John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)


Mona Lisa of Wales

Even in such a large family, each child is a different individual from the next, eager to learn but resilient to forceful influence. Strictly brought up, well-mannered, we lived side by side without a lot of disharmony. Our sisters and brother our friend and so it has remained. All of us wanting to be independent above all, but turning to and receiving love and help from each other at different times, through our lives. No matter how many years go by, to meet is to be back on our old level.

How sad that we never had the opportunity to re-embrace our father in this way. I suppose in a way Tenby has become our shrine for him, and to go back to visit is to go back to our childhood. Walks along the North Beach to see dad at the Lifeboat Station ... and ask his permission for whatever, we would never have dreamed of operating without it. Money was short so we knew not to ask for it. But so many of our pleasures cost nothing, so that was no hardship, and the War years were lean for everyone, most of our friends didn't have a lot more than us. Those who were well off, didn't seem snobbish, we were invited into their homes and given a share at tea-time.

As we all progressed through school (one or two years ahead of the next) between us we were, amongst all the other children in the town of school age, known as one of the Cottams.

During the War teachers were scarce but Wales is a nation of schoolteachers and we were well blessed. Ossie Morgan our headmaster held in high regard, strict but fair with a genuine love of children, he played host to evacuees in his own home. He had a fine singing voice, and always took us himself for music.

Ensor Morgan was a fine man. Home from the War he took over Standard Three when I was there, the first day in class I remember this handsome man with thick dark curly hair and a decidedly auburn moustache: a fly kept landing on it first one side then the next, so gently and so many times he brushed it off. As he discovered my leaning to Literature and Art we became friends, he didn't have any children of his own. He called me his Mona Lisa, because of my features and my long thick hair, he used to ask me to sit and read to him while he marked our books.


Extract from A Tenby Lifeboat Family by Avis Nixon

Published at Tenby in the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park (Wales, UK)

As a Star of Pembrokeshire Series Paperback