Dogs and Doodlebugs
‘Rrrruff !’ It was the first proper word I ever uttered, according to my mother, and was directed with the ‘r’ fully rolled from the pulpit of my highchair at my grandparents’ large and affable liver and white springer spaniel, who was a family favourite for many years. He must have been the imprint for my love of dogs and indeed the basis for my affection and respect for all animals.
I was born Jennifer Mary Banning in Sevenoaks, Kent in March 1942, my parents living in a rented ground floor flat, and my maternal grandparents a few minutes walk away along a footpath which dipped up and down through the fields to such an extent that it was known locally as ‘The Switchback’. If I think of it, I see the vivid green of early summer grass and a tall haze of white which I take to be cow’s parsley as viewed from the safe seat of my push chair.
It was war time . . . . . ..
On the beach with my mother – West Mersea Essex circa 1945