It was 1939. Austria. I was there learning singing from Herr M. Albert, the brother of my old school friend Binky, was there too, learning about art. It was wonderful. We used to go skiing every weekend for free. We shared a room. You know how people talk, but there was never anything between us. We were just good friends, still are all these years later.
We were at at dance in Garmisch-Partenkirchen one night. You know, it was a wonderful resort just over the border in Germany. They’d had the winter Olympics there a few years earlier and I was only just twenty. A dashing Luftwaffe officer came up to Albert and asked if he could dance with his girlfriend. Albert said “Oh gosh, she’s not my girlfriend” and laughed. The officer clicked his heels and I danced with this tall handsome German. He had some connection with Scotland, can’t remember what it was now, but he was nice and charming.
“There’s going to be a war, you know,” he said. “You should leave.”
I was having too much fun to be bothered much but he told me that I was blonde (I wasn’t blonde, but I was fair) and Scottish and he presumed I was a virgin so I’d been sent to a breeding camp. And Albert would be sent to a detention camp. It was the first I’d heard of a breeding camp. We just didn’t hear about those things.
I had a train ticket to Berlin the following day for a concert, I think. But a telegram arrived from my parents saying that my grandmother had died. She’d died years earlier. Albert had a telegram from his father saying we must go to Switzerland. So I didn’t go to Berlin and we both left immediately.