My parents came to Britain in the 50s to build a better life for themselves and their children. It was a risk that paid off, and an achievement that reaches down through two very different generations

My father, who came to Britain from Jamaica in 1953, has always been an undemonstrative man, but on 15 October 1987, the night of the great storm, he made a statement. That was the day, much anticipated, that he and my mother retired, back whence they had come.

My dad carried a couple of bags, one of them white plastic, which I hadn’t even noticed until they reached departures, where loved ones disappear behind the screens, entering a portal to another world. We hugged, but not for long, and I waited for the sadness to tie a knot in my stomach. But it didn’t. I was sad, but more than that I was happy for them. Not just the fact of retirement in the sun, but the fact that quiet, undemonstrative William Edward Muir and funny, feisty Cleadine Marona – my mother – had completed their joint project.

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