I was born in 1926 in Beijing, where my parents had made their way from their landed home in Yunnan to take up the fashionable "New Learning" at University, and to fulfill their alternate destinies as "literati"- the old style Metropolitan examinations for selection to government having been abolished by the new Republic.
As a consequence of their then taking up appointment overseas, I grew up, with my brother, in Singapore. I was educated and matriculated at the Convent school of the Holy Infant Jesus, where, in common with many "English" schools, instruction was given in all subjects in the language of the colony's rulers. The school, however, was run by nuns of the French order of the Dames de St. Maur, and the school motto was "Simple dans ma vertu, forte dans mon devoir."
The Japanese occupation of Singapore now intervened. My parents had for some years been operating an evening school for adults who wished to learn the now popular Kuo-yü (National Language). I had been requisitioned to help from an early age with shy and backward pupils. Learning to read Chinese still proceeded by old-fashioned rote, the new phonetic particles being yet to come in, doing away with mnemonics ('love' to rhyme with 'dove'). With "English" schools now under a problematic cloud (they were supposed now to teach Japanese!) a school like my parents' now received additional intake, and I taught all day and evening, all ages, and all subjects up to my ability.
This continued post D-Day, until I learned, through one of my father's pupils, that it was now possible to take the external degree examinations of London University. The rest, as they say, is history: a London (external) degree in English, a job in School Broadcasting, and meeting the man I was later to marry. One of my first duties then was towards my teenage stepson. Steve is now wealthy and retired (his wife Diane reluctantly so) from service in Hong Kong, and four times a grandfather. Perry (whom we named John Peregrine after peregrinations) became and Eton scholar. Now at the Open University and married to Open University ex-Health Service Elizabeth, he has been making his chosen contribution towards Education, 'educating the educators'. Ros(e)alind we adopted in Sri Lanka while Norman was doing a School Broadcasting advisor ship stint there. She runs a video-making outfit with her husband, Michael, and they are in frequent demand covering the ethnic problems in schools in inner and outer London.
Most of my married life was spent on family and the house, setting aside from one hour a day to an average of four hours when Perry was at school. There survives (in manuscript) a translation of a 19th century verse novel, The Li Bo Biography and More Li Bo Poems, also begun in those days and always giving way to family and household exigency, has been long overdue. Work in progress consists of an exploration of the remaining Tang poets (some two thousand) in the context of over twenty thousand poems. It's a work of filial and cultural patriotism, and to see me out.