Anne Baker © 2014 All Rights Reserved

Anne Baker  Sunday Times Best

Sunday Times Best Selling AuthorS

I was born on the banks of the Mersey in Birkenhead, and had a brother who was 12 years older and a sister who was 9 years older. They were more like an extra set of minders than siblings and I was treated very much as the baby of the family. During WW2 I was evacuated alone to a small farm near Llanidloes in mid Wales and stayed there for 3 years. Everybody was very kind to me and I loved country life. I was told to bring the cows up with me from an outlying field on my way home from school and I was taught to milk them: I churned butter, fed hens and collected eggs. I returned home in order to go to Wirral Grammar School for Girls in Bebington and by that time the bombing raids were over.

My father died when I was 15. By then, even I could see that writing would not provide me with an immediate means of earning a living. My mother thought the secretarial course offered in my final year at school would provide that and I was keen because I knew a writer needed to be able to type, but when the time came for me to leave school I decided to train as a nurse and went to the old Birkenhead General Hospital. I became involved and interested but the long hours of work and lectures left me with little leisure to write. My writing ambition had to go on the back burner.

The year I qualified I met Ron and he changed my life. He was an army radiographer and at that time serving in Tripoli. We decided to get married so he used his leave to come home for the wedding and when he returned, I went with him. Tripoli was a beautiful city, living there was like a permanent holiday and I loved it, but we had little money and I needed a job.

As I knew no Arabic or Italian I couldn’t work in a local hospital but the Americans were building an Air Base and had a First Aid post there. I telephoned and asked for a job but was told they had all the nurses they needed. I must have sounded disappointed because the woman said ‘What a pity you can’t type. We’re short of typists.’ I assured her I could and was given an appointment for an interview and a typing test. Knowing I was more than rusty made me a bag of nerves, and after rolling in a second sheet of paper I inadvertently left out a large paragraph of the test paper. Luck was with me that day as my examiner didn’t notice, and that gave me the typing speed I needed. I was hired on the spot and worked there for the 18 months I was in Tripoli.