Janet Margaret Forbes (1944-1964)
George and Elaine's daughter, Janet Margaret Forbes, was born at Mardale Nursing Home, Watford, on 9 May 1944. It was a very difficult birth during which Elaine had to be resuscitated. Janet was very sweet as a child but it became apparent that she was mentally backward. When she was about five, a paediatrician diagnosed Diabetes Insipitus, which is not the same as the more common Sugar Diabetes. Initially Elaine had to give her injections twice a day but later, the medication was supplied in snuff form. She went to Brodick, a small private school, and then to Cassiobury Primary but did not learn to read until she was seven, motivated by wanting to know what programmes were on TV. She transferred to another private school, Gartlet, where the two headmistresses treated her very kindly. She always got on very well with older people but had few friends of her own age.
The picture (right, no enlargement) is of Janet flanked by her cousin, Peter Wynn Owen, and her sister, in front of the family home, 'Craigston', in Watford.
One of the principal symptoms of Janet's condition was extreme and uncontrollable thirst and retention of fluid; at times she would drink water from vases of flowers. There were washbasins in every bedroom as well as in the kitchen, cloakroom and bathroom, so locks had to be put on all these doors to prevent excessive fluid intake; the rest of the family had a master key. Bed-wetting was a constant problem but the proprietors of a lovely guesthouse in Kingsgate, Kent, were very sympathetic and the family spent every summer holiday there for about fifteen years.
Janet’s behaviour became very difficult. She would hoard and hide things, write in books and tear them and tell lies to prevent discovery. She would hide books in the most unlikely places around the house. It was this that eventually made it impossible for her to continue at school and she started going to a local day centre, Heathdene, where psychiatric social workers could monitor her.