Saigon dating agency
Pham Ngoc Thao was the ninth child in my mother's family.
During our youth, he was the most dashing of my maternal uncles, a senior officer in the South Vietnamese government, with access to US commanders.
The truth about Uncle Thao did not emerge till long after the war was over.
He was a North Vietnamese agent all along, a high-placed spy who had finagled his way into the confidence of South Vietnam's leadership.
He was a charmer with a glass eye and military bearing.
But it wasn't until after the war that his family learned Pham Ngoc Thao was one of the highest placed North Vietnamese spies.
After the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu, he stayed in the north before getting appointed ambassador to Berlin.After a short spell in London, we fetched up in St Albans, chosen because of its good schools. It was not just the pictures on the TV that brought the war home, it was also a family affair.My family's sympathies were firmly with the Vietcong and against president Ngo Dinh Diem and then president Nguyen Van Thieu.A few memories of London linger, the taste of tinned tomatoes and the toy boats in the pool at Kensington Gardens, but my main childhood memories are of Vietnam.Unlike many of the reminiscences that have appeared and will appear on the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, describing the last moments of panic and humiliation, my memories of Vietnam are of a privileged and idyllic childhood.Besides the Christmas gatherings, complete with Christmas trees, there were the holidays. We would descend upon the seaside resort of Cap St Jacques, now renamed Vung Tau and a favourite with the Lonely Planet crowd.The exquisitely fine sand was a rich dark brown and the water was sumptuously warm."That's where the Vietcong are," he said, as we looked out, awestruck.He would summon my younger brother and me from our beds at night for a snack and chat with us just to ask us how we were enjoying our trip.My only memories of war are the excited accounts of a relative of some coup attempt and the sight of a tank parked on the street and the visits to Uncle Thao after he was appointed chief of Ben Tre province.When our family left for England, where my father would take up a job with the Vietnamese section of the BBC World Service, we never imagined that it would become our permanent home. Just as the Vietnam of my childhood was receding, Vietnam as political drama and metaphor for the battle between imperialism and the world's oppressed masses loomed large.