My second Wife Wendy. Spent the last year of her life in a care home.
I was with her all day, and we talked about growing up Chertsey.
In 1940 I remember Wendy, she was like an American child film star, very pretty, but a bit shy. I was smitten.
I saw her every day through the war, at school or out playing.
Just before I joined the RAF in 1950 I asked her be my pen pal, but she ignored me.
Now here we are swapping stories, they were very similar but told from a different point of view.
One story Wendy remembered, was when her dad rushed into the house saying “some little buggers have set light to Stanford’s fields and the fire engine had been called.”
Wendy and the whole family ran down to see the blaze, only to find a steaming tree trunk and no sign of the fire engine.
My version of that day was when Teddy Bolton came round to mine, with an old pram filled with paper, some firewood and a few lumps of coal. He asked me to help him go to Stanford’s fields to see if we could set light to the old hollow willow tree. I was not very keen, but as it is stated in my school reports, I am easily led.
We packed the hollow trunk with the stuff we bought with us, and soon had a nice blaze.
We ran back and climbed up on the tall transformer outside my house, to see the action.
It was hardly worth the effort, it was all over in minutes, we just sat and watched all the kids running down the road to see the fire, probably Wendy and her sisters among them, and that was it.
One of Wendy’s stories that I remember too—I was in the playground—she was taken ill at school. Her teacher, Miss Payne, took her to the doctors. She had some spots on her body, she remembers the bike ride and the big black felt hat Miss Payne wore, and that it was covered in white chalk from the blackboard.
When the nurse told her that she had German measles she thought she would have little German swastikas all over her body, and it was something the bombers had dropped to make us all German.
One of my stories made Wendy sit up and listen intently.
I had just come home from school, and was quietly listening to Mrs Salmon as she was telling mum a bit of gossip.
Now and then they would go into a special language, it consisted of moving their lips without emitting any sound (my sister said it was gum talk and only used by grown ups).
Mrs. Salmon said a policeman had been called by a neighbour, because Wendy’s four year old sister had been attacked, by someone.
Wendy told me her dad had been questioned, but nothing came of it. She thought that something must have happened though, as he often exposed himself to the girls.
In 2012 I was invited to an art exhibition in Chichester by my school friend Maureen, she said we could drop to see her friend who lived there and had recently lost her husband.
As soon as I walked into the room I thought Maureen’s friend looked familiar, and after a few words I realised it was Wendy, she could not recall me, but she did remember my handsome brother.
A few weeks of driving down to Chichester, and 72 years after I fell in love with her, at the age of eight, Wendy finally became my girl friend.
I proposed to her 6 months later—at our age, 78 and 80 you can’t hang around and we married in 2012.
I told everyone we had to get married, this didn’t seem to please her much though.
We had an 18 month honeymoon and never stopped laughing.