or Aunt Hilda were always very positive: they were an Army family and they did what they were told, went where they were directed. Whether personal choice ever came into it, I never discovered. They did all become great letter writers and remained so all their lives.
Mum enjoyed India. She and Hilda went to Hebron, a school in Ootacamund in the Highlands of South India, run by Church of Scotland missionaries. The two girls travelled for a week from Ceylon, first by boat (a 36 hour crossing) then by train, on their own. At the appropriate station every evening, a missionary family would meet them off the train and give them a meal, a bed for the night and breakfast, putting them back on the train the following day. (Imagine that happening now). Mum didn’t enjoy Hebron much as she was always being compared unfavourably to her sister. Hilda did everything well. Mum described herself as being ‘the difficult one’ at school but I have her reports for the 2 years she was there and they are excellent. She seemed to be good at almost all her subjects and came first in the class most of the time. I don’t know anything about her school in Buenos Aires or whether she was ahead or behind of her age group at Hebron but somehow she excelled there. (Hebron School still flourishes and has an interesting website: this is how it describes itself:-
“Hebron School is a co-educational day and boarding independent international Christian school in Ootacamund, the hill station also known as Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India. The school is a boarding school operated by a Protestant/Christian trust to educate the children of Christian workers and business families living predominantly in India, but also in other parts of the world.”)
At some point Mum developed her lifelong habit of living in the moment, taking each day as it came and making the best of it. (I see this characteristic in Ava as well, who is equally untroubled by what has happened and just keeps going, whatever). Throughout her life Mum remained cheerful and optimistic, friendly and outgoing. She never looked back or bemoaned what had happened to her; she carried no burden of regrets or woes about ‘what might have been’. At the very end of her life, the last time I talked with her about six weeks before she died, she told me that she had had a lovely life and had enjoyed it all. And I think she did. Mind you, she also said that she had a wonderful daughter – me! – and as that was very far from the truth, perhaps she was delusional by then. But she was always happy and that was very real.
Mum was 18 when the family finally returned to England, by sea. Mum loved the sea voyages and talked about her experiences on board with great fondness, though I think that as missionaries they travelled well down the classes, perhaps second or even third class. As they docked in Southampton early in the morning, Mum formed an impression of England which never really left her - England was GREY. Everything was grey – the weather, the countryside, the towns and houses, the people. After the warmth and colour, Argentinian and Indian/Ceylonese friendship and hospitality, the heat, the noise, the smells, the crowds of brightly clothed people who had surrounded her for as long as she could remember, England was unremittingly grey. It must have been so hard for a lively young woman –educated in an unconventional way and without any sense of which direction her life would take - to make the necessary adjustments without complaint.
In 1932, Britain itself was adjusting to many things. King George V was on the throne though nearing the end of his life; the BBC had just been formed and was beginning to transmit broadcasts. Television itself was being developed though still many years from actual availability. The country was in the grip of a major depression, with the National Strike in 1926 foreshadowing the National Hunger Marches that had just begun, the first being from Glasgow to London. Not far away in Germany, there were 6 million unemployed and both the Nazi Party and the Communist Party were gaining in strength.
The Coles found a home in the East End of London, within reach of Epping Forest; Dorothy was living nearby with her Welsh husband, George White, an insurance salesman from the valleys. (Dorothy had had to abandon her plan of becoming an SA officer in order to marry George ).  Mum was now Wyn – the hated name of Winnie discarded – and she started training as a stenographer (shorthand typist) while her father returned to Salvation Army headquarters and settled down in Judd Street, the base for all Army supplies. Mum’s first job was with a company called Union Cold Storage which had connections with Buenos Aires and meat shipping from the Argentine. I suspect that her excellent Spanish might have come in useful.




The Coles family over the years

Chapter 2: Life in Glasgow
Mum and Dad met in 1936 and fairly quickly decided that they wanted to be together. However, Dad as an officer in the Salvation Army could only marry another officer. Coming from such strong Army families, both knew that the Army was adamant about this so they decided that Mum would have to train to be an officer. This was quite a commitment for her as she had decided in her teens that she wanted nothing to do with the life of an officer herself – she had seen quite enough of it, growing up. But if that was what she had to do to marry Jim, the sooner she started training, the better. As part of her training she was sent up to Elland, in Yorkshire, to work as an assistant to another officer, a single lady who was dedicated to Army life. Mum had to learn how to look after herself in a small back-to-back house with an outside toilet and very basic amenities. She HATED it. She had been the indulged baby of the family; brought up in spacious colonial houses with servants doing all the work and older siblings to call on if she needed help with anything. Domestic life at this level was completely new to her and she found it very hard. Years later she took me to see her house in Elland and talked about what it was like; I didn’t know at that point how similar my student life would be!
By the end of 1938 it was obvious to Dad that war was coming so he made a decision: he would leave the Army; Mum would abandon her training and they would get married. On January 23rd 1939 at the Salvation Army Citadel, 3, Cotton Street, Paisley[2], my grandfather Colonel Coles married them, both in their Army uniforms but as ordinary Salvationists, not officers. (Their marriage banns had previously been heard in Giffnock in Glasgow where Dad lived at 30 Merryburn Avenue). Their witnesses were Dad’s brother Robert, also from Merryburn Avenue Giffnock, and Mary Miller, of 34 Mill Street, Paisley. (These two married and became my Uncle Bert and Aunt May, parents of my cousin Craig, born 2 days before me. Mum and May remained friends all their lives.) Mum and Dad moved to Glasgow and started married life together. In September Britain declared war on Germany.
Dad had joined forces with his brother Andrew as a baker. He was not eligible to enlist, having sustained serious internal injuries from a motorbike accident in his early twenties; he had had a kidney removed and his remaining kidney was misshapen and caused him problems throughout his life. Andrew did enlist and in due course was posted to the Far East. Uncle David, the youngest uncle, also enlisted and was duly posted to Malaya. The other brothers as bakers were in reserved occupations and had to keep on working. Dad became a Firewatcher and spent his nights on city rooftops watching for incendiary bombs and dealing with them; Glasgow was bombed but not as badly as many other cities. Mum found herself a job as a shorthand typist for the BBC but had been there for only a fortnight when she found that she was pregnant, so she left, as one was required to do at that time. She would have been paid 10 shillings per day plus a cost of living allowance of 10 pence per day. She told me about this many years later, with regret; she would have loved that job.
Barrie was born on 16th August 1941 at 340 Maxwell Road, Pollock, and then I arrived on 1st April 1943, in their new home in Cambuslang.
I remember only two incidents from that time, both memories confirmed by Mum when I was older. There were 3 servants – hard to believe on Dad’s wages but this was normal for the time. A cook ruled the kitchen; there was an upstairs maid who helped with the babies and a ‘Tweenie’, a lass whose name described her function: she spent her time carrying everything needed from floor to floor, up and down, so she was a Between Floors maid. One day there was a commotion: she had slipped on the back landing and put her foot through the landing window, and I remember it happening. My other recollection was of leaving the front door and walking down a path between towering walls of snow. That was the winter of 1946-47 which was extremely severe; there was probably about 4 feet of snow banked either side of the path, above my eye level. My grandfather Coles painted a picture of the house which I still have.  (Once, about 30 years ago as I was travelling back to Cornwall by train from some conference up north – a long journey – I got talking to the woman beside me who knew Cambuslang very well and knew Welshott Drive and the house, still called ‘St Anne’s’. What a small world!).

Somewhere in the UK in 1947

During the war, Grandma and Grandpa Coles came up from London to visit us, perhaps to see the new babies: during wartime it was a difficult journey. Trains were packed with soldiers and their kit, and it was hard to find seats, especially for Grandma who was tiny and quite frail even then, in her sixties. Once, returning from Glasgow they arrived at the station with Dad to see them off. Dad was a fine-looking and confident young man and soon spotted a flurry of activity on the busy platform. He darted off and returned shortly and took Grandma and Grandpa along the train to a carriage with empty seats where he installed them. They were of course wearing Salvation Army uniform. They travelled back to London without interruption and only later did they discover that Dad had spotted a group surrounding the King, on the platform, and had found the empty seats in the carriage set aside for the King and his entourage.
Another visit to Glasgow had a sad conclusion. Whilst in Glasgow, Grandpa developed appendicitis and was taken into hospital to have his appendix removed. The operation went smoothly and the family were told that he was recovering well. When Mum and Dad took Grandma to visit Grandpa that evening, to their great shock they were told that he had just died, the cause being ‘postoperative shock’ (probably a thrombosis?). Grandpa was then in his sixties and in otherwise good health so this was an unexpected and tragic outcome to the visit. Grandma was thought to be too frail to live on her own so for the rest of her life she lived with George and Dorothy; they moved into the family home at 389, Belle Grove Road, Welling, East London. Grandma died at 95 on August 10th, 1972, despite her ‘frailty’. She was still bright and alert when I last saw her, when Mike and I visited her in London shortly after Carolyn was born. She was indignant that we had christened the baby Carolyn, instead of Caroline, her own name. I must admit that I hadn’t realised that that was her name; she was always referred to just as Grandma Coles.

Grandma Coles
We had a holiday in Prestwick, a seaside town in Ayrshire, which is where my Grandma Paterson came from. (She told me that a relative of hers had danced at Robbie Burns’ wedding, as he was from Ayrshire: I later heard that this was common folklore in that area, like the bed slept in by Queen Victoria. Everyone knew of someone who had danced at the wedding). Mum, Barrie and I stayed at a boarding house for a fortnight and Dad came down at the weekends, the usual pattern for working men then. Their holidays were few and far between. I was excited to see him again and was describing something I had seen whilst we ate our tea – our evening meal at about 6pm. Waving my arm eagerly I swept my boiled egg off the table and onto the floor – not a popular move as we were still on rations and eggs were scarce.


Paterson Family in Post-War Britain      
 
Chapter 3: South Africa
The winter of 1946-47 was exceptionally long and hard which may have influenced the family move that came next. In 1947 the Royal Family went by sea to South Africa, their first overseas tour as a family. The visit was filmed and my parents went to see the film and were entranced by the obvious sunshine and warmth of South Africa, then part of the Commonwealth. This confirmed their huge decision to emigrate to Johannesburg, SA. (Recently I found Dad’s membership papers for the Masons in Glasgow, dated 1947. I think he may have established contact with a Masonic Lodge in Johannesburg, and found a job through this though he never spoke about this later in life.) He flew out to South Africa ahead of Mum who took Barrie and I down to London to stay with her mother until we flew out, landing in Johannesburg on August 19th 1947, just after Barrie’s 6th birthday. Poor Barrie was very sick on the journey and had finally dropped off to sleep just before we arrived. Mum was furious when a fellow passenger shook him to wake him so he could catch a first sight of the new country: Barrie was promptly sick again as we landed.
I have a telegram to Dad sent in May 1947 which says: Can offer you flight to Johannesburg on 26th May no viasa (sic) please telephone. The call was made and Mum noted these details and this was the journey made by Dad:-
Leave K.L.M. Terminal, 202/4 Sloane St., London, SW1 at 7.15 a.m.
Amsterdam: depart 14 hr. 26th May
Tripoli: arrive 21.40. depart 23.45
Kano: arrive 07.25 27th (May). depart 09.30
Leopoldville: arrive 16.45 NIGHT STOP. depart 07.00 28th (May)
Johannesburg: arrive 18.00
 
There are two more telegrams. The first, sent to Paterson, 1 Kingscroft Road, Prestwick, Ayr, and sent from Leopoldville says Everything OK love Jim. The second, sent from Johannesburg on 29th May, says Arrived safely wonderful trip writing Jim. I wish I had those letters!
Mum’s journey with Barrie and I was different but I don’t have all the details. We had to report to the Airways Terminal, Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1 at 7.30 a.m. on 18th August 1947. We travelled with Pan American Airways, landing in Lisbon first. Whilst Mum was checking in she lost sight of Barrie and me and ran frantically through the airport buildings looking for us. We were found, stood up on a table surrounded by Portuguese who were marvelling at our fair colouring – we were both very blonde. Mum remembered that panic for years. We spent the night in Lisbon; I wonder if Mum slept at all?
So we started a very different life in South Africa. Both Mum and Dad loved the new country and spent very little time looking back or being nostalgic for Scotland, though Mum particularly had greatly enjoyed living there and had been great friends with her sisters-in-law, whom she missed[3]. Isa and Alec Robertson had also been close friends and remained so over the years though Isa rarely wrote letters; they were all just delighted to meet up again when eventually they did.
Dad had found work with an unusual man called Richard Norman Harvey, or ‘Uncle’ Dick, who had built up a wholesale business called RN Harvey. Dad became part of a team who bought and sold goods from abroad. Visiting salesmen representing various ‘lines’ were often entertained to dinner at our home throughout my childhood; some became and remained good friends. Dick Harvey had made a lot of money over the years and was very generous with it. He and his wife, ‘Auntie’ Pinks (Eva), lived in a house called ‘Bobolink’ and had adopted 8 children, having had only one son, Richard, of their own. They made our small Scottish unit of four extremely welcome. Dad became Dick’s right hand man and subsequently did a lot of travelling on his behalf; trips to Britain, Europe and America were all undertaken, some lasting for months at a time. Pinks Harvey became very fond of Mum and we seemed to spend at least some of every weekend in their beautiful house and lovely gardens. It all seemed magical to me, a huge house, endless grounds (7 acres) with cows, horses, chickens, tennis courts, a swimming pool, climbing frames, lawns, rockeries, pergolas dripping with grapes and wisteria, mango trees, riots of bougainvillea, stunning blue jacaranda trees in full flower when we arrived in the Johannesburg spring – it really was a fairy tale come true. We came in the middle of the line of children. Robyn was the eldest, already finished school and very superior; then Richard, the only son who was about 16 – he was kinder to us and lots of fun when he could spare the time. We were really interested in Rosemary who was 9 or 10, and Penny who was my age, and then the recently adopted ‘little boys’, who were younger, Johnny, Peter and Mervyn, and then Christopher, younger again. Presently the last child arrived, Melissa, the same age as Alistair who was born on 2nd December 1949. Another adopted child, Jeannie, belonged to Dick’s sister Ivy who had her own house in the grounds; Jeannie was also younger than me. For the seven years we lived in Johannesburg, we were involved in many things the Harveys did and this model of large house and garden filled with children and friends became a template for me of what a family was about. Hence Polwithan.


Chapter 4: Life in Johannesburg
Our new home was number 38, 13th Avenue, in Parktown North, a recently built suburb north of the city. It was a 3 bedroomed house all on one level so in British terms a bungalow. Very few houses had upper stories so we never heard our home described as a bungalow: there were houses or double-storey houses. Each new house had a sizeable garden and most were set well back from the road. (Looking at this road now on Google Earth, I see that there are tall walls round each property with solid security gates, all shut.) We had no fence between garden and road, only a low wall in front and a wire fence between each property. There were no gates other than where there were dogs, though even when we had a dog, later, we didn’t have a front fence. People and dogs were free to come and go. 13th Avenue was a quiet road sloping downhill which was great for bikes and soap box carts in due course. We had a car – a cream Chevrolet – for Dad to get to work in the city; most men left to start work at 8am, finishing at about 4, so roads were quiet during the day. Mum stayed at home. We had African servants: a house ‘boy’ to do cleaning and laundry, a garden ‘boy’ for garden work and a maid to look after the children and work in the kitchen. This was the usual complement and though all were adults (with families of their own), all were referred to as ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. There was servants’ accommodation behind the house, one or two small rooms and basic toilet and cooking facilities. Other than these house servants, Africans were discouraged from living in white or European areas and often lived miles out in the various townships which surrounded Johannesburg and travelled long distances to and from work each day, in very crowded trains or buses reserved for non-whites. Even back in 1947 there was a huge degree of separation between black and white populations. Very early on Mum took Barrie and I to play in a nearby park where we enjoyed the swings only briefly until chased off, and reprimanded, by a park keeper telling us that the area was reserved for Nie Blankes – non-whites. We soon learnt.
There were other significant groupings of people in South Africa then. People of mixed race were known as Coloureds and they were disadvantaged in many ways being neither white nor black and therefore not fitting in on either level. A much larger population of Coloureds lived in and around Cape Town where their roots went back several hundred years to the original settlers from Europe. These were known as Cape Coloureds and were more widely accepted and respected. A lot of Afrikaans speaking people were rather dark skinned, quite possibly from mixed parentage in their distant past but this was never acknowledged.
There was also a large Jewish population in Johannesburg, many of whom had escaped persecution in Europe at some point in the 20th century. We had lots of Jewish children at our schools, often very bright and far more cultured and civilized than most of us. I envied the fact that whilst they had time off school for the Christian holidays of Easter and Christmas, they were also allowed off for Jewish holidays. On these days the school was half empty and felt weird. I was impressed that my Jewish friends – Ethne Rubenstein and Leonie Goldblatt – went to Synagogue and also attended Shul on Saturdays at which they were being taught to speak and read Hebrew. And they read books backwards! There were Bar and Bat Mitzvahs in prospect for them, apparently with presents. Another friend, Anne Hirsch, lived across the road and I was often in her house, sometimes being offered unfamiliar food as special treats. It all seemed deeply desirable.
Barrie started school at a private preparatory school and I started kindergarten; a photo taken there shows me with a big smile on my face. The photographer had offered a prize to the biggest smile and I got it: the prize was the used flash bulb from his camera, still warm! No Health & Safety guidance then. I was four. Soon I also started school, in January; school terms ran from January – December. I began at a small private school. I think these school choices were influenced by the Harveys; certainly Penny and Rosemary went to my school, St Catherine’s. Looking back on it, it wasn’t a good school in any respect, and probably an expensive one too. Before long Barrie and I were both transferred to the local English-speaking (as against Afrikaans-speaking) state primary school, me to Parkview Junior, Barrie to Parkview Senior, close to Parktown North. I remember Mum taking me to meet my new headmistress, an immensely fat lady, Miss Burrows, who directed me to sit under the table while she spoke to my mother. I was not impressed.

Parkview today
However, school life began and there I stayed, moving up to the senior school after two years. The picture shows the school as it is today but the veranda and the pillars are I think part of the school as I remember it. Now it seems to be a lively colourful multiracial school; my old South African teachers would have been astonished!
My teachers were variously good, bad or indifferent. Mrs Whiteford and Mrs Leslie were both good, Miss Baer and Miss Levinkind were fairly indifferent and Mrs Walsh and Miss Moss, both South Africans, were very fierce and I was scared of them, particularly Mrs Walsh who once threw a pair of scissors at a misbehaving child. Blackboard dusters – the wooden backed type - and pieces of chalk were also missiles. I kept my head so far down that I was almost invisible. Initially teachers noticed my Scottish accent but fairly soon, this went as I began to blend into my surroundings. Although I was 6 and Barrie 7, we journeyed home by trolley bus; not a long trip but often eventful when the trolley lines above the bus became disconnected from their power source overhead. The conductor had to fish out a long pole and reach up and reconnect them, to a mocking chorus from the children watching. Barrie and I got off at Rosebank and walked down 13th Avenue, usually him ahead and me trailing. Technically he was looking after me but I don’t remember it happening though I think he might.
School was largely uneventful compared to weekends with the Harveys or other distractions, but three things are worth a mention, all happening in the early 1950s. In 1952 King George VI died in England. Our whole school was gathered together outside in the quadrangle and told about this, very solemnly by the headmaster, Mr Coldrey. We were expected to be sad about this but I don’t think we were: the King in England was too far away to have any reality. The second thing was that we had a young jolly music master who taught us the national songs of ‘our’ countries. We learnt to sing ‘Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika’, ‘Men of Harlech’ for Wales, ‘Danny boy’ for Ireland and ‘Bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond’, for which I was asked to provide the words as I was still noticeably Scottish. I was very pleased about this and got the words from Dad.
The third and most significant event took place one ordinary day. It was playtime and we were mostly outside apart from several girls in the girls’ toilet. Ours was a recently built school and in the toilets, a single brick wall free standing to about 5 foot, separated the washbasins from the cloakroom area. One girl, Jaqueline, whom I knew, started to climb the wall and it collapsed on her, killing her. We heard almost at once from other girls who ran for help. The whole school was gathered together at the furthest end of the football fields and lined up facing away from the buildings, whilst ambulance crew and others dealt with this. Teachers distracted us by getting us to sing songs but of course we knew what had happened and in a big crowd of several hundred children, word got around. This all happened at our last break time and the school day ended at 2pm. That day Dad came to fetch us both: the incident was featured in the evening paper and he already knew about it. We started to talk about it at once and immediately Dad said that we wouldn’t discuss it anymore. So we didn’t, ever. No Trauma Counsellors for us lot. I don’t think this was the right thing to do but it was the way events were dealt with, in most families. That might have been fine for Barrie but I found it very hard, especially as we had to continue to use the toilets although the basin area was screened off. We were taken to and fro at intervals by our teachers. Once I was the last to use a cubicle and emerged as the door was being locked, leaving me inside, but not for long as I screamed for help. I had horrid dreams about that for years.


Chapter 5: New arrivals
Away from school family life went on. Because Mum was expecting a baby and presumably in need of peace and quiet, we went to stay on a guest farm called Green Willows, probably for the spring holiday (September/October fortnight). This wasn’t far away – probably just outside Johannesburg – though beyond the farm fence was the veld. The place was run by Dick and Wendy Cranswick, friends of Mum and Dad; a lovely couple with a son, John, about our age. Dick had been a fighter pilot in the war – they were English – and really looked the part, dark haired, tall, good looking, pipe smoking. Wendy’s parents, Pops and Tango, were staying with them and were also very pleasant. Barrie, John and I were outside on our own almost all the time, mostly barefoot and free to explore all the grounds, the nursery garden adjoining and the veld beyond. It was a beautiful place with weeping willows shading the house and colourful shrubs and bushes round the green lawns. We were fascinated by the veld which was dry and dusty with footpaths leading to unknown areas through the waist-high scrub; it asked to be explored but we were not quite bold enough, or old enough.
This is what the willow trees were like and we loved them because you could easily hide beneath the branches and they were also easy to climb, often growing out over streams., which made us feel very adventurous.

At “Green Willows”
When we were wanted, Mum would stand on the veranda clapping her hands and somehow we always heard that sound, and went back. There was a bush fire and at night we watched the creeping line of flame coming closer and closer across a wide front. The men went out and burnt a fire break to keep the bush fire at bay. Next day we children went out to explore, this time with shoes on; the ground was black with burnt stubble and still very hot in places. I burned my hand picking something up and spent a long time lying on the edge of an irrigation pool dangling my hand in the water to cool the burn. None of this activity was allowed but nobody checked up on us so we just got on with it. There was a large dog on the farm and by mistake, I stepped on a bone it was chewing, so it chewed my foot. Not badly but enough to require an impressive amount of white bandage and a period of hopping around until that got tiresome and I forgot to do it. After our time on the farm we kept in touch with the Cranswicks and saw them often. Until fairly recently I exchanged Christmas cards with Wendy who had come to live in Bournemouth, and stayed in touch until she was about 93.
Alistair was born at number 38. On December 2nd, his day of birth, we had been invited to the wedding reception of Hazel Wilson, our neighbour, at the Wanderer’s Club. Dad took Barrie and me, probably to keep us out of the way but we were both excited and mischievous and made quite a nuisance of ourselves as Dad kept disappearing, presumably to ring home for news.
Alistair quickly developed into a very sunny smiley South African toddler. He was always happy, rarely out of sorts, and I liked playing with him. Barrie was less keen; he was immaculately tidy and despaired of my untidiness and Alistair’s fiddling with everything. B and I shared a bedroom and Alistair had the small nursery on his own. He learnt to walk at number 38 and I had my eighth birthday party there, in the garden. I had also made a good friend in the elderly neighbour who lived across the road from us. He was Mr Wilson (Hazel’s father or possibly her grandfather – certainly quite old in my view) and he taught me to play cards – varieties of Patience – whilst the two of us sat on upturned wooden boxes in front of his open workshop garage. I have loved card games all my life, thanks to him.
At about that time we heard that Dad’s youngest brother David and his wife May had decided to join us in Johannesburg and so they arrived with young David, Robin and Fraser. They were always referred to by us as ‘The other Pats’ and we spent as much time with them as we could. Both David and Robin, being older, were at, or about to start, secondary school so there was an age gap but our two families did lots of things together as all the adults got on well. Fraser was the youngest, between Alistair and me in age.
I didn’t have much contact with David to begin with as he was older than Barrie and I was then about 8. Robin was also older but was delighted to have a younger impressionable cousin to relate to. She was always full of new ideas and enthusiasms and I was delighted to be noticed and included in her adventures. Together with her friend Heather Pearson and often with Fraser tagging along, we spent a lot of time out exploring on bikes or on foot, finding ‘dens’ in old willow trees overlooking nearby streams, or large gardens where we were rarely noticed as we scuttled around amongst bushes and shrubs. Our boldest adventures centred round the Wanderer’s Club, a sports venue in the wealthy northern suburbs.[4] Both our fathers were very keen on playing bowls; Auntie May also played and Mum was perfectly happy to keep an eye on the babies and sit with friends in shady spots

Wanderers Club, Johannesburg
around the vast grounds. The club had cricket, rugby and football fields, golf courses, tennis courts, squash courts, a gymnasium and eventually a large and popular swimming pool so there was always plenty going on. When we were supposed to be attending tennis lessons on Saturday mornings, the three or four of us started exploring the club house, another huge new building in which children were not allowed. We discovered that the gym in the basement was empty on Saturday mornings, and via the changing rooms we found the corridor and staircase to the upper floors.

Wanderers Club, Johannesburg
 
There was also a lift which we used to get to the clubhouse accommodation on the top floor. Emerging from the lift, greatly daring, we were spotted by an irate adult who chased us but couldn’t catch us as we fled back down the stairs. That was only one of several such ventures. We never let on to our parents or siblings what we’d been up to – we would probably have been grounded for a long time. I wonder why nobody noticed that our tennis never improved, after months of lessons!
The huge building we explored from the gym which was on the extreme right hand side as you look at it. You can see the bowling greens where Dad, Uncle David and Auntie May spent many hours and beyond them, the tennis courts. We never got as far as the golf courses on the extreme left. Towards the end of our time in Johannesburg the club built a swimming pool which was very popular and often very crowded. We preferred to swim at the Harveys’ pool though as we got older that seemed a bit small for all of us. The club had sports pitches in all directions and huge cricket grounds surrounded by grandstands where Test matches were played by national sides. It was all beautifully maintained by lots of ground staff so it was a lovely place to be. I expect that now the membership fees would be prohibitive but somehow we were all members; we children had to look after our membership cards very carefully and be ready to produce them on demand, whatever activity we were supposed to be doing.
We were fortunate in that parents rarely queried where we were at any time other than when actually going to school, or coming home for meals. Children were expected to be out playing, usually with other kids or family members, and adults had very little to do with us. School started at 8am and finished at 2pm and then we were free until it got dark at around 6pm, summer or winter. (When I was older and finished with school I sometimes heard adults saying that children in southern Africa had far too much free time, compared with children in Europe. But as a child there myself I never thought we did.

In our front garden at the new house, Johannesburg


Chapter 6: The new house.
In April 1951 when I was 8 we moved from Parktown North to be nearer the Harveys in Sandton, to a beautiful house at 17, Westminster Drive, Craighall Park.  I still think it was one of the nicest houses I have ever lived in. It was a large double storey house, faced with creamy yellow brick with brown tiled roofs and big dormer windows. We each had our own bedrooms, Barrie downstairs and the rest of us upstairs. Stairs were quite a novelty – not many houses, apart from the Harvey house, Bobolink, had them. All the rooms were spacious and full of light, and there was generous accommodation for three servants across the yard outside the kitchen. There was a big garage – another novelty – and the drive in had crazy paving. A high brown wooden fence ran round the whole place and there were big solid gates. There was an acre of garden which included a clay tennis court, a great joy for Mum and Dad who enjoyed social tennis with friends on many occasions. The only drawback as far as we were concerned was the lack of a swimming pool but the garden was big enough for one, and we lived in hope. It was a lovely place to live and we were very happy and settled there. We always had a dog, Blackie, and at various times we had chickens or rabbits, but neither of those lasted long.

Westminster Drive, Craighall Park, Johannesburg
The Other Pats still lived in their bungalow and we still did lots of things together; we were close to the Harveys and spent much time with them. Then came 1953.


Chapter 7: 1953 and all that.
Wikipedia:
‘The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II as monarch of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth ascended the throne at the age of 25, upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952, and was proclaimed queen by her various privy and executive councils shortly afterwards. The coronation took place more than a year later because of the tradition that holding such a festival is inappropriate during the period of mourning that follows the death of a monarch. During the service, she took and subscribed an oath to, among other things, govern the peoples according to their respective laws and customs, was anointed with holy oil, presented and invested with regalia, and crowned.
Celebrations took place across the Commonwealth realm and a commemorative medal was issued. It was the first British coronation to be televised.’
The Harvey family decided that they would take their older children from Johannesburg to London to see the Coronation and Pinks Harvey asked my mum Wyn if she would go with them. The whole group would be away for three months, May to July, travelling round the UK and Europe, as well as being in London for all the celebrations. Robyn Harvey, Richard, Rosemary and Penny were all going, together with other friends – I remember Mum describing the frantic logistics of travelling in a group, trying to make sure no-one was left behind and that the appropriate luggage and servants were still together at each destination. Mum had no family responsibilities and probably had the time of her life, though she missed us all badly, particularly Dad. However, it did give her a chance to spend time with her own mother and sisters and she was always glad she had had that. And of course they watched the Coronation processions from outside Westminster Abbey, sitting up on the grandstands set up along the route. Soldiers lined the route, standing for hours in pouring rain; one of them was a 19 year old soldier from the Somerset Light Infantry called Michael Kitch who had a good view of proceedings but found it a very long cold wet day.
Some months later when the film of the Coronation was released we went with the Other Pats to watch it. To me it seemed to go on for a long time and after the Queen had actually been crowned I said to Dad, “Now all I want is to go home and have chicken and tomato soup” – my favourite meal and a real treat – we very rarely had chicken!
It was decided (by the adults – we had no say in this at all) that while Mum was away, the Other Pats would come and live in our new home with Dad and the three of us and in that way we would be looked after. Auntie May actually also worked full-time in the same offices as Dad and Uncle David but of course there were servants who would do the looking after. Most of us would be at school during May and June but July was a school holiday month and we would all be home. Barrie was 11, I was just 10 and Alistair was 3 and a half. David was 14, Robin 12 and Fraser was 6 or 7. I shared my bedroom with Robin, Barrie with David, Dad moved into Alistair’s room and Fraser slept with his parents in the big master bedroom.
I remember very little about the first two months but have clearer memories of July when we were all at home. Presumably it had been agreed that David and Robin, being the eldest, would be able to keep an eye on Barrie and I, Fraser and Alistair, with the house servants at hand for the two youngest. We were a gang of 7 or 8, frequently joined by friends of either Robin or David, so we could do lots of things. On the tennis court, apart from an occasional game of tennis, we played cricket or rounders or football, often quite frenzied games on the reddish-brown clay surface. We rode our bikes all over the garden, inventing perilous courses using any available barrels, bricks and planks to create quite high rides. Once Barrie did a memorable nosedive off his bike. He had ridden up onto a high plank: the descending plank fell down before he got to it and off he came. Our bikes were very ordinary, nothing fancy, rarely even gears and brakes that sometimes failed The boys also built very basic soapboxes – low carts on a wooden frame with 4 old pram wheels below and a piece of rope to steer with – I don’t think children would be allowed in them now but there were lots around then.
We explored the neighbouring property which had been a tall boarding house for Greeks – always referred to as ‘the Greek hostel’ though it might have been something else entirely. The building was falling down and we were not allowed to go there but of course we did. Robin was proclaiming something – she was good at that – when the door frame she was standing on collapsed and she fell face forward onto rubble, coming up impressively bloody. Another time we contrived to set fire to rubbish on the property and within no time the flames were out of control and racing towards our wooden garden fence. That would have been a major disaster as it ran round the whole garden, close to the servants’ quarters which had shingle roofs. We formed a desperate chain gang with buckets and the garden hose and somehow managed to put the fire out but it was terrifying to me and I remember it vividly.
One time we were out on the front paved driveway when we heard a strange loud humming noise and realised that an enormous swarm of bees was heading our way. We ran for the house apart from Alistair aged three who stood alone, looking up in amazement as the sky blackened above him. Without a thought I ran out and hauled him into the house. We were all shaken by what might have happened if the bees had come down at that point. If I had stopped to think I wouldn’t have moved but I was 10 and not much given to thinking!
We had to shift for ourselves at lunchtime and every day, David sat himself in front of the grill in the kitchen, toasting numerous slices of bread which we shared out and ate with honey, marmalade or Marmite. I don’t remember eating anything else during the day and we all looked forward to having as much toast as possible. July is midwinter in most of South Africa so it was usually dry, bright and often quite cold. Johannesburg is 5,600 feet above sea level and has a temperate climate, not too hot in summer or too cold in winter. We wore shorts and jumpers and got filthy but nobody minded. The grownups came home at about 4.30 and we had to get cleaned up and respectable for supper but I hardly remember any of that.
After 3 months away, Mum came home and we were pleased to see her and to get back to normal though the house felt a bit empty at first, without 5 extra people in it. Back at school, first Barrie, then Alistair and I got chicken pox and quite soon afterwards, measles. I was no sooner back at school when friends noticed that I was coming out in a rash again and this time it was German measles (whatever the difference was?). This time it was only me and not the boys which must have been a relief for Mum, who had to keep us in quarantine for at least a fortnight for each individual outbreak, and we always caught things consecutively, never all at once. Mum was told by the doctor – who of course came to the house – that my resistance was obviously low so I should be kept off school for the rest of the term. This didn’t bother me at all. I played with Alistair – though he went off to nursery most mornings – and spent a lot of time on my own. (As I write this I am listening to the radio and by chance, the Scherzo by Litolff is being played. I listened to this over and over again when I was home that time. We didn’t really have records but Dad had brought back 2 big 78” records from a trip to America for the firm. One was Laurence Olivier reciting from Hamlet, two soliloquies: ‘To be or not to be’, and ‘O that this too too solid flesh should melt’[5] and the other was Moura Lympany playing the Litolff Scherzo, half on each side[6]. I eventually knew both the music and the speeches off by heart and hearing others either playing or reciting them never sounds as good to me as those I listened to more than 60 years ago).

Al, Pam and Barrie at Westminster Drive, Craighall Park, Johannesburg

Swimming at the Harvey’s, Sandton, Johannesburg
 


Chapter 8: The Blue Marlin
Early on in our life in Johannesburg, before Alistair was born, we had gone on holiday to Scottburgh, 36 miles south of Durban, Natal, on the South African coast. The first time we towed a caravan behind Dad’s cream Chevrolet so it was an adventure (and the only time we did it). Barrie was 7, I was 6, and Mum was expecting Al. We drove the 400 miles from Johannesburg to a wooded camp site just off the beach in Scottburgh which was then just a little village. Scottburgh had the advantage of having a river and lagoon which was periodically emptied into the sea. It was situated on a sheltered bay with rocky outcrops which were excellent for fishing and rock pools. Above the beach there were grassy terraces on which family bases were established. Deck chairs and umbrellas were hired and there was a little refreshment kiosk selling drinks and ice-creams. It was an ideal place for a family holiday. The Indian Ocean was warm and provided good surfing waves for wooden belly boards, and the whole place was bathed in sunshine.

The campsite today, but very much as I remember it.
We had a wonderful holiday. Once, we went to a hotel which had been built above the beach called the Blue Marlin, to have lunch. I remember it being rather rough and unfinished but Mum and Dad must have seen its huge potential because the next time we went to Scottburgh we stayed at the Blue Marlin and this became ‘our’ place; we went there for almost every holiday until I was 18. (Nine years after our last family holiday, when I took Carolyn and James as babies to visit Mum and Dad in Durban, we went for lunch to the Blue Marlin and it was just as lovely as it had always been. Their web page today includes this sentence:
“Over the past 60-years, Blue Marlin has not only provided our valued guests with a much-needed retreat from the busyness of everyday life, but is fondly kept in the hearts of so many who have been gifted an archive of cherished memories.”
My memories go back further than their 60 years.)
Scottburgh now is a well-developed tourist destination with all sorts of amenities but when we were there it was simple and natural. Highlights included going down early to watch the local fishermen bring in their huge wooden boats, running them right onto the sand and heaving out what seemed to me enormous heaps of fish, all shapes and sizes, to be weighed, then spread out on sacks by the waiting women and rapidly sold and carted away. That eastern shore was – and still is – famous for its massive shoals of sardines which swim north along the coast at a certain time of year, followed by predators of all sorts. We were never there to see this but the predators, mainly barracuda and sharks, were always a threat. Lifeguards kept a very sharp eye out for sharks and when the warning flags went up you got out of the water pronto. People lost limbs and lives to sharks, then and now, despite sophisticated safeguards and nets. Often the lifeguards paddled out on life boards – wider than today’s long surf boards but not by much – well beyond the line of surf, coming back in with huge barracuda and marlin which they had caught.
Dad and Barrie tried fishing from the rocks which was popular; I was happy to explore rock pools which were populated by crabs, molluscs and tiny fish, which could be caught in buckets. We never wanted to do anything away from the beach, apart from going back to the hotel for lunch, after which we had to rest until about 3, when Dad would collect us up and back down to the beach we would go. Over time we made gangs of friends who were often there in the same holidays so we were not short of company.
Both Al and I got tanned quickly and easily. Barrie seemed to get sunstroke at the beginning of each holiday and had to stay indoors for a day or two until he recovered. We did use tanning creams and oils but they were to increase our ability to get brown, not as protection. No Sun Protection Factors in evidence. No wonder all three of us have suffered from skin cancers and sun damaged skin in recent times. I should think everybody who survived early smoking and drinking habits has had the same. However, we did have to wear hats! Mum and Dad always sat in deckchairs under umbrellas, which I see are still in use on the beach there, still on the grass terraces, though much else has changed.

The Railway Shortcut, Scottburgh
One other highlight concerned the lagoon next to the beach. This was created tidally as a sandbank was built up separating the river from the sea. I don’t know how often it was cleared but more than once, we saw the burly lifeguards shouldering spades and heading for the lagoon. Then it was a rush to watch them digging a wide channel and finally breaking through so that the water in the lagoon poured out in a silty stream and the river flowed freely through. When the river was in full flow it was too deep for most of us to cross and the only way to the beach on the other side was via the railway bridge. This bridge is still there, and probably still has a footpath alongside the rails. There were very few trains but even so, it took me all my courage one day to walk across with Dad and the boys; I was quite sure the train would come when we were halfway over, and was very afraid.
We had all learnt to swim in the Harveys’ pool back in Johannesburg and were confident in the water. We loved to hire wooden belly boards and swim out to the big waves and surf back in. I never had company doing this and was quite fearless in the water, going out well beyond my depth; I guess that Dad and the lifeguards probably kept their eyes on us but I felt tremendously brave and confident, even when a bigger wave wiped me out on the wet sand. It was all part of learning to handle the sea. Sometimes we had snorkels and goggles and spent hours examining the reefs underwater which in those tropical waters were very lively and colourful. Occasionally a swarm of jellyfish – bluebottles – would be swept inshore and then we couldn’t swim. We found out the hard way that even tiny jellyfish sting if touched, in the sea or ashore, so we gave them a wide berth and went off to build sturdy sandcastles against the incoming tide.
Every morning in the hotel’s friendly reception area there was a notice about the evening’s entertainment. Sometimes this was just music, a small band or a pianist, but sometimes there was a dance or – better – an entertainer, perhaps a magician for the children, or bingo – much excitement – or a whist or beetle drive, or frog racing (with cardboard frogs). Sounds tame now but then it was fun, and as we got older so we could join in, getting changed for the evening meal with our parents, trying our first proper drinks, learning to dance (with Dad). In a time before ‘teenagers’ were recognized as such, we all just wanted to be grown-up and ‘sophisticated’. If we got fed up we could join in raucous table tennis in the games room, or eventually begin to listen to our own choice of music – rock and roll, for goodness sake! – in a remote lounge.
We were not late to bed – worn out by sea, sand, sunshine and exertion – I slept on an open balcony attached to my parents’ room; Barrie and Alistair had a room of their own, sometimes nearby, sometimes further away. I remember once when Al was 7 or 8, he took himself off to bed and when Mum went to say goodnight he wasn’t in his bed, or anywhere nearby. General panic and people looking everywhere for him until he was found in exactly the same room but on a floor below his own (the hotel was built on a slope so had 4 floors at the steepest end). One other thing: I didn’t mind the bats that flew around at dusk, didn’t like the spiders at all, but was intrigued by the moths that flew gently and settled anywhere undisturbed. They were often as big as my hand (now), richly coloured and patterned, soft and velvety.

 
They settled on the walls and rarely moved but in the morning they were gone.

 
Scottburgh as it looks now. Take away the developments over by the rocks and it looks much as it did when I was there, lying on a towel, under an umbrella. No-one used windbreaks – the air was warm and we were glad of a breeze.
According to the dates on photos in my photograph album we were in Scottburgh in March 1954; there is one of Mum, Barrie and Al – looking very coy – in the sea, and one of me on the beach. In 1957, after we had moved to Northern Rhodesia, we drove down from Ndola, five days of driving each way. There are pictures of Beit Bridge, the border post as we crossed the Limpopo, and of Mountain Inn at Louis Trichardt in South Africa, where we stopped for one night. Some of these overnight stops became familiar over the years; they usually had swimming pools so we could cool off, most welcome after all day in the car. Once we stopped in Pietermaritzburg, our last stop before arriving, and Barrie, Al and I rushed down to a lake in the grounds and had a swim. Afterwards we found that the lake was stocked with fish for anglers and that swimming was definitely not allowed but by then we had had our dip and thought that that was much more important. After that holiday Barrie and I flew back up to Bulawayo to get back to school. I think we must have flown from Durban as I remember it being quite a small plane. Poor Barrie was airsick again. It was strange when we arrived, both being met by staff from Falcon and St Peter’s. Without a chance to even say goodbye we were whisked off in opposite directions and didn’t see each other again until the Easter holidays.
 In 1960 with only Al still in school we went down for 4 weeks over Christmas – incredible luxury. I paid for my stay with earnings from my first year at work and I remember that the bill came to £27. Only much later did I realise that Dad must have arranged for what was almost certainly a much reduced amount to suit my earnings, but at the time I was proud of having ‘paid’ for my holiday. We had a wonderful time that Christmas with a congenial bunch of friends to go around with.
Two years later we went down again but left after four weeks to spend New Year with our cousins in Johannesburg, and that bit was awful, such an anti-climax. That holiday was remarkable in another way: just before we were due to leave Ndola, Dad was taken ill and had to have surgery to remove kidney stones. He was unable to drive us down but was very anxious that we keep to the holiday plans. Barrie was then at University in Cape Town so Mum sent him a telegram asking him to meet us in Meikle’s Hotel in Salisbury (now Harare) a week later. Barrie had no money so he set out to hitch rides, for nearly 1,500 miles. Jim Lafferty (Dad’s business partner) drove Mum, Alistair and I down to Salisbury, stopping on the way to detour down to the mighty dam being built at Kariba on the Zambezi River, an astonishing sight. We arrived in Salisbury, 500 miles south, late afternoon and as we checked in to Meikle’s Hotel, in walked Barrie, cool as you like, having had an adventurous week of random rides and haphazard overnight stops. He was 21 at the time and we thought he was amazing.
Jim flew back up to Ndola and Barrie drove us all down to the Blue Marlin and about a week later, Dad joined us and gently recuperated. The only concession he made to having been ill was to drive the car down from the hotel to the beach for the first week or two, instead of scrambling down and then back up, the cliff path that we had always used.
We went on one other family holiday, I think when Al was a baby, with the Harvey family, to another beach place called Amamzintoti, nearer to Durban. We travelled in several cars because there were so many of us and at one garage, having stopped for petrol and toilets, we all drove off apart from Penny, who got left behind. This wasn’t noticed for some time but eventually a car went back for her and found her, quite unperturbed, chatting to staff, quite certain that someone would find her eventually. She must have been about seven but was always confident and self-possessed.
We shared several cottages along with various cousins and also nannies and servants who had come with the Harveys. I guess there must have been about 30 of us but it was all a bit confusing, probably even a bit much for our small family. Two things I do remember. Driving there, Richard yelled for the car to stop, got out and walked into the sugar cane fields which lined the road, where he cut down several of the canes. Peeling off the outer leaves he chopped the canes into chunks and handed them around and we all sucked on these pieces, being refreshed by the cool sweet juice. The other also concerned food. Dick Harvey, at the head of the long table, with a big pineapple in front of him, asked us to guess how many leaves there were on the fruit. Then he carefully pulled off each leaf in turn until they were all gone. I wish I could remember how many there were or who guessed the amount – probably Richard again, who always knew the answers. (And had probably had it done to him often before). Amamzintoti still has a beautiful beach but it also has high rise apartment blocks close by, not at all like the old cottages I remember.
That brief holiday apart, it was always Scottburgh and the Blue Marlin for us


Chapter 9: 1954 and reflections on life in Johannesburg
Barrie was born in August so he was 11 when he began his final year at primary school, in January 1954. I didn’t see much of him at school, after we were dropped off by Dad on his way into the city, for our 8am start. We were never late – Dad was never late for anything! I was very surprised to hear from Robin’s friend Heather who was in Barrie’s class, that he was always making the class laugh; like Dad, he was quick to think of a pun or a joke. He was the sensible one who helped Dad with jobs around the house and could use Dad’s tools. I certainly couldn’t, being much too careless and untidy, usually with my head in a book and my mind far away. I had become a Brownie though wasn’t all that keen – too much like hard work.
Barrie had become a member of the Boys’ Brigade like his cousin David. The Other Pats had become established members of St Columba’s Presbyterian Church in Parkview near their home and there was a lively Boys Brigade company complete with pipe band. Oh, the glory of it! They were a very smart and well-funded company and Barrie loved it all and looked terrific in the uniform, creased and polished to an inch of his life. He loved all the activities and couldn’t wait to be able to join the band and take part like the High School boys. He also looked forward to moving up to Parktown High School which David and Robin already attended. He was a keen sportsman though there wasn’t much organised sport for primary school children then. He was much more interested in what the Wanderer’s Club offered to youngsters and had his name down – and took part in – anything available.
He was the one who was very badly affected by Mum and Dad’s announcement immediately after Christmas at the end of 1954.
We were about to leave Johannesburg, and South Africa, and move to Northern Rhodesia. We were absolutely stunned, having had no idea that this was in the offing. In the usual tradition of our family, there was never any discussion about what was going to happen. We were children and were expected just to get on with it (much as my mother had had to do in her childhood). Now I think, how could they have done this to Barrie without warning? I don’t know how he felt because he buttoned up his emotions after an initial incredulous outburst, but I can imagine it. It must have been awful.
For me, well, I didn’t particularly like school, and Rhodesia sounded like an adventure. What did I really know about South Africa? Looking back after nearly 65 years, I realize that I just have impressions of the country. Johannesburg was still quite a new place, dating from 1886 following the discovery of gold on a farm in the area in 1884. It was just over 60 years old when we arrived in 1947 and growing at an extraordinary rate with vast amounts of gold still being excavated from the mines. I remember approaching the city and seeing the towering white ridges of waste from the mines as a landmark close to home. We were taken each year to the Rand Easter Show, a huge trade fair at which RN Harvey always had a stand, with Dad and Uncle David often in attendance. Once, we were taken into the Mines stand where there was a mock-up of underground tunnels, complete with miners working using pickaxes to clear the rocks fallen from blasting. In one stand we were shown a gold ingot about the size of an ordinary brick. If anyone could lift it up they could have it. Of course it was tremendously heavy – about 400 ounces – and no one could budge it. I expect it was very carefully guarded though there was no obvious security around it. It was just sitting there on a table.
On another occasion we were taken to see the Mine Dances. These were very exciting but also a bit frightening. There was a huge crowd of Africans, many of whom were dressed in full regalia as warriors, with assegais (spears)or knobkerries (solid sticks with heavy knobs at one end) and shields of animal hide. They were all men and at that stage, all miners. They wore very little apart from loin cloths and armbands and headbands of animal fur. Round their ankles were strings of bells or shells or other ornaments which clanked when they moved. There were drummers in similar costume, often with feathers stuck in their headbands. They all looked very tall, very strong, very brown and shiny, and when they danced they sang and shouted and stamped with great ferocity, raising clouds of dust and making an enormous noise. I can still see the group of Europeans standing watching, perhaps a bit nervously, for the Zulus were a very imposing sight. (Today, Ladysmith Black Mbaza do some of the dances but they are not dressed as the miners were, and are professional performers; sometimes they sound the same but the dust and the smells and the heat are not there).
At home we had a tall young Zulu called George as a house servant and he went off to dance periodically. I don’t know if he had been a mine dancer but when he appeared dressed ready to go, he looked amazing. (When I saw the film ‘Zulu’ I felt shivers down my spine – the warriors at Rorke’s Drift were just like the dancers I remembered).
I was always fascinated by the way the Africans, most probably Zulus, sang when they were working together. The road diggers would chant in unison and swing their shovels all together in the trench they were digging; we saw this quite often. Various other men did the rounds of the houses when we lived on 13th Avenue, delivering coal or collecting old iron and they would sing out as their wagons, horse drawn, rolled down the street. Best of all I loved the Flower Man whose wagon was piled high with bunches of flowers and who advertised his presence by calling “Floweee, Floweee” as he came along. His cart looked and smelt wonderful and I always rushed out to see him go by. (I have tried to find a picture of these carts, without success – a shame because in my recollection they were so lovely).
The rubbish cart moved smartly along drawn by two horses, with two dustmen perched on the back jumping off and on emptying the bins. Once Mum was walking with us from nearby shops and Barrie lagged behind, only to pass us sitting triumphantly high up on the seat at the front of the rubbish wagon, having begged a lift from the cheery driver.
I never encountered an African who wasn’t a servant or else employed on menial tasks, like those described above. And yet those flower sellers must have handled cash and dealt with purchases. In our life, Africans were an almost invisible group of people – they were there but we didn’t really see them. Down in Natal, the waiters in hotels like the Blue Marlin were always Indian, from Asian stock, and they were extremely good, very efficient and often friendly towards us as children. The Maitre d’ in the hotel dining room, Dixon, was the first person Dad went to see on our arrival, with a generous tip in hand, so that (somehow) we always had our favourite table over by the windows. I thought this just happened until I went with Dad when I was older and saw how it was arranged. He was also Indian, smart and courteous and proficient; the dining room was run like clockwork.
At least half of the European population in Johannesburg spoke Afrikaans as a first language: it was the other official language of the country, an inheritance from the early Dutch settlers. Our school was an English-speaking primary; down the road was the equally big Afrikaans-speaking primary. Going home on the bus I made friends with a girl about my age who attended that school. We examined each other’s books with interest, laughing at the easy primers in each language. Of course we had to learn Afrikaans, Barrie through all his primary schooling, me until Standard 4, after which I had just one year until secondary school, so we could both speak basic Afrikaans. Neither Mum nor Dad ever appeared to try to learn, Dad because he probably didn’t have to as trade and commerce were almost totally in English, Mum because she just assumed that everyone could understand English if she spoke it loudly enough. The subjects we were taught were all Africa based especially history and geography, so I knew very little about the rest of the world from my school experiences.
I did read extensively. My greatest pleasure was the visit of the mobile library, a rattling old green van which stopped somewhere near us and from which limited selection of books for children I could make my choice. With no parental guidance whatever, I picked all the Enid Blytons but also PL Travers – Mary Poppins, LM Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables, LM Alcott – Little Women, the Hugh Lofting Dr Doolittle stories for Barrie as well as all the Biggles books and those about the Hardy Boys, an American equivalent to the Famous Five, which he enjoyed. Gifts from others included Coolidge – What Katy Did, and Pearl S Buck, The Family Next Door. I also found Noel Streatfeild and Lorna Hill and many others, giving me vivid pictures of life in England, Scotland, other countries in Europe, China, Canada, America– I was aware of other countries and peoples through books. Because we were still in the post-war period, paper for books was relatively scarce so what was published was usually of high quality content, even if the paper and binding were less good. Of course there was no television and we went to very few films but we listened to the radio a lot, and with Dad I heard British programmes like ‘Much Binding in the March’ and much later on ‘Beyond the Horn’, and with Barrie I listened to ‘Superman’ and other excitements.
There were weekly magazines such as ‘Woman’ and ‘Woman’s Own’, which were for Mum and Auntie May but also devoured by Robin and I. Dad got ‘John Bull’ which was a mainly pictorial record of the week in Britain and sometimes ‘The Saturday Evening Post’ from America with covers which were often by Norman Rockwell, famous in themselves. Barrie and I got ‘Eagle’ and ‘Girl’ respectively, both of a much higher standard than any paper for children today. ‘Eagle’ was started by Chad Varah who also founded the Samaritans, and ‘Girl’ was its sister paper. And there were always comics, introduced to us by the Other Pats who had ‘Dandy’ and ‘Beano’ sent from Scotland. American comics were much sought after as they were on glossy paper, lasted longer and were much more entertaining. Barrie also got ‘Popular Science’ which didn’t interest me but kept him engrossed.
We were exposed to music at the Harveys’; Auntie Pinks sang and composed music, veering towards high classical and opera, none of which appealed to us much. Penny, my age, was a very talented pianist and was much lauded in the family because of this. At one point she was invited to go to America and perform somewhere in New York. There was great excitement until her visa application revealed that she was asthmatic and she was refused entry. So sad. We were invited to musical soirees at the Harveys which we liked because of the food and the glamorous guests; the music just had to be endured. The two adjoining lounges in their home housed two full size grand pianos and there was a harp and various other instruments always around somewhere. Generally I preferred it when Dad played his concertina from his Salvation Army days. He and Mum sung very well together and we always finished long car journeys with them both singing old favourites including Army songs and choruses, with us children joining in as best we could. I think Barrie could sing but I couldn’t, being tone deaf, although I made plenty of noise. That still saddens me today. Dad was good at bringing home records of musical shows, especially if he had been abroad on trips, and we learnt – and tried to sing – all the popular hits.
Pinks Harvey was an accomplished artist and gave several of her flower paintings to Mum and Dad. (Tamsin has one of these at home now; I’m not sure where the rather brown painting of pansies ended up. I liked it but Al said that the flowers looked like ‘sad little puppy faces’ which they did!). One rather wet holiday Pinks decided that we would put on a play so we were all set to work painting backdrops – vast white sheets hung round one of their huge double garages. We had a happy time up and down ladders, splashing paint around on the sheets and each other for a couple of days but the actual performance never materialised. Probably the sun came out and we went swimming.
The Harveys also had – in a big walk-in attic – trunks full of dressing-up clothes so on some occasions we were allowed into these. They were proper clothes made for, and worn by, past generations so there were fantastic outfits available. Sadly I was always too small to wear the really romantic dresses but Penny who was much taller than I was, could wear them and she could be very glamorous with full skirts and trains and fancy headdresses. Pinks could also sew and sometimes began a sewing frenzy, using an old treadle sewing machine and turning out dresses for her girls – 4 of them –her nieces, Jeannie, Gillian and Jennifer – and me as well. Mum did point out that finishing things like hems was usually left to other people, her for example, but I loved the dresses, always made in silky or satiny material with net underlays, wildly impractical but I wore them until they fell apart or burst their seams as I grew.
Why on earth were we moving, especially to a country we had barely heard of and knew nothing about? As children we were happy and settled. Mum seemed to be equally settled. Dad probably wasn’t and I didn’t find out why until years later. Initially it appeared that the continuing rise of the Nationalist Party in South Africa and their policy of apartheid may have been the cause. Dad was a member of the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and had become known as a public speaker of great quality. He was in demand and was often out late on speaking engagements. In those circles he must have become very conscious of the political climate and the increasing pressure to conform, which would have been difficult for him with his deeply Salvation Army background. I think he must have looked north to the British colonial Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and thought it might be a better place to bring up his family. (Pinks Harvey became involved with the Black Sash movement which began in 1955 as a non-violent women’s movement against apartheid. The entry in Wikipedia describes this well.)
There was another reason. Dad worked for Dick Harvey and had done well, becoming Dick’s right hand man.  He did a lot of travelling on behalf of the company, visiting America and Europe several times; Mum told me that Dad saw himself taking over the company in due course. However, Dick’s son Richard was by then in his twenties and studying law and it became obvious that he was the heir apparent, not Dad. Mum also told me that when the decision to move was made known to the Harveys, Pinks could hardly bear to speak to Mum which must have been quite a blow. Perhaps this was why we went so suddenly.
A third element was Dad’s health. He had had a severe motor cycle accident in his early twenties and had lost a kidney as a result; his remaining kidney was also damaged and because of this, Dad suffered from renal stones all his life. This caused him severe pain and he was in and out of hospital for surgery and other treatments, throughout his life. Again, this was never discussed at home! We NEVER talked about it. Dad would come home from work at an unusual time, go to bed, Mum would send for the doctor, he would come and inject Dad with some opiate (?). Dad would spend a day or two in bed recovering, and then get up and go to work without a word of reference to the episode. Asked if he was feeling better, he would say that he was fine, and carry on as before. (Barrie seems to be the same today!). Perhaps Dad felt that living in an English speaking colony would be better than stressful city life in Johannesburg? There was no NHS in South Africa and every visit from a doctor, every injection, every medicine, cost money. The NHS had only come into being in 1947, the year we left Scotland, so maybe Dad had an eye on future developments and thought that healthcare in a British colony might be more affordable in the long term. I don’t know what he thought then – I never asked him what made him decide to move for undoubtedly the decision had been his – Mum always said that she respected his decisions and never needed to question them!
Whatever the reasons, the decision had been made and within a week we were on the train heading north.


Chapter 10: Rhodesia
We children had never been on a train before so we steamed out of Johannesburg Station in a state of great excitement. We had a compartment for Mum, Dad and Alistair and I think Barrie and I had a coupe next door. I think we must have done for we had a long journey ahead of us on hot sooty trains – all steam engines, needing plenty of stops to fill up with water, coal and anything else required. The first stage was from Johannesburg to Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia where we would change on to a Rhodesian train. The picture below shows the Rhodesian Railways (RR) carriages built between 1952-55 (we travelled at the end of 1954); these carriages are still in use! The South African Railway (SAR) carriages were much more modern, finished and furnished in contemporary style. The staff on that train were of course Africans. As we set off on December 31st there must have been some celebrations at midnight because the next morning the African serving our carriage keeled over in a drunken stupor early in the day and stayed that way for some time. It was very hot and at some point, Barrie and I found that Al, just turned 5, was being bathed in the compartment hand basin – he thought it was very funny and enjoyed prancing round being cool and wet.
 

 
The journey from Johannesburg to Bulawayo goes via Messina and Beit Bridge, the customs crossing point. In 1954 we went through on the same train, which is not possible now, and arrived in Bulawayo about 24 hours later. Everything changed there; our luggage had to be unloaded from the luggage van and transferred to the RR train and we had to spend several hours on or near the station. Without a word to Mum, Dad disappeared and for some time we didn’t know where he was. Eventually a station loudspeaker announced that there was a message for Mum and she found out that Dad had taken a taxi to the local hospital for a pain-killing injection. Kidney stones again though we hadn’t known he was in pain; nothing was said when he reappeared either. Presumably he and Mum did talk about these things but definitely not in front of the children.
We boarded the RR train and immediately things were different. In the dining car we were seated on cushioned wicker chairs round small tables, rather like a picnic, and English ladies offered us British tea and cakes! It was a huge surprise. Barrie and I had no memory of serving people being anything other than African or Asian. Fancy Europeans doing such things! We were really astonished, increasingly so as all the other staff on the train, even the drivers, were also European or so it seemed – all very odd. They were interested in us too and asked us questions and talked with English accents. I began to think that I would like this new country.
We crossed Victoria Falls on the famous bridge. As it was January and the middle of the rainy season I don’t think we could have seen very much – the spray when the river is in flood is very dense – we probably just got damp hanging out of the windows.

 
This is what it was like; now trains no longer cross the bridge and you have to be driven across. I don’t think I could actually do either any more but at that time, and subsequently going to and from school, we thought nothing of it.
We travelled on through Livingstone, close to the Falls, then through places like Choma, Monze and Mazabuka and eventually Lusaka, the capital. From the station there wasn’t much to see and presently we were off again. The countryside was just endless bush – mainly small trees and shrubby stuff, nothing remarkable and nothing like hills or rivers to break the monotony. Supposedly Africa was full of wild animals but never once, on all the train journeys I made there, did I see a single wild animal. Not surprising really as steam trains are noisy and also very sooty – we always ended up grimy after train journeys; the ‘romance of steam’ was lost on us. From Lusaka to Ndola is just under 200 miles and it took about 4 hours by road. By train we trundled on through the night, stopping at Broken Hill (now Kabwe) and then Kapiri Mposhi and finally Ndola, early in the morning. We were met off the train and driven to a place called Kitwe (Nkana), about 30 miles away. This was much quicker than going by train but in fact the scenery didn’t change – still just spindly trees and low scrub. It may still have been a dirt road or it may have been tarred, I can’t remember; most roads were dirt roads or narrow strips of tarmac along which you drove until something came the other way, at which point both vehicles drove half on one track, half on the dirt alongside. Sometimes there was quite a drop to the side and the car tilted over a bit; tyres had a short lifespan, driving on strip roads, and punctures were frequent.

A strip road
They were difficult, dangerous and dusty but at least they provided a solid surface in the rainy season, as long as the dirt underneath hadn’t been washed away. After roads in South Africa which were well maintained, these strips were quite a shock. The vegetation is very typical of the usual scenery: spindly trees and scrub.
We went to Kitwe first because the house we were to occupy in Ndola wasn’t quite ready for us and the only place available was in Kitwe. Ndola was the railhead of the Copperbelt, a group of small towns which had sprung up around the copper mines which at that time were in full production. Ndola didn’t have a mine but it had the smelting works so all the copper came through Ndola to be smelted and then railed south. The other towns were Luanshya, 21 miles from Ndola, Mufulira, further on from Kitwe, and Chingola/Bancroft, about 80 miles away. Copper prices were still high and the country was prospering.
Dad had found himself a job as Managing Director at a company of wholesalers called Campbell Booker Carter (CBC), a British company in the same line of business as RN Harvey in Johannesburg. Dad had heard that the then Managing Director, Jim Lafferty, was branching out on his own and had been appointed to take over. (A few years later Dad also left CBC and became partner to Jim Lafferty in a company then called Lafferty & Co.)
We were all a bit stunned by where we were, once we had been dropped off in Kitwe. The house – a bungalow of course – was to a standard design, adequate but very ordinary.
There seemed to be at least 2 house servants, a cook and a houseboy who both knew what was required and spoke reasonable English which was a relief, for none of us could communicate in anything but English. There were spiders and cockroaches in plenty which I didn’t like at all. The water was heated by a fire in a sort of chimney place outside the house and when it rained this was difficult to light and keep going so there was often no hot water. The electricity frequently went off and back on again, sometimes after long periods in which we had to find and light candles.
The furnishings were standard PWD which stood for Public Works Department; all made of wood to a ‘tropical’ design, low slung and semi-reclining, very uncomfortable. There was tap water but you couldn’t drink it; water had first to be boiled then cooled enough to drink, however thirsty you were. Grown-ups drank tea; we didn’t, so we learnt quite quickly to keep stocks of boiled water cooling in the fridge. Telephones didn’t always work very well if at all, and as we didn’t know anyone to ring up this didn’t matter at first. The house was surrounded by a scruffy patch of land on which stood an enormous pile of sand almost rock hard, reddish in colour. This was a termite mound and there were lots of them around, often really big. Ours was about 20 feet tall. We could scramble up it and look down on the corrugated iron roof of the house but not much else as the town was on flat ground and there wasn’t much to see.

This is what our termite mound was like (but not us in the picture)
 
We did have a banana tree growing outside the back door, with bananas on it. Shortly after we arrived Al came in with a small metal spade in hand and said “I’ve cut down the banana tree” – and he had! The soft pulpy stem of the tree was easy to chop into and having started to do this, he kept going and was surprised when the whole tree keeled over. So were we.
It rained almost every day, short violent thunderstorms with drenching rain, soon over, followed by hot sunshine and everything steaming; we were within the tropics and this was the rainy season. All the vegetation round us grew almost visibly so the banana tree soon began to sprout again. There was lots of vivid bougainvillea growing over the tin roofs of garages and wire fences and brightly coloured hibiscus, poinsettia and sweet smelling frangipani flowering in abundance.

A frangipani in a typical garden
 Kitwe was a mining town and apart from everything connected with mining, there wasn’t much to see. On the first weekend Dad took us to a local café/bar for a change of scene but the occasion was marred by the presence of a drunken European man snoring on the floor under the next table.
What on earth did Mum think about all this, given what we had just left in Johannesburg? Perhaps she felt that it could only get better. She didn’t display any qualms to us, just set about getting us ready for school which was due to start in a few days. Alistair and I were to go to the local primary school for the few weeks we would be in Kitwe, and Barrie, to his initial considerable dismay, was going to go to boarding school back down in Bulawayo. There wasn’t a secondary school in Ndola at that point though one was about to be built, so it was necessary for us to go away. At first there was doubt that I would become a boarder as well for the new school might be finished in time for me. My head was full of Enid Blyton and images of Mallory Towers and jolly hockey sticks and all girls together and I absolutely longed to go to boarding school and envied Barrie until eventually a small Anglican convent school was found for me, also in Bulawayo, to which I would go the following year. I could hardly wait.
Poor Barrie was sent off by train along with a handful of other boys also going to Falcon College, a new school just being established in a place called Essexvale (actually Esigodini) about 20 miles southeast of Bulawayo. For the first 3 weeks we had frequent long letters from him, suffering dreadfully from homesickness and feeling alone and friendless.

Barrie (togged up for school, me and Al)
Then came a very short letter saying that he was fine and everything was okay and after that he never looked back and loved his school and excelled in sports and games and all there was on offer. It is worth looking at the college website - http://www.falconcollege.com - for an idea of its stunning location and what it is about. It was opened in 1954 so Barrie went in its second year when it was all still raw and he wrote that every boy had to spend a percentage of free time picking up stones from the intended sports pitches. No doubt it was all good character-building stuff, if hard on their knees.
Alistair and I went with Mum to the local primary school of which I remember only the opening assembly in which the large number of children all joined in singing a hymn together. I had never heard anything like it and was quite impressed. Apart from that I have no impressions of Kitwe at all. A few weeks later we all decamped again to our new home in Ndola, a little pink house close to the roundabout as you drove into town from the Copperbelt.


Chapter 11: Ndola in 1955


Ndola was much more welcoming than Kitwe had been. To begin with school:-
 Dad drove off to work each morning before 8am, dropping off Al at the Infant School, then me at the Primary School. We were familiar with the system from Johannesburg. Starting at 5 years old in Grade 1 then Grade 2 at 6, you moved to primary school at 7 and went into Standard 1, remaining there until you reached Standard 5 at 11+ and which point you went to secondary or high school and started again in Form 1. You tackled your school leaving examination in Form 5 which in our case was Cambridge School Certificate, and went on to Highers in lower and upper 6th. We all knew the progression from grades to standards to forms because it was the same throughout southern Africa; it still seems to be the same in rural schools where education often only goes as far as Standard 5 and further education is available only to the privileged few.

“Little Pink House”
I had an excellent teacher in Mrs Conway, a rather exhausted looking lady who seemed quite old but was probably in her forties.  She had had the same class for Standard 4 so when I arrived, part way into the first term of Standard 5 she knew her pupils very well and wasn’t at all pleased to have a new girl to mould into shape. She was very firm and didn’t tolerate misbehaviour; I think she was probably the best teacher I ever had. The class had been learning French since Std 4 and regardless of my never having seen or heard French before, I had to take my turn reading aloud from the textbook. Horrible, but it made me focus and I did get going in French quite quickly so as not to lose face so painfully again.
Mrs Conway taught English very well and had got the whole class into verse speaking in a dramatic way. We stood in groups and recited poems like “The Highwayman” with great passion. We learnt to speak clearly and to project our voices, both of which have been great assets throughout my life. At the end of my first term in that class I came 29th out of 31. After the second term I came 3rd. In the third term I discovered boys and other distractions and came 11th!

Ndola Primary School which I attended during 1955.
Alistair started primary school there too and then moved to Kansenji Primary, where Mum was Secretary for about 14 years.
I started with school life in Ndola because that mattered most to me at that point. Learning about the town itself and also about living in a British colony took much longer.
Ndola wasn’t much younger than Johannesburg but didn’t have gold mines to spur it on. ‘It was founded in 1904 by John Edward “Chirapula” Stephenson just six months after Livingstone, making it the second oldest colonial-era town of Zambia. It was started as a boma and trading post, which laid its foundations as an administrative and trading centre today.’[1] [I notice that Northern Rhodesia has become Zambia in my narrative. That didn’t happen until 24th October 1964, Zambia’s Day of Independence, still celebrated as such.]
Boma is a Swahili word meaning ‘enclosure’; locally it meant the central or significant administrative office in the area.

This is still typical of minor roads in that area.
Ndola was a little town in European eyes, about the same as size as Truro but much more spread out, surrounded by rapidly developing suburbs and beyond these, a wider circle of African townships and another self-contained area occupied by Indians. We lived initially about a mile from the centre of town, on higher ground, close to the hospital, in a little house painted pink. Like the house in Kitwe, water was heated via a fire which was lit in an outdoor fireplace with a tall chimney. Electricity came and went and there were no deliveries of anything like post or milk, though Mum did learn that if she dictated her grocery list over the phone to the store in town, eventually a man on a bicycle would deliver it. There was no postal delivery service; mail had to be collected each day from the central post office, from a numbered box which you rented. If you wanted anything from the post office counter you had to queue and the place was always crowded, mainly with Africans either waiting for something themselves, or just hanging out there in case anything interesting happened.

Pam and Pam in Ndola
Ndola is in the centre of Zambia looking from north to south but paradoxically it is only seven miles from the Congo border because the Congo extends a narrow finger of land – a Pedicle – across that part of Zambia. You couldn’t drive directly north from the Copperbelt – you had to go well to the east and then north, to get to the other side. When the Congo erupted in violence in the 60s, thousands of refugees fled south and passed through Ndola, affecting all that part of Zambia quite seriously. This began in 1960 so was nearly 6 years ahead of our arrival in Ndola.
 
Zambia

There was the big difference from South Africa – no apartheid. Every facility was in theory open to everyone, though in many cases like most of the sporting or social clubs, it was understood that only Europeans should apply for membership. The atmosphere was of a happier place than Johannesburg, more relaxed, less strictly governed. Africans did all sorts of work which had been reserved for Europeans in SA and so there was much more interaction. I still didn’t ‘see’ Africans as people – this didn’t happen until I was much older – but I was aware of places like the African townships. Our African servants lived on the premises in small buildings at the end of the garden and often had friends or family members staying with them. In our garden, a row of banana trees screened off this area in a typical way.
If you do an online search for Ndola, Zambia or Rhodesia you will find loads of material so I leave that to you. There is plenty on Facebook as well, particularly from people who lived on the Copperbelt at about the same time; I sometimes recognize family names though the children I grew up with are of course quite old now. They often post pictures of how those towns were then, and of particular schools, clubs or associations. Yesterday, looking at some of this I found pictures of Ndola Dambo and the sailing club. A dambo is a lake or dam, usually not very big. I think the one in Ndola was probably less than two miles square and not very deep but it was deep enough for sailing dinghies. After a few years living there, Dad and Jim Lafferty both got interested in sailing and both families had GP14s, a fourteen foot wooden or fibreglass boat with jib and mainsail, and a spinnaker, and with these in a fair breeze the sailing could get quite exciting. Jim’s wife Patience was his crew and I crewed for Dad which I loved doing.

This is the dambo after the rains, looking bigger
 
Anyway – Ndola in 1955. A great big bonus for us children was the municipal swimming pool, a sizeable pool with diving boards, surrounded by green lawns and a high white wall, all immaculately maintained by council workers. The pool was managed by a South African called Arthur le Barbey who over the years taught generations of children to swim. He sat in an office overlooking the pool – it was semi-circular and had wide windows so he could see everything. Woe betides anyone who ran along the wet pool side, or dive bombed too enthusiastically, or messed about on the springboard. Arthur had a loudspeaker and used it to bellow at the offender. The worst thing would be to be banished from the pool so within reason we behaved. At the end of the dry season – 6-8 months without rain – the temperature was up in the 90s most of the time and the pool was a real godsend. We went down after school; usually Mum, Alistair and I when Barrie was away, and Al learnt to swim there and I just kept cool in the water. Some years there were polio epidemics and then two things happened. We were all expected to turn up on a particular day to be given the Salk vaccine on a sugar lump which was a lot better than the injections we sometimes had to have. And the pool was closed, so that crowds of children wouldn’t congregate and spread the infection. This was a huge blow – very few people had private pools then so we were all deprived. Polio was an awful disease and lots of children got it and many died or were paralysed; there were always children around with withered arms or legs as a result. Adults who got polio sometimes ended up on artificial lungs or respirators, for the rest of their lives so any suggestion of an epidemic was enough to prompt quick action from the authorities. We thought that the schools should be closed as well but this didn’t happen.

St Andrew’s
When we were settled in Ndola Mum started going to church regularly, which she hadn’t done in Johannesburg though I don’t know why not. A new church was being built down in town called St Andrew’s and it became the United Church of Canada in Central Africa. Why Canada? I don’t know. Today it is just St Andrew’s but to begin with we had Canadian ministers who presided over a united non-conformist congregation. The church was finished in 1958. (This is where Dad and I were married in 1966, by a Scottish Canadian minister called David Stiven; James met some of the Stiven family many years later in British Columbia.).
The church was close to the council offices which housed Ndola public library, which was another boon. We were regular customers from the beginning. Both our schools, the much older Anglican church and the Catholic church were all nearby so we could get everywhere either by car or on our bikes, usually the bikes. We never walked!
Looking back on our years in Ndola I am struck by the thought that when we first arrived we thought we were there to stay, not as temporary residents but permanently. Later, in the years leading up to Northern Rhodesia breaking away from the Federation and becoming the independent nation of Zambia, people tended to come out from the UK on short term contracts, mainly for three years which could be extended to six, and they were very different in attitude and behaviour to those of us for whom Rhodesia was home, not referring to the UK as home as all the contract people did. We bought houses and businesses and invested in the country and we regarded the short term incomers as Pommies and were very scornful of them. We saw ourselves as Rhodesians and even now, a little part of me still thinks that way.
I joined the Guides, mainly because they were about to spend a weekend camping and I thought that would be fun. However, as we were all only about eleven we actually ‘camped’ on the floor of an empty room in our Guider’s house so it wasn’t much of a camping experience. We attempted to cook over a campfire and as none of us had a clue how to cook anything, we burned both the porridge in the morning and the custard in the evening, and went home the next day very hungry. I wasn’t a Guide for very long after that.
That highlighted a real problem for children brought up in Africa: most of us didn’t do anything for ourselves in our homes. Everything was done by servants – meal preparation, cleaning, laundry, gardening, making beds, cleaning shoes, even looking after our pets. It was a useless upbringing in so many ways and it was just as well that I went to boarding school in January 1956 and learnt a bit more about how to look after myself.
One major event in our lives occurred towards the end of that year. A letter arrived from Scotland with the news that Uncle Bert and Aunt May were coming out to live in Ndola, together with our three cousins, Craig, Robert and Ena. This was met with consternation from Mum and Dad which for once was shared with us. They thought it was a very bad idea and that those Other Pats wouldn’t like the country or the way of life at all but they were determined to come and were not to be persuaded otherwise. Uncle Bert came out first – poor man! There was an airport in Ndola by then so he flew out, arriving early in December 1955. I was in a school production of ‘HMS Pinafore’, the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta which in my recollection was quite brilliant. I wasn’t, having scraped in at the last minute for the final performance when someone else went off sick. I barely knew the music or the actions, could neither sing nor act but enjoyed myself immensely, dressed up as a sailor in a uniform that was far too big, tripping over the trousers and generally being a nuisance. Uncle Bert, arrived that day, came along with Mum and Dad and slept through it.
The family followed him out in the New Year and did settle and made the most of it. Craig was 1 day older than me and was able to start at the new secondary school, which of course I could have gone to if I hadn’t been so keen to go to boarding school. Robert was 18 months younger and Ena was the same age as Alistair – the usual pattern in all the families of the Paterson brothers: two older children close in age then 5 or 6 years until the third and final child arrived. (Mum pointed out to me years later that as soon as the first two were both at school, thoughts turned towards another baby. And I did the same!)
Uncle Bert started work in a local bakery and soon after, set up on his own. Robert followed him into the trade but didn’t ever marry. Ena did marry and her family are still involved in the business, in Ndola. My dear cousin Craig died in a car accident at 31.


Chapter 12: Boarding school
 
I was tremendously excited to be going to boarding school at last. During 1955 through various contacts I had met a couple of girls who were at the same school; I found out presently that neither of them had liked me – I was awful, wrote one – partly because I had no idea how to behave in a group of girls and also I think because I sounded very South African, having lived there for seven years. Rhodesians didn’t think much of South Africans. No-one I knew was on the train. The station at Ndola was crowded with girls in bottle green tunics, fawn shirts and socks, brown lace-up shoes and fawn felt hats. The older and more disreputable the hat, the better because that implied a wealth of experience. The new girls stood out because their hats still looked like hats.

St Peter’s, Bulawayo
The train left at about 9pm, well after dark. We were always early to arrive, Dad being (like me) always ahead of time. We had to find my name on a compartment or coupe and load my trunk onto the luggage van. We always travelled first class unlike Barrie’s school which travelled second and were 6 to a compartment, 3 to a coupe. We were 4 or 2 which meant that when the bunks were made up in the evening you still had head room. The boys didn’t. At the far end of the train was third class, slatted wooden benches and no separate sleeping compartments, in which Africans travelled, usually very crowded and noisy. At that point no staff travelled with us; some years later there were occasional staff on board but they didn’t pay us any attention. It was assumed that we would be safe and that we would behave. ??
That first journey was memorable because the train came to a stop somewhere near Livingstone because a ‘Hot Box’ had been detected under one of our carriages – and the train had to wait until a replacement carriage could be found and brought along. We stayed there for 9 hours, having long since eaten all the food we’d been sent off with, and drunk all the water available. We were not told that we could have gone along to the dining car and been given something to eat and drink so we just got very hot and hungry. No air conditioning of course, nor the motion of the train to keep us cool. Eventually we got moving again and steamed off slowly to Bulawayo, arriving not at 6am as scheduled but at about 4 in the afternoon, tired and scruffy, where we were loaded into taxis and driven off to school. The trunks from the luggage van arrived soon after.
This was my introduction to St Peter’s Diocesan School, Bulawayo. There are pictures in the photo album I took with me that term, having been given a Box Brownie camera for Christmas. The school finally closed in 1977 and you can find more pictures on Facebook and Google – I am amazed how much is there.
Looking back, I think that I was fortunate to go there and that it was a good unpretentious school. Although the education I got was much less good than that of my fellow students later on in Glasgow, it was probably good enough for its place and time. A lot of the girls came from farms, some from as far away as Nyasaland in the east, some from Bechuanaland in the south. A fair number of us came from up north, Lusaka, Broken Hill and the Copperbelt towns, and many were of British parentage whose families, like mine, had come out to Africa after the war. The main objective seemed to be to prepare us for married life; further education was not mentioned much. A lot of the girls expected to get married in their twenties and then raise families; this was the general expectation in the 50s.
Being a church school there were nuns, some of whom taught and some who looked after administration and housekeeping. Our headmistress, Sister Ethel Mary, was respected by everyone, feared by most of us as well. She taught the senior classes Divinity but was always around and kept a very strict eye on us. Sister Doris looked after the library and she and I fell out at times about missing library books – and I was always guilty and I never owned up, so she didn’t think much of me. Sister Ruby was the housekeeper, round and jolly looking but not like that really. Sister Lillian Frances taught art and needlework and she was really gifted in both departments. I was neither so I wasn’t of any interest to her.
 
However, she looked after the separate boarding house for first formers – us – so she did know us quite well. There were 18 of us, in two dormitories set at right angles, with the third side of a U shape housing bathrooms and the Matron’s accommodation. Again, there are photos of some of this in my album. We were in Heyman House which sat about 500 yards down from the main school and boarding buildings, so each day we walked back and forth to meals, classes, chapel, sports and anything else. We walked a lot!
I settled into boarding school life without much difficulty. I didn’t miss home as much as Barrie had because I had had a year to get used to the idea. I wasn’t much liked but I had one or two friends who tolerated me and who were willing to partner me on our frequent walks. I liked the routine predictability of school life – it was simple and I knew where I was, most of the time. We were roused at 6.30am, washed and dressed and off up the road to the classrooms where we had about half an hour of prep before breakfast at about 7.30. Meals were all up in the main old building; we ate at long wooden tables seating about a dozen each, with a prefect at the head dishing up the food. The dining hall was open to a roofed veranda; there was no glass separating us from the weather but in heavy rain, huge canvas blinds were lowered on enormous wooden beams. This hardly ever happened as it made the dining hall rather dark and gloomy, so we were open to the weather almost all the time. As it was mostly fairly warm, this worked, and in the hot season when the temperatures were up in the high 30s, the dining hall was a cool relief to be in.
 After breakfast we walked back down to Heyman House, made our beds and got ready for the school day. Back up to the main building where we lined up for Chapel, having been joined by the day girls who were about half the student body.  The Chapel, also whitewashed inside and out, was cool and calm. A brief service followed with a couple of hymns and prayers, then back out into the sunshine and down to the classrooms. The classroom block for Forms 1-5 was recently built of red brick and stood at right angles to the older building where the junior classrooms were. Our rooms were light and spacious and fairly cool with plenty of windows, usually wide open. An open veranda ran right round all the rooms and this was often prowled by Sister Ethel – always knitting! – on the lookout.
Lunch at about 12.45 was followed by a compulsory rest period which meant lying on your bed and reading – blissful. No talking, just resting. Then back up to school for lessons until 3, I think though I can’t remember exactly when. Perhaps 3.30 because then we had a cup of tea and a bun or a piece of seed cake – nothing exciting. We could also access our fruit lockers. These were one of the many extra expenses for parents who agreed to pay for a certain amount of fruit per week for each girl. Some were generous and the girls had large brown paper bags full on the Saturday delivery; others were more modest (like mine) and had 6 or 7 pieces of fruit which might last the week but in my case, usually didn’t.
We had free time until 5.30 when we bathed and changed out of uniform into our own dresses (never trousers) and lined up again for Chapel, after which we had our evening meal. Then, from about 7, we had prep again, in which we did whatever homework we had been given. At first this was only for an hour but as we got older we had longer; 5th form prep lasted until 9pm. I had never taken homework seriously even in Ndola but now it was no problem because we were all doing it at the same time in a silent room with no distractions. When I had finished the actual work I read the Odyssey and the Iliad, Chapman’s English translations which I found in a cupboard, along with anything else readable Nobody had studied Greek or the classics there for a long time and it certainly wasn’t supposed to be my homework but as the books looked like textbooks, I was never questioned.
Finally we walked back down the hill to our beds, Sister Lillian carrying the torch because sometimes it was quite dark. The school was on a quiet street on the outskirts of Bulawayo where there wasn’t much street lighting so the night skies were full of stars; the sun set round about 6pm each day so we had plenty of darkness.
An important discovery on the first Saturday was that you could go to riding school and learn to ride horses. I immediately wrote home a series of begging letters imploring to be allowed to sign up for this and dear Mum and Dad did fork out, for a year, and off I duly went having acquired the necessary jodhpurs and dark brown velvet covered riding hat and a crop, from the uniform suppliers in Bulawayo. (Barrie must have done much the same because by the end of the year we were both able to go riding at stables near home in Ndola.) I was never great shakes at riding but I did learn how sit on a horse and walk, trot and canter and even how not to fall off when going over little jumps. Once in my final year at school I went to spend a weekend with a friend whose home was a tobacco farm outside Bulawayo. It was a marvellous place, beautiful beyond words. On Saturday we got up before dawn and rode their horses out into the bush, surprising a little deer as we passed. After an hour we headed home on a long straight track and began to canter. My horse got faster and faster and was galloping flat out with me hanging on for dear life with both hands knotted in his mane as we approached the cattle grid. He flew over and luckily I stayed on and we slowed down as we got near the house and stables. I was congratulated on my ability but in truth I was terrified and only stayed on because I was more afraid of falling off.
Anyway, life at St Peter’s progressed on, from January 1956 until December 1959. Halfway through my second year, with two others, I was moved up a year into a strange much smaller class who seemed much older and more worldly wise than I was. This was appropriate academically as I was then at the same level as I would have been back in Ndola where pupils did their senior schooling in 4 years, so in due course, we all sat Cambridge School Certificate at the same time. St Peter’s (SPDS) was designed to produce young ladies rather than academics: only 2 girls progressed on to 6th Form studies and university entrance, when I was in my final year. In other ways this promotion was disastrous. I was the youngest boarder in the class by more than a year and it was difficult to befriend the older girls who rarely mixed with the year groups below them on any occasion. It was a lonely time. I coped with the work, gave up Latin and eventually Science as well, struggled with maths but managed English language and French (thanks to starting French in Ndola); I had to catch up with history and geography but quite enjoyed both. Divinity was a shock, being taught by the Head, Sister Ethel. After one very bad end of term result and scathing comments from Sister I applied myself and did better. It wasn’t much fun being ripped off by Sister Ethel Mary!
 

Bulawayo Schooldays
With the girls who had been in the first form when I arrived in 1956, we all moved up into the main building where we slept either in bedrooms with 3,4 or 5 beds, or finally on an open balcony with 26 beds. I have just found some pictures of that balcony, taken by Marian Hall, and am including them in this chapter because I only took photos of Heyman House.
I moved on to this balcony in my third year and at the start of my fourth year, we came back to find that all the old iron bedsteads had been replaced by lower beds with wooden slats under a fairly thin foam mattress. In the winter months it got fiercely cold sleeping in the open air and we could ask for extra blankets if needed. I ended up with 14, 6 underneath me and 8 on top, and even then my feet got cold until I discovered bed socks, which changed my life!  Marian’s picture showed the balcony looking untidier than was ever the case on an ordinary day. She says it was the last Sunday of term so I think we had started to pack our trunks which went on ahead of us to the station. We usually left Bulawayo on Monday evenings. On the right you can see the curtained wooden cubicles which were our only private spaces. You were not allowed to enter another girl’s cubicle. In there were all our possessions, dresses hung across one corner, a cupboard with shelves for everything else and in another corner a triangular washstand with enamel basin and jug. We queued up at a scullery to get hot or cold water for washing and teeth cleaning and did this morning and evening. We were allocated bath times – five minutes each, in four inches of water – and each term you found out if you were bathing early morning or evening, or later in the evening. No showers anywhere.

Balcony Bedroom
This must have been a winter term because in the summer months, your mosquito net hung above your bed until the last day and you slept under it, even if, as sometimes happened, it was torn and holey. You mended it or you got bitten. There were lots of spiders especially in the cubicles which were made of wood stained dark brown so you didn’t see the spiders until they moved. I hated them! You can see the big canvas blinds which we let down if it rained heavily. How we didn’t brain anyone in the confusion of a sudden storm in the middle of the night when the prefects had to leap out and untie the cords, I’ll never know. Prefects were spaced out along the window side; when I was a prefect my bed was the one on the immediate left. The Head Girl was at the end, at right angles.
I enjoyed school life. We had several tennis courts and were taught to play properly by a professional coach for at least one term. Netball was okay if you could get into a team which I sometimes did. My highlight was discovering hockey and finding that I could be very solid in defence and could hit the ball hard.  By my third year I was in the school team and stayed there through the fourth and final year. I loved it, as much for the freedom and space I found on the hockey field as the players on the team who were much friendlier than classmates. In the cooler winter months – June, July and August – we could make up scratch teams of any age; some of our games lasted for hours on free Saturdays. In my final year we were entered into an open league for teams in Bulawayo and often played on pitches that were a lot better than ours, against much older girls – young women – who had left school and just played at weekends. We trained ferociously at school and were much fitter than they were and that year we won the league. Such glory!
Against the other girls’ schools in town we were not so good; they trained as hard as we did and the schools were much bigger so they had much more choice and usually beat us convincingly. Once though we played the team from Evelyn School who were excellent, and held them to a draw. That was almost as good as winning our league.

Field sports, me at front row, right
As the years passed we became aware of other changes around us. Passing the gym on my way to hockey one day I stopped to listen to music I hadn’t heard before. Some girls had a wind-up gramophone and were playing a record that caught my attention like nothing else; other girls stopped as well, equally caught. It was someone we had never heard of with a weird name: Elvis Presley. He was singing ‘Blue suede shoes’. You can’t now imagine how different that was from our usual music which was much the same as the stuff our parents listened to. This was NEW. It was the beginning of Being a Teenager, though by then I was 15. Elvis had recorded the song in January 1956 and I heard it first in 1958, probably because I was quite a late developer! We had little opportunity to keep up with the seismic changes taking place in ‘late childhood’ which is where we were then; ‘teenagers’ as such were only just becoming recognizable. The following quote explains why:-

”Following World War II, there was a baby boom, which brought about some of the first strong youth subcultures in history. In Britain, young people were beginning to turn away from their parents and tradition to create new cultural expression. Among these cultural phenomenon were the Teddy Boys. This group of delinquent young men dressed in ‘Edwardian’ clothing that introduced anarchy into British society and used early American rock and roll as their battle call. The idea of a youth culture was further being developed by a quickly widening generation gap. The generation gap theory claimed that the younger generation's aspect of society was evolving at a higher rate than their parents after the war due to young people’s natural ability to overcome strife. This gap created a cultural schism between children and their elders in respect to music and style.” [2]
This refers to what happened in the UK and it took longer to affect us in Rhodesia though never to the extent of young people in Swinging London in the 60s. I did get that experience eventually, long after I had left school.
We wrote our final school leaving exams in November which was the end of the dry season and almost unbearably hot, even with every window open. We had to go to one of the other big schools for girls in Bulawayo, Townsend I think it was, so that large numbers of us could be supervised at a time. On the worst days we had a 3 hour exam in the morning, a brief break for lunch then another 3 hour session in the afternoon. These were all written papers. You only submitted practical work in art or needlework, neither of which were my subjects. We were shattered when it was all over. It was almost time to leave school for good as none of our year were coming back to do university entrance. Because we were such a small class – only 9 boarders – the usual school leaving dance wasn’t held.
We didn’t make that decision but somebody did, probably the Head. So there was no particular ceremony to mark the occasion; we just left.
On the journey home when we stopped at Livingstone Station after crossing the Falls, we always spent time on the platform looking at the African carvings for sale, laid out on the ground all along the length of the train. We very rarely bought anything because we never had much money but on that one journey, another girl picked up a little carved buck and pointed out how good it was. It cost one shilling (perhaps about £1 today) which was all I had left, so I bought it. I have it still, on my dressing table. I should have given it to her but I wasn’t generous, and didn’t.
After leaving, I heard from the school twice. When I got my first pay packet I sent a postal order for £5 which was a huge amount for me, to the school, towards a book for the library. Former pupils did this and the school had a very good library as a result. I had a letter back from Sister Ethel who wrote very formally to Pamela, thanking me but with no warmth or enthusiasm; she wasn’t impressed with me, ever.
Later, the exam results were published. I had done well, better than expected, getting the best results of the class. Sister Ethel wrote to me again to tell me, this time calling me Pam and writing a much nicer letter with news of how others had done as well as my own results; everyone had passed and the two girls writing their Highers had both got them too. My name would go up on the Honours Boards in the main entrance hall where we lined up for meals every day, and it would be the first name of our year. So in the end we were all happy.

Chapter 13: Life after school
Whilst I had been away (and Barrie too), we had moved home and now lived about four miles from the town centre, at 30 Cumberland Crescent in the new suburb of Kansenji. Mum had become Secretary at Kansenji Primary School nearby, a job she loved and in which she did very well, being much liked by staff, children and parents. She was on holiday for most of our holidays so her job hadn’t made much difference to us. Al was about to start his final year at primary school and was also at Kansenji. Barrie was still in Cape Town at University where he had an enjoyable four years mainly devoted to playing rugby and being a stylish Man about Town. Dad seemed to be happy working with Jim Lafferty; I still went sailing with him at the weekends. Jim’s wife Patience (Patie) had started training as a librarian before the war but joined the WRENS and never went back to qualify. However, she had worked in a big public library in London so she had had good experience. In 1960 she was in charge of Ndola Public Library and she offered me a chance to come in over the busy Christmas period and help out until the end of December. So I had a job.
I had intended to become a journalist and through Dad’s contacts in the town (he was President of Rotary for a while), there was an opening for me as a trainee on the Northern News, our daily newspaper. This wasn’t due to start until January so I could take the library offer. As I had been a keen library user for many years I was very happy to work there, in a pleasant situation close to town, with people I liked, being treated as an adult. And paid!
In January the library advertised for a permanent junior library assistant and I got the job. Patie pointed out that I was in the habit of studying for exams and I could start to do the same for a career in librarianship, by correspondence from the British Library Association, so I did, though still not quite sure how I had ended up in a library instead of a newspaper office.

 
I turned 17 that April and in due course, with the help of various boyfriends, I learned to drive and passed my test. At that point Mum had a Hillman Minx and she was very good about letting me use it to get to and from work. As I was still quite fit from school I also rode my bike the 4 miles there and back which aroused a bit of interest because most Europeans used cars, Africans mainly walked or rode bikes; I found out in due course that quite a lot of people had noticed me riding around.  Most shops and offices, the library included, closed between 12.30 and 2pm, so Dad often picked me up by car to drive me home for lunch, usually followed by a rest; in the extreme heat at the end of the dry season this was an essential break for everyone, the equivalent of a siesta in Spain. The dry season was from April to October/November so we often went 8 months without rain. Then for about 4 months it rained almost every day so that we had about 50” of rainfall in a good year. I didn’t ride in the rain! While it was actually raining nobody did very much because the rain came suddenly and heavily, then stopped and the sun came out and everything steamed, and everyone came out from shelter and carried on going. I didn’t possess a coat or an umbrella until I was 20.
I became involved with the youth group attached to St Andrew’s Church. We played badminton twice a week and I got very keen on badminton. There was a lively meeting after church on Sunday evenings with a circle of young people who were fun to be with. I made particular friends with Eileen and Jim who later married, and with whom both Callum and I are still friendly. Eileen was from Yorkshire and her father was the Head at the school where Mum worked; Jim was Scottish and I always enjoyed his sense of humour. My first Valentine card came from him though it was ages before I worked that out.
Several times we all went off camping together, once to a farm not very far from home, another time to Victoria Falls over the Easter weekend, and another time right up north to a Scottish mission station in the middle of the bush. The missionaries tolerated a group of about 20 young people with remarkable patience and good humour and we remained friendly with some of them for some years afterwards.
We also took part in various services at the church, including teaching Sunday School classes, which put an end to my sailing with Dad on Sunday mornings. That was sad because I did enjoy sailing but I was growing up and moving away, and friends came first. Towards the end of this period a young man joined the group; he was living and working in Kitwe at a place called Mindolo Ecuminical Centre but was about to move to Ndola and start work there so he drove over once or twice a week and joined us. He was a bit older than most, nine years older than me, so out of my league at that point. We did work together on a Sunday evening service for which we were entirely responsible. He led the service and by some arrangement I did the talk, and the whole event went off very well. I lost touch with him after that for a while; he seemed very English and I was very much a colonial settler so again, there was quite a gap. His name was Michael Kitch.
I routinely studied every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, closeted in the dining room while Mum, Dad, Barrie and Alistair (when home from Falcon) watched television in the lounge. TV had just arrived in the country and we had a black and white set which showed mainly old American cowboy and detective series which the men loved but which I could happily do without. I hardly ever watched it. Instead, I signed up to a classical music record club and every month got recordings of classics, which I played after the TV went off at 10pm and the others went to bed.
I passed the first library exam after a year, then started the first of four parts of the Registration exam course, with English literature between 1800-1900 as my first subject. The second part covered Cataloguing and Classification which I struggled with over the following year. At that point the Library Association decided to stop offering training by correspondence but instead, said that those of us ‘in the pipeline’ could apply for places in UK library schools. After much debate in the family, I applied for a place at North West Poly in London. I was waiting for the results of my third year exam, which if I passed would get me halfway to qualifying as a librarian. I loved the work, enjoyed meeting so many people in a well-used public library and was excited at the thought of attending college in Swinging London (though it was only just beginning to swing – that came slightly later. But I was twenty and felt ready for new experiences). I was sad to leave Africa but I was only going to be away for two years and would come home – I hoped – fully qualified. The Council supported my need to go and agreed to keep a library post open for me on my return.
In June 1963, Mum and I, together with Mum’s friend Maureen Barclay and one of her four daughters, Fiona, set off for the UK.
We travelled by train down to Cape Town and then embarked on the Union Castle ship The Transvaal, for the fortnight voyage to England. The ship had been launched the previous year so she was very new. She carried about 780 passengers and for the first time amongst Union Castle ships, she just had one class of passengers, no First Class, Second Class or other passengers – we were all the same class. (This is normal practice now on cruise ships but it wasn’t then, and caused quite a stir). The following year she was rechristened S.A. Vaal.

RMS Transvaal Castle
I hadn’t sailed on a ship before though of course Mum had; we both had a wonderful time. There are some pictures of that voyage; one shows Mum and I, Maureen and Fiona meeting the Captain. Another shows Fiona (as Death) and me (as Life) at the Fancy Dress dance. The one I like best if of me dressed as a tramp. To Mum’s dismay I asked one of the deckhands if he could find a pair of jeans for me to wear – he did – but Mum thought that I shouldn’t fraternise with lowly deck hands. Oh dear. She was still being colonial in her attitudes. It didn’t bother me; after all, he was a white man wasn’t he? I had a lot to learn! I also made discoveries with a young officer who took me down to his quarters. More learning!
 
Well that’s it! More to come? What do you think?


[1] Wikipedia, 2017. Ndola: History.
[2] britishrock.weebly.com/
[1] On Dad’s Birth Certificate it states that my grandparents had married on March 27th 1907, in the Parish of Cathcart. There is a photo of my grandparents in the album showing them examining a card congratulating them on being married for 50 years – the date on the accompanying envelope is 1957.
2 Not to be confused with Govan, then a large Burgh, further downstream on the River Clyde.
[2] Cotton Street was close to Gauze Street and Mill Street. Paisley had had great cotton mills.

[3] Uncle Bill married Rosemary: their children were twin daughters Pat and Rosemary, born about 1936/7, and son Bill, born about 1945. He became the theatre director Bill Alexander (there was already a Scottish actor called Bill Paterson, and Alexander was Young Bill’s middle name). He directed plays at Stratford-on-Avon for many years.
Uncle Andrew married Dorothy: they had Adrienne, born 1941, Catriona known as Kay, born 1946 and Neil, born about 1949.
Uncle Bert married May Miller; they had Craig, one day older than me; Robert, two years younger, and Agnes known as Ena, Alistair’s age.
Uncle David married May; they had David, born about 1938, Renee known as Robyn, born about 1940, and Fraser, born about 1948.
Pat married Johnny; they had Catherine, born about 1952, and Ian, born about 1954.
[4] The Wanderers’ Club still thrives and is often the venue for international sporting events – rugby, cricket, golf amongst others. It has enormous grounds, impressive viewed from above. Check on Google.
[5] Act 3, Scene 1. Act 1, Scene 2.
[6] Litolff - Scherzo from Concerto Symphonique No. 4 in D minor, Op. 102