PHYLLIS AT SEA
After the war, business continued as usual. The years rolled on, the profits rolled in. They bought a house in Twickenham close to the river for which Stanley bought a MTB (an ex Navy Motor Torpedo Boat).
He set about converted it for as well as being a chef, Stanley had an ear for engines and enjoyed working on them. He became an excellent self taught mechanic.
The boat he named Micawber after a character in Dickens’ David Copperfield. Micawber means “One who is poor but lives in optimistic expectation of better fortune,” a view somewhat similar to mine and I don’t think I’m alone here.
One day Stanley suggested to Phyllis that she prepare herself, and Claudette their young daughter – now my wife – for a longer than average weekend on the boat. He said he wanted to test the engines, and wanted to go just a little further than usual.
They sailed down the Thames and headed across the channel. Turned left, followed the coast then headed south. They reached the French coast.
Phil had been taking it easy enjoying the rock of the boat and had drifted to sleep, snoring gracefully.
It was then that all hell broke loose. The coast came alight. Rockets filled the sky. Colour and smoke were everywhere with fireworks springing from every angle.
“Cor, this is fabulous,” said Phil. “What a welcome! This is amazing! If they are this pleased to see us, I’m staying!”
“I think you’ll find it’s Bastille Day, mother,” said Claudette. She was a clever kid.
It was only when they go down to Marseille that Phyllis thought it time to question Stanley as to the condition of the engines and ‘just when were they planning to go back?’ for she had high tea to fix.
Well, they missed that tea in Twickenham and did not head back for many a year. For Stanley had sold the last of the cafes and had put the house on the market. He tended to do these things on his own as he didn’t want to worry Phyllis to much about business. Phyllis preferred it like this. She liked the surprise of not knowing what might happen next.
They found a very pleasant berth in the old port at Cannes, on the Quai St Pierre, tied up and stayed. And stayed.
They chartered the boat, providing hospitality for those in need, getting involved in near-death experiances – one where they were in a storm so huge and the waves so gigantic that they could not see where they were going until, suddenly, every thing went quiet. Purely by chance, oh and the hand of God, – they had sailed straight through between huge rocks to find themselves in a natural harbour.
They met and befriended the rich and famous, played Monopoly with Cotton and Clore (two wildly successful post-war property tycoons) on the after deck of Micawber.
Phylliss wrote for the local English paper while Claudette continued her education at the South of France University of Life.
But of course it wouldn’t last.
C 2010 J Hepworth SnorBan UK Ltd