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  • The ship docked in Marseilles and we took the train to Paris.

    Last time I took this route I did not get off to investigate France. It was a culture shock for me, after working as a volunteer in a communal farm wearing cheap cotton dresses and army surplus working gear to be surrounded by elegant French women.

    Now I was fascinated with the rickety lift that went up to an ancient apartment to Jacques’ maternal Aunt’s flat in the rue spontini, in the middle of Paris.

    My parents had experienced the blitz during the Second World War, but Janet had suffered the German occupation and shared many tales of the hardship they had to cope with. Jacques asked her many questions about his mother, who died when he was only three years old.
    and hung on every word as she talked fondly about her sister, ruing the day she was taken to Mexico by Jacques father.

    We learned more about her father who left her mother behind in Paris before the war and set up a business , which turned out to be one of the biggest stores in Mexico City, Puerto de Liverpool. I was mystified. How could his wife cope with her husband so far away.

    Image Jacques took this photo of me resting after the long journey in his aunt's bedroom
  • Jacques' favourite cousin Isabel, very slender with long blond hair, showed us around Paris, taking us to the top of the Eiffel Tower where Jacques took this photo of us together.

    The view was wonderful and I was grateful that Isobel spoke perfect English as I only remembered my French lessons at school very vaguely.
  • It was also a new experience for me when we were invited for dinner in the home of Jacques’ paternal uncle’s, where a different wine was served with each course, there was a complex table etiquette and the main topic of conversation was where the excellent ingredients for the meal had been bought and how they had been cooked by Uncle Bernard, a very warm and kind host.

    It was so different from my experience of eating family meals in England. My father just ate the food my mother put in front of him without commenting on the flavour or the freshness of the ingredients. Also the only wine that my father consumed was the holy wine blessed before the Friday night meal.

    Uncle Bernard won my heart when he took me to a parfumerie to buy me some perfume he thought best suited me. He chose Miss Dior.

    The time came for me, too soon, to travel to London and introduce Jacques to my family. I did not look forward to seeing my mother again.
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