A personal message from the composer of Children of Freedom
was a languid summer's afternoon in 1980. During a period of respite
from the commercial merry-go-round, I was at home watching TV, and happened
upon one of those popular afternoon magazine programmes and an interview
being conducted by Mavis Nicholson, a popular afternoon magazine presenter.
Mavis was talking with Second World War SOE heroine Odette Hallowes
GC, MBE and holder of France's Legion d'Honneur.
Mrs Hallowes (formerly Odette Churchill) was describing
her wartime experiences with a mixture of bravery, love and such matter-of-fact
humility as to render me speechless with wonder. Two phrases jumped
out and hit me during this interview.
She described how she considered her role of mother to be
the most important part of her, and how the thought of her three daughters
gave her daily strength, particularly during the times she was incarcerated,
and how she came to label them her 'children of freedom'.
When asked how else she was able to keep her resolve and will to live,
she smiled, looked Mavis in the eye and said: "I have been labelled
'brave' by many people since that time, but you know I believe bravery
is but relative to the cause..." In that phrase I heard a simple,
raw honesty, born of profound personal experience; more inspirational
and louder than a thousand battle guns. I was moved enough to try and
channel my feelings through the writing of this song.
I sent the only hitherto recorded copy of this song to Odette
and she was kind enough to send me the following comments in reply:
Mr Evans, Thank you for the beautiful song you kindly said I had inspired
you to write. I love the words and music, and I am very moved by your
understanding of my feelings at the time.
"I am happy to say today we are a close-knit family and I see
one or other of my daughters every day and my grandchildren... you
will understand what a reward it is for me. They have all heard your
tape and were very touched and proud.
"With all my very best wishes, Odette Hallowes."
Hallowes died on the 13th March 1995. It was also the day when a notorious
gangster from the east end of London died. The media reported lasciviously
on the demise of the gangster; Odette received a passing mention in
the 'And finally...' section of the TV news bulletins.
I never met Odette, but she has affected my life in a deeper
way than I could ever have imagined a stranger doing. She also plays
an ever-present (more often than not, taken for granted) practical role
in the way I am able to conduct my day-to-day life in relative freedom.
She chose to have her entry in Who's Who listed as 'Odette
Hallowes, housewife' and it is to this sentiment and to the memory of
a loving mother that I dedicate the writing of this song with heartfelt
thanks, respect and humility.
To Odette, housewife and mother, lest we forget...
Evans, March 2003