A painted portrait of the reviewed book's author.

What’s New in the Library?
Remember, We Trust You

The picture on the front cover of Caroline Garvey’s autobiography, Remember, We Trust You, a reproduction of her painted portrait, depicts a dignified, sophisticated, and beautifully dressed woman. The back cover, however, reveals an entirely different side to Caroline. In an expression of her lively sense of fun, and indeed of the character of many of her stories, the back cover picture shows the back of her portrait!

The reverse side of a painting canvas.

The back cover of Caroline’s book!

Caroline’s willingness to find the fun in everything and to live life to the full infuses the whole of her life story with a buoyant delight at all the world has to offer. Her book is, she says, “All about how I got out there and got on with life and about how I enjoyed the life that I had.”  

At the same time, Caroline refuses to compromise the good principles her parents taught her and the trust they placed in her, and there is a seriousness to her commitment to charitable fundraising.

Black marks, balls, and blancmange

Born in Somerset, England, Caroline spent most of her childhood in a beautiful but leaky Victorian house in Buckinghamshire. At 13, she elected to go to a convent boarding school, where she spent lots of time having midnight feasts and blancmange for dinner, getting into the black marks book, writing letters home about lost clothes and why she was in the black marks book again, and sending letters (monitored by the nuns) to boys about very little.

School was followed by some time in Paris as the paying guest of a Russian princess while she did the foreigners’ course at the Institut Catholique, Université de Paris Cité, and a cookery course conducted entirely in French. This led to lots of lumpy sauces and gravies for Caroline. She also worked as an au pair, went to the races, drank lots of chocolat chaud with friends, spent Christmas at a friend’s chateau, and attended a soirée with the Countess de Quelque Chose’s son.

Back in London, Caroline worked while doing her London Season, attending Queen Charlotte’s Ball and deb balls and parties every night. A secretarial course (enjoyed not at all) followed, and then work at a discotheque company in London, making a muddle of the switchboard by day and helping to run discotheques by night. At the age of 20, she was sent to work at a new discotheque in Portugal. There, she spent her days around the pool or on the beach with a gang of friends and her nights at the nightclub, dancing with guests until the early hours before going out for drinks, eating an early breakfast, and coming home as the sun rose. It was during this time that Caroline met Simon, the man who would become her husband.

On a second discotheque stint in Portugal, Caroline enjoyed herself by learning the tango with the local butcher and, to the surprise of the town’s fishermen, modeling on the beach for the Diners Club magazine.

From San Francisco to South Africa

At 21, Caroline embarked on a three-month tour of the United States, traveling everywhere on Greyhound buses, working for a bank, living with a group of pot-smoking hippies in San Francisco, and making friends with all kinds of extraordinary people. Simon came out to join her, and, courtesy of many Greyhound hours, they traveled together to Napa Valley, Disneyland, the Grand Canyon (this leg done by motorbike), Austin (via a Texan friend’s ranch), and Florida (via jazz in New Orleans).

Marriage took Simon and Caroline to Johannesburg, South Africa, where Simon worked as a civil engineer and Caroline worked in private catering for businesses in the city. In the years that followed, a son and a daughter completed the family.

This period in South Africa’s history saw the end of apartheid, and it was, Caroline says, an exciting time. In her book, she describes the celebratory atmosphere outside their local polling station as all races queued to vote together for the first time. She also describes her decision to send her children to multiracial schools, her fundraising, and the more hands-on support she offered to a charity that provided preschool education for children in Soweto. For this and other charitable work, she organized fetes and themed charity balls for hundreds of guests, persuaded Johannesburg’s butchers and grocers to donate food for the catering, and buttered mountains of bread rolls for a huge children’s picnic outing to Johannesburg Zoo.

The 25 years that the Garvey family spent in South Africa weren’t without Caroline’s characteristically lively mishaps, which included a crash landing in a light aircraft followed by the discovery, late at night, that her home had been burgled. Clearly rattled by the air accident and frightened by the burglary, Caroline doesn’t, however, opine at length about the dangers she had survived. Instead, in her typically jolly and self-deprecating fashion, she tells of her indignation at the failure of Johannesburg’s newspapers to provide her name in their reporting of the plane crash and of having to phone all her friends to put matters right!

A 24-hour smile

Once their children were at university in England, Caroline and Simon returned home themselves. Caroline continued her fundraising work for organizations such as Marie Curie and, notably, volunteered at the 2012 London Olympics, training large numbers of other volunteers in the most enjoyable way she could and wearing a 24-hour smile at her post in Trafalgar Square. After two bouts of cancer, Caroline resolved, irrepressibly, to try everything. This included walking in the Himalayas and participating in reality television shows such as Hell’s Kitchen—everyone was, she says, much nicer than they were made to appear—Mary Queen of Shops, Party Wars, and Masterchef. Although out in the first round of Masterchef, she kept everyone on set in fits of laughter while she was there.

There is no doubt that Caroline has packed everything she possibly can into her life, and, while many of the things she has done have been for a serious purpose, she has not only had fun while doing them, she has made them fun for everybody else. Unsurprisingly, she and her LifeBook Memoirs interviewer laughed from start to finish as they worked on her book because there is, it seems, never a dull moment when Caroline is around.


A head-and-shoulders photograph of the blog writer.

Written by Kate Parry, LifeBook Memoirs editor