I didn’t explain about my sister staying on in Weymouth after we left. My grandfather lived there and so she stayed with him at weekends. During the school week, she stayed with great friends of my parents. They had three daughters; the eldest was Roseanne, who was the same age as Wink. Vicky was the same age as me and Sally was in the middle. The parents were Richard and Maureen. The arrangement worked well, it seems – as I said, Wink was happy at school and at her temporary homes and so was everyone else, but there wasn’t any real reason for her to stay at that school in the long term, so she came back to join us.
There aren’t all that many people I remember from the days I lived in Weymouth and, any that I do were all people I knew later. I had a nursemaid called Violet, but I don’t remember her at all. My mother worked full-time, and then some, in the hotel during the summer and she couldn’t look after me too. There was a waiter who apparently adored babies and often looked after me. It sounded as if he really missed his home life. He had sisters and baby nephews and nieces and he used to help with washing and ironing and so on – my mum was embarrassed because of underwear, but he said it reminded him of home, his sisters and mum. He used to take a piece of cloth and wrap it round baby Z and himself and carry me round for hours. He said babies love being swaddled as it makes them secure and they can hear the heartbeat of the one carrying them.
Opposite the hotel was a row of cottages and, in one of them, lived a retired couple. She was known as Auntie Carter and he was Uncle Tom Carter – of course, in those days, all grown-up friends of parents were honorary uncles and aunts. Since I didn’t have too many relations, this didn’t seem odd to me. Uncle Tom Carter was a retired policeman. That picture “Nine Pints of the Law’ – they had a print of it hanging on the wall. As a child, I assumed it was the original and very funny. I remember very little about Auntie Carter, but she was something of a mother figure to my mum, who had never had one, to remember. There was one story, though, about her.
When she was a child, she lived quite near Thomas Hardy, the writer. Auntie Carter (I have no idea what her first name was) used to meet him, out walking with her mother, quite regularly. Auntie C was tall, even as a girl, a lot taller than her mum. Every single time they met, Thomas Hardy cracked the same joke – “You’re a naughty girl, to look down on your mother.” Yeah. Passable once only. Still, a lot more cheerful than any of his books.
Mr Dyke was the hotel pastry chef. They kept key staff on during the winter, even when the hotel was shut and, as he’d been a loyal member of staff for all the years they were there, my parents bought him a guest house – an outright gift – when they left. When we went back to visit my grandfather, we always stayed there. He also made us a huge Christmas pudding and iced Christmas cake every year, which no one enjoyed – far too rich and dark, yet rather dry. I don’t know how he managed it, because I like both now. Anyway, he was a lovely man with a white moustache and we were all fond of him. Sadly, when he decided to retire and sold the guest house, he went to a financial manager who gave him dreadful advice and he was persuaded to invest his money in something speculative and lost the lot. He was terribly embarrassed to tell my father about it.
Here are some photos – the first two are my sister and me as babies (and this isn’t the first time I’ve posted them) – there are very few photos of me, being the younger. As my mother used to put it, I was bonny but Wink was beautiful, and I can’t deny it at all. She wasn’t being unkind or off-putting, simply truthful. The third photo is, I think, taken in Uncle Tom and Auntie Carter’s house.