The first home I remember well was a small house in St Helen’s Road, Booterstown, Dublin, with a peat oven in the kitchen, a piano in the back room - and plenty of happy memories.
Before that, I’d been living in Bulgaria, where my father was a British consul. But my mother was Irish, and my father insisted the family move there when World War II broke out. He went to fight in Cairo, and was killed in 1942.
I moved to Dublin with my mum, my older brother Frank, younger brother Patrick and our nanny, in 1940. We went to stay with my uncle Jack and aunt Eva. They were kind people who were happy to take us in.
The house had a back room with a piano in it. Jack used to play for us and my mother would tease him because every song he attempted was in the key of C. The house had three bedrooms: one for my aunt and uncle, another for us boys and our cousins and one for my mother. I shared a bed with my brothers.
All the kids helped my uncle build an air raid shelter in the small back garden. I don’t know how much use we were but when you’re ten, you think you do all the work, don’t you? My aunt was a splendid cook - she taught me to make soda bread and I still use her recipe.
Though I was only ten, I’d been through quite a lot and felt quite unsettled. I knew my father was in danger and there had always been talk of moving on, so nowhere felt like home. I used to swim to forget my worries. At 11, I entered a three-mile swimming race. The club sent an escort boat in case I sank to the bottom but I won. I was so happy.
My last Irish relative died in Waterford 15 years ago, but until then I would visit regularly. My late wife, Sally Home, and I would go across whenever we had the opportunity. We loved the slow pace of life there. We moved to Yorkshire, but I missed Ireland. It will always have a special place in my heart.