Autobiography of Sheila T Hague

Early Days

I was born on June 17th, 1926, in a hospital in central Glasgow, and apparently had had a race with a fibroid growth which meant that my mother could not have further children. My parents had come from London to settle in Glasgow in 1923, when my father followed his former Professor at City and Guilds (Professor Parker Smith) to be a lecturer under him in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Glasgow University.

In these days the salaries were quite low for lecturers and my parents were to be conscious of many financial restrictions for many years, as they had little capital. We settled in the area surrounding the university, first in Ruthven Street and later at 89, Hyndland Road, in a roomy top-floor flat. The many stairs involved in reaching home must have caused problems for my parents. There ware various dungeon-style dark rooms in the close at the bottom of the flats, where prams could be left (in those days coach-style - no folding push-chairs). The same area had a washing room with enormous concrete tubs which were mostly left unused.

At the back of the flats was a pocket-handkerchief size grassed area where washing could be hung - again little used. A grit lane beyond this was the service road for the rubbish collection and - for some - a play area for children, though I only remember (at about 13) learning to ride a bike up and down it. I can still recall the grit in my knees from my initial falls as I learnt! I was restricted by my parents from the back lane area for a number of years and was in any case scared of the dark side-rooms of the close.

The cleaning of the communal stairs had to be shared by the residents (two flats to each floor) on a rota basis. This was usually the duty of the hired servant, but we did not always have help (I think through lack of money). It was also quite hard to get cleaners in an area rather far from where people wanting such work lived. I can recall going with my mother to flats in a most poverty-stricken part of Maryhill to "find" our irregular cleaner and persuade her to come! The smell of the unwashed and the tiny rooms milling with children left a strong impression.

Looking back, I realize what a strange upbringing I had for at least the first seven years of my life. My parents were highly protective and possesive about their only daughter. I had very few friends of my age and learnt to amuse myself for long periods. My parents educated me themselves until I was eight years old. I recall writing lessons with my father, who had an excellent hand, and loving arithmetic above all else. My mother (an LRAM) taught me piano (Unfortunately this developed into conflict, for I would not practise as she wished, preferring to explore and sight-read on my own). I played bamboo pipes with my father, who both made them and wrote out parts in most elegant style.

I don't remember learning to read but must have done so at a very early age, for I read voraciously and remember a weekly expedition, with my pocket-money, to buy a new "Blackies' of my own choice at the bookshop. I don't think we used the public library, but books were all over the flat and I was soon devouring my parents' volumes too. The ultimate was, of course, when they were out and I would open the green cloth-fronted globe vernica bookcase where Marie Stopes etc. was to be found - but I anticipate.

Music and Dance

Music of all kinds was a major part of life at our flat. Every weekend there would be friends who came to play chamber music; it would usually be violin (the Professor of Electrical Engineering), oboe (my father) and piano (my mother) but quite often there was a flautist (lecturer in psychology) and a second violinist (a wonderful Jewish friend named Landau; many of our family friends were 1933 refugees from Hitler's Germany). What the neighbours thought of all this, I do not know. However, we suffered the constant piano-playing below the music room by the son of that household - this was music which my parents disliked strongly but which I secretly enjoyed and learnt to know back to front.

The other regular music phenomena were the Bach Cantatas at the Academy of Music on Friday evenings. For these my father played oboe, oboe d'amore and cor anglais, as a very gifted amateur. Because it was the end of the week and school was over (1934-40), I was allowed to go with them into town for the cantatas, savouring the strange, stuffy smell of the tube with its tiny trains, the view of the odd drunk en route, the small walk from St. Enoch's station to the Academy and back. The principal of the Academy, Gillies Whittaker, was also the Professor of music at the University (the post was subsequently split). He was a large whiskery man, with enormous eyebrows, who called me his little trombonist for no reason that I quite understood, but I knew to smile politely at the joke. I loved the Bach Cantatas, which were played consistently through the working years, and Bach is still of prime pleasure to me.

My other association with the Academy of Music was in the Saturday morning classes in Dalcroze eurithmics. These were run by Phyllis Crawhall-Wilson (my first double-barrel name), a very dear and close friend of my parents; she lived nearby and used to take me in to classes and bring me back when I was very small. I still remember the thrill of a visit from Dalcroze himself, as an old, bearded man with bright, searching eyes, to one of our classes. As I got a bit older I was allowed to help teach the 'tinies' class which preceded my own. It became clear that I was gifted in music and the older group covered quite a lot of musical theory with the movement.

At home we had a gramophone for 78s which had to be wound up frequently, and for which we sharpened special wooden needles on a special emery-board tool. I used to put on records to dance to and had to rush in the middle to wind it up again! We had no radio until during the early part of the war.

My particular passion for relaxation was to dance. I worked my way through classes in folk-dance, national, Scottish and finally ballet, taking the Espinosa school exams for the latter until the war broke out and everything had to stop. All these classed were on Saturdays at Miss Hopkins' (wonderfully apt name!) school of dancing at Charing Cross. Uncle Bill McLellan also attended Miss Hopkins. We thought she would live forever. Initially I was taken and brought back (I wonder what my mother did while I was cavorting?) - but later I took the tram by myself and also had the commission to buy a very special brown loaf at a huge baker's shop beside the tram-stop home.

The joys of trams! At first they were of the type where the stairs were open to the air and you could sit upstairs at the front or back where the maximum swaying took place - particularly on Great Western Road where you got a long strait run and they went to the maximum speed; you held on tight. The later models were all enclosed and were more like dignified aunts! When a tram reached the terminus, the conductor would switch across all the seats to the opposite direction, with great bangs, they would reconnect the overheads to the return direction with a long pole, change the points and the driver would change to the other end for the return journey. All magic for a child, including the warning clanging bell.

Home Life

I made a lot of things with my hands at an early stage. In this I was often helped and inspired by the various young German au pairs we had living with us, usually for a year at a time. One, whom I chose to call 'Oby', came before I was born and moved with us from Ruthven St. to Hyndland, and stayed at her strong request for two years. We kept in touch consistently until she died. All of these au pairs became good friends for many years; at the time of writing one is still busy with her painting on glass and furniture in a beautiful home on the side of Lake Constance. We visited her and her husband with our three young children one summer holiday. We had alternate German and English days, for fair-shares of language learning for us and for the au pairs. I was thoroughly fluent in childish German by the time I went to school at eight, when all this changed; somewhere my German remained with me, however, 'till sixteen when I took it up at school as a 'higher' in one year with no difficulty. I could read the Gothic script as a child but only learnt to write it for the exam! With the au pairs, I learnt lots of German nursery rhymes and songs, too.

Household work was complicated and primitive by our present standards when I was small. Washing was soaked overnight in large baths with handles, then washed manually, over a rubbing board if necessary, then squeezed through the mangle and hung up on a 'sheila' at ceiling level to dry. The only exception to this would be large items like curtains, which were lugged down to the little back area and hung to dry there (if it really wasn't going to rain!). The kitchen got enormously wet and steamy with all these operations. We had no fridge; instead, food that had to be kept cool went into a kind of miniature house with a shelf, which was pushed out of the kitchen window and pulled in as required. Sometimes things could drop down through the gap at the windowsill, entailing a rush down all the stairs to retrieve, say, a very squashed 1/2 lb. of butter!

Our home was all-electric, as befitted my father's profession, but most people in the flats had open coal fires or stoves, which caused much of the blackness and soot of the Glasgow air and buildings at that time - before the clean-air act, when a transformation began. The coal was brought on big open lorries in huge sacks, which the coalmen (whose eyes were the only white part to be seen) twisted onto their backs and carried laboriously up the many stairs to the relevant kitchen, where, in the corner, was a built-in wooden container, coal-dust flying over everything..... I think the coalmen must have had short lives and painful backs.

Sometimes the Punch and Judy show would set up at the end of the gardens opposite our house (Queensborough Gardens). I could see it reasonably from the window and at the end would wrap up one penny in a piece of paper, then throw it down all the way to the street where the boy collecting the money would run to get it. Another event was always November 11th, when the deaths in World War I were commemorated. Exactly at 11 a.m. on that date everything would stop, people would stand still in the streets and shops, with bowed heads; no traffic would move. Quite a contrast to the present poppy-day!

I also remember Gypsies coming to the doors of the flats, to beg. My mother would not give them money, but preferred to offer food. Once she asked a Gypsy woman and child to wait, and shut the front door (she didn't trust them not to come in), while she went to make them a sandwich; when she went back to the door the woman had gone! I was impressed by my mother's annoyance.


My first school, at the age of eight, was a private Dalton-plan establishment run by two rather elderly ladies in a large house about ten minutes walk from home. It was called 'Hillside' after the area and was my first experience of mixing properly with other children (all girls, however).

It was a non-conventional form of education in many ways, the chief being the stress on non-competitiveness and encouragement of the individual to work at her own pace. Most rooms were devoted to single subjects and the teacher remained in her subject room. After morning (Christian) assembly, the like of which was quite extraordinary to me, each child had to decide what to do. In each class-room were 'assignments' on the wall; the relevant text and exercise books were on shelves ready for use. When one's work was ready for correction, one waited for a turn with the teacher at her desk, to have it corrected and discussed as necessary. When a month's work was done she would sign the precious 'card' each child had, to show completion of that subject for that month. One was not allowed to go further ahead than one month with a favourite subject until all the others had been finished and shigned. There were no punishments and no prizes. Only a few classes were done in the more conventional way - e.g. sewing, music/singing, gymnastics.

At break time, for our elevenses (brought with us) we played in the grit back lane, up and down behind the other houses, for there was no playground as such. I was happy there and made some friends, who occasionally came home to play. I think they found our household a bit odd!

Summer with Granny

In the summer time our holidays were mostly spent with my Granny - on my mother's side. It is likely that this was due partly to lack of money for 'paid for' holidays, though we had a few of these at Easter times (to Oban, Arran and Millport, where, if I had known, I may well have overlapped with my future husband!).

Granny, Amelia Falconer Grose, nee Phillips, lived at 24, Higher Drive in Purley, Surrey. The journey to Granny's was always a great excitement. Trunks and cases pulled out, everything packed, picnics made for the main meal of the journey; a taxi (!) to Glasgow Central station, and the ritual visit, before the train started and once the porter had got us installed in the carriage, to see the huge engine of the Royal Scott already venting vast amounts of steam. The biggest treat was, if there was a friendly driver, to be lifted up into the cab to see all the instruments and see and feel the bright hot furnace.

On the journey we had a printed schedule of stations through which we would pass; this kept me busy at least part of the time. We were allowed the luxury of the afternoon tea, with waiter serving hot buttered teacakes with deference and tongs! All the journey the smuts blew in, but we never minded. When we arrived, another taxi (!) to take us from Euston to Victoria across London, where we got a suburban train to Purley. I used to remember the names of all the stations in order, chiefly because each one was yelled out at each stop by porters waiting for trade. A third taxi took us up the steep hill to nearly the top.

My Granny always wore long, dark dresses, relieved only by a white lace collar or perhaps a shawl. I was somewhat in awe of her, but she was very kind. In her bedroom, which was very elegant, I was sometimes allowed (gently) to make the glass pendants on the mantlepiece tinkle musically against each other. She always had a maid but there were always changes - I think now that this was probably because she was old fashioned in her ways and very strict. I remember the banishment (although I was not supposed to know) of one unfortunate who had managed to get pregnant - quite unforgivable in my Granny's eyes, I'm afraid.

Meals were always in the dining-room with a huge highly-starched white damask table-cloth and napkins. I know that early on I asked my mother (privately, thank goodness!) why and what Granny read in her plate at the beginning of the meal, for I couldn't see it in mine. "For what we are about to receive, the Lord make us truly thankful...". The maid served and was frequently reprimanded. Sometimes we had 'mould' for pudding; quite historic now, but quite good, I found, particularly if I was allowed a blob of jam with it. When the dining room was empty I was allowed to play under the table, which became an imaginary house. Sometimes cousins and other relatives (particularly Claude and Bubbles) would visit and we would have lovely cream teas served in the garden.

On Sundays Granny went to church. She accepted (I imagine reluctantly) that we had no religion and did not accompany her. We would usually walk up the hill to a sizable open space at the top (still there when Alan and I explored about 1990), where we would play ball or fly kites and I could run around. Sometimes my mother and I would go food shopping with Granny. In Sainsbury's (with marble floors and old-style wooden furnishings) she would be received with a comfortable chair to sit on while she made her order. Such items as butter or cheese (always in big blocks; nothing pre-packaged) would be tasted as a matter of course and perhaps rejected as too salt, or too strong. Sugar, flour, etc would be weighed out from big containers. When it came to biscuits (also weighed out from big tins on show) I was always given one as a treat by the man serving. Tea was in huge casks with funny writing which puzzled me. When all this ceremony was over, Granny would sweep out and the order was in due course delivered at No 24 where the maid had to check it all and Granny added up the bill as a countercheck!

In the garden at Granny's, where I spent many happy hours, she had lots of treasured Victoria plum trees. One of my jobs was to make little muslin bags, carefully sewn and with threads to pull them tight; these were carefully put around each plum while still unripe, and secured tightly, so that the wasps didn't get them. Another duty of mine was, at the appropriate stage, to go round the plum trees collecting the gum, which was later used by Granny for sticking things. Nothing was wasted in Victorian/Edwardian households!

I remember being awakend by my parents one night when it was already dark, to see the lights and black shape of the Zepellin airship passing over Granny's house. This was probably c. 1937 or 8. Sometimes we made trips into London to visit the zoo or other sightseeing, but this was not often. Twice we went to Cornwall and Devon for short holidays at the seaside from Granny's house, and several times to the Channel Islands - Sark, Jersey and Guernsey. I wouldn't be surprised if Granny paid for these.

About 1935 my father became very ill with kidney trouble while we were at Oban, on holiday. My Granny came to Glasgow to help and I took my first train journey alone, from Oban to Glasgow, while my mother stayed with my father as he was treated. For many years I remember Vichy water around the house, which I thought tasted absolutely foul. My parents were extremely concerned about the changes in Spain and in Nazi Germany in the mid-30s and onwards and I think worry plus his original difficult youth must have contributed to this illness. He passed a number of stones and became more healthy in later life.

Evacuated for the War

The political events leading up to 1939 cast a shadow over us all. As a child of 13 in 1939 I was, however, probably less aware than many of what was going on, due to our lack of radio. During the summer, however, Hillside School began to make preparations for evacuation from the city, in common with urban schools and individual children all over the country. Soon after the war with Germany was declared, we were evacuated as a school to Skelmorlie, near Largs, on the Clyde coast. This was, in fact, a crazy place to choose, since the boom for the submarines was nearby and a prime bombing target!

Anyway, we arrived to find ourselves allocated to one half of a large private house and gardens owned by two elderly and excentric brothers, one of them in a wheel-chair. They deeply resented this invasion of their peace and quiet; their cook was forced to share her kitchen with our cook and they quarrelled constantly. Their gardener lived in terror of our damage to his plants. Conditions for our accommodation were quite pleasant - our main dormitory, to which I was allocated, was in a large room with many windows giving onto the river and fine views. Those of our teachers, I gather, were not so good and everyone became on edge. We had a lot of fun as children there, however.

I have two main memories associated with our dormitory. I had for the first time had glasses prescribed for short-sightedness, which had previously gone undiscovered; wearing them there for the first time I literally fell over the ends of the beds and other furniture - it was a revelation that one could see with such clarity, but I needed to adjust judgment of distances for quite some time. The second dormitory memory was of our taking turns at night to stand on the main windowsill making an 'X' with arms and legs, while the searchlight from the boom lit us up every few seconds as it went round. Definitely not allowed, but I'd love to know whether those working the searchlight really saw us, as we were quite convinced they did!

I discovered that we were all expected to attend church on Sunday. I went along with the rest the first time and was appalled by a very racist sermon from the pulpit. This led to a clash for me with my headmistress, as I requested exemption, which had to be referred to my parents. In the end I was allowed to stay away with a younger Jewish pupil and had the duty of washing her hair instead. Strangely, after a long gap of time, we re-met in the Glasgow University Women's club (London) in about 1990. I have another good friend in the Club from the same period - both became doctors. We gave ourselves fish nicknames at Skelmorlie - mine was Shell, which stuck for many a year. However, all in all, things deteriorated seriously during our first evacuation year; food was poor and I developed bad boils for which I had to have treatment in Glasgow. Weekends were our only "Freedom", when some of our parents visited, either by train or by car (if they could get the petrol). These visits meant a wonderful expedition to Largs for enormous plates of fish and chips.

Laurel Bank

At the end of the school year my prents decided to let me come back to Glasgow, which up to then had not been bombed. I was much relieved and even more so when the bombings did begin. It would have been much worse to be a divided family in those circumstances. So I was enrolled in my next (conventional) school, Laurel Bank, in Lilybank Gardens, where I quickly settled down. Half the school was evacuated, so we had lots of space for our half. Only one thing made me enormously embarrassed: I was "allowed" to use up my former "nigger brown" with orange school uniform because of clothes rationing and expense - and I stuck out like a sore thumb among green and yellow until, thankfully, I grew out of the old set.

I have "bitty" memories of the war. My father had to make fitting wooden frames for all the windows at home, carefully covered with black paper. If so much as a chink of light showed there would be shouts from the air-raid wardens of "put out them lights". My father had night duties on the University roof to put out incendiaries which might fall; everyone crept around with torches. We as children had all been issued with gas-masks and theoretically instructed in their use. We had to carry them around with straps over our shoulders. We also had incendiary drill, but I never had to apply it. Food of various kinds was rationed, butter and sugar being prticularly short. "Grow for Victory" was the slogan and many people tried to supplement by work on allotments. When the convoys for ships from the USA got going, we were lucky to have a good American friend and an English cousin of mine who took part and who would arrive with bags of culinary treasures - tins of meat, eggs, dried egg, dried milk, chocolates, flour, sugar. There were queues at the shops for items not rationed which had become scarce - and word would get round that there was some precious item 'in' at such and such a local store. In fact, due to careful govenment planning and healthy eating recommendations, the population during the war was well fed as far as basic diet was concerned. Petrol was, of course, rationed and kept primarily for doctors and other essential services. This meant that many evacuated children could hardly ever see their parents or other relatives. We had no car, in any case.

One night in the second or third year of the war, my mother fainted at night in the bathroom and broke her jaw. I had to run the house for some time until the jaw healed and she was allowed home. I had to do this a second time when she was ill and had to have a hysterectomy. Once my father was visiting her in hospital in the black-out and, while crossing extensive grounds in complete darkness, landed in the middle of a wet rose bed. He was really cross, hurt and filthy.

The air-raid sirens' sound still makes my stomach turn over. We were instructed at home to go down to the neighbours below, taking our thermos flasks, food, blankets, etc. with us. The roof of the well at the top of our flats was all glass and one of the big dangers was to be caught on the stair when a raid was on. Not so far from us were all the shipyards at Yoker, a prime target which, however, was often missed at the expense of houses and blocks of flats. It was interesting how people at such times supported each other completely selflessly. War has one good side: it draws people closer in many ways.

At school things went on in a fairly controlled way. In 1942 I took the bulk of my 'Highers' and did well; in 1943 I added more, including German, which I had not thought about much since 1934. I passed with full marks, to the great chagrin of our violinist Landau's son, who was German and had bet me that he would do better!.

In my last year at school I was one of the Triumvirate of head girls. I also found myself playing piano for the hymns at assembly! This was a problem, because often I didn't know the tunes - as the others did - and the head would sail into assembly giving me just the hymn number, without even a chance to try it through. Our headmistress was greatly respected and was another example (like my grandmother) of someone still wearing the long skirts of an earlier era. Although strict, she was always kind and scrupulously fair. I felt sufficiently attached to the school and my friends there to return to Glasgow many years later for a reunion where we met again and where the school was to show us its temendous expansion since our days.

Glasgow University

The war dragged on. In June 1943 I left Laurel Bank and went through all the formalities of enrolement at Glasgow University. For some time before this my father had started to learn Russian for scientific purposes. He taught me the alphabet and it was not long before I became 'hooked'. I had, of course, read my way through many Russian classics in English translation, but was very drawn to the language and the idea of being able to read in the original. A long haul! My school did not offer Russian. I worked along for some of the summer and made up my mind to tackle the only way on offer at University. This meant enrolling as for French and German honours (the four-year course), at the same time studying Russian basics in the first and second years and then doubling up the second and third year Russian courses in the third year. I was eventually given permission to switch Russian for French.

University in 1943-5 was a strange place, most of the men having been called up for military service of some kind [Granny, Alan's mother, had a similar experience in World War 1]. As it happened, I worked in Russian honours with two men, but they had exemptions for medical reasons. Social activities were somewhat curtailed. I recall, for instance, that at German Club dances we had to invite some cadets from outside the University in order to have a mixed occasion. They were very confused when we sang German drinking songs. I joined the University choir and took part in a number of clubs but was not a political animal!

I recall remnants of the strict division of the sexes - for instance, in the separate unions for men and for women and in the division of the round reading room for undergraduates into two distinct sides of seating - one for men and one for women! Lectures, however, were mixed.

We were expected to wear the red, undergraduate gowns and were, in fact, often grateful for their warmth in the chill, wet climate of Glasgow and with the heating retrictions imposed by the war conditions. The Russian department was housed high up in one of the houses of University Gardens; I spent much of my time perched there, overlooking University Avenue and the staff houses of the university on the far side.

It was at this stage that I first met Alastair Smart, second son of the Professor of Astronomy - my first close boy-friend. His home was in the staff houses but he was studying in Edinburgh and was later to become Professor of Art in Nottingham for many years. All three Smart sons were academics and all became professors, but in very different fields.

In 1946-7 the menfolk began returning to their interrupted University courses and male entrants to the University gradually increased. Things could not be back to normal so quickly after the end of the war in 1945, however. In language honours courses one was expected to spend long periods abroad in the countries of one's chosen two languages; this was at my time quite impossible. Instead, all over Britain, summer courses were organised to give students the chance to live their languages and practice conversationally. My first of these, in Russian, was in Oxford in summer 1945, just when the war finished - so I took part in the celebrations at Carfax in the centre. The second I attended was in London at College Hall, opposite Birkbeck College, in summer 1946, when I was in the top class. I met a young student there from Cambridge, who was beginning Russian studies for science and was in the first class - he was Alan Lindsay Mackay, later to become my husband. At that time he took me for my first visit to Cambridge, which I have loved so much ever since.

National Central Library

Graduation (June 1947 with MA Hons. 1st Class) was a turning point in my life. My Russian Professor had been involved with a government commission on Slavonic studies in Britain, which included a project to survey and catalogue printed Russian material held in British libraries. This project was to be organised from 1947 onwards by the National Central Library and government money was provided for two graduates to be trained there, who would then undertake the work. My Prof was determined that I should be one of these two. I had been very uncertain what to do after my graduation and had in fact got a scholarship to a prominent Secretarial college, St. Godric's, to train in typing, shorthand and all the duties of a secretary with languages. I was, however, overriden in this and found myself before long heading to London for my first ever job and for my first fully independent life. It was both exciting and a bit frightning at the same time.

At the National Central Library (N.C.L., later to become part of the British Library) I soon made friends. I found that my partner in this project was a very vivacious and volatile Serbian woman graduate from Cambridge, whose family had come as refugees from Hitler's invasion. I was soon a constant visitor at their house in South Kensington and quickly took to their very different way of life and customs. I also found myself absorbing Serbo-Croat by ear and getting it mixed up with Russian! That knowledge was to come in useful later.

Through friends of my parents I found accomodations at the Women's Farm and Garden Association, in Byng Place, next door to the N.C.L., so I had no travelling to do and could even lunch at home if I wished. I first shared a room with a much older woman, a milliner, with whom I had nothing whatsoever in common, and whose beliefs were based on a literal interpretation of the bible. Soon, however, I was able to move to a room of my own with everything I needed. It was shaped like a tube, heated by a coin-in-the-slot gas fire; I bought for it, from my first salary, a small fire-side chair. Thus the joys of one's first earning and being self-supporting!

After a while at the N.C.L. the two of us were regarded as trained and ready to be sent into the field. This involved going into libraries in different towns and locating and cataloguing all the Russian-language material we could find. We had to learn different classifications to find our way to what we needed, and to relate to many different kinds of people. Frequently we were met with obvious delight - to be shown a dirty cupboard full of books and pamphlets and a plea for help with cataloguing them, as they had no one with the language. We were given quarters in many different types of accomodation, and soon got used to adapting to all kinds of circumstances. One of the oddest for me was an agricultural research institute in Reading, where I had to walk to work through a field of enormous bulls! I was allotted much of the work in Scotland and this enabled me to visit my parents at intervals. As the work progressed, more staff were acquired and trained and in due course I found myslef in charge of the R.U.C (Russian Union Catalogue) when Kosara Garrilovic (my Serbian Colleague) resigned after a few years.

Before this occurred, however, we did a great deal together out of work hours. There were in Britain a number of agricultural camps where 'D.P.s' (displaced persons from the war) were housed and sent out to do agricultural work in the surrounding countryside. One such was in Raleigh in Essex, where a substantial group of Yugoslavs were placed. They were entirely a male group, mostly Serbs but also Croats and a group of gypsies. They were maintaining some aspects of their original agricultural life, but not all had been peasants - there was a prominent opera singer and a trainee orthodox priest, for example. Kosara and I made a number of expeditions to visit them and help organise some social activities. Most of these consisted of dancing many Kolos to the playing of the gypsies on ancient violins and singing folk and other songs. We dressed in the costumes thay had managed to salvage and managed to put on a simple play, which everyone enjoyed. The shoemaker of the group made me a beautiful pair of opantsi, specially to measure. One of the men in the camp became so moved by the role of love-sick maiden that I was given in the play that a delegation of his friends came to Kosara to ask for my hand in marriage (the conventional way such things were done). This had, of course, to be tactfully refused on the grounds that I was already engaged. The excuse was, in fact, true, as I had accepted Alastair's proposal after much heart-searching. It was not long, however, before we both realised we had made a mistake; the engagement was broken off and, in due course, it was in fact Kosara who brought Alan and myself together again after the break all this had caused.

My home in Byng Place was very close indeed to Birkbeck College, where Alan was working and studying. From my room it was just possible to wave from the window to Alan's old laboratory in one of the old row of houses behind the college buildings (these houses have now gone and the site has become part of the new School of Oriental and African Studies buildings). The 'old' lab. was a very matey place where all the staff knew each other; I was happy to be drawn into this group. Professor Bernal had the top floor as a flat and it was there that Picasso drew his quick sketch on the white wall, and Paul Robson sang, his huge voice nearly exploding the old house around him.

Married Life!

Gradually Alan and I became closer and closer until in November 1951 (the 9th) we were married. This took place in Camden Town Hall on Euston Road; we had our parents and those of the immediate family who could make it at the ceremony itself, and finished with a lovely meal at a French restaurant.

After the ceremony we went to our new home for a few days - a rented flat on the first floor of a large house at 38 Queen's Avenue, Muswell Hill, N.10. Our landlady was very friendly and turned out to be a distant relative of Wyndham Lewis. We remember Alan's father causing a minor explosion in the bathroom there, by turning on the gas cylinder too rapidly; it was very old, and we were fortunate that nothing terrible ensued. We also had an unforgettable incident with a pigeon which managed to fall down the chimney of our living room. I was left holding newpapers over the fireplace to stop it entering the room, while Alan rushed to get his motor-bike cover to catch it in; however, before he could get back, the pigeon had had pecked its way through the paper and into the room, and in its terror left black patches on all the walls as it flew helplessly around. We eventually captured it, but the cleaning up took time!

All this while we were both continuing our respective work. I had more consolidation of the union catalogue to do, so was increasingly in London. Alan was completing his PhD under Bernal. We had a wonderful holiday one summer on the motor-bike, covering from one end of the French Pyrenees to the other. As my holidays were more restricted than Alan's, I returned to London by train before him. On his return journey on the motor-bike, Alan had a major accident on Highgate Hill (not his fault) and had complex leg fractures; he was taken to Whittington hospital where he was very ill and took some time to recover. To this day he still has a metal plate in the leg. There came the time, shortly after his being allowed home, for the viva for his PhD; the adjudicators (including Prof. Bernal), kindly agreed to come to our home for the viva to take place there. We had the anxious decision as to whether to give them sherry before the viva... Anyway, all was well and in due course Alan came off crutches and was able to live a normal life.

By 1955 we were planning to have a family, and this meant that we decided to find ourselves a new home with more room. We found a pleasant three-bedroomed house in North Finchley, at No 83, Mayfield Avenue, N.12., which we duly purchased (leashold) for what seemed to us the large sum of £2500. We decided that when our baby arrived (March 2nd 1956) we would share the duties of looking after him half-days. This would enable Alan to keep up his Birkbeck evening lectures and allow me to continue part-time at N.C.L. This plan worked for a while but became difficult to implement, so in due course we opted to have an au pair to look after Robert Hague Mackay for the mornings, and I took over in the afternoons. Marianne Bernhard (later Bruder) from Switzerland settled in and the plan worked well. She and I sometimes cut it fine in the transfer because of transport problems, but we managed. Robert was received in the two families, the Mackays and the Hagues, with great rejoicing; the first grandchild to both and the first great-grandchild to Robina McLellan.

It had been the custom for some years for the Mackay family to take a friend's house in North Wales at Pwllheli for summer holidays. In the summer of 1955 we took Drago Grdenic from Zagreb with us on this holiday; also there were Rogan and Granny Robina. We wanted to tell our news of a baby coming to Robina before anyone else, only to find that she and Alan's parents had already guessed what was going on.

Little Robert flourished. I recall a visit from Alan's parents to us, when Father rather shyly asked whether he could watch Robert having his breast-feed and when I could see his happiness at sharing in this ritual. In the 1950s it was still safe to put one's small child in the pram (still the large coach-style one) in the front garden, to watch life passing by. We were able to do this with all three of our children. Robert took great delight in the visit of the milkman in the morning. Milk came on a cart pulled by a large horse and the milkman and Robert developed a series of calls "O-O" to each other, which began as soon as Robert spotted the horse and continued until they disappeared at the far end of the road. When the cart drew in line with our house, Robert shook with a mixture of joy and terror at the huge animal beside him. We came to refer to the milk-man as "O-O".

Towards the end of 1957 our second baby was due. At this stage I resigned from the N.C.L., having served for ten years. They asked what I would like as a farewell gift; I suggested a few pyrex dishes. When my farewell 'do' was held, I was amazed to see that a huge tea-chest size box was being presented to me. In it were an enormous number of pyrex pieces of all kinds, many of which I am still using in 1993. I had planned a month's "free" time at home to prepare for the new baby and train our very young new au pair from Switzerland, Vera Hass (later Molnar) in her duties. As it turned out, Andrew David Mackay decided to arrive early, on 1st November 1957, so it was a somewhat terrified young person who had to be awakened in the night shortly after her arrival in England to be told that I was going into hospital (University College Hospital, as with Robert) and she would be in charge of small Robert! She coped wonderfully in the event, and Alan also. On my return home with the new baby, I found we had a newly-papered bathroom with a fish/seaweed theme, which all enjoyed. Some time later I discovered to my amusement that the staff at the N.C.L. had been convinced I would give birth there and the libary had looked with concern at the insufficiencies of their first-aid boxes for such an event!