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taj mahal

The Proposal The Honeymoon

A much happier occasion, Mum and Dad’s honeymoon was incorporated in the trip back to Calcutta where Dad now worked. Mum resigned from nursing on marriage. The newlyweds broke their journey at Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. They stayed with one of Mum’s maternal uncles, whose son Cyril Lettington was manager of the grand colonial hotel ‘Laurie’s’ in Agra.

(Mum had spoken about this hotel owned by the Hotz family when she lived in Agra as a child. The son Hans Hotz was a casual friend and belonged to the entrepreneurial family who seemed to own half of Agra. Laurie’s hotel and the Hotz family feature in the autobiography of‘ M.M.Kaye, author of ‘The Far Pavilions’).

In 1992 when the front pages of all our newspapers were filled with pictures of Princess Diana cutting a solitary figure on a bench in front of the Taj Mahal, I thought only of my mum and dad, so happy, sitting on that same marble bench. My mind was filled with a thousand images of past family history and I was back once more with Mum in the kitchen in Paston Lane, listening over and over again to her stories of India.

The Post Honeymoon Period.

Mum and Dad returned to Calcutta where Dad continued to work. Their home was the bottom flat in Howra, district of Calcutta. A Scottish couple called the Hepburns lived in the top flat. Mum told me her flat had one bedroom, a dining room and bathroom. The kitchen was outside in the outhouses. The flat was just big enough for two.

The flat was rented and Mum and Dad were unable to make any changes to it. The landlord whitewashed it.

My brother John was born within ten months of marriage and when he was only seven months old, he came by boat to settle in England in April 1937 with our parents. Mum was considered well ahead of her time as she decided to bottle feed John for convenience on the sea journey – not the norm for that period in time and I dare say many of the female passengers were horrified at the thought.

camera Click here to view a picture of Mum, Dad, and Baby John
on board the ship to England.

My Nana and Granddad had already settled in England shortly before Mum’s return. For a while, Mum and Dad lived with Mum’s parents at 23 Hemingford road, North Cheam, Surrey.

I loved this house, Mum said, it had a big garden which my Dad kept immaculately, three bedrooms, a large kitchen, living room, dining room and bathroom.

Her second child, my sister Alison was born at this house on 26th September 1937.
Mum and Dad then moved to Paston Lane in Peterborough on 18th June 1938.

camera Click here to view a picture of
Mum with John and Baby Alison.

On 15th January 1976 mum sold this house following Dad’s death in 1975. She then emigrated to Australia in February of the same year, attracted by the hot climate; need for change and a desire to spend time with her brother Basil and his Australian wife Pam.

After almost forty years in England, the majority of them spent in Peterborough, the call of this country and family was too great and she returned in 1977. She died in Peterborough on October 25th 1998 at the age of eighty eight. The Ayahs prophecy about a long life had come true.

How I wish she was still here to enthral me with more of her stories.

But I have not quite finished. I have a few stories about Mum’s brothers to tell. Some I remember Mum telling me, and some given to me by Robert’s (Basil) wife Pam; stories he had related to her. I have not felt qualified to write them in story form as I have done with Mum’s. This is because I had little information about the brothers, so any story telling would be purely fictitious and could detract totally from the truth. spacer

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The Story of Beatrice Mary Mason. Written by F. J. Louis | Copyright © 2009