top of page

Joe & Marguerite.

Mum & Dad.

Marguerite and Joe were married in Boat-of-Garten Church on June 4th 1949. Marguerite had got a teaching post in the Harrow area  in  North  West London,  and they had found a flat to  rent, the  top floor of a house in  Northwood. This was close enough to the school where Marguerite was teaching and also close enough to a station so  that Joe could commute to his work at Odhams Press in Central London.

June 4th 1949.  From the Left.  Alice Cameron (Collet), David Duffin, Elsie Cameron, Marguerite, Joe, Elenor Eliza Duffin(Purser) Steve Hall, Edith Cameron ( Brown) George Cameron.  In front Yvonne Cameron.

George about to give his Little Sister away.

 

First Steps.

 

They were newly married, and doubtless money was tight, as it is for most newly­ weds.  Number one priority  was to  save enough  money to  be able to put down a deposit to buy a house of their own. Through hard work and hard saving they managed to do this in  a  few years  and  they  bought one of  London's  multitude of Suburban sem-detached  houses. They moved  into Lancaster  Road  in  North Harrow at number 22.

 

Very soon after this their first son Michael was born, then four years later, in 1956, their second, and so much better son, Neil followed. In 1959  the family  moved all of a few doors up the road  to  Number 11. This move was  not  as daft as it sounds, there are two sizes of houses in Lancaster Rd, and  their  move was from a smaller one to  a larger one. As  well as  being a slightly  larger house, it had a garage, and  like  many   people   in   those   prosperous   times,  they  had aspriations to become car owners.

Whilst with a growing family the larger house was most welcome, they were not anxious to look too for afield. They liked North Harrow as a place to live,  they had settled into the area and made new friends, especially Marguerite who soon got to know other young women with small children. The local schools were good, Joe's commute to London was acceptable on the Metropolitan Line and being close to the outer edge of London there was very easy access to some remarkably unspoiled countryside in the Chiltern Hills.

 

When they were living at 22 Lancaster Rd, a few doors up at Number ll  lived  their friends Jack and Agnes with their daughter Rachael. Jack worked at an Art College in Harrow, but he was offered a much more senior post at a college in Leeds. As both Jack and Agnes were from that part of the country  they  were making the move. Their house at Number 11 was one of the larger houses, with a garage and a good sized garden, so when they told Joe  and  Marguerite about the job in Leeds, opportunity beckoned.

 

It seemed like too good a chance to miss. Getting in first, before Jack and Agnes had instructed an Estate  Agent,  they arranged the deal between themselves and split the saving from not  having  an agent. And so we moved to 11 Lancaster Rd, where we stayed for the next 20 years or so.

In the late 197o's having waited long enough to ensure that both sons had left home and should not be returning, Joe & Marguerite  moved to a larger and much nicer house in Pinner. If you have to live in or near London then Church lane in Pinner is a good place to be. Two minutes from shops and station but so far as the rest of London is concerned, you could be on a different planet.

Once again there was method behind their move. A semi in North Harrow to an individual house on Church Lane, Pinner in one go is a big step and must have been a major financial commitment. It was presumably only in the latter part of Joe's working life and with both kids mainly off their hands that such a move became affordable. If you cant have the more spacious house whilst you have your own kids, you may as well enjoy it with your grand-kids. As it turned out, "Laneside" with its large garden was popular with all four of their Grand children , so they got that right.

They were destined to live out the rest of their lives in Pinner over the next 35 years. Strangely though, it never felt like a family home, as neither Michael or Myself ever actually lived there apart from a few fairly short spells between houses, jobs or wives.

Joe and Marguerite loved Pinner and quickly assimilated themselves into what still likes to regard itself as a village. God forbid that it should be called a suburb !! How common and vulgar would that be. They soon had a wide circle of new friends of mixed age groups. Following his retirement Joe became a pillar of the local Rotary Club.

Joe & Marguerite

in later life.

After a busy working life in business Joe found retirement a bit hard to take at first, finding that he needed some way of using his brain and the business skills gained over so many years, also something to give some point to life other than leisure. Across the road from them was Pinner House, a striking Georgian mansion now sub-divided into 20 retirement apartments with a live in warden. This ran as a  charity using funds raised from local events to subsidise the rents of their tenants according to their need. This allowed them to provide a much higher quality of accommodation and support than many would have been able to afford.

Around the time that Joe retired Pinner House was struggling financially and closure threatened. After the head of the charity gave the Rotary Club a talk about Pinner House and what they did, Joe volunteered his services.

With a lifetime of management and business behind him, Joe "advised" the trustees of Pinner House how things could be run more efficiently with the most made of their charitable funds. He advised on future fundraising and assisted an application for a substantial lottery grant to fund extensive refurbishment. When 20 years later he finally stepped down due to ill health, Pinner House was much extended and financially secure. This earned Joe the sincere gratitude of all connected with the organisation and following his death a memorial tree and plaque were planted in thanks for all that he had done for them.

Joe and Marguerite's marriage and our family were very nearly terminated very much sooner than it was. In 1970 Joe started to complain of severe headaches and he seemed to be off balance. He kept bumping into things on his right and when driving the car would alarmingly drift towards the wrong side of the road.

Something was clearly amiss and after he was eventually prevailed upon to see a doctor it took little time for a diagnosis to be reached, he had an enormous tumour growing on his brain.

One benefit of living in London is access to some of the finest medical care to be found anywhere. At The National Institute for Neurosurgery in Queen's Square London, they had the very first CT scanner to be installed in the UK and with the benefit of this accurate imaging, surgery was planned. They would attempt removal of the tumour however it was larger than any that had previously been removed without there being residual brain damage. The odds were not good, a 1 in 3 chance of surviving the operation and a vanishingly small chance of being anything other than severely brain damaged if he did survive.

The evening before the surgery Mike & I were taken to see him for what we assumed to probably be the last time. Mike & I were packed off to stay with friends whilst Mum stood vigil at the hospital, we all waited  for the worst. After 9 hours of surgery and anxious hours  outside of the ITU finally news arrived, he had not just survived but was sitting up in bed asking for his supper.  The day that "Dad had his brain out" was never forgotten.

Somehow he managed to shrug off such enormous surgery as though nothing had happened, amazingly he had virtually no lasting effects at all never mind the severe brain damage. The one thing was that the huge saucer sized piece of his skull that had to be removed then replaced to allow them to dig around in his brain, never joined back up, so for the rest of his life it wobbled around and moved up and down with changes in pressure inside his head. When later in life he lost much of his hair the scar and the loose side of his head was always good for fascinating the grand-children.

His was it seemed, a truly remarkable case, by rights he should have died under the knife, or at least be alive but a gibbering shell of a man. Fortunately neither outcome happened and he came through it all physically and intellectually unscarred. His case was written up in medical journals and for quite a number of years the Royal College of Surgeons used him as a living case study in their surgical exams. They all had to examine the huge hole in his skull with its wobbly loose plate of bone.

Many years later he was going to have an MRI scan for an unrelated problem, it was only whilst completing the pre-scan safety checks that everyone remembered the metal clips inside his head used to close off some blood vessels during the surgery. The consequences of their being subjected to the massive magnetic pulses of an MR scan do not bear thinking about.  They would probably have been pulled right out of his head taking the loose bit of bone and half of his brain with them.  Not good !!

Joe and Marguerite hated getting old, and everything associated with it.  They were intelligent active people and found the restrictions hard to bear.

Around 2007 Joe's health started to decline as he developed what were thought to be long term effects of having his brain out. 

In June of 2009 Joe and Marguerite celebrated their Diamond Wedding, 60 years married, and were truly made up to get their traditional personal  greeting from The Queen. The wedding of grandson Mark was the last family occasion Joe got to, he died in November of that year.

Marguerite found this as hard to bear as one would expect, after 60 years married just how do you carry on? After a couple of years she seemed to be getting through it and started to look forward and once again find pleasure in life, family and friends. Sadly this was to be brief, in 2012 strange abdominal pains turned out to be pancreatic cancer, she died in December 2012.

The Walk of Shame.

After their wedding Joe and Marguerite set off on their honeymoon. In 1948  there were not many options for holidays, they spent theirs in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. They set off from Aviemore on the overnight sleeper train to London. It being their wedding night, they splashed out and for the first time for either of them, travelled First Class. This of course included a nice dinner in what in those days would have been a very smart Restaurant Coach.

As they were finishing their dinner and about to set off back to their sleeping cabin, for whatever reason, Joe took his handkerchief out of his jacket pocket, bringing with it a mall shower of confetti from the wedding earlier that day. This was, needless to say "noticed" and when they got up from their table, all of the restaurant staff formed a double line that they had to walk through as each staff member wished them " Goodnight Sir, Goodnight Madam"  along the length of the restaurant car. Much to the amusement of all of the the other staff and passengers.

bottom of page