Dogs and children

Before I carry on with the garden, here’s a quick update on the people and dogs in yesterday’s photo – this one –

My sister is back row, left, with Simon on her lap. John is next to her and his little brother George is between them. Huckleberry is looking over John’s shoulder and Aline is the girl in the plaid skirt.

In the front row, Bess and I are laughing. Pearson and my mother are holding Kipper between them and Jess is in front, looking back at them.

Dogs first, obviously. Simon and Bess are the parents of the other three dogs. Simon is a mongrel, a real Heinz 57 varieties dog. Bess is a pedigree black labrador, who was adopted by us because she was a failed gundog – terrified of loud noises, there wasn’t much hope for her in her intended career. I was, unfortunately, responsible for her and Simon getting together, but I was only a little girl and, when told not to let Bess out, didn’t appreciate that this also meant not letting Simon in. I was brought up to obey dogs, how was I to know? There were seven puppies and we kept Huck, our neighbours took Kipper and Jess went to the gardener. Another dog went to an employee of Kipper’s owner and was called Bloater (Mr Catchpole owned a fishing fleet) but I don’t know who took the others. They were given away to kind people, my mother would have made sure of that. At this time, we only had the three dogs, but this changed over the years.

The two boys, John and George, came to stay with us for two summer holidays. They lived in very poor conditions in Stratford, north London and it was arranged through the WRVS as a welfare thing. John was the eldest of four and George the youngest; the two middle children, whom I never met, were Paul and …. Mary. It was the 1960s and you can guess what her nickname was. They were very nice kids, John was my age and George was five – I think I’d have been nine in this picture, going to be ten in the September.

Pearson Clark was my mother’s godson. His family had got to know my parents at the hotel, when they were guests and made friends with them. My parents often invited guests they liked to have dinner with them in their flat. They lived in Basingstoke, I think – I should know – and Pearson came to spend the summer holidays with us for several years. He was also my age.

Aline Clerk (pronounced Clairk, of course) was a French girl, who came to us as an exchange student. She was my sister’s age and the families made friends. Her younger sister Pascal came to stay too and Wink went to visit them in Paris. She was very lucky, as they holidayed in Nice and she went there with them too. I remember her coming home and saying that she didn’t think she’d ever bathe in the North Sea again, after the Mediterranean. And that she enthused about the pistachio ice cream, which was far more exotic than anything available here.

And, of course, my pretty mum, Jane. She’d have been in her late thirties here.

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