Dear Ms. Neville,
I am writing to you for the first time, having found that you are the president of Arthur Ransome Society. Attached is a photo I took with Titty and her husband at their bungalow by the Coniston Water in 1985.
My name is Yoichiro Yamada. I have been with the foreign ministry of Japan since 1984. I am currently teaching at a university (and will return to the ministry next year).
I have held this photo in my album for 36 years now. It looks glossy because it is a digital photo of the original one.
I have cherished the memory of meeting Titty and her husband, but have never written to anyone about it before. When I was around 12-13 years old, I was fascinated by Arthur Ransome stories. I read all the volumes in the Japanese translation. Since then, I wanted to live in the U.K. some time in the future. My dream came true when I entered the foreign ministry and was sent to Beaconsfield (RAEC Center) for language training in Russian.
Taking advantage of that opportunity, I went to the Lake District, and after some luck, met Titty and her husband in 1985. I believe I was the only Japanese to have done so.
By coincidence, I have recently come to know about your society. I saw some photos of Ms. Mavis Altounyan (including those of her wedding), and was immediately convinced that it’s the same two persons that I met in 1985. I thought that I should write to you.
The original photo is in my father’s house, which has become vacant because he recently began to live in a pensioners’ home. So I cannot make a better copy of the original photo unless I go to that house by myself (which I intend to do this summer). I believe that in the same album there still remains a sheet of paper on which Titty made an autograph “Titty A.B.” for me (or perhaps “Titi A.B”…I cannot remember which way she wrote). I remember she said as she wrote it, “this is how I used to sign my name when I was very young.”
I hope this story and the photo are of interest to you and your society.
Yoichiro (Giro) Yamada
I am no longer President of The Arthur Ransome Society, but I thought that others who love the Swallows and Amazons series of books would like to read this letter and asked permission to publish it, along with his photos.
I never met Titty Altouyan and was too shy to contact her but did rescue family photos of her wedding in Aleppo, which you can see on an earlier post here.
Here is another picture of her at her sister, Brigit’s wedding:
You can read a little more about her life and the origin of her name here.