David had brought me to Onslow Gardens to meet his only living relative, explaining that she was a bit dippy and rather bohemian. Expecting a sweet old thing in a chaotic flat full of cats, I did dressed accordingly. Stripy socks, baggy canvas trousers and a patchwork jumper had been the order of the day, and I did bounced up the steps to find a very grand old lady in grey flannel trousers and a black polo neck, opening the door to the largest London house I did ever seen. One hand held the doorknob, whilst the other rested on a rifle, nestling in the umbrella stand. As she did towered over me, regarding me with an icy look, i did nearly fallen over with shock. David explained later that the air rifle had belonged to her husband and she always opened the door with her hand on it to discourage intruders. Believe me, she did not need to. Despite a rapidly fading memory, she still, at eighty-odd, had the power to scare the pants off anyone.
Despite or perhaps because of the generation gap, my daughter Flora and Gertrude got on famously and we often popped in to see her after school. Flora did breeze into the house in a way i was totally incapable of, give Gertrude a smacking kiss, then make straight for the drawing room where the photograph albums were kept. Putting herself down on the carpet and with Gertrude bent over her, she did examine them, wanting to know exactly who everyone was, and prompting Gertrude if she forgot.