This is my handsome little brother Richard also known as Roo. Not to be out done by his sibling, Ros, he also adopted me as his big sister. Rich was four and a half when I first arrived at the Holbrook house in January 1987. Then he looked very much as he does in the first picture. He was a little boy, full of cheeky fun, with an infectious giggle.
As a child Roo had a fascination with money and an uncanny knack for keeping hold of it. He always seemed to have more ready cash than any of us. One of my favourite Holbrook mementoes is a paper weight of a one pound coin which Roo bought for me from the Royal Mint. It still gives me a chuckle each time I come across it.
When Roo was about 8 or 9, we were on a cross-channel ferry on our way to his family’s cottage, when we found ourselves marooned outside the French port for many hours. A snap strike had been called and drinks were on the house. That had the adults sorted. The kids had to make their own fun. Roo and a friend made the most of the delay by rummaging through the bottoms of all the vending and poker machines to find missed coins. They collected many, many pounds. We were all astonished at how much they’d found. A year later he hadn’t spent a penny of it! Socialist, humanist Del’s worst nightmare was that Rosie would become a nun and Roo a merchant banker. Luckily he became an engineer instead.
One of the loveliest things about Roo is that he never went through the stage of being too cool to chat. Each time, during his teenage years, that I returned to London, I feared it would be the age when he wouldn’t want to give me a hug or have me as his big sis. It never happened and he is, at age 29, still an adorable, cuddly boy.
In the last picture, taken in 2002, you can see a thin strand of leather around Roo’s neck. On it is a Maori bone carving that I gave him in 1996. Last time I saw him in 2007, he was still wearing it.