Friday, 17 August 2012


How a husband reacts to the news that his wife is pregnant depends, it seems to me, on their personal circumstances. When Eve told me she was expecting, I was not at all sure that I was ready for fatherhood. I had read the literary mandarin Cyril Connoly’s book Enemies of Promise in which he stated that one undoubted enemy of a writer was the pram in the hall. A baby, therefore, was more than likely to stop me taking the risk of going freelance as Eve would obviously have to stop modelling at some stage. So a career in advertising was again the probable solution. I leafed through relevant magazines, sent a CV and my book of cartoons to a number of agencies and, in time, was offered a job as a copywriter which I knew it would be foolish to refuse.
 The big hurdle was telling Eddy of my intention. I chose a Saturday morning in Pangbourne when he was fishing at the bottom of the garden.

 He did not react kindly.
 Did I realize how hard it had been for him to train me for the position I now held ? How difficult it had been for him to convince the Board that I should be made a director? Had I no sense of loyalty? Of gratitude?  I put an end to the flow.

 'Eve is expecting a baby, she wiill have to stop working and I can earn a great deal more in advertising than the firm can afford.' I said.
 He stopped reeling in the little silver spoon at the end of his line, I watched it sink in the shallow water.
 'I suppose it will bear my name?'  he said testily.
 I had not thought about it before, but any child of mine would not be his grandchild. The man was obsessed. It was a bitter comment which gave me a reason to turn on my heels and walk away.
 The atmosphere at lunch time proved so deadly that Eve and I went back to London that afternoon. My mother was again the one to take the brunt of the situation, but she had at last hardened her attitude to the whole sad business and managed to cope.

 Eve was very slim, wasp waisted, not anorexic, but thin enough for the gynaecologist to warn her that because, in her case, the pregnancy might not become very evident, she should resist the temptation to go on modelling for too long.
 She told Digby Morton she would have to leave, he had not quite finished designing a dress for Queen Soraya of Persia, creating and fitting it on Eve, so begged her to stay until after the royal presentation.
 On the day of the show all went well. She walked up and down the rostrum as elegantly as ever, a surprise party to bid her goodbye was thrown by the other models afterwards. The champagne flowed, a good time was had by all, but that night Eve woke up in great pain. Something was going very wrong with the baby.
 I called the doctor, she was rushed to hospital, nothing could be done and she miscarried. 

 I paced the floor of the clinical corridor outside an emergency room and, when she was wheeled out, pale and distraught, she could only repeat again and again through unbearable tears 'It was a little was a little boy.'

 They sedated her. I was told to go home and, numbed, I walked the empty night streets of London realizing that I had not, over the past months, been too concerned about what she had been going through. Suddenly this expected child had been prematurely born and died, a tiny unfinished human being which I had felt kicking magically inside her and which I had never imagined could be lost.
 Eve remained in hospital for the next few days which were spent by both of us being very British, with stiff upper lips, pretending that the tragedy was not a tragedy and that we would get over it without difficulty.
 Major Bill, who avoided unpleasantness at all costs, did not visit her, but  Doris hardly left her side. My mother came once but found it difficult to handle the situation as she sensed that Eve did not want any display of emotion and Eddy, unexpectedly, rang me, offering help, financial or otherwise if we needed it and apologised for the unfair remark he had made when fishing at the bottom of the garden. His genuine sympathy and effort to overcome his own feelings helped towards a reconciliation but did not deter me from giving in my notice to the Board a while later.
 It was agreed that I would not leave the firm for three months and after, would remain as a director of the company and be available as a consultant should my help be needed in the future.
 By the end of April (1959) Eve recovered completely and we went alone to Spain for a holiday before I launched myself in  my new madcap career.    

Eve modeling for queen Soraya of Persia 1958

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