Bonnies & Clydes: Gaia, Paul, Hania, Jake and Lander at the Elkington-Eros wedding in Tweed, Ontario, 2014
I was born in a mill-house on an island in a tributary of the Thames at Padworth, Berkshire, in 1949. My father, John Francis Durham (‘Tim’) Elkington was born in 1920 and was an RAF pilot in the Battle of Britain. (The Richard Paver photo below shows him back in the air, at the controls of a 2-seater Spitfire, late in 2011, just before his 91st birthday.) Later in the war, he served in Russia, the Battle of the Atlantic and India. He stayed on with the RAF until 1975, when he retired as a Wing Commander and set up an art and picture-framing business. My mother, Patricia (‘Pat’) Elkington (née Adamson), was born in 1922 and met Tim at Castle Gogar, where her aunts lived, when he was commanding nearby RAF Turnhouse. They married in 1948. I was the eldest child, followed by Gray, Caroline and Tessa. After stints overseas, they moved to the Cotswolds in 1959.
Elaine was born in Edinburgh in 1947. Her father, Dr George Stanley Waite, was born and raised in Barbados. He studied at McGill University, Canada, and Edinburgh University, Scotland, was a veteran of the WWII North African campaign (parted from his wife for six years), then served for many years as a GP in Mossley, Lancashire, before he and Margaret retired to Great Longstone in the Peak District. Elaine’s mother, Margaret Thompson Waite (née Dunlop), was a nurse in Edinburgh when she met Stanley. In Mossley, she was a pillar of the community, as the doctor’s wife, a JP and fund-raiser for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). Elaine was the eldest child, followed by Christine and Charles.
Having met in 1968 and married in 1973, Elaine and I have two daughters, Gaia (born 1977) and Hania (1979). Both went to St Paul’s School for Girls, London; both got firsts at Edinburgh University; but otherwise they once could have been from different species. But they both went into the film industry as a great convergence began. I had always wanted daughters, I got them, and I couldn’t be happier with them.
Hill House Elkingtons family tree by Caroline Elkington, for Pat & Tim’s 60th anniversary, 2007
It was an extended family, as this photo shows. From left to right: my youngest sister (Tessa), her husband John, Christina (Gray’s former wife), Elaine, my sister Caroline, Nigel Palmer, Jane Davenport (originally Keay), Nicky Hanks behind her, Caroline Feichtinger (originally Palmer), my brother Gray behind her, Ian Keay, his wife Alda, Glynn Davenport (Jane’s husband) and me. These families free up together. This was an impromptu shot, I think after Pat and Tim’s sixtieth wedding anniversary, but whenever it was it captures the spirit of Hill House.
My youngest sister, Tessa, with Tim, during the 70th Battle of Britain anniversary events
Tim back at the (back seat) controls of a Spitfire, late in 2011 (photo: Richard Paver, 2011)
Elaine emerging from tomb in Ugarit, Syria, source of the modern alphabet , in 2002
Lumber Jill: Glasgow Herald photo of Gaia with chainsaw, ball gown and paratroop boots
Painting by my sister Caroline of a bench in puddle on Barnes Common