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A Tale of Two Countries

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Our trunks had mysteriously turned up on time at Hook of Holland. They were loaded into the hold of a P & O ferry to Harwich.

I wired Clive telling him we would land the next day and then hung around the post office to await a reply. An hour later, there was still no word from him so we boarded the vessel and stayed inside, because it was raining.

I had never believed we would make it this far. We were going to England.



The rain had finally stopped when we disembarked at Harwich the next morning. The paperwork we had to oversee to have our trunks sent to Penge and the lengthy business of going through customs were done under a smiling, sunny sky.

A boy offered to take our suitcases on a trolley to the train. The railway station was only a few hundred yards away from the quay.

We set off, threading our way through throngs of passengers until we came to a street lined with parking cars.

‘Hello!’ we heard. Most vehicles were stereotypical black British cabs. I assumed it was a driver offering his service.

But then Nick gasped audibly. ‘Look…over there,’ he whispered.

And then I saw it, that is a pearl-grey Sunbeam sparkling in the sun and after that the man leaning against it. He was dressed in blue tweed and a matching felt hat and holding a cigarette.

As I heard Nick mutter unintelligibly, the man raised his head until I could see intensely blue eyes behind gold-rimmed glasses from under the brim of his hat.

He dropped his cigarette and held out his arms. Now we were near him.

‘There you go,’ Nick said to the porter. ‘A shilling. We can manage from here.’

The boy left and then Clive Durham drew us to him in a smell of tobacco and spring flowers.

‘You’re here, the two of you are finally here,’ he whispered, blinking to hold back tears.

Yes, we were in England now.