Memoire started November 2016
Where do I start? What do I cover? Places I’ve been to? People I’ve come across? Do I include photos? How much detail? Where do I stop?
There’s stuff about my childhood in Georgie’s Causeway thanks to a good memory of those days and to Mum’s faithfully filled baby book which may have prompted the memory of course.
There weren’t many reviews of my book, but one did describe it as a memoire. As the cover suggests, I thought of it as a history of the Giant’s Causeway.
Here goes on the memoire.
If you are really curious to know where I came from in genealogical terms, I have tried to compile a record of all relatives in Family Tree Maker, but it’s an old version which does not seem to want to print interesting things like Jossie’s cousins. Some 3 000 names in there.
In brief, on the Kane side, I have traced back 10 generations to Brian Ballough O’Cahne “of Ardahanin” which is where I was brought up – the Giant’s Causeway. He died in 1629.
On the Smith side, I think we go back to the lowlands of Scotland in the military. Andrew Smith was born in 1703. There was a marriage with the Rewcastle family in Gateshead in the north of England. That line goes back to 1696. A Bertram married a Rewcastle and they had a daughter, Jessie, who married George Smith in Belfast in 1822. (My first cousin is Norma Bertram Kilpatrick). The Bertrams were well-to-do merchants in Gateshead and came originally from Scotland.
Catherine Campbell c.1903. She married FA Kane. This was taken in Edinburgh, probably shortly before she went to Bushmills. She seems to have worked for her future mother-in-law, Mary Jane Kane, in what is now the Bushmills Inn.
Granny Kane with (probably) my Uncle Fred in 1906. She used to buy her hats in Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. She was extremely kind to all, gave me money collected from the car park outside the bar at the Royal Hotel – and chocolate biscuits from a big tin in the store room with Inglis the baker’s name. She believed that a Spanish Armada galleon had foundered near the Causeway and would walk the shore looking for gold coins that might have washed up from it. She was proved right many years later when the Girona was discovered in Port na Spaniagh. She loved backing horses! The marriage took place in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The Smiths were prosperous farmers near Belfast before my great grandfather (the above George. Died 1900) bought land at Brown’s Bay, Islandmagee. Cragoran (built 1876) and Inisreen are the names of the houses his two sons (Charles and Edward) built there and my second cousin, Charles Smith lives in Cragoran and farms there.
I was to have been christened Francis Edward Victor, Francis after my maternal grandfather, Frank Kane; Edward after my paternal grandfather, Edward Coey Smith; and Victor after a Royal Air Force fighter pilot called Victor Beamish. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Beamish). Because my father died shortly after my birth, I was given his name. This is an extract from my baby book:
He was very good and gave them a lovely smile.
Note in passing that I am the eldest grandchild of Edward Coey Smith and through the intestacy of my father and bad advice to EC Smith regarding the need to alter his will in terms of which my father was to have inherited all his estate, double death duties were paid. My grandfather died in 1944, 16 months after my father who died when I was 15 days old. The family farm and most of the wealth passed to my Uncle Norman, a matter of some resentment especially to my mother. I need to record that Norman’s widow, Norah, offered Inisreen to me in about 1990 for a bargain price of £10 000, about a tenth of its value. Having settled in Johannesburg and being unable to come up with the money, I had to decline. But the point had been made.
My first home was 15 New Road, Donaghadee, County Down, the house being the residence that went with the medical practice. (My father was a highly qualified doctor). My mother’s oldest brother, the then unmarried Fred, also a doctor, offered her a roof at Purdysburn Fever Hospital where he was the top man. It was never going to work: he was meticulous and simply not cut out for babies among his antiques. (He did marry, but had no issue). I would then have been 3 months and my sister, Noreen, must have had her second birthday at Purdysburn.
My mother’s parents were running the two hotels at the Giant’s Causeway where The Nook, the former school house, was used as an overflow for unexpected guests. Grandfather Kane had it done up for the three Smiths (as Mum always referred to us) and we moved in. Must have been 1943. Mum had been married for less than 4 years and it was hardly surprising that the local folk addressed her as “Miss Kane” and mail came to The Nook with Mrs Kane Smith on the envelope, a factor that influenced me when I adopted the hyphen in 1966 by deed poll.
I went to school in Bushmills (styled Bushmills Public Elementary School) from the age of 4. The desks had ink wells. We got free milk in small bottles. It was a time of post-war rationing and we’d go across the border into “the Free State,” as the 26 counties were called to buy shoes and pullovers, things that you couldn’t get with the UK “coupons.” Sometimes Mum took us in the wee Austin 7; sometimes we took the bus which stopped at The Nook en route from Portrush to Ballycastle and vice versa. And in summer we’d even cycle, me on an upright largish tricycle! In those days there were very few cars on the road and invariably you knew almost everyone who had one.
In the garden in front of The Royal Hotel, directly above The Nook. That’s Noreen.
These were happy days. Noreen and I played with the Douglas girls next door in the schoolmistress’s house and with those of our age staying in the hotels. We had the run of the fields down to the burn, the strand at Black Rock, the farm and the gardens. I was close to the Causeway guides and used to go out with them in their boats when they took tourists to the caves and landed them on the actual causeway. You will get more on this in Georgie’s Causeway.
Noreen and I shared a pony called Flash. She produced a foal we called Skye. We’d ride to the hunt (Route Hunt – harriers), one of us on a bike. In those days, the farm, like the garden, was a fully functioning one and we were able to stable Flash in the farm buildings. Uncle Colin was very good to us.
I had a year off school because I contracted pleurisy. (I was “behind” at school anyway: it was much later in life I realised that I wasn’t just a slow learner, rather I had classic Attention Deficit Disorder or whatever you call it nowadays). I must have been very ill as I had a near-death experience, looking down on myself in bed from the corner ceiling – very vivid. Part of the recovery from TB or pleurisy involved going to Wengen in Switzerland where co-incidentally Pam’s parents were staying (as they did every year). I think that was 1949. I remember helping Pam’s grandfather ring the bell in the church there.
My father was a single figure handicap golfer. The cup was probably won at Larne Golf Club, Islandmagee, and he is standing in front of Inisreen, the Edward Smith family home. The attractive lady is/ was Angus Campbell’s wife, Hazel, who lived to be 100. Angus was Mum’s cousin. Hazel was at Liz Slazenger’s wedding at Powerscourt.
My paternal grandfather, Edward Coey Smith built Inisreen and was Chairman of the Antrim County Council from 1942 till his death in 1944. I remember Uncle Charles, his older brother, had a beard too and it was a family tradition. Their father was a close friend of Sir Edward Coey https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Coey .And there is a walking stick in the hall with his crest on it. It was given to me by my father’s cousin, Jessie Gilmour (neé Smith).
Sarah Hill, my paternal grandmother. She lived to be 95. The land at Temple Effin, Whitehead came to the Three Smiths from the estate of Edward Coey Smith. It was in her Hill family for many years. I think it was 112 acres originally when it passed to my mother in 1944. My mother then formed a trust with the land in it for the benefit of the Three Smiths. We used to collect the rent from some 15 labourers’ cottages and the fields were let to a local farmer.
At her Jordanstown home in about 1964 so she would have been about 93 when this was taken. She always wore the widow’s weeds (black clothing) reflecting her Victorian upbringing; and she always had a ten shilling note for Noreen and me when we went to see her. Noreen, Michael and I were at her funeral and she is buried in the Islandmagee graveyard near the prominent one where my father lies – front row to the left with the biggest tombstone. The Hill grave is further away from the road.
She was looked after by a live-in “minder” called Edith.
She left me £50 in her will, most of her estate going to David’s mother, Auntie Edie, my father’s sister. Uncle Norman, being a CA, handled her estate. I think her mother died young, and granny was brought up by “Aunt M’Crae”. That name will be familiar as the name of the road leading through the Whitehead fields to the golf club – M’Crae’s Brae. Sorry I don’t have a more definite link than that.
She was born in August 1871.
Francis Alexander Kane, my maternal grandfather, a prince mason. His masonic medal in gold is about the only item in the safe!
You’ll get an idea of the character he was in my book.
Granny Kane came from Skye. Kindness and compassion marked her life. And she had a 19 inch waist, a great sense of humour, a love of backing horses. She met “the Boss” Kane when she took a job at the hotel in Bushmills owned by Mary Jane Kane, my great grandmother. It’s now the well-known Bushmills Inn.
My mother’s generosity of spirit knew no bounds. Mrs George was the resident housekeeper for the hotels. After about 35 years of service and having no relatives, Mum took the decision to allow her to live in the Nook in her retirement. We moved to Black Rock Cottage, in the trees less than a mile away near the beach. The rental income from Mrs George fell well short of what Mum was paying Sir Malcolm Macnaghten, but it was a good cause. Mrs George lies in the Kane grave in Billy churchyard.
It was in 1952, while we were in Black Rock, that Mum took a job running a hotel called Magherymore House just south of Wicklow town. On the journey south, we went to the Waterfall at Powerscourt, a place in later years to have a big part in Noreen’s life. The furniture went into storage, Noreen went to Howell’s School, Denbigh, north Wales, and I went to the newly opened Brook House, a prep school in the English tradition in Dublin.
Wengen with Noreen. More on Wengen later.
Fast forward to 1954, and Mum bought a house at 76 Strand Road, Portstewart. (Strangely, Noreen’s niece, Emma Slazenger, now lives there). Mrs George was still in The Nook. Mum moved back there in 1962.
Do you believe in predestination? On the right is a photo, probably taken in 1947. It’s at Portstewart Strand, an unusual place for us to go. That’s me on Noreen’s right. Don’t know who the little boy is.
What is strange is that the house above Noreen’s head (the one on the right of the two “semis”) is the house mentioned above – 76 Strand Road.
Prophetic or what?
I benefitted from the attention a small school provided. I won the Victor Ludorum when I was 11 and did just enough scholastically to pass my Common Entrance exam into Sedbergh, the school both my father and his brother, Norman, had been to. It was then in Yorkshire, ten miles from anywhere and known to some as the Eton of the north. It was founded in 1525 and had 400 boys when I first went there in January 1956. Like my father, I was in School House.
Noreen and me in1948 in front of the schoolmistress’s house. The Royal Hotel is in the background. The Nook is just out of shot to the left.
Below left Magherymore.
The first edition of the Brook House Chronicle is dated 25th October 1954. I didn’t win in 1955 but my great friend Robin Thompson did!
1954. A poet and didn’t know it. Sent to me in 2018 by Robin.
Mary Jane Kane, born Sinclair, was my great grandmother. She died in April 1904 and was the power behind the burgeoning hotel business.
Dr George Smith, my father. He was Frank Kane’s bridge partner at Royal Portrush Golf Club – and played rugby for Larne and his cap is in the cupboard! The letters after his name were MD, BSc, and DPH.
I was lucky to get into Sedbergh. I must have just done enough to pass what was called the Common Entrance exam, but the clincher was probably whatever head master (Peter Ross) said in his report which would have extoled my sporting achievements, duly exaggerated, no doubt, my the fact that it was a small school. Being the son of an old boy would have carried some weight as well.
In January 1956 there I was, the most junior boy in the school and placed behind all the others who must have performed better than me in the exam. Bottom of Form I. Seated in assembly at the very back of the hall and the last to file out when rollcall was held. We had a role of the entire school with a calendar called the brown book, produced every term. That January 1956, the last name in it was Smith, GEV (SH). But two years later, I was the youngest (and lowest on seniority rated by one’s form and position in it) to be awarded House Colours (for rugby). I won a couple of prizes (for History) and the books are bound in brown leather and embossed in gold with the school crest. I had “m2” after my name in the brown book, denoting the award of two merits for good work.
C.1947 with Noreen on the lawn at the side of the Causeway Hotel – where the Information Centre is now.
The Headmaster was also my house master. His name was Thornley, so Prick was the obvious nickname.
I was “admitted” by George MacLeod MC DD (Iona Community) (Peerage in 1967: Lord MacLeod of Fuinary) which reminds me that at lunch in School House one day I was seated opposite the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, (Baron Ramsey of Canterbury, PC ). That was in 1961 when I was Head of House. Prick usually brought distinguished visitors to sample the lunch we boys were served. I seem to recall telling His Grace that I was a Presbyterian.
The Times, 26th Oct 1960.
The reception was at the Causeway Hotel on the 21st September 1938. The carpet is now in the dining room at Noreen’s house, The Waterfall, Powerscourt. Phyllis Siggins is the bridesmaid on the left. She married Irish rugby captain and British Lions manager, Jack Siggins. She did not drink, so Uncle Colin referred to her as “Fill-us-up-another-one.” Both fathers were Justices of the Peace.
The venue for the wedding reception as it looked in about 1932.Tennis and croquet were played on the lawn in the foreground.
With my mother “down the Causeway” c.1949
The house colours impressed the rugby masters, one of whom had had an Irish trial as a scrum-half when just 17. Soon I was in the third XV, promoted quickly to “the firsts,” getting my colours in 1959. A highlight was playing on the Close at Rugby where the William Webb Ellis plaque stands. Got a cutting from The Times with a report on the game and me shown at full back.
We had the fagging system, canings by prefects and cold baths every morning. And we wore shorts year round. Translated, the school moto is A Stern Nurse of Men.
I seemed a certainty for Head of School, as my contemporaries would confirm, but the Head Master disapproved of my liking for another house master’s daughter, and I never got beyond Head of House. She was banished to the south of England.
I had thought of following my father’s footsteps into medicine, but I found the sciences tough and English, French and History to my liking. My GCE “A” levels are in History and English – enough to get me into Trinity College, Dublin in September 1961.
Photo of Brook House Head Boy.
The high point of my rugby career came that same year when I played my one and only game of senior rugby for Trinity – sadly not more than about 20 minutes of it! It was against Cork Constitution with two British Lions in their side, Tom Kiernan and Noel Murphy. Murphy’s boot came in contact with my skull and I regained consciousness in Baggot Street Hospital. Both the aforementioned were at my bedside.
No subs were allowed in those days.
Noreen was starting her third year of medicine when I got there. She’d got in on her 11 “O” levels. Seating for lectures in the medical faculty in those days for the pre-med year was decided alphabetically. Slazenger came next to Smith. The rest as they say is history.
I was able to choose my subjects and my course was called General Studies. Limited to three subjects, I went for English, History and Economics. Rugby (for mostly the third XV) was my fourth closely followed by partying, but maybe I’ve got that in the wrong order. Suffice it to say, the studies were not onerous: we had three terms of six weeks, and six lectures a week, a week of which could be missed. A four year course for a BA (which later morphed into an MA on payment of ten guineas).
I had no idea what I wanted to do in life, but I got it into my head that a law degree plus an accountancy qualification would open a few doors for me, so I started to study for an LL.B and stayed a fifth year to complete it. Roman Law was the exam I walked out of that May (1966).
In those days, big companies looking to employ graduates came to the universities to tell us undergraduates what sort of careers they offered. I was subsequently offered jobs at Marks and Spencer, Unilever and Barclays Bank DCO (after interviews in London).
I’ve travelled and I’ve met interesting people along the way. More about the people later.
Apart from the convalescence in Switzerland, I visited London for the first time when I was about 8 – with Uncle Colin. Flew into Northhold and went to the Savoy and Madame Tussauds. I went overland to France, Spain and Monaco in a cramped Standard 10 panel van with two older (Queens University Belfast) students and a contemporary from Coleraine in 1959. One of those students was Brian McGarvey who was later to buy 76 Strand Road from my mother. The objective was to try to arrange a rugby fixture between one of the southern French clubs and Queens. My French was put to the test with the negotiations at Pau, then a leading club. Went to the casino in Monte Carlo. Saw (standing on the terrace) Chelsea v Arsenal on the way back.
.The only way we could get tickets was to do the whole tour; London-Innsbruck-Seefeld (Austria); across the border to Bavaria for the harrowing play; on to Italy (Lake Garda, and Venice): back on a flight from Munich where the Manchester United football team had crashed 19 months earlier.
I tried to get holiday jobs while I was a student. I was a Relief Postman at Portstewart during my first Christmas as a Junior Freshman. I just remember riding my bike from “76” to the Post Office in the pitch dark and delivering a bundle of cards to an empty, locked-up house with the letter box in the door, causing big trouble!
I think it was summer 1962 when I took a job as a farm labourer outside Ware in Hertfordshire with a Trinity pal. The following year I was selected as one of two Irish students to work for Findus Foods harvesting peas near Landskrona in the south of Sweden. It was a multinational camp of about 40 guys. Hard work, but good pay.
When I was in Sweden, the ferry was the venue of choice to get a beer, so we crossed to Copenhagen a few times. We also went to both the Tuborg and Carlsberg breweries – as far as I remember. The licensing laws in Sweden were extremely strict and the off-licences were owned by the government. Went to Elsinore, the setting for Hamlet.
The talk was about the impending change in the rules of the road: the people has voted to continue driving on the left, but the government had announced that they were going to change to the right – which they did in 1967.
I had my 21st birthday there.
Her name was Britt Marie Green. I met her on the ferry crossing from Copenhagen on my arrival. Mum had made me promise to be a good boy until I reached my majority. I knew exactly what she meant. I kept that promise to the very day.
Limone, Lake Garda September 1960 with Noreen.
She took me on my first cruise (Mum that is, not Britt Marie) in September 1963 as my coming-of-age present. We went to Valencia, Genoa and La Spezia and saw Pisa and Florence (first of 5 visits there). A good time was had except that some sand-dwelling creature stung my foot on the beach at Valencia and I was allergic, so spent a day in my cabin.
Pisa with Mum and shipmates.
In the summer of 1964, when the Beatles were in their heyday, I got on a student flight from Dublin to New York with my childhood friend and school mate from Brook House, Robin Thompson. We stayed in the apartment of Winkie (H McD) Young who had been in School House with me for a year. It was in Gracie Mansions, where the mayor lived. He took us to the Playboy Club and then left us to our own devices as he retreated from the heat of New York to the family holiday house. Went to the United Nations. It wasn’t possible to get a work permit for the USA, so we took a bus via Niagara Falls to Toronto. The Thompsons had a big milling business in Belfast and it was through business and family connections that we got labouring work in Victory Soya Mills at the docks in Toronto, staying in the YMCA and being entertained by Robin’s Chapman relations at the weekends. They took us to Lake Simcoe where they had a cabin and I did some skiing and we went with them to a big football match. I learned that the rules of the Canadian game are slightly different to those that apply south of the border. There are twelve players in Canada and eleven in the US.
Florence, September 1963
The hot topic in Canada was the dropping of the Union Jack from the flag and the proposed adoption of the Maple Leaf we see today. People I talked to were very against the change, but it went ahead after a six month debate in 1964.
Thus far I had been to 13 countries, so if I wasn’t born with wander lust, I acquired it early on.
At the end of the money-earning part of the trip, Robin and I took a Greyhound bus from Toronto right across the states to San Francisco. First stop was Detroit. Then it went: Chicago-Des Moines-Omaha-Denver-Cheyenne-Salt Lake City-Reno-Sacramento. Saw a real sheriff, just like in a western.
That trip cost $99 for 99 days, unlimited travel on any Greyhound bus.
We hired a car and went to Yosemite National Park for a night, seeing the famous fire fall. The car was fully automatic with power steering, something neither of us had experienced. I enjoyed driving with one finger on the wheel and elbow out the window!
We’d met a guy on the bus who said he’d have us to stay if we did the coast road to Big Sur, so we took him up on the offer and he told us where he hid the key to his cottage! Lovely drive via Monterey and Carmel.
At some stage during the two weeks we were in San Francisco, I got a message from Gwen Slazenger, now Noreen’s mother-in-law, asking if I would chaperone John Slazenger, her middle son, then a 16 year old nerd who was due to arrive in Los Angeles. I duly found him in LA, left poor Robin, and “did” Hollywood (Universal Studios) and Disney Land – all at Gwen’s expense. A trip to Phoenix and Grand Canyon followed before I saw him onto a flight back to Dublin.
I graduated with a very ordinary BA in June 1965. After a year, I was entitled, on payment of ten guineas, to have the degree of Master of Arts conferred on me by either Oxford, Cambridge or Trinity. I chose Trinity. The BA has the white hood as per the photo and the MA a blue one.
I feel we need a break from the travelogue.
The Trinity days were good, even great days and I learned a lot – not so much about Economics, History and English, my course subjects, but about life and people.
My mother used to say she’d had an interesting life, and so she did. I think I have too.
Just take some of the people I’ve met:
- Lord Nuffield. Stayed at the Causeway Hotel.
- Brendan Bracken. A benefactor of mine at Sedbergh.
- The Archbishop of Canterbury. Sat beside him at lunch when I was Head of House at Sedbergh.
- Air Marshall Sir George Beamish. Family friends of the Kane brothers, my uncles. He was a brother of the Victor in my name.
In my Trinity days, I rubbed shoulders with several interesting fellow students, but champagne receptions at Powerscourt provide the ideal venue for me to name-drop. There was, notably, the Bal des Petits Lits Blancs. Mum had a major part in the organisation, her fluency in French being a great asset.
But the Rainiers are Serene Highnesses. Gwen Slazenger regularly invited the Earl and Countess of Ross, she being the mother-in-law of Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret.
There were always a few other of the Irish nobility on view: Lord Killanin, later president of the Olympics.
The Earl of Meath. I was bold enough to ask him his name and was at first a bit flummoxed when he replied “Meath.” He was one I always felt comfortable with and he had a gorgeous daughter. He was the 14th earl and the seat is near Powerscourt. Funny that they live in Wicklow yet are called Meath.
Another earl was, more appropriately, Wicklow.
The title has died out now.
Another was the Knight of Glin, addressed as “Knight.” He was active in the Georgian Society and was the 29th to bear the title which died out on his recent death.
So you can’t meet too many people like these nowadays.
Desmond Guinness, famous for his work for the Georgian Society and coffee table books like the one with Powerscourt on the cover, was a frequent guest. His wife was a princess.
Mentioned in my book is Sir Lawrence Byrne who lived almost on the estate. Lady Byrne was quite friendly with Mum and I remember going there for tea.
That’s enough of that. But before moving on, Gwen came across Lord Brocket through the Aberdeen Angus society or some such. Now he is of interest to any reader who wants to research the O’Cahans and whether or not we are descendants, for he is accepted as being of the line that goes back to the Kings of Dalriada. I’m not sure that I met him at Powerscourt, but a few years ago there was a snippet in the paper about the present Lord Brocket being jailed for fraud. His seat is Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire and the family name is Nall-Cain.
The entertaining at Powerscourt was always at the invitation of “Mrs GM Slazenger” as she was known from the Aberdeen Angus Society. Husband Ralph was a shy, bearded professorial character whose forte was inventing electrical things which he neglected to patent. He was not strong on interpersonal skills. So it seemed to be left to my mother to make guests feel at home. (Was that an innate quality, honed at the Causeway hotels?). There was a butler, Ernesto, who was great, but I remember that Mervyn Wingfield was the one opening the Lanson Black Label. Always cases and cases of it!
Mervyn seemed quite at home. And so he should have been: Powerscourt was his home till Ralph bought the entire estate, lock, stock and barrel the week before the (Dublin) Horse Show in 1961. Wendy took us to see the house and there was Pat, Mervyn’s father having scrambled egg on a wee table just off the Glazed Court. Sad, especially as he accepted £250,000 for the house, contents and then about 5,000 acres. Ralph acted alone, the one and only time he did so. It must have been the bargain of the century.
Mervyn was a good friend, providing me with a Triumph Herald convertible for a good 6 months of my Trinity days. I was an usher at his wedding to Wendy, Michael’s sister. She was just 17. Noreen was one of two bridesmaids. They went on to a divorce. [Correction. It has just come to light (Sept.2017) that the “divorce” was never finalised, so Wendy’s second marriage was bigamous and for years she has been the Dowager Lady Powerscourt]. He became the 10th Viscount Powerscourt. Anthony, their childless son, is the present Lord Powerscourt, so the title will die out. Here is a snippet of the connection with the Royal family through the Duchess of York.
The French rugby supporters’ tie was a swop.
Marianne Wilson with Noreen and Mum at Portstewart, September 1956 and the sea-facing aspect of Slieve Mara as it looked at Easter 1957. Marianne was to drown in a sailing accident at Trinity. She was Noreen’s greatest school friend and Marianne my niece is called after her.
Easter 1956 at Punchestown Races with Noreen and my Old Brook House tie!
I had a busy time in New York – and a smart address: Gracie Square where the mayor lives.
Written on my birthday!
I got my MA conferred while working at Barclays Bank DCO in London. Quite how I was invited to the dinner afterwards is a mystery. Note the presence of U Thant, then the Secretary General of the United Nations, along with the President, Eamon de Valera, and Prime Minister Lynch.
Not a nice thing to say, Mr Dawson.
I was at Trinity with three cousins: Alastair Kane (who completed the first MBA course), David Kilpatrick (came back to do his Dip. Ed) and Lennox Kane who, though that much younger, was doing his medical degree.
That’s Alastair on the left, and David. BA, I think.
A try was 3 points.
My father. He was born at the end of the nineteenth century, went to Sedbergh and was a very highly qualified doctor, having started out as a farmer at Islandmagee.
I went to London on my own in the summer vac of 1964 to try to get lucrative work as a casual labourer on the building of the Victoria Line of the London Underground. No luck. But back in Dublin, they were about to start shooting the film The Blue Max.
Michael Slazenger had a flying buddy who was involved, and so I was alerted that they might need extras.
I went for a casting audition and was given the job of stand-in for the star, George Peppard as well as the “part” as a German pilot. It was a great experience – and good money – for about 3 months. And I enjoyed chatting to the lead as well as James Mason, who was then famous. At one stage I fancied myself as having a career in films!
Of course, I had been in front of the camera earlier. You may find a disc with Irish Symphony on it. If you look carefully you will find that the wee boy in the red blazer in the scenes in Portrush, at the Causeway and Ballycastle (the fun fair – a glimpse of Noreen in that scene) looks like me in 1949. Mum was paid in petrol coupons for my role and the crew stayed in the Causeway Hotel. In my book Georgie’s Causeway there is a reference to the film having not been found. It came to light after publication.
There is a brochure about The Blue Max. This is an extract:
It’s now a year since I started this – November 2017. I seem to have taken you only to about age 24. A lot of living ahead! But on rereading, I am guilty of giving too much detail, and of course it’s not broken down into chapters. I will try to do better!
I got a “county grant” from County Londonderry county council towards the cost of attending Trinity. I think it was £50 a year. But the trustees did cough up and must have paid some pocket money. The trust was dissolved when I reached the age of majority – 21 in those days. Sadly, the trustees had been overly conservative in their investment decisions and the bulk was in what was known as War Loan – government bonds to pay for the war. They were bought when Mum formed the trust in about 1943 at about 90 (for illustration) and when I reached my majority they were sold at the going price – 30!! So much of the capital was lost. We had sold off some 40 acres of the Whitehead land (started with 120 acres) to a developer, and that enabled Mum to buy Portstewart and keep the wolf from the door. The trustees were very tight when it came to providing. Anyway, in my last weeks at Trinity, when I walked out of one of the law exams, I bought a car with money released to me. Not just any car. I was able to get one duty free and brand new on some scheme thought up by a fellow student called Steven Seager. The chosen car was a British racing green Triumph TR3. I’ll try and find a photo.
Mine had wire wheels!
I had this idea to end my student days by driving round the Mediterranean and visit the Holy Land. I was able to interest my rugby-playing friend and fellow student (he played for Bath and for county side Dorset and Wilts as well as for Trinity), Paddy Hillyard, later to be my best man, to share the driving.
As part of the planning, I wrote to Pirelli and asked them to help by sponsoring the tyres. No joy, but they said they’d be interested in a report on my return. I did the report and have been buying Pirelli ever since.
To this day, I think it’s not possible to drive right round the Med. The main obstacle was/is crossing from Israel to Egypt. But the map of Eastern Europe looked rather different in 1966 when we undertook this mad-cap trip. There was an “Iron Curtain” (Churchill’s phrase) between west and east through which I had to go and not much was known about a country like Yugoslavia, still less about Bulgaria and Syria which were then aligned with Russia, the bad guys of the day. Getting visas was a protracted exercise, particularly for Bulgaria and Syria. To get from the Arab countries to Israel involved the issue of a second British (as I was in those days) passport exclusively for the crossing from Jordan to Israel. And that was a one-way passage: the Arabs were about to go to war with Israel. (The Six Days War, June 1967, ten months after the trip).The second passport had to be concealed from all Arab officials of course. We were warned we risked imprisonment if it were to be discovered where we were really going.
The compromise with the “round the Med” idea was to make it as far south as we could before the crossing into Israel, and so it was that I inscribed the shiny new car’s bonnet with DUBLIN to AQABA. (It was not possible to get into Saudi Arabia, though we did drive right up to the border post). This was to suggest to any suspicious Arab officials that we were on a round trip with Aqaba as the turning point.
(Aqaba is not marked on the map below, but it is and was Jordan’s only port. It’s at the neck of the Gulf of Aqaba and right beside Eilat, then in Egypt, now in Israel. It was very small when I was there – little more than a fishing port. Eilat was just a few blocks of flats).
I left the Nook, crossed the Irish Sea on the Larne-Stranraer ferry, picked Paddy up very early in the morning at some prep school in Yorkshire where he had been temp teaching and spent the night with his parents in Wiltshire. He loaded a tent, but I had decided, such was the budget, that we’d be roughing it, and, subsequently, I remember sleeping either under or beside the car most of the time we were away.
We had a luggage rack on the boot. Remember this was a car with both a hard and a soft top. We took only the soft top and drove for the most part with it down.
We crossed on the ferry from Dover to Ostend in Belgium and via the great autobahns of Germany to Munich and across into Austria, then into Yugoslavia. Nowadays, Serbia and Croatia are the next countries on what was our route. Zagreb went by in a blur, but we spent a few hours in Belgrade, the capital. There was a lot of police activity because Marshal Tito, the dictator of the day, was appearing.
When we stopped in Bulgaria (This was, according to the stamp in my passport, on the 29th July 1966) we were quickly surrounded. Luxuries such as we displayed were beyond the reach of ordinary Bulgarians under communism. My white nylon shirt was bartered but for what I don’t remember.
Got the car serviced by the Triumph agent in Istanbul and camped at a proper campsite close to the sea.
We kept in touch by collecting mail at the main post offices at the counter called Poste Restante, and families knew roughly what our itinerary was.
We swam at the camp site. That would have been in the Sea of Marmara. Waiting to collect the car, we swam in the Black Sea.
What I seem to have been reticent about telling my mother was that somehow I had managed to arrange to meet a Trinity girlfriend and her flat mate off the train the day before I wrote this card. I well remember the day because as we waited for them to arrive, the Turks in main station were listening on their transistor radios to the famous football World Cup final being played at Wembley which England won against Germany. This rendezvous or its timing may explain why we seemed to race across Europe so quickly. We had, my passport tells me, arrived in Calais on the 27th, the Tuesday.
She was a big love in my life for three or four years. Jo Gallimore.
Quite coincidently, she and Rosemary Ahearn had arranged to hitchhike to the Holy Land. Naturally, I gallantly offered them a lift – in the two-seater sports car! Paddy and I alternated as driver and one of the girls got the front seat. The luggage was piled on the luggage rack on top of the boot and the other two passengers crammed into the sort of jump seat with a case in the middle.
There was no bridge across the Bosporus to Asia in those days, so we took the ferry (the third of the trip thus far) and set off for the capital, Ankara.
We camped at a hilltop park with a statue of Ataturk the only company and got badly bitten by mosquitos.
Next day we made for the coast and slept on the beach after Adana in the SE corner of the country. The border crossing at Iskenderun involved a lengthy delay, as I refused to bribe the customs officials on the Syrian side. Then the girls were set on going to Aleppo and the boys to Lebanon. It was with the greatest reluctance that we dropped Jo and Rosemary on the road at the sign for Aleppo, no vehicles to be seen. This sort of hitch hiking is dangerous for girls especially in the Arab world. It was a huge relief when we bumped into them in the narrow streets of East Jerusalem some two weeks later.
“Bloody wogs stole our swimming trunks.”
Paddy and I stayed a couple of days in Tripoli in the Lebanon, right on the coast. Met some really nice Arab guys and got good advice about what to see in their country. Swam in the Med. On leaving, we had to promise to visit them on our return journey from Aqaba. I still feel bad about the lie, but we risked detention if we told the truth about going to Israel. We went to Byblos, some say the oldest city in the world, Beirut (next visit there was the day before my engagement), and, en route to Damascus, Baalbek. It was still being excavated in those days. It has, like Byblos, a history going back 8 or 9 000 years. It was very hot and such liquid refreshment as we were offered by the vendors was expensive, even after the obligatory haggling.
Baalbek. This is a post card I bought at the time. Paddy had a camera, but I don’t think I ever saw any results.
We were crossing back into Syria on the road to Damascus (sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Acts 9). It must have been a relatively uneventful transit and we slept somewhere on the outskirts of the city, the centre of which we went through. The open air market is/was vast. As with most places in this part of the world, the car and its occupants drew, a lot of attention. I doubt if a TR4A had ever been seen before. The road was tarmacked and in reasonable condition, just one lane in each direction. Much blowing of horns – seemed to be a way of indicating “I’m coming towards you, so watch out.”
Damascus is the oldest continuously occupied city.
Evidence that we did some homework for the trip. And it shows how long I have been a member of the AA!
And so onward and southward into The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The king was at Harrow with Michael Slazenger, but I resisted the temptation to look him up.
In and around Amman, we “did” a few ancient sites, in particular I remember the Roman Theatre and standing on the stage while our unsolicited guide spoke very quietly to us from the very back row and being able to hear clearly.
Happily no need for good Samaritans (though we were a bit wary of the kinda evil looking bearded guys who seemed to have nothing to do. You know the type). And the car behaved well, its low clearance thus far presenting no problem.
The road to Petra, the rose red city, half as old as time, was the only tared road to the south and carried, even then, a lot of lorries bringing imports from Aqaba across the desert, both to Amman and into south eastern Syria. It’s about 250 kms from Amman.
It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.
John William Burgon
Petra did not disappoint. It dates back to 5 000BC.
The turn-off to Petra was hard to find because in those days, Petra was not on any tourist wish-list, was hardly ever visited, and owed its fame to the poem. It was a dirt road, leading to a couple of tents, a dozen or so Arabs looking after a few donkeys and camels, and maybe some mules. There was a persistent soft drinks vendor. Very hot – and so was he and his merchandise, so much against his advice, we set off to walk down the valley that leads to the remains of this extraordinary ancient city. I don’t think we saw another living soul for the four of five hours of our exploration. I believe it’s fully commercialised nowadays and has over thirty hotels!
Back on the main road heading south towards Aqaba, we turned off right on a track, looking for a place to sleep away from the sound of trucks. We thought we were near Wadi Rum, known to us because of its association with TE Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, but we later learned it’s on the other side of the road. We chanced upon a large Bedouin tent and were not sure if we should engage with them or beat a retreat. Anyway, they were most insistent that we accept their hospitality – as is the custom in the desert – and so we ate with them. No, no sheep’s eyes.
Next day we were in Aqaba. Nominal mission accomplished.
There is not much to tell about Aqaba and its neighbour Eilat. There was just a wire fence between the two. Some evidence of tourism on the Egyptian side, but none to speak of in Aqaba. We slept on the beach and swam in the Red Sea for ablutions.
Aqaba is 30kms from the Saudi Arabia border and I wanted to add another country to my list of those visited, and so we headed off in that direction on a very poor dirt road which obviously carried virtually no traffic. Whether we were told that only Jordanians and Saudis could cross or whether that was a concession introduced later in 1966, I don’t know, but we had to retrace our steps and head back north.
We were checked at the Allenby Bridge by Jordanian officials. This reminded us that were crossing into Jordanian administered territory and leaving what used to be called Transjordan. This is what is now referred to as the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since the Six Day War of 1967.
That’s the River Jordan and the Allenby Bridge. It was barely flowing and full of green slime. Adam was christened using Jordan water.
Jericho is the first sign of habitation and the first, for me, of “biblical” places on the trip. We were now in the Holy Land.
“Sore on” means we had a lot of it!
We stopped in Jericho and I asked if it was possible to see where the walls fell as per the Old Testament. It was a very poor part of the town, and so it was inevitable that someone would appear and offer to be our guide in return for bqshysh, the word for tip or used by beggars. What we saw was the site of a dig and piles of clay bricks that appeared to be very old! Small wonder the walls fell down. (Joshua 6:1-27).
Onward and upward (Luke 10:30 about the Good Samaritan tells us the road is downhill from west to east and so it is). In East Jerusalem we found a cleared building site on the main road, just short of the holy places and more or less opposite the Mount of Olives. It was being used as a camp site and among the half dozen vehicles was one with an English registration. We befriended the occupants who were a professor from Sussex University and his wife, and stayed there for a few days. Two reasons for this: we did not know how to get out of the country and into Israel (and you could not ask an Arab) and it was a convenient place to explore the east of the city, go to the Dead Sea and Bethlehem – which is exactly what we did.
The Dead Sea was then almost lapping at the tarmac road. Now I believe it is a long walk to reach the water. It was a great feeling to lie on one’s back and be so buoyant. They had fresh water showers to get the salt off. Maybe 6 or 8 other people there.
The route from Jerusalem took us back down towards Jericho, then a right turn where there are hills on the right with a few caves visible high up. It was in them that the Dead Sea Scrolls had been found in 1946-7 and 1956. The area is called Qumran.
Later we were able to see some of the scrolls, on display for the first time, in Jerusalem.
Masada was not far above us. Sadly, we didn’t get there as it was (and is) in Israel. Also it would have meant a huge climb in the extreme heat. Someone must have told us that there would be no border guards if we chose to hike, but leaving the car was always a concern. We thought we’d reach it once we crossed into Israel, but it wasn’t to be.
The excavations were in full swing in those days.
One of the caves at Qumran.
The day we went to Bethlehem is a special memory. I have mentioned that there were very, very few tourists in the area, and Bethlehem was no exception.
We parked in the main square. A small town, impoverished, dusty. You park a TR4 in such a place – in those days – and men and boys surround you with pleas for bqshysh. So having the Church of the Nativity pointed out employed several sets of index fingers.
I am inclined to feel claustrophobic, and it was manifest that day. There is a very narrow, stone stairway, worn and slippery, probably dating back 1700 years to Constantine’s time, leading steeply down to the birth place, the entrance to which is at one end of the church. One Greek Orthodox priest was in attendance and spoke good English. He pointed us to the Grotto of the Nativity which is tiny. So you learn that Jesus was born in a cave (in which there was not much room for a manger). All dark and smelling of the oil used for the lamps providing minimal illumination. We didn’t see the priest till he spoke. It was a time for quiet reflection.
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine. That’s the Door of Humility directly ahead. So you have to crouch to get in.
Oil lamps in the church itself.
Back at our camp in East Jerusalem, we explored some holy places. The al Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest place in Islam. It felt more ‘holy’ than the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Bare feet, and the shoes were not stolen.
I think we were fortunate in that we got in unimpeded. Nowadays only Moslems are allowed, but then again, there were virtually no tourists in 1966, only a few pilgrims mingling with local worshipers.
Another stop was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. And we walked the Via Dolorosa where we bumped into Jo and Rosemary.
The Via Dolorosa.
It was the professor and his attractive wife who provided us with the secret of how to get across into the Israeli side of Jerusalem. They couldn’t lead us as they had been given just half an hour to leave the territory after finding the only Arab official who would give them the exit stamp in their passports, but they were able to give us somewhat vague directions to that key man before they rushed off in a westerly direction. So we packed the car and slunk away from the Jordanian campers. We found the man in a third floor garret in a poor area to the north. With hardly a word exchanged, we pleaded for directions to the crossing point. He gestured angrily to the window behind where we stood at his desk as he told us we had minutes to get through because they were about to close for the day.
The checkpoint was called the Mandelbaum Gate. There was a no-man’s land of 50 metres or so separating the Jordanian side of the city from that of Israel, and no Jordanian ‘customs’ or building marking the end of their territory. No point in having one anyway as they only allowed one-way traffic – and of that there was virtually none. Lots of barbed wire and rubble.
We got an amazing welcome from the Israeli troops at the bombed out Mandelbaum House. Clapping and cheering, they treated us like heroes, offering beers.
But then again it could have been just the green TR4. Green like the landscape now around us, and a stark contrast with the desert we left behind. There was a whole different vibe in Israel. You could almost feel the patriotism and the desire of the Jews to make a go of their new country. Olive groves, vegetable farms with irrigation channels, green fields. What was it in the Arab make-up that was reflected in the almost barren land we had come through to get here?
And our special “Israel only” British passports got their entry stamp – anathema to the Arabs.
We went to Yad Vashem, the Mount of Remembrance, and the Holocaust Museum. Then down to Tel Aviv. Much hotter by the sea.
Though we were delighted to have arrived in Israel, we had to face up to the fact that there was no turning back. No way out except by sea. We had very little money and no booking for the car or its passengers! And so to a few travel agents in Tel Aviv and then up to Haifa to see on the spot what ferries might get us out – and how soon that might be done.
“Fully booked for the next four weeks. Come back then”. That was the stark message. But then it was an opportunity to explore.
My card records that we went to the Sea of Galilee and swam there. No walking. Also “Nazareth, Capernaum, Caesarea – everywhere.” Ramallah and Mount of Beatitudes too. Think Blessed are the… I see that we thought access to the beach at Tel Aviv was expensive. I remember being asked the time in Hebrew a couple of times in the main drag, which is testimony to how tanned I was. We were camped in the NE corner just below the Golan Heights and I see from my card that it was “a little tense as war is on.” Some things don’t change. On one road we had to give way to a couple of tanks.
We picked and ate prickly pears, picked at the side of the road, as money was tight.
Paddy seems not to have consulted me as to the whereabouts of the Giant’s Causeway. At the time of our wedding, he was on the staff of the University of Ulster in Coleraine, so he knew then!
The report I got from the AA on road conditions in Jordan in 1966.
My passport has a clear date for you arrival in Cyprus – 29th August at Famagusta, so we must have been disappointed on arrival in Haifa on the 26th. I think we toyed with the idea of going to Bersheba in the interim.
We looked up a pretty Cypriot girl from Trinity in Nicosia, then as now a divided city, though we had no problem crossing from the Turkish part to the Greek area, and got to Paphos (think Aphrodite). We left from Limasol on 30th August and slept on the deck of the ferry during a rough crossing to Piraeus.
We must have had some sort of map because Albania stood in the way of getting reasonably straight to the Italian border via the Adriatic coast, our preferred route. Albania was a pariah state, strictly communist and westeners were forbidden to go there. We took advice on a route around
Albania, and learned that there was no good road, well, not one suitable for the TR4.
After collecting mail at the main post office in Athens, we set off in a northerly direction, sort of feeling our way, and hoping for direction finders by way of road signs. We drove through the night, not a good idea given that road conditions deteriorated after we left Greece, and re-entered Yugoslavia. Skopje was known to us because of the 1963 earthquake, but, that apart, we knew only that we wanted to hit the coast south of Dubrovnik. The road that took us through the mountains into what is now Montenegro was barely passable, and the bottom of the car was often scraped on the rocks that made up the surface. And so we drove the Adriatic coast from Kotor via Dubrovnik and Split over 800 kms to Trieste virtually without stopping!
As we crossed into Italy, we realised how much time we had made up, so we reckoned we could fit in a trip to Rome and still be home for whatever Paddy’s deadline was. So we took the Autostrade del Sole and 670 kms later with no speed limit to hinder us, we hit the Eternal City.
Memories include parking at the Trevi Fountain and in, yes, in Vatican City.I must have dropped a coin in the fountain, for I’ve ben back three or four times! Of course there weren’t many tourists around in those days, so we got a conducted tour of the Cistene Chapel virtually to ourselves.
Not content with the sightseeing in Rome, we headed for Naples.”See Naples and die,” the saying goes. Between us, we had it that there really was a village round the Bay of Naples called Die, so we headed towards Sorento looking for it! Having done that drive several times since that summer of 1966, I can confirm there is no such place, nor mouri which it would be in Italian.
We turned the car just short of Sorento and headed north. We had had, from a road safety aspect, no incidents, but not far from Rome I had to brake suddenly in an emergency, I think involving a truck in the wrong lane. The car did a 180° spin, rectified very quickly, or at any rate in time to avoid all obstacles, and we proceeded to Milan with the top down as always – and at about 100 mph!
We’d travelled 9 000 miles at Sorento. Paddy’s writing.
It was dark and Milan was virtually deserted. Had a look at the opera house and headed for the Alps, driving through the night and feeling the cold! We crossed the Channel Calais to Dover and made it to Paddy’s home in Wiltshire virtually non-stop.
June 2018. I sent a copy of this piece about the trip to the Holy Land to Paddy, our best man, and had the following reply, appropriately, on our 48th wedding anniversary:
“ Hi George
Many thanks indeed for ‘the ramblings of an old man’. It is a brilliant log and has brought bad so many happy memories of that wonderful holiday but we must have been crazy to have thought that such a trip was possible!
At least you can remember most of the detail which has long faded from my poor memory! I do remember a few things, but they may be simply embellishments after re-telling the stories. How many of the following fit that description? In Yugoslavia a kid sold us a punnet of strawberries with a false bottom. In Istanbul we put on our smart jackets and entered the Hilton Hotel to find a shower. The Bedouins prepared food for us on big steel drums and we gave them a glass or two of whiskey or Brandy in return for their hospitality. In Aqaba we slept on the beach only to be woken by a couple of guards pointing their rifles at us. At the hostel at the bottom of Masada, you killed a scorpion and I suffered a bad ear-inflection – no connection.
Sadly, all the post cards I sent home have mostly been lost. The hundreds of black and white photos which I took were a disaster as the camera had a small hole in the side of it which let in the light. I still have the negatives and one day I want to try and see is any of them can be rescued in photoshop.
I do hope you and all your family are in good health. One of the many regrets in my life has been not to keep in touch but Margaret and I have often talked about visiting South Africa and, if we arrange a trip before we are too old, hopefully we can meet up.
All the best
I need to step back in time to take you to the start of my banking career which started in that September (1966) about two weeks after the Holy Land trip.
It all started with David Kilpatrick’s cousin. Yes, I know I am his cousin, but Gordon Adam was his cousin on the Kilpatrick side as opposed to the Smith side. He was a bit older – by 10 to 12 years I guess – and had a disformed right hand with no fingers, just a small thumb. So you shook his left. Any way, he joined Barclays Bank Limited, the domestic (and main) arm of the big banking group in the UK at that time, and was attached to the Local Head Office in Manchester. He was a bachelor. For reasons best kown to him, he came to see me at Sedbergh and must have taken me out one weekend. Subsequently, he contacted the Headmaster asking if he could take me to meet the local directors of the bank at a dinner party in Knutsford. The headmaster must have thought this was in order, for he lent me his dinner jacket for the occasstion so I would not let the side down. And so it was that Gordon took me one mid-week afternoon, and I duly demonstrated that I knew how to hold my knife and fork for the directors. No wives as I recall. Nice way to have an interview, I suppose.
I must have passed the test. Gordon brought two men to meet me at the school. Maybe he was showing them the school more than introducing me, but I remember showing them the cricket field.
With hindsight, this was a pivotal moment: my first contact with South Africa. For the two sportsmen Gordon had with him were Roy McLean and Chick Henderson, names that meant nothing to me at the time. The former played 40 tests for South Africa between 1951 and 1964 as a middle order batsman. The latter was a lock forward, Oxford blue and Scottish international who also played for Transvaal, but best known as a rugby commentator.
Roy McLean lived in the lower part of 13th Avenue, Parktown North when we were in number 38.
The connection, I think, was that Gordon spent a year with Barclays Bank DCO in Johannesburg. He went on to become a main board director of Barclays Limited. More about him later.
Big name companies came to universties (probably only Oxbridge and Trinity) to recruit new managerial material. In my last year (1966), Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, Marks and Spencer, and Barclays Bank DCO (among others) came to Trinity and I went to see what they offered – a sort of do-it-yourself career guidance, I suppose. I remember it was between Proctor and Gamble and Unilever as to which was the most desirable company to make one an offer at that time. The afformentioned all offered me formal interviews, all expenses paid, but I didn’t take up the P & G one because it was in Newcastle. All the others were in London, a far more appealing city to spend a night.
I was offered jobs by Unilever, Marks and Spencer and Barclays DCO.
I turned down Marks and Sparks and they immediately flew me back to their Baker Street head office to find out why. I still cringe at my snobbery: I said something along the lines of not wanting to admit, when asked at some cocktail party, that I worked for them!
The draw back with the Unilever offer (as a management trainee) was that, like M & S, their trainee course started only in January 1967 and here was me wanting to start earning as soon as possible after the decision to give up the LL.B I was doing. DCO, on the other hand, said I could start any time! That was the clincher – along with the images in their recruitment brochure of white sand and palm trees!
Wanderlust – or the search for 20th century adventure, brought on by the Holy Land trip. Anyway the decision was only taken after I got back to The Nook that September.
I feel I need to record the background to changing my name. It started at the wedding in Yorkshire of Bruce Bolton of Portrush and Mum and Uncle George and Auntie Marion were there along with Alastair, their middle son seen earlier in the graduation photo. The older generation went from the church to the reception (quite a distance) and I drove Alastair in Mum’s car. It was probably early September 1966. Alastair said that the Lennoxs, his mother’s family, were better than the Kanes. I was so upset in my defence of the Kanes that I stopped the car in the middle of the desolate Yorkshire moors and ordered him out! It must have been about 20 miles from our destination! I told Uncle George what I had done and why – for it was plain to see that I had arrived sans his son. He seemed almost sympathetic! Alastair eventually arrived having hitched in the dark. Nothing was said.
In the heat of the row with Alastair, I said to him that I felt so strongly about the Kanes and so proud to be part of them that I would even change my name.
What clinched it was that when I reported for my first day at Barclays Bank Limited, Mount Street, Mayfair a week or so later, the manager, himself a Smith, introduced me to the staff of about 20, among whom were three other male Smiths! So I wrote to the family solicitor, Tom King, in Belfast, and a Deed Poll with my new name was the result. A copy appears later.
It’s relevant that Mum, in the early days at The Nook, would get mail addressed to Mrs Kane Smith. After all, she had been married for less than four years and some of the locals at The Causeway still called her Miss Kane. Asked her name she always said Smith, plain Mrs Smith.
About May 1943. Romper suits they were called. I reminded my mother of my father not only in looks: first time I took a pack of cards to deal, I placed them in my right hand and dealt them with my left – something my father had done. She took some time to
 Mervyn was dabbling in car racing at the time and owned a business called SuperTune. I think the Triumph was due a super tune which it neither got nor needed.