‘All I got were rejection slips from editors, and how could I save up for a world trip on £2.10 shillings a week? Then in September 1939, war was declared. This was my opportunity, I seized it immediately. I joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.’ So begin the wartime diaries of Joan Rice (yes, the mother of Sir Tim, her eldest son, born towards the end of the war, in 1944).
Joan was twenty when war was declared, stuck in a dead-end typing job under the benevolently paternalistic wing of the Asiatic Petroleum Company (Shell), with its palatial sports club and excellent cheap canteen, earning its top typing salary of £2.10s a week. She wanted, like all girls of