PGP – My Father
Panaiotis George Proghoulis rarely occupied the middle ground. He was one of the cleverest, most infuriating and most generous people I have ever known.
Born in 1938, in a country which no longer exists, his life spanned many worlds. From a coffee plantation in Dar es Salaam to the gardens of the Inner Temple via beautiful beaches of Chania in Crete, where his ancestors were once involved in gun fight, up in the hills of the island.
This book will try to capture my memories of my father and recount some of his many adventures. I hope it will give a small insight into an extraordinary life.
Dar Es Salaam, East Africa, 1938
His first adventure happened when he was born, 6 weeks prematurely in 1938, in Dar es Salaam. He was temporarily baptised by his uncle Dimitrios in case he did not survive.
Panaiotis George Proghoulis was named for St George the Dragon always kept a picture of the dragon which bears an inscription on the back:
”OUR SON WAS BORN IN DAR ES SALAAM ON 27th January 1938 THURSDAY AT 8.15 pm.
BEING 7 1/2 MONTHS ONLY, HE WAS WEAK.
THEREFORE, MY BROTHER DEMETRI HAS
TEMPORARILY BAPTIZED HIM.”
Edwina and George Proghoulis
Takis was the only child of Edwina and George. They were married in Dar Es Salaam where they ran a bakery and butchery selling “Good Mutton and Beef”
Baby Panaiotis, (known as Takis), defied the odds to grow into a happy, healthy toddler, riding around the streets of Dar es Salaam on his tricycle.
George and Edwina Proghoulis later sent Takis to school in Kampala, Uganda where he learned to speak Swahili.
Family Life in East Africa
Takis spent his childhood on his father’s coffee plantation in Kampala.
About 70 years later, when I asked my father about the picture of his parents by the family car, he could remember the car but not which country it were in. I think the family were in Kampala, Uganda at this stage but I’m not certain.
School in Mansura, Egypt
Bright and ambitious, Takis did well at school and progressed to the international school (where lessons were in Greek), in Mansura, Egypt. He had to travel there by ship.
The certificate is from the Greek community of Mansura to allow Panayotis to attend the Greek Gymnasium boarding school, aged 11 years old.
Keeping in touch with his heritage, Takis spent summer holidays in Xania with his grandmother. He often spoke of the house at 108 El Venizelou which was overlooking the sea and a neighbour of the famous politician, Venizelou who was involved in the unification of Crete with mainland Greece and later became prime minister of Greece.
The “Eton of Africa”
Still doing well at school and ever keen to achieve his best, the young Panaiotis was sent to the Prince of Wales School in Nairobi with his cousins Eric and George. This was a proud time for the family who always spoke of the school as “The Eton of Africa”.
The Three Cousins
Takis, Eric and George were the sons of brothers George, Kostas and Dimitrios respectively as shown in the top left picture. Having baptised Panayotis, uncle Dimitrios (aka Jim) kept in touch with His nephew and a number of letters from him still survive.
The three cousins, Takis, George and Eric went to the Prince of Wales school together in Nairobi and remained friends when they lived in London in the 1950s. George’s son Gary is still in touch with the family and now lives in Queensland, Australia within the sound of the sea from the Sunshine Coast. I always knew Eric as an uncle and his daughters Karen and Alexia were part of my childhood. Karen and her son David are now close to my daughter Katharine and I, so the link between the families endures.
Three Cousins Flee to London
After the war, there was a danger of conscription into the Greek army and Panaiotis with his cousins Eric and George, went to London.
The picture shows my father on the far right, next to George and then Eric. The person on the left remains a mystery.
George joined the Navy and moved to Australia.
Eric went into the antique furniture business and opened an antique shop on the South coast of England with a business in Florida.
Panaiotis changed his name to Philip and studied for the bar.
After his parents separated, Philip’s father George moved to South Africa and married Marianna.
add photo of marriage records.
Family picture with George and Edwina
During his studies, Philip lived in England with his mother Edwina and they ran a restaurant called the Black Cat.
picture of Black cat restaurant
1963 – called to the bar.
1965 – married Patricia Mary Ward
Philip met my mother Patricia when they were both living in London. He took her to at least one of the Cambridge “May Balls” and they were married in 1965.
Patricia Mary Ward was the daughter of Charles Ward, a retired airforce chaplain who had served in the Second World War. Sadly, my grandmother Mary Ward died of cancer in the 1950s and Charles married Muriel Evelyn Gibbons who had been a nursing sister in the Second World War. Muriel and Charles are shown either side of Philip and Patricia and my uncle Clifford Ward is shown behind his sister in the top left photo.
1970 – birth of Susanna Jane Proghoulis
Visiting Edwina Proghoulis who ran a shop and then retired to a flat in East Putney, London.
Pride in hard work seems to have been passed from mother to son.
Edwina had to adapt quickly when my grandfather George moved to South Africa and married Mariana. Nothing is known about Mariana Proghoulis.
Number 3, Paper Buildings, Inner Temple
For most of his career, my father was a member of the barristers’ chambers called 3 Paper Buildings at the Inner Temple. “Chambers” was really his second home and we would often stop by at the end of an afternoon so my father could collect a brief for a trial the next day. Sometimes, especially if it was a weekend, I would go up the stone steps to his offices. My father’s “set” (led by Sam Parish QC), had their offices on the third floor and I remember at least one weekend spent painting the guest loo in chambers.
Watching the “Lamplighter”
If it was a weekday, I would often wait in the car. One evening while I was waiting in the car, I remember watching a man walking along the pavement with a long burning pole. I now understand that he was a “lamplighter” and had come to light the gas in the street lights. Apparently, he would return at dawn with a hook on the same pole to extinguish the flame.
Even then it seemed old fashioned and quite dangerous but I didn’t appreciate, just how much it was part of a world from another century.
Criminal Defence in the 1980s
photo with client
photo in Queensgate with bowler hat
photo of business card and Sole Practictioners event.
Life in London as a couple again, in the 1990s
photos of hotel trips
Katharine – picture in Woodbridge/with laptop
Pickerel Court, Stowmarket: 2013 – 2019
After my mother died in 2012, Philip moved to a flat by the river in Pickerel Court, Stowmarket. Only 5 minutes drive from our home in Haughley, this meant we could visit regularly with Kate and Katharine. There were also frequent trips to the seaside at Felixstowe for fish and chips.
Philip soon met Michelle and since they both had difficulty with their memories, they were a great support to each other. Michelle would call my father every morning at 8am so I would always have a warning if there was any problem.
Christmas at Haughley
My father’s memory was fading by 2018 but Michelle and the people of Stowmarket were very supportive. In particular, Ellie, who ran the King’s Head pub and would patiently top up his tea, provide endless blackcurrant cordial and even made him cakes when she was worried he wasn’t eating enough.
The staff at The Oak pub all knew to bring two plates with my father’s lunchtime “breakfasts”. He would use the second to cover his meal while he went outside for a cigarette.
Philip and Michelle would often visit us at Haughley and Stephen cooked a delicious Christmas dinner in 2018.
Hillcroft House – February 2019 to Christmas 2020
Philip famously passed every memory test the doctors ever gave him (although each time he took the test he was convinced it was for the first time). However, in 2018, he also had an MRI scan and was diagnosed with severe vascular dementia. Philip had managed to maintain his independence long after his disease would have predicted but eventually he needed more specialist support.
In 2019, he moved to Hillcroft House, a residential care home close to family and friends in Stowmarket. Having smoked two packets of cigarettes every day for at least the preceding three decades, Philip was allowed to break the non smoking the house rule and join the staff who shared his habit in the yard outside for their cigarette breaks. This provided an extra opportunity for the staff to get to know his eccentricities and also, for him to teach some of them to speak Swahili.
The outside yard was often where we visited him (pictured are Michelle, Stephen and his daughter Kate, my daughter Katharine and I.
The Proghoulis Family Ancestors from Xania, Crete
Panayotis George Proghoulis was the only child of George Proghoulis, the eldest son of Panayotis and Mary Proghoulis.
Mary Proghoulis is pictured as a child on the left and with her husband Panayotis in the pair of pictures above. The group photo shows some of their children including Thalia to the right of her mother, Mary, the front row. Thalia is next to her husband Stelios Theodorakis.
On the back row are three of Mary and Panayotis’s four sons, George, Kostas, Dimitrios, Zacharis and their other daughter Lilika.
1938 – born Dar es Salaam
1940s lived in East Africa – visited Crete
1950s Prince of Wales School Nairobi, London, Black cat
1963 called to the bar
1965 married Patricia
1970 Susanna Wimbledon
1980s South Kensington
2000s Bar Sole Practitioner – Katharine
2010s Stowmarket Michelle
2019 – Hillcroft