My treasured heirloom
Michael Morpurgo, writer
My wife Clare’s Aunt Joan, who was also her godmother, passed away a few years ago. She was a good age. She left us a photo in a silver frame of Clare’s father, the late Sir Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books in 1935. Allen was a much-beloved cousin of Aunt Joan. She had the photograph
beside her bed when she died. She adored him. She never married.
At home, I took the photograph out of the silver frame to polish it and another smaller photo fell out, clearly hidden behind it. It was of two officers in British Army uniforms of the Second World War. There are no names on the back. We have not a clue who they are, only that it seems very likely that one of them was someone she had loved very much, a relationship she wished to keep private.
There is a story here we shall never know—and that is as it should be. We now have the two officers in another frame, in pride of place on the top of the desk beside Aunt Joan’s photograph of Clare’s father.