ForeverMissed
Stories

Share a special moment from Michael's life.

Laoise's eulogy

Shared by Caroline Green on June 2, 2021
Granddad, I miss you. I have missed you since December 2019, just before the pandemic reshaped our interactions from visits to remote phone calls. You were an undeniably strong man, born into Britain just before the Second World War, and you left us in a global pandemic. Your stories and life lessons from eighty-eight years on this earth have taught me morals and insights I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I will carry you with me for the rest of my life. We are connected through family ties, we share our struggles, memories, world views, emotions, thoughts, and the very DNA we are comprised of, each passed down generation to generation. Above all, we are connected by our humanity, and its inherent beauty and imperfection. Knowing you, and losing you has made me reflect on my life, and how I want to live each day I am given on this earth. I want to live in honour and loving memory of you, your strength and dignity exemplified by your battles with cancer.  It broke my heart to know that you were suffering each day for so long, It broke my heart when I could not visit you one last time due to covid hospital regulations, it broke my heart when I realised I could not attend your funeral, and it breaks my heart to know that I will not be able to make new memories with you, but I will cherish the ones I have for the rest of my days. I will miss your wisdom, wit and intelligence, your strong sense of morality, and your love for the good things in life: French wine, good food, restaurants- especially a nice ‘ol fish and chips, often scampi if I remember correctly. I will miss your prolonged hello and goodbye hugs each time I visited. I will miss your smile that crept up from one side when you were amused. I will miss you calling me “little, or not-so-little one”. I will miss your stories that painted vivid pictures of the war, your life as a young man in the 50s and 60s, your adventures as an engineer, and life as a father. I will miss our weekly phone calls where, despite all of the pain you were in, I still was able to hear the sound of your voice, your sense of humour, even your advice on love and relationships. You were still you right until the end. This is how I will remember you granddad, thank you for everything. 

Life is long and short all at the same time, and I hope to do good things with mine. I hope to exemplify the same strength, loyalty, dignity, morality, and intelligence as you did. I know that wherever life takes me, you will always live on in my memories, my heart, and the parts of me that you have shaped and inspired. I hope that in your passing you are relieved of all the pain you carried with you, so that you can now rest in peace.  I love you, I miss you, and I will miss having you around for as long as I live. 

Love, 

Your Irish granddaughter, Laoise.

Dorio and Sheila Melfi

Shared by Julian Melfi on June 1, 2021
Although Michael and I were cousins, it was not until I was about sixteen that we became good friends. Most weeks I used to be invited by Aunt Stella to spend the weekends with them in Highgate. Michael and I used to belong to his local Church youth group where we spent many happy Saturday evenings. it was through these club evenings and dances that we both met Derek Kirner with whom I am still friends. Michael and I always kept in touch with each other even after we were married and I always looked forward to meeting at family gatherings and catching up with all the family news. Michael was a "one off", always happy and joking, he used to laugh and say he was the only male within the family - even the dog was a bitch!! lol... i don't know how he coped!!Until we meet up again, Sheila and I both send you our love.
God Bless, from Sheila and Dorio

From Arthur and Jenny

Shared by Natalie Green on May 25, 2021
I have very many memories of time spent together with Michael during our childhood and teen years. 
Michael was a very keen cricketer and we shared many matches together at school and later.
He organised a trip for four of us from St Ignatius College to Paris when we were in our early teens and it was my first visit abroad. We stayed in a hostel connected, I think, with the then famous Abbé Pierre and Emmaus.
St Joseph’s had a very good youth club and Michael was a leading light there every Sunday evening.
He will stay in our hearts and minds. 
Arthur and Jenny

Shared by Madeline Loynes on May 20, 2021
I first heard of Michael at our home in Durban during one of Francis and Trixie's visits to us. I was probably about 15 at the time. They travelled to UK and always brought back all the news to our dad, Len. Then, I met him and Josette for the very first time at Annabel and Ken's home when Diana's Tim Hazell was a few weeks old. Such fond memories, he reminded me in a way, of my own Dad, and we clicked. His sense of humour was right up my street. Over the following years, we met for lunch every time I visited the UK, and it was always such a good day. He arrived at Diana's house on the departure date of my flight, with a large single red rose for my mum. I nursed it on the overnight flight, all the way, and on the connecting flight thereafter, to hand it to my mum meeting me at the airport. A very precious gesture. I shall remember him fondly.

My home away from home

Shared by Rhiannon Saunders on May 16, 2021
I remember first meeting Michael and Josette as a child when they came to NZ for Kiwi and Bec's 50th anniversary in 1993. But my fondest memories are of my time spent in England. Michael had such a great sense of humour and I remember being in stitches over things he'd say or do. Neville was often there in tow as well. Michael spent many hours of his life driving between Heathrow airport and train stations, picking up and dropping off members of our family. When I was there in 2003 for a year, Red Tiles was truly my home away from home. If ever I was feeling a bit homesick, I would just jump on a train and be welcomed at the other end by Michael with a big hug. We'd arrive home and Josette would also give me a big hug, then a plate of food! Truly two of the most hospitable people you could ever come across. I'm sorry I never got to meet him again in the later years, but he will always be remembered with much love, fondness and gratitude. I am truly grateful that our paths crossed in this life and I pray that you are resting peacefully now Michael, with our Lord embracing you as you embraced so many of us. And may He bring comfort to Josette and your beautiful family at this time. Until we meet again xxx

The very close bond between Mike , Josette and daughters and the Saunders family.

Shared by Beth Chapman on May 16, 2021
For me it started way back in 1954 when my family visited England. We were living in Africa at the time. I was only 4 and apparently according to stories Mike thought I was pretty cute and spoilt me by treating me to sweets etc whenever he spent time with me. Many years later he asked me for the money he had spent on me.Said he had waited long enough That was the unique humour of Mike Green. When I was 19, I lived with this very generous and welcoming family in Paris. Mike and Josette couldn’t have done more for me. They were both generous to a fault and took such an interest in my life. A period of my life I often reflect on and will never forget. On my occasional visits back to the Uk from NZ, Mike was always the one to pick us up at the airport and drop us off again. Their home was our home from home. I shall miss our long conversations via Skype and I shall always remember my funny, generous and loving cousin. RIP dearest Mike 

Dad's account of the war in his childhood years, for a school project for his grandson Ciaran, 2006

Shared by Caroline Green on May 13, 2021
When war was declared in 1939, I was 6 ¾ years old.Sometime in early 1940 (I think) many if not most of London’s school children were evacuated to various parts of the country considered to be safe from German air attacks. Parents were able to refuse to let their children go, but most were anxious that they be protected regardless of the pain of separation. The Germans had demonstrated before the war in Guernica (Spain 1936) and in Poland & elsewhere in Europe at the start of the war, that the bombing of large or important towns and cities was part of their strategy for destroying the morale of the population and bringing about early victory.

I was at elementary school in Highgate, North London, the local church, St Joseph’s, run by the Passionist fathers.They called themselves (I later found out when working with them to start the first youth club at St Joseph’s) the ‘passionate men with the loose habits’ – referring to their long, black robes! The school was evacuated to a little place called Devoran, in Cornwall.If you have a good map, you will find it between Truro and Falmouth, on the south Cornish coast. It was not exactly by the sea, but on an estuary close to it.It was a good place to play and have adventures.

It is strange that I remember very little about actually leaving London and my parents, just a haunting picture of standing with a square box around my neck at a noisy, crowded station. The box contained a gas mask, which everyone was told to carry in case the Germans dropped gas on the civilian population, as they had done on the troops during the first world war. The mask was never used but my dislike of queuing goes back to that day, I think, and even now I will only join a queue if I really want or need what is at the end of it! Perhaps we shut out from our memory things which hurt most, which could explain why I remember little of this event and yet remember very clearly more pleasant things which happened well before and soon afterwards.

We had a lovely young school teacher, a Miss Willis, who looked after my brother and myself particularly well during our stay in Cornwall, perhaps because she liked my mother and had promised this to her. This could explain why we were placed in the best house in the village, owned by Mrs Giles, a widow, who had lived in India and Africa. She lived with a maid, a very young Zena Mair, who was quite disturbed to find that she suddenly had to look after 4 evacuees, which gave her a great deal of additional work. I’m not sure she liked us very much.

The village band used to march through the village on festive occasions and Mrs Giles allowed them and the local population into her grounds to listen to the music and have a sort of ‘grown-up’ party. I just remember that the dog (a small Yorkshire terrier) either did not like the music or was a frustrated singer – he never stopped barking and howling when the band played. It was thanks to this very kind lady that I was introduced to Kipling’s stories of India – made more famous in our times by Walt Disney’s Jungle Book.Before bed each night, she would take us into her splendid, wood-panelled library and read to us for what seemed like ages. She had introduced us to something wonderful and lasting. I would like to thank her now for all she did but it is too late and I much regret my omission.

During the year or so that we were there, I saw my first German, which was an almost terrifying thing. Perhaps his aeroplane had engine trouble, perhaps it had been damaged by English fighters, I don’t know. He was flying so low that I saw his face and I was sure that he looked at me! The noise was deafening. He crashed a short distance outside the village and so perhaps he had deliberately avoided us all. I remember thinking then that we had never seen a German in London and here, where we were supposed to be safe, one had appeared.

Then Mrs Giles fell from a ladder when she was attending to some fruit trees and she broke an arm. This signalled the end of the good life for my brother and myself, the two younger evacuees there. She was unable to do what she had been doing for us and Zena made it clear that we had to go or she would – she could not cope with the 4 of us + Mrs Giles. So the two older ones who needed less attention stayed and we were transferred to another house on a council estate, on the other side of the village. The name of our new ‘mother’ was Mrs (K)nuckey.She had a number of children of her own and was quite poor. It was thought that she found the money provided by the State for looking after evacuees was quite useful. I remember her as kind, but she was overworked and compared with the manor house we had just left, conditions were crowded and uncomfortable. We were there in the middle of winter (I suppose 1941) and I remember having to go outside to break ice and get water from a well – there was no hot and cold running water in the house as we all have today. My only other memory of that short time was becoming very ill. I had pneumonia, became delirious and had very little medical care (they said that all the doctors were away ‘at the war’). The kind Miss Willis sent for my mother because I was so ill and she decided to take me back to London, a very long journey in those days, to a hospital so that I should get proper treatment. She was advised not to do this and that I might not survive the journey, but she & I did.

We had missed most of the Battle of Britain, as it was called, and we arrived back in Highgate at the time of the V1 and later V2 rocket attacks. There were also some conventional air raids. We lived only a few minutes walk away from a very high bridge which spanned the Archway Road, now a major road leading to the M1 motorway north. From this bridge, we could look down into part of the city of London in the distance. During the various raids and attacks, we would go to this bridge and watch as London appeared to be enveloped in flames. Being very young and having been brought up to believe that good and right always triumphed, I never doubted that we would win the war and that we would ‘get our own back’ on the Germans. It was almost like an adventure comic being acted out in real life and I don’t recall ever being really afraid – I was probably still too young. An air raid shelter had been built in the garden, where everyone had to go when a raid was announced by the awful noise of the sirens. Waiting for the bombs or rockets to fall was like being in class hoping that the teacher wouldn’t ask a question to which you don’t know the answer, or when you hadn’t done your homework, or the fear of being found out…. In the case of the V1 flying bombs, you heard the noise of the engine coming ever closer. If the noise started to reduce, you knew it had gone past you. But if the noise stopped before its loudest point you almost stopped breathing until you heard a crash, which meant you were safe. You felt relieved but then thought of who had been unlucky. And so it was for a very long period of time. One of the more amusing memories concerned the air raid shelter. My mother had been ill just before the war so the council had built what they called a Morrison shelter in the main living room of the flat.Morrison was the name of one of Churchill’s ministers during the war. This steel construction shelter had been designed to bear the weight of the whole house if it collapsed. The couple who lived in the flat above were middle-aged, had no children but an over-adored substitute Yorkshire terrier (again!). He was a scout master, amongst other things, was very kind and had taught me many woodworking skills for which I have been grateful all my life. I remember he used to delight in the fact that he had one of the rare enough names which was spelt the same forward or backward – Mallam. I used to wonder what difference this made. However, the Mallam’s were supposed to go outside to the Anderson shelter (probably named after another minister) but, when the air raid siren sounded, our living room door burst open and, regardless of what we were doing or of the number of visitors we had, they flew almost horizontally into the low steel structure, pushing the dog in first in front of them, and installed themselves until the ‘all-clear’ siren sounded, sometimes a considerable time later. This I used to find amusing because we sometimes didn’t or perhaps couldn’t get into the shelter ourselves.

At about this time, we used to visit my maternal grandmother who lived in Clapham, southwest London. I think she had been born in 1872, so she was about 70 at the time. This was an impressive but disagreeable experience for a 10 year old because she often used to sleep with what seemed like hundreds of other people of all ages and smells on the narrow platforms of the nearest underground station – Clapham Common, I think. We used to sit with her a little, tuck her up and then return home quite late.It was one of the worst memories of the war for me. It made my mother so unhappy but there was nothing we could do and I suppose this feeling was transmitted to me.We did not have sufficient room at home to keep her with us. One of her sons, Laurie, who normally lived with her, was with the Medical Corps in Gibraltar during the war. He came home on leave one day with a huge bunch of ripening bananas which was a thrill because I couldn’t remember ever having eaten one. I’ve loved them ever since. They were not imported during the war because space on boats was needed for more essential supplies and reasons. Similarly, sometime early in 1944, I went past a greengrocer on Highgate Hill, near Dick Whittington’s famous stone, and there was a stall displaying large, red cherries, similarly unavailable since about 1940. I remember spending all my remaining pocket money on an enormous bag of them and then went back up the hill to school.

The spot where Dick Whittington’s stone stood was supposed to be the spot where he had heard the Bow Bells of London (1397) calling him back to be Lord Mayor. The authorities had to prevent some Americans uprooting this stone after the war- they wanted to take it back to America.

St Joseph’s church was the setting for another extraordinary experience, probably in late 1944. By then, the V2 rockets were descending at intervals on London and surrounding areas. Unlike the V1 flying bombs, which were like pilotless aircraft, these were not heard until they landed and exploded, so there was no warning. I used to serve on the altar and was in the sacristy one day when I saw the stained glass windows bulge inwards and then return to their original positions, or approximately so.As far as I recall, none were broken. Perhaps a fraction of a second after seeing this phenomenon, I heard the frightening explosion from a V2, which fell perhaps less than a mile away. This is when I learnt that a shock wave travels faster than sound. Apparently, a children’s party was taking place in a house in the street in question and one, if not two, large red London double-decker buses were passing at the time. Some 30 children (I think) disappeared with the house and the buses were never seen again.

At about this time, I had passed a scholarship and had started at St Ignatius College in Tottenham. Lessons were constantly interrupted when sirens went, because we had to go down into the shelters. It all seemed such a normal part of life by then. The other most memorable event for me that year was seeing someone called Denis Compton, the pre-war football and cricketing hero of my family and of many others, play at White Hart Lane, the home of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Our school’s playing field was just behind the stadium, and Spurs used it as their practice ground.Compton was easily distinguishable having served in the army in India during the war – he was the only player there with an intense suntan. One of my uncles in South Africa made a film of Compton’s wedding in South Africa a few years later and a lady cousin delivered it to him when she came to England, in return for which she had free tickets to Arsenal matches. In 1949, my brother played with Compton in one of his benefit matches. During the war, Arsenal (his team) used Tottenham’s ground as their home ground because Highbury (Arsenal’s ground) was used as an anti-aircraft gun and barrage balloon establishment.

To the best of my knowledge, none of my mother’s family, nor that of my father, were wounded or killed during the war, so we were all quite lucky.If you want to ask any questions on any of this, or want any more information, just ask. There is probably more to say but it could take time to think about it.

One last thing which might amuse you. Your grandmother, Josette, was born in Paris in 1939, the year the war started. I can therefore say that she came in with Hitler. During the war, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) used to broadcast news and information to German-occupied Europe. The Germans did not like this and those caught listening to such broadcasts were frequently shot. These broadcasts used to commence with an extract from Beethoven’s fifth symphony – something like someone knocking on a door – bom bom bom bom, bom bom bom bom… Josette was travelling in a train with her mother sometime in the early ‘40s and a German officer was in the same carriage. Josette suddenly started to hum the introductory music for these prohibited broadcasts and her mother nearly had a heart attack, because this obviously meant that the family listened to Broadcasts from London. The officer, however, smiled (apparently) and said “I too have children, madame” and did not pursue the matter. You nearly lost your grandmother and therefore your mother and therefore very nearly didn’t exist. Hope you are happy about this…..

.

Dad's visit to Chalice Well, 2016

Shared by Caroline Green on May 12, 2021
Dad was very sociable. He loved to strike up a conversation with anyone. Soon after moving to Street in 2016, we visited the Chalice Well gardens in Glastonbury, which is very popular with all kinds of interesting bohemian characters. We met one here on a bench and within minutes we were all laughing our heads off. You might say she was a very unconventional lady, and he was a bit of a traditionalist in many ways, but they really hit it off!

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