My arrival in London on the 11th September 1968 was a turning point in my life. My nervous state arriving at the airport only got worse when the immigration officer started to enquire about when I would be back in school in Portugal. Inside I was shaking but I do not know what it looked like on the outside!
It was the last push off the nest, but I felt I was prepared. In my sixteen year old head there was a will to make it work, but I needed help. ..My Uncle Dennis and Aunt Dorothy provided this first help. It was brave of them and not without problems. With two own children to bring up, my cousins Stephen and Louise, it was an extra responsibility for them to take on. I am glad they helped me on those first struggling steps into a new world, the adult one.
Uncle Dennis owned at this time a chain of Patisseries spread over southern London. The bakery was very near their home in Barnes. Frith’s Patisseries Noisette employed pastry chefs from Switzerland. I was then presented with where I would live and how I would finance my stay. I would be staying at 54, Westmoreland Rd. Barnes, at the home of Mrs. Meltzer who already had a couple of the Swiss boys as lodgers. The deal was bed and breakfast and certain hours to be maintained as Mrs. Meltzer had to let me in. This would cost med £4 a week. How was I to pay such a huge amount of money? My uncle then informed me that he was prepared to give me employment and pay me 6 guineas a week. This was to me a huge sum from someone who practically never had owned more than a pound at a time. After all, I only spent money on cigarettes and sweets. I was to help out with different chores at the head office in Richmond. I was also expected to enroll for evening classes there, which I did.
It was a fair deal and I was happy with the arrangement! I travelled by bus and enjoyed my new independent life. If I took the bus down Castelnau I would cross the bridge to Hammersmith, which was a larger community and had underground trains and cinemas. Teenage kids were at this time very influenced by the skinhead culture and the reggae music. It would take some time to get friends and to fully understand to adapt and integrate in this new society. My determination not to look back would see me through! Happy New Year!