v 7.00.00
23 Jan 2024
updated 23 Jan 2024

The (?) Malcolm-Baker link

‑1Ronald Patrick Malcolm Baker
(3 Jun 1903, Hampstead –
22 Mar 1978, Q2 1978 Islington, vol 13 p1383)
Joan(na) Irene Baker
(née Hawkins?)
(21 Jul 1926 –
2004, Q3 2004 Lewisham,
C91Q, 242/1C, 54


The one strand of relevant background I can recall was an off-the-cuff remark by Daphne Kendall that Joan Baker's younger sister had been seduced by Clive Smith, and what an unspeakably awful experience that must have been for her. History is otherwise silent about the sister, and is pretty taciturn about Joan herself. My own first memory of her is recounted in the earlier section Dislocation, but I'd imagine that she and Katie must have become friends via the Alan Good organisation during the war.

On her return from Venezuela with Katie in late 1959, she took to calling herself Joanna rather than Joan, and somewhat later in life she somehow became, informally at least, Malcolm-Baker rather than plain Baker. But neither she nor Katie ever even mentioned him, and the little I know of him comes from a very incoherent letter that surfaced years later as we were clearing Katie's house. And I'm not at all sure about her maiden name, though I'm fairly sure she had a family connection with Cornwall.

At some point, too, Joanna also acquired a first-floor apartment in Mount Carmel Chambers, opposite the Church of the Discalced Carmelites in Duke Street, just off Kensington Church Street, and began to dabble in antiques, via a stall in Kensington Hypermarket. I often wondered, cynically, how a very nice, but not terribly bright, woman such as Joan(na) could suddenly afford this rather affluent lifestyle. The going rate for an apartment in Mount Carmel Chambers is now in the region of £1¼ million.

She also began to get through a serious quantity of vodka per diem, and became increasingly disconnected from reality, though her relationship with it had always been tenuous, and she talked incessantly about not very much in particular. She was an extraordinarily handsome woman, and must have been an absolute stunner as a girl. But her only companion apart from Katie seemed to be a rather shabby, furtive figure called Wilfrid Fox, somewhat schizophrenic and himself no stranger to the bottle. He was a nice chap, though didn't make much conversational sense, but he gradually faded from the scene, however, and, as always, it would not have been advisable to enquire after him with Katie.

Somehow or another, one never quite knew how, Joanna used to manage the occasional week-end visit to Katie's Chichester residence, until one terrible Sunday lunchtime Joanna and I were roundly castigated for neglecting Katie in our conversation with one another. A faux pas indeed on my part, but I've always found social occasions quite tricky anyway. The worst of it was that Joanna was deeply upset, left the house and went walkabout in a very confused state of mind. A very sad end to her deeply loyal and supportive friendship.

We maintained contact for a few years afterwards, as Joanna moved from one care home to another, first in Earls Court Road, then in Richmond and the further suburbs, until the trail went cold.