I was fourteen when my parents left England to live in Hong Kong. To finish my education I went to stay with my aunt and uncle who lived in a large old house outside a small village between Oxford and Banbury. It felt like the end of the world. The village was boring and my Aunt Katharine was typical of the women who lived there; she didn’t work but had her nose in numerous village committees. Aunt Katherine was my mother’s older sister, but unlike my mother she was very strict with me, always nagging me about my homework or jobs I had to do around the house. She never seemed to enjoy anything she did; nothing was ever easy or pleasant with her. My Uncle Jack though was quite relaxed but he was seldom at home for long, probably because of her. Often he wouldn’t get home until late at night and sometimes stayed away for several days at a time. They were both in their early fifties and their kids had already left home, so it was just them and me. Neither of them had much time for me and unless Aunt Katharine was nagging about something she pretty much left me to my own devices.
The Easter holidays finally came around so at last I had some free time. The house was several miles from the village so I hitched a ride with Aunt Katharine as she had to visit the vicar on business. I was hanging around the dismal village shops when a friend from school showed up. He reckoned that we should catch a bus to the nearest town as the village was so dull. I wanted to go but knew I would have to okay it with Aunt first. The next bus was in about ten minutes so I ran back to the vicarage where my Aunt had dropped me off and ran round the back, as I usually did, to tell her I wanted to go. It was a pleasant day and I thought they’d be in the garden but they weren’t so I went looking for them in the vicar’s big oak panelled study but the house appeared deserted.