Happy Birthday Fiona
It is Fiona’s birthday today and it was 40 years ago when she was born at St Mary’s nursing home in Beaconsfield, in the mid-afternoon. She was the first and last sibling to be born in England, Diana and myself having been born in Hargeisa in Somaliland and Richard having been born in Beirut in Lebanon. We had spent a year or so living in Bangkok after Beirut before the family arrived in England. We lived in a rented hosue in Merrow, near Guildford in Surrey for a few months while my parents looked for a house to buy, somewhere convenient for my Dad’s work at the Anti-Locust Research Centre in a street just off High Street Kensington. They chose, very wisely it turned out to buy a detached house in an estate which was being built in Beaconsfield, at the edge of the town next to some extensive beech woods and fields. The station was about a 12-15 minute walk and the train came into London at Marylebone, from where a couple of tubes, the Bakerloo Line to Edgware Road and the Circle Line from there to High Street Kensington. The journey would have taken probably a little over an hour, much like the commute I have nowadays, although I save time on the walk to the station by riding my bike.
The house was really a very lovely house, with dark wooden floors, wooden cladding on colourful bricks, big windows, a quarter acre south facing garden, with a hawthorn hedge, with mountain ash and an oak tree at the back. The kitchen was too small to have a table in, but there was a nice sized dining room next door with a glass door out to the paved stone patio, which then led to the lounge, across the width of the house. Further there was a large entrance hall with a lovely staircase and a study room at the front. Upstairs, four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The neighbours were almost all similar middle class families with children around our age. A great place to grow up in many ways. A pity that Beaconsfield did not have many good schools beyond the Beaconsfield High School for Girls.
But back to Fiona….. It was a nice day ion the summer holidays, and for some reason we were treated to a visit to Beconskot, the model village with an extensive train system. It is Beaconsfield’s biggest attraction (apart from the pubs in the old town) and we just happened to go there on the day on which Fiona was born. I can’t exactly remember of Mum came with us or not, but it was soon after we got back that she went to the nursing home. Again, I do not know who was looking after us while Mum was giving birth, and presumably, Dad was at the home, (I think it might have been Granny Mac) but I do know that we were allowed to go to the nursing home and look through the window and see Mum and our new baby sister! When I close my eyes, this is the image I have, but I am not exactly sure if that was how it was.
And here she is 40 years on, with a lovely son of her own, living in London and running a shop, celebrating her birthday just 25 miles away from where she was born! The plan is to go together to a Thai Restaurant near her home with some of her friends. Mum is coming down as are Diana and the boys and I am going to make a surprise appearance, as I did not tell her I was coming having only arranged a reasonably priced train journey to London from Rotterdam, changing at Brussels (back in Belgium again!). Just a pity Richard is not going to be there… unless he is going to surprise us all…