Conceived at the Ritz, born in the Blitz

15 Apr

Excerpt from Chapter 1: Upminster Kid

Although Molly [Ian’s aunt] had moved out of the house in Weald Rise some time before and gone to live with a friend in Oxford, she believes she was staying with her sister when Ian was born. “I was up in London off and on because the chap who was my boss had been made head of Nuffield College in Oxford,” she says. “He went back to that and then Winston Churchill or somebody decided he’d be a good person to send out to America and so he was sent off there, and while he was getting ready to go, I was in London for a few months. I have certainly got this memory in my mind of Peg going into labour and the midwife who was with her came out and called over the stairs to my mother, ‘Oh Mrs walker, come up, you’ve a lovely grandson’.” In an interview for Mojo magazine in 1998, Ian joked that he was “conceived at the back of the Ritz and born at the height of the Blitz!”

When Ian’s birth was registered two days later, his father was described on the certificate as an ‘omnibus driver’, but he was ambitious and soon expanded his horizons. He embarked on a training programme with Rolls-Royce which would open up a more fulfilling and lucrative career as a chauffeur for affluent businessmen. After obtaining his certificate, William Dury, or Bill to his friends, began to spend more and more time away from his wife and infant son and the marriage suffered. As bombs continued to rain down on London, Peggy moved away from Harrow and, with her son and the two evacuees, went back to her mother’s house in Mevagissey.

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