Married, 3 children, 5 grandchildren
“In the summer of 1966, my Mother, brother and I were visiting my maternal grandparents in England and, for the first time, my Father joined us from Canada for a family holiday part of which was spent in London. Tom’s Father and mine had been friends since 1942 when they met in the Czech Free Army and our Mothers had known each other as well, meeting just after the war. They had all kept in touch after they scattered around the globe, one couple ending up in Canada and the other in India. Tom’s family invited us for Sunday lunch whilst we were in London and that is the first time Tom and I met. We all eight (I have a brother and Tom a sister) sat around the table over roast lamb with all the trimmings with a father at either end listening to their stories of life in the peculiar organisation that was the CFA and roaring with laughter. It was a very happy occasion. I remember being impressed with Tom partly because he spoke French and German apparently effortlessly and partly because he was completely unembarrassed by having to explain the idiosyncratic characteristics of the chain which flushed the loo and lastly because he seemed to read as obsessively as I although very different genres. I was 15 and he was 17 and the whole afternoon is suffused with sunshine and fun. We certainly got along well and I suspect our younger sibs were a little fed up with us by the end of the afternoon.
We met again in 1967, again only for one long afternoon but this time at my home in Ottawa, Canada and then there was a definite frisson of attraction and I know that this time my brother and his sister felt rather left to their own devices. Another Sunday lunch and another day of sunshine and laughter but with the added spice of sexual speculation! Tom was a rather brash, self-confident 18 and I a completely inexperienced 16. Romance was in the air….. but they went back to the UK the next day! And we never wrote…….
The next encounter was in December 1972 and the rest is history!!”
“Our fathers were in the army together in the 2nd World War and became best friends, so the two families have known each other for more than 70 years.
After the war, my family went to India, and Karen’s went to Canada, but the two families kept in touch.
We first met in 1966. when her family came to London on holiday and we spent a day together – she was 15, I was 17.
We met again the following year, when we were on holiday in Canada, and again we spent just a day together.
In 1972, when Karen had finished university, she and a girlfriend took a ‘gap year’ to travel in Europe. When they got to London, the girlfriend went to stay with her godparents, and Karen came to stay with my family. My Mum said ‘Karen is coming to stay with us for a few days. I want you to make sure she has a really good time while she’s here, but please remember, she’s the daughter of your father’s oldest friend, and BEHAVE YOURSELF!’
One sunny Saturday morning, I answered the front door, and there she was. I hadn’t seen her for 5 years, since she was 16, and WOW, had she changed! I was instantly completely smitten!
I didn’t behave myself, of course, and after only two weeks of spending every waking moment together (and some not-so-waking, too) I told her I wanted to marry her. She said ‘don’t be so ridiculous’. I said ‘I really mean it’ – and I did!
Her stay in London, which was supposed to have been a few days, turned into 6 weeks, but eventually Joan, the girlfriend, persuaded Karen that they must continue their travels around Europe, and they left. I have never been much of a correspondent, but I think that during the 4 months they were gone, I must have written to her more than 30 times. She still has the letters. She came back, of course, and we moved in together immediately, but it took another 3 years before she said ‘yes’…..”