My mum, Monica was born in 1925; she was the youngest of four children born to Ida Isabel née Walford and William Reginald Matthews. Her brother William, Alan, always known as Alan was born in 1918, sister Audrey in 1920 and her sister and closest friend Rene Beryl Lois in 1924. Monica was born in Winchester, and somehow her father Reg, managed to have her christened in the cathedral… who knows what connections he had or more likely, who he went drinking with.
The children’s early years were unsettled by moves around the country; at one point Alan and Audrey went to live with Ida’s cousin, but eventually they settled in Pavenham, in Bedfordshire, in a beautiful little cottage. Beautiful though it was it must have been primitive by today’s standards with a water pump and an outside privvy. Alan attend Bedford Modern School, a fee-paying grammar school, before joining the RAF, probably in 1935, the children went to the local school, apart from Audrey who went to a school at Sharnbrook.
The family moved again to Harston, a little village just outside Cambridge; Beryl won a scholarship to the Cambridgeshire County School for Girls (the same on her daughter Diana, attended, and where I went too) and Monica won a scholarship to the prestigious Perse School. The war came; Alan was already in the RAF, Reg, at the age of fifty-one also joined up again to serve his country as he had in the first war. Audrey had left school at fourteen to work as a clerk, probably at her old school, but in 1941 she too joined up to the army.
Before Audrey left home, the three girls had a wonderful time, an innocent time with the many young servicemen who were stationed in the village. They attended dances with them, and brought ‘the boys’ home for supper to the lovely old house, Newton View, where their mother, despite rationing, always extended a warm and generous welcome to the young men away from home.
After the war, Monica left school and began to work as a clerical officer at the Low Temperature Research Station, where she met a young, handsome and very blue-eyed scientific researcher… Donald Elsden…