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1948 - 52: memories of Michael and Irene Gothard, from Ritva

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Jan. 1st, 1970 | 02:30 am

Members of Angharad24's family lived in the same area as Michael's family, Park Village East, at the time when Michael was growing up. Through family connections, Angharad24 tracked down a lady called Ritva, who also lived nearby between 1948 and 1952. Ritva was 96 years old when interviewed on 7 September 2012, but still very alert and keen to share her memories.

When asked if she knew a family in Park Village East called Gothard, mostly a mother and son, called Irene and Michael, she said that she did.

She even remembers their first meeting, because it was unusual.

It was in about 1948 she thinks, [probably 1949] when she was living there in Regent's Park Road just around the corner from where they lived. [Michael would have been about 10 years old.]

She was walking along one day when she saw a little lad being carried by his mum. Ritva remarked that he was a bit heavy, but the young woman said that he'd been taken ill at school so she'd had to carry him home.

Several days later, Ritva saw Irene again, and asked after Michael, to be told he'd had a few days off school, but was better.

Irene seemed happy to have someone to talk to as she missed the friends she'd made [probably in Brent.] She also hoped that the little lad would make new friends, as there were fewer boys of his age in the new area.

Ritva knew that the lady, Irene, was definitely not a Londoner. Her accent was much softer. She was a very attractive woman, dressed smartly, and looked young. She worked in a building society so that she could be at home in time for her son. She didn't want him coming home to an empty house.

There was a man around whom Ritva presumed was the father. She thought he was an estate agent. She couldn't be sure that he was there when she (Ritva) left in 1952.

An elderly couple used to visit, [presumably Michael's maternal grandparents] and during the holidays Michael would go away to the country.

The little boy was quite pale and delicate-looking, but with a lovely face. Ritva described his hair as being a reddy-brown.

Irene told Ritva that when he was little, due to a lazy eye, Michael had to wear glasses with a patch on, which was very common in those days. Eventually he graduated to better pairs, which he wore on and off. He hated them. He used to hang them on a washing line, or bury them in the garden. Irene was quite amused when she told this story, not cross.

Michael was no taller than others of his age when Ritva first met him, but really shot up when he was about 12.

According to Michael’s mother, he was clever. Ritva thinks he went to the Church of England school, which was held in the church hall until it went to new buildings. She thinks it was called Christchurch. [Ritva’s own daughters went to Jewish School in Golders Green.]

He had a nice bike, and Ritva thought he went to music lessons but she couldn't be absolutely sure.

Irene and Michael used to go to the cinema, because Ritva remembers Irene saying that they shouldn't have B movies which were scary. They had A movies, which were the main films but the B-movies were often documentary-style re-enactments of real murders. The one that scared Michael was a Scotland Yard true story about a body thrown down a well, or something like that.

[This is interesting, given the great attention Michael was to pay, in later life, to current affairs, per Sean McCormick and The Runewriter.]

Ritva said that Irene and Michael seemed very close, and that Irene was anxious that Michael should have every opportunity.

Ritva had no idea that Michael had had a successful acting career. She asked what he'd appeared in, and was amazed that he'd been in so much. She said he had seemed so shy, and that Irene would have been very proud.

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