In the 1950s London was still rebuilding after the damage caused in World War II. This was when my father was a medical student, and he was required to have a skeleton for his studies. My grandfather was a London bobby (policeman) and one day happened to be cycling past a huge bomb crater that had exposed a London plague burial pit (there were too many dead for individual burials).

My grandfather asked the men who were excavating the pit if he could have one of the skeletons. He was told he could, and he took it home. It never occurred to me to ask how my grandfather took the skeleton home.

They called the skeleton George. He had a hole in the back of his skull. My father surmised that when George showed plague symptoms they killed him, to stop the plague spreading.

My father still lived at home and when a girlfriend came to stay, she slept in the spare room with George. In the morning the family waited to see how the girl had coped, especially since, as George dried out, his teeth became unstable and would drop out during the night; plop, plop .. plop plop .. plop, onto the floor. My mother was unfazed (she was a nurse) and reader, he married her (they divorced five years later).

There were plague pits under many buildings in London, including the Royal Mint.