Vlado was Josip Predavec’s oldest son from his first marriage – my father was the youngest son from his second marriage so there was a significant age difference between them. In my father’s memoires he mentions Vlado together with his other half-brother, Milan, as forming part of his earliest memory:
Now come the first memories; of Winter, deep snow. Milan and Vlado built a “big” snow hill between the pine trees and lower kitchen so I could, with a little push, sled all the way to the kitchen door (let’s say 5-7m). I wanted to do a widdle, but those two would talk me into just one more run, and as a result I wet my pants.
Vlado was a prominent player in the Chetnick government during WW2 and moved to Switzerland after the War.
My own first memory of Uncle Vlado was when he visited us in Blairmore. To be honest I don’t remember him at all on that visit, but I clearly remember what he did. It was Easter in the early 1970s and he filled the back garden with Easter eggs. The back garden was huge and lead to a forest that meandered up the hill behind the house. The pathway up through the garden was lined with eggs and then there were chocolate rabbits in the forest.
Later when we lived on the Isle of Man, Vlado visited often and stayed with us. Vlado owned the rights to a process for making acrylic and had set up a factory to manufacture acrylic sheets and watch crystals – he offered my father the chance to operate the watch crystal factory.
Vlado was the very picture of an elegant, urbane European gentleman. He was always well dressed and utterly charming. In restaurants, he would chat with the chef. He would wander over to other diners and ask to try their dishes – and they’d happily let him. And he always had a cigarette in his hand.
Vlado always brought gifts with him – usually fabulous Swiss chocolates. At the time Vlado was very wealthy (I later saw the original Manet in his dining room).
Vlado set up a company to teach his nephews about business and I remember him detailing French grammar rules to me, which was generous but not appreciated at the time. He spoke many languages with a degree of fluency.
Vlado and my father would have intense political discussions in Croatian – each shouting slušaj, slušaj (listen, listen) but doing more talking than listening.
Sadly, the business venture in the Isle of Man went bad with a local partner stealing from the business. Money was lost and the relationship between my parents and Vlado soured in the aftermath.
I last saw Vlado in his apartment in Switzerland, in 1986 I think. He told me about his father and the family and I sincerely wish I’d paid more attention at the time.
Although, for most of his life, my father had a full beard at one point he lost iit while under-going cancer treatment. What was revealed was that he and Vlado looked identical – clearly there were strong Predavec genes at work in both of them.
The first photo below was taken just after my father returned from the wilds of Portuguese Timor – hence the enormous beard – they had not seen each other in years at that point. The second photo was taken as my mother put it “just when Dad and I decided to get married and Vlado tried hard for us to get married whilst he was there June but we had it all arranged for August”.scan0026