Dad had various lame ducks among his patients whom he helped in many ways. One very successful effort was when he persuaded Dot Spiers to be our teacher. Dot lived with her sisters Connie and Minx in straitened circumstances. She started teaching our little "school" in the playroom very diffidently as she had no training. Rita, Hilda, Mary and a few others who are now only vague names joined Russell and me every morning for lessons. At the time Mother had Nellie Leach as a Mother's Help, and I was given my baby celluloid doll for my 7th birthday whom I christened Helen Joyce and called her Nellie.
Dot grounded us well for a couple of years, then gave up teaching us, though she remained a friend and I often visited the sisters. For the last term in 1920 Russell and I were sent to Good Hope Junior School at the bottom of Camp Street. It was a miserable time for me in Standard III - I never really felt I knew what was happening, and also simply hated the tepid milk I had to drink at break. One day I was called out of class and told to take Russell home as he wasn�t feeling well. That slow walk remains vividly in my mind, with Russell wanting to sit down at the edge of the pavement all the time while I encouraged him all I could on the steep uphill walk. (Camp Street is I think 1 in 5.) 1 got him home eventually - he had a temperature of 103� F and was desperately ill with double pneumonia for some time. Luckily for us, Mother took a dim view of how this incident had been handled and she decided that Good Hope was not the answer for us at that time.
She had held out against sending us to Tamboers Kloof Public School so conveniently situated right across Coronation Avenue from our back entrance. She disliked intensely the appalling burst of yelling children which occurred regularly every morning - there were no playing fields, just a large cement square on which the children hung about, all shouting at the tops of their voices, for the twenty minutes of break. Mother thought this behaviour was very ill-bred. After the Good Hope fiasco, she realised she�d have to give in, and went to see Miss Deacon, the Headmistress, and arranged that Russell and I would go to school at T.K.P.S. but would come home every morning for break. This, oddly enough, seemed to work well.
I had just settled into the happy school routine at T.K.P.S. when the long-deferred visit to Scotland took place. In May 1921 Mother, Dad, Russell and I went on the Arundel Castle to Southampton. On board was General Smuts who was due to attend Peace Conferences, and to suit his plans the mailboat did a record swift run to England. General Smuts signed my autograph album and happily conversed with 10-year-old me, asked what I was reading ("The Days of Bruce," by Grace Agular - my recent birthday present) and then with a sort of giggle said: "She looks as if she�s dressed in rags referring to a passenger who was pacing the deck in a very up-to-date heavily fringed dress. I thought this a delightfully funny remark.
In London, during a drought and with a grave shortage of water, we stayed in the Welbeck Palace Hotel as the guests of Uncle Duff (Mother�s brother) and Aunt Lizzie. Dad took Russell and me to see our first film, Charlie Chaplin in "The Kid". Then we spent a month in Callander near the Trossachs, in rooms in a house with a large garden where Russell and I played happily - except for one moment when, running down a grassy slope, he ran straight into a holly bush. Dad went off to do one of his post-graduate studies and I think Mother left us with our landlady while she visited relations.
We had lovely drives with the parents, and the whole memory is of sun-filled days during that very dry summer. We stayed for a short time at 42 Aytoun Road, Pollockshields, Glasgow, My grandfather's home. There Dad's sister Aunt Margot looked after her frail father and made a home for our Macphail cousins: Ronald, Russell, Jean, Ian and Dugald, whose parents Aunt Jenny (Dad�s sister) and Uncle Jim were medical missionaries in India.