Europe, 1963

At 7:30 pm on Wednesday, 16 October – three-and-a-half long days of driving after leaving Madrid – we arrived at the home of Monsieur and Madame Rainer, who lived on the outskirts of Tours. They were my grandmother Olive’s friends. She and my father had first met the Rainers on Penthièvre beach in Brittany in 1926. Despite the fact that M and Mme Rainier had not got the card I’d sent to let them know I’d be coming to Tours, they opened the door, saw me, and exclaimed, “Le fils de Frank” (“The son of Frank”): I’d not realised I looked so much like my father. The Rainers were wonderful hosts. They gave the four of us a “massive great meal” and two of us beds for the night (poor Bill and Dave had to sleep on the floor). One vivid memory I have of the evening is that while we were having dinner, the Rainers’ black-and-white television replayed scenes from Edith Piaf’s funeral, which had been held two days earlier, when more than a hundred-thousand people had lined the streets of Paris to see the funeral procession.