23 -The Last Chapter

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The Last Chapter.

Dad died December 1958. 1 knew he had gone before my neighbour fetched me to the phone. As I sat at the breakfast table, I had a premonition, a sudden feeling of loss. He was cremated Christmas Eve. I didn't cry until I brought in the Christmas tree. I had not intended to acknowledge Christmas but Harry upbraided me saying, "It's still Christmas, and you can't deprive the kids."

Dad had always made so much of Christmas but it was a long time before I could welcome this festival again. His death destroyed any belief I had left in God. I looked at his neighbours, some of whom were drunkards, others who had no one to live for and I thought why are you alive when Dad, who spent the greater part of his life trying to better the conditions of his fellow workers, is dead? I cursed his doctor who had not diagnosed his cancer. It was a locum who had finally referred him to hospital. I blamed Mam, for when I urged him to ask for a second opinion he said he wanted to see Mam through her cataract operation. Mam had been losing her sight for some time. Neither of us realised the hospital had lost her records. Most of all I blamed God.

I was so traumatised I was unable to accept my husbands love and it was twelve months before I could resume physical relations. To have done so seemed a kind of betrayal.

Was my despair unnatural? I know to lose a father is natural as King Claudius tod Hamlet "your father lost a father, that father lost, lost his" but like Hamlet I felt my Father's death to be unnatural. He was fifty-eight and I saw his doctor as no better than a murderer for failing to send him to hospital earlier.

Time heals, is a truism. Yet even now I cannot forgive that medical failure. It could be said that God answered my prayer for my father died a few days after his operation. He was alone since the nurse at the hospital sent us home saying, "he needs to rest." She promised we would be sent for should there be any change in his condition. We heard nothing until the following morning when we were notified of his death.

To my everlasting shame I was so overwhelmed by my own grief I gave no thought to my little boy's trauma. He had been so close to his Grandfather and I offered him no comfort. I sent both the children to school and took Royston with me to see Mam.

Gradually my bitterness gave way to a dull acceptance, I no longer blamed God for I realised he did not exist. I had believed as a child believes and I ditched faith along with Santa Claus.

My father still retains his influence over me. Every success brings the thought, "I wish my father knew" and every failure, "I'm glad my father doesn't know." I have never got as close to any one as I was to him.

I have said many goodbyes since the death of my father but none have been as devastating. As a child I desperately longed for his love and approval as an adult I believe I attained it. If he had lived I could have returned it, as it is he never knew how much I cared. Neither of us ever said, "I love you."

The summer following, Mary was sent home from school doubled up in pain. I couldn't understand how teachers could be so callous. We had had a phone since my father died; if they had rung, I would have gone to meet her.

She was obviously in great pain and had a high temperature. I rang the doctor who was very good but avoided visiting whenever possible since he was lame and we had a flight of steps to the front door. He gave me instructions to press her tummy and then tell him where it hurt. I found it strange that when I pressed over her appendix area the pain was round her navel. "Get her ready," he said. "She has appendicitis the ambulance will be with you before I can."

After she recovered, she was very frail and had several attacks of swollen glands. She was frequently off school and a school board inspector called.

At an open day I was told she was backward so I when I found a correct spelling marked "incorrect" and substituted by an incorrect spelling I took her book to the head. It was a mistake for he held her back almost a year and only moved her to her year group the term in which she was to take her eleven plus. Naturally she failed. The inferiority complex this gave her was to last for years.

They didn't care for Cliff either. The same headmaster told me Cliff was arrogant! When asked to explain he said the boy corrected his teachers. "Where," he asked. "Did he get his information from?"

I think he was under the illusion that Cliff was having private tuition, which he was opposed to but the only source was a magazine called "look and learn" and the books he read from the library. Although he had been late both in talking and reading, he was now very advanced for his age. He began speaking in sentences and reading in pages, missing out on the single word stage.

Life was very hard now and the truth of the saying re love and poverty came home to me. There was no time for outings now in term time and I couldn't afford the bus fare to go anywhere in the holidays. When I lived next door to my parents the children had ice cream every day now it was a special treat as a pudding.

< p>At first, we didn't have a fridge, which made shopping difficult in the summer but then my cousin gave us an old huge gas fridge which we had for years. She also arranged for a mobile grocers van to call but I had to stop him after awhile as he thought a "hot roll" should follow a cup of tea.

My cousin Jean lived on the new council estate at Clifton and she was supplementing her income with outwork for Simon and May. As soon as she knew they were taking on more workers, she sent me for an interview. As I was desperately short of money, I was delighted to be taken on. The task was boxing handkerchiefs; the pay was abysmal, the best being £2/8s a gross. A lace edged handkerchief had to be folded pinned to paper backing. Then a ribbon bow made and attached before it placed in a plastic lidded box and sealed with sellotape. The worst was the two handkerchief boxes where the top one had to be folded into a fan.

Jean had organised a production line with her neighbours but when I was overloaded the children were pressed into service. The work was delivered and collected but often I was waiting weeks for the collection and until the current load was collected, payment was outstanding for the previous consignment. Often my stairs were blocked with cartons. It wouldn't have been so bad if the work had been available in the winter but August was the busiest period.

I also tried tagging labels but the pay was even worse. An attempt at machining was a disaster. I was sent blouses that had sides that didn't match and sleeves I couldn't fit.

Whilst I was working, I thought the children were safe playing out on the field and didn't worry even when they wandered since they promised not to cross the main road. Years later I discovered the old quarry, their favourite playground, was full of water and their den in the woods was a six foot deep pit with boards laid across it.

The estate was growing and a new neighbour adopted me. At first, I was glad of the company but when she began walking in at nine-thirty a.m. and staying until after five; I locked my doors and hid behind the settee. One day I looked up too soon and met her eyes through the window. I pretended I was looking for an earring. She was a lovely girl who suffered from recurring bouts of colitis. When she was rushed into hospital, I took care of her child. After two weeks, I was obliged to ask for £1 a week to pay for her food. When the welfare nurse visited I was told the council should have been notified that I was caring for a child for gain!

After my neighbour recovered it occurred to me that I could do temporary fostering. I asked for a boy, as Royston was very isolated. There were no other little boys living near and because of his poor health as a baby I had abandoned the idea of having any more children myself.

Instead of a boy, I was given two little girls for temporary fostering whilst their mother was supposedly in hospital. Later I discovered she was in prison. They were fetched away with as little notice as they came and their screams as they were taken to the car were heartrending.

Eventually a little boy of Roy's age came. My first shock was that the local school refused to accept him even though I had a letter from the education officer agreeing to him being a temporary pupil. The social worker couldn't help and so whilst he remained with us he had no schooling for there was no way I could have got him to his own school. Then I found that the neighbours would not allow their children to play with him and were boycotting my own three.

I had been told it wouldn't be wise in this area to have a coloured child (that wasn't considered a derogatory term then) but this child was white. I didn't know until then that a "Home" child bore a stigma. My eldest two had spent hours on the doorstep of a neighbour in Hyson Green who they called "our grandma who isn't our real Grandma" she was regarded there as a saint for rearing several children not her own. My own children did not take to this child as everything they had he claimed to have several. Again this boy was reclaimed without notice.

I had avoided vaccinations for my children as I was told I almost died as a result of a small pox vaccination and I don't think my doctor was in favour of inoculations. She put me off over Mary saying she wasn't well enough consequently none of them received their jabs until there was an outbreak of small pox in the area where Wes worked. Staff were advised that they and their families should be vaccinated. I was very worried about the effect it might have on Royston but it was Clifford who had a bad reaction. I was told he was bordering on encephalitis and I was fearful lest he be left brain damaged. Unfortunately, due to his illness, he missed the date for his eleven plus. When he returned to school he and one other pupil sat the exam in the headmaster's room. The other boy passed and Cliff failed.

We knew the other boy had been coached but it didn't do him much good since he couldn't cope with the work and had to be taken away from the grammar school after only one term.

I had accepted Mary's failure with the intention of sending her to a secretarial college later but I felt devastated at Clifford's failure, as I knew he was a bright child.

He sat the entrance exam for The Nottingham High School and was offered a part bursary but Wes said there was no way we could afford it. He did not share my view of education as the "Be all and end all" of success in life. His mother had obtained a place for him at the Mundella grammar school and he had been very unhappy there and left at fourteen to attend a business college.

I was miserable and frustrated by my lack of a private income to help my son and began to think of ways of earning money.

My first effort was in placing mail order catalogues, the money was good and I was quite successful but I hated the work and continued only until I had earned enough to pay for a holiday.

The aftermath was even worse than the work. Woman stopped me in shops and even in the street accusing me of ruining their lives because they had received letters from the company addressing them as Dear Agent" and their husbands had been furious. No amount of assurance, that they could put the letters in the bin and that they had not committed themselves to being agent, convinced them. I thought it pathetic that middle class supposedly educated women could be so dim and so afraid of their spouses.

I now took part-time work in the Nottingham libraries which I enjoyed very much. Although in the advertisement for the post it asked for School Certificate, I was not asked to produce it.

For the next three years I worked as a library assistant first for the Nottingham Libraries, just a few hours at the central library and on relief at various district libraries. The conditions at the older libraries would have made Dickens wince. One antiquated toilet which doubled as a cloak room, was not unusual. No facilities for making so much as a cup of coffee but I loved the work especially when I was alone and in charge. I began to feel I was "somebody." After a year with Nottingham I got a post at West Bridgford Library, twenty hours a week and overtime. I felt rich!

By this time Mam was becoming more difficult and the family resented being left with her on Saturdays, added to which she constantly complained about the children.

When I was no longer home at lunch time I arranged for the children to come home for lunch thinking it would break the day up for her but it wasn't a success and when I saw an advertisement for a part-time school laboratory assistant, term time onlyI felt I must apply.

It was at a large Comprehensive School and again I enjoyed the work except that there was a lot of heavy equipment to move about and some of the teachers were such snobs they wouldn't give you the time of day. I was appalled by the standard of teaching. In one class the children were gambling while the teacher read his paper. To my raised eyebrows he volunteered "If you can't beat 'em join them." A few years later I empathized with him.

When the head technician left I was offered promotion with the proviso that I worked full time. I refused. I then came under pressure to work during the vacation so when I saw a nearby Girls' Bilateral school needed a laboratory assistant I applied for a transfer on the very sexist grounds that my present work was not suitable for a female as it included carrying heavy physics equipment up and down several flights of stairs. I got the transfer.

This led to a totally unexpected turn in the road. After working there happily for two years and frequently being left in charge of classes, a teacher suggested I applied for teacher training. I thought he was joking. I was, after all, forty two and had no other qualification than a mediocre School Certificate. But teachers' salaries had become so depressed that there was a real shortage.

Another pleasant surprise was that my youngest son passed the eleven plus. I had not expected this, although I had paid for private maths tuition for him since he had great difficulty with this subject and I wanted him to make a reasonable grade before he started secondary school. I did not consider him to be an academic child. He had shown no interest in books and his boredom threshold was very low.

I too was finding my work boring as there were long periods when I had nothing to do. One lovely summer's day when the science department had gone on a field trip and I had cleaned the lab, topped up all the standard solutions and typed with one finger some notes left by the head of the department, on impulse I wrote a letter of application to the nearby College of Education. They suggested I contact the newly built Mary Ward Catholic College which was taking non Catholic mature students. At my interview I was accepted for the science course but when the term began I was told the science course had folded and was urged to take "Home Economics" which was no longer just cookery and needlework but involved a great deal of science particularly textile science.

My family was not exactly delighted at the prospect of Mum being a teacher and I don't think they really thought it could happen and they did not encourage me but nothing was going to stop me now.

At first I felt intimidated by the Sisters, regarding them as something outside of humanity. I soon learnt they were subject to all the temptations and vices of lesser mortals and Mother Mary put me in mind of my own dear Momma.

The young students were marvelous to me and I began to forget my age and I had an instant rapport with the science, maths and needlework teacher for I already knew them. The latter had taught me all those years before and she was very embarrassed when I realised this in the middle of a lecture and shouted out her maiden name. My skill with a needle had not improved with the years and she, dear lady made every excuse and allowance possible to give me a pass grade. The other two were men who had taught my own children at their Secondary Modern School. They had left the chalk-face when the school became a "Comprehensive." The Maths teacher, when I told him Mary was taking "A" levels including physics at the College of Further Education said: "If she passes I'll eat my hat." The day the results came I took a hat in to offer him.

Later when my turn came he said in view of his error over my daughter he would have to award me a pass grade. I was very fortunate that continuous assessment was the vogue for if I am honest I don't think I could pass "CSE" maths let alone "O" level.

The three years went by all too quickly. During my time at college I had learnt to drive, (and passed first time) so that I could dash home whenever possible for Mam's dementia had increased. We had inherited Dad's car along with mother but Wes found it easier to get to work on the bus.

I couldn't get any assistance for mother nor any relief even to take a holiday with my family. I employed a part-time cleaning lady who did what she could for her but I knew she was reaching the stage when she needed full time care.

Two frightening incidents made me take action, the first was when she turned on the gas fire without lighting it, the second when she set the bedroom on fire. To make matters worse she had conceived the notion that I was trying to poison her. I had bought fillet steak for her while I served a cheaper cut for the rest of us. She saw the difference and interpreted it as an attempt at murder. She refused to eat it and Wes was furious.

Even now the social services would give no help except to recommend a privately run home which might be prepared to take her. The doctor fetched a psychologist who said he could get her into Mapperly but she would be fastened in a crib like a lunatic.

The first home took her on trial while we had a much needed holiday but refused to take her permanently mainly because she had a toilet fixation. At home she had constantly gone to the toilet at five minute intervals through the night. Long after she died I fancied I heard the flush working.

I found another home for her and very reluctantly my brother agreed to placing her there. I had to have his approval as he had taken over the administration of her affairs even to the extent of having her pension paid into the account so that towards the end I was feeding and clothing her.

I began teaching at a Secondary Modern School on the Clifton Estate and every day after school I visited Mam. I tried bringing her home for the weekend but when I took her back to the nursing home she recognized her chair and said, "Thank you for bringing me back."

She was now almost blind and very deaf. I can still visualize her sitting with her eyes closed, banging her stick on the floor and shouting fire, fire. By the time death came she did not even recognize the taste of ice-cream.

Although I could not have wished her to live I was overcome by guilt. If I had only known she had such a short time to live perhaps I could have kept her at home. Fear was added to my grief, every episode of forgetfulness filled me with terror lest I should inherit this dreadful illness

The first term of teaching I didn't know what had hit me. My teaching practice had not prepared me for the outright rudeness of these girls. I wondered if my own children witnessed such behaviour at their school but after the first term I established a working relationship with most of them. The main problems were the dichotomy between the college ethos and that of the school. The college and the L.E.A. advisor insisted that all pupils should cook according to the lesson set but the pupils thought they should only cook what "Mam" said, and as they were expected to bring the ingredients they had the upper hand. At college we were told to supply all ingredients and sell them to the pupils or if it was a meal let them eat it and failing all else to send it through to the school kitchen.

Theoretically this should work but departmental allowances were too small to cover the losses, the staff were opposed to the children getting "something for nothing" and the kitchen staff objected to supplying meals not prepared by them, moreover the children would rather follow the time honoured custom of cleaning the ovens if the dish to be prepared was not to their family's taste.

The syllabus insisted on fish cookery but not a single child was prepared to cook a fish dish although on teaching practice I had a class of West Indians who taught me to cook fish I had never heard of.

Promotion came from out of the blue! The teacher at my previous school, who had recommended me to apply for a teaching course, rang to say they were advertising for a teacher in charge of the library. I had seen the advertisement but as it was a scale three post and I was only just out of my probationary year it hadn't occurred to me to apply but on his insistence I did.

And now my direction changed again. There was one other candidate for interview and she confided in me that she was Geography and if they wanted her to teach English she would refuse the post. As she had a degree and I hadn't even an "A" level I felt sure she would be their choice.

However her comments set me thinking. I had been very successful in the subsidiary English course at college (We all took two main courses and three subsidiary as well as the educational subjects) and I had met one teacher during my teaching practice who had an English class in addition to cookery so I had a yen to teach some English. At the interview, which was with the head and the deputy I was asked, if I was offered the post, what I would wish to teach. I took a deep breath and said, "English and Library Studies."

When the school went Comprehensive I was heartily glad I had made the change for I had had a class of boys during my teaching practice and they presented extra problems. They refused to wear aprons, wouldn't cook meals other than toast snacks and parents refused to supply ingredients as they objected to the boys being turned into sissies. The only success I had with them was sausage rolls for which I provided all the ingredients and sold individually. It seems strange how quickly they have adapted. Before I left teaching I saw boys doing exquisite embroidery for wall decorations and even cushions.

Teaching English made me aware of my lack of qualifications in this subject and so I registered for a night school "A" level class but at Easter my appendix flared up. (After a lapse of thirty years since I was put on the waiting a list)

I was taking care of my brother's two children as his wife was ill and my poor husband was left to take care of all five. I failed the exam but the class lecturer visited me at home to persuade me to enter for a retake in October and this time I scraped a pass.

For a while I was happy although a bit miffed when my head of department after reading my lesson forecast, put his class with mine. He had a private business and eventually left to work in it full time.

The new Head of English had been made redundant from a post in Further Education and said he had been promised the headship when the present head retired. However he did not get the post and I think his bitter disappointment led to his heart attack a few months later.

My predecessor in the library had obtained a degree through the Open University and had left some of the material behind. I wondered if I could obtain a degree for the talk was of teaching as an "All Degree Profession". I think I still had in mind staving off dementia. Before I was through the course I became ill with a collapsed disc at the bottom of the spine but in I passed and in 1982 I gained an Honours degree.

Staff relations were strained, the Science department had developed and was running a "Home Science" course which duplicated the work of the "Home Economics" department and the "Art" department wasn't happy about "tie and dye" being undertaken in science.

Things were made worse when a new head introduced a faculty system which gave the metal work teacher a scale four post as head of technology and put him over art, home economics and woodwork. A new Science master was appointed and was made head of science faculty the old staff felt pressured to retire.

The former head of science, a friend from my teen years (We were in the GTC together) had the indignity of the Head Master listening to her lessons from the prep room and then criticizing her in front of the class.

The discipline problems in the school escalated with unemployment. Most children previously could be motivated to make an attempt at CSE project work when they believed it was the passport to a job but when it became an examination subject and employment became unobtainable even for those with "O" level grades they gave up. Yet it wasn't the children who caused my stress but the head who made impossible demands. As well as running the library and a full teaching programme he expected me to administer all the hardware and the lithographic material for the school. Some of the staff wanted reprographic material at a moments notice and out of school hours.

To add to my difficulties I had a bladder and bowel prolapse and needed frequent visits to the toilet so it was the last straw when instead of teaching in the library I was given a hut at the bottom of the yard. The staff toilet was at the top of the main building and impossible to reach inbetween lessons. I consulted a specialist and had a prolapse repair operation.

At this time I was teaching throughout the school and for the first time I had an O leval class. Concerned at leaving them in the middle of their course I returned early and against medical advice only to find the class had been given to some one else and I had to take a the bottom group who had opted out of education years before. Moreover, I was supposed to enter them for the exam.

I developed hypertension and angina and in 1985 applied for early retireme

After taking early retirement I tried private tutoring but I found it too demanding although I got a great deal of pleasure when I tutored a mining surveyor who had failed his third attempt at "O" level English. He presented me with a bouquet when he passed but all I had taught him was exam technique and confidence. There was nothing wrong with his written expression or understanding, which tells a lot about the exam system.

I still worry lest I succumb to senile dementia especially when ten minutes after my husband has brought me a cup of tea in bed I have forgotten I have drunk it, apart from that I think I am more content now than at any time in my life. I write, I dance, I walk. My husband is more loving now than he ever was in our younger days. Since my illness he has done all the housework except the cooking, and my children are all doing well. The two eleven plus failures both hold degrees and my daughter is a primary school teacher. My youngest son is working as an Operating Theatre Assistant at the City Hospital. My four grandchildren are loving and happy but I do worry about their futures in this time of mass unemployment .

Looking back over my life I realize I am a bit of a stinker but feel this Gutter Snipe has not done so bad so far and perhaps, in the words of Thomas Hardy "The best is yet to be."

For a time my optimism seemed justified. We had several holidays abroad.

Weekends were spent at the Lidos with Mary and the grandchildren and we went on holiday to Tunisia with them.

Roy my youngest son had a baby girl but in 1986 my brother Harry died whilst on holiday in Aaron. We took the journey up stopping over night at Washington. The message we received said he had had a heart attack but was recovering. When we arrived the position had changed and he was gravely ill. I still didn't realize death was near and I joked with him before going back to the hotel to eat. The call came soon after we arrived at the hotel- he had gone.

Barbara, his wife turned to me and for the first time since we met we were friends. She discussed whether to have him cremated and I said I thought he wanted to be buried. I thought she would leave him there since he so loved the place but she decided to bring him home.

At the funeral I made a complete fool of myself. I had asked the doctor to give me something to see me through but foolishly I had a drink of sherry before setting out and lost control. Barbara remained calm through out.

Cousin Vin came, as did several of our other cousins who I hadn't seen for years.

Harry and I had drifted apart since Mam died, my fault since I harboured resentment that he hadn't given me more help in caring for her. Now it was too late I bitterly regretted it.

I appear to have stopped writing this biography at this point or else I lost part when my computer failed and now I cannot recall the years between 86 and 97 but in 88 I wrote regularly for the Nottingham Writers competitions and had a number of successes.

In 1993 John had an operation for bowel cancer followed by chemotherapy. He survived and was told the operation was a success. When he recovered he invited us to share a holiday with them in Cyprus. He was marvelous, up early every morning to do several lengths in the swimming pool. I didn't add anything to the holiday. I didn't like the place and he wanted to do all the catering which I wouldn't allow. In fact I was my usual obstreperous objectionable self. I fell down in the grounds when returning home at night and was diagnosed at the hospital with a broken rib. Pat broke a toe in the pool. John had taken out the insurance and lost the cover note.

They didn't ask us again.

Writing took over my life and I neglected every thing. I think I was hopeful of branching out into publication but hadn't sufficient confidence to submit although I did have one or two articles published.

Then in February 1997 Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had always supposed I would be a candidate for cancer not my daughter. She was only forty-seven. I was with her when they told her and I couldn't move. Roy came and she sobbed in his arms while I sat like a stranger looking on just as at my father's funeral when it seemed totally unreal until the coffin was sent to the flames.

For a little while she allowed us to accompany her for her chemotherapy sessions but then Neil took over before she started going alone.

In November ninety-nine Wes was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which had spread, to his bones. He was told he had about two years before the pain would start. Any treatment would be palliative.

We agreed not to tell the kids until after Christmas.

It was two thousand and two before I started writing this journal again.

John my youngest brother began making contact with me when he had begun a family history research. With the help of a former O.U. student I met at a reunion diner I discovered Granddad Allen's grave and we took a short holiday with Mary, Neil and John to visit the grave.

Cousin June Ensor (formerly Sweet) put us in touch with André and she met us off the train. She also took me to the record office in Calais to discover Grandpa Russell's birth record. Later she sent masses of information about Granddad and Grandma including the unbelievable, but proven fact that Grandma had given birth to an illegitimate child who had died shortly after birth.

John and I exchanged information for almost a year and we became closer through this shared interest than we had ever been. However it all came to an end in 2001 when he underwent an operation for gallstones. It should have been a three-day job but following a catalogue of errors - a severed artery and bile duct he was in hospital for a year firstly in Aberdeen then Edinburgh and finally after a short period at home back to Aberdeen to die. His suffering was indescribable. We travelled up to Edinburgh to see him only to find he was back in Aberdeen. We visited him at home where he was bent over the table in agony.

In March he returned home to build up his strength before undergoing further treatment for a small cancer nodule they discovered on the liver. He made it for his ruby wedding anniversary, which he held at Banbury. Mary and Neil took us.

The next time I saw John he was in his coffin. Cliff accompanied us to the funeral, hiring a car to take us to and from Edinburgh to Aberdeen.

Jonathon gave an excellent speech at the funeral giving a resume of John's life - his foibles and the part ice cream played. He had arranged for an ice-cream vendor to present the congregation with a cornet as the left the church.

This has been a traumatic year. I have suffered all the year with shoulder and arm pain and feel totally useless. I couldn't even pick up Cliff's baby.

I visited Rahel in hospital and was surprised to see how light skinned baby Joseeph was. I didn't know often babies are born light skinned and develop their darker skin tone late.

September 11 a plane flew into The World Trade Centre in America causing an appalling loss of life and incidentally Cliff's loss of his livelihood. The event was followed by an outbreak of anthrax that caused a great deal of panic.

Cliff wasn't worried about work, as he wanted to spend time with his baby. He took over completely. He brought baby Joseph round to see us almost everyday. He thinks the baby will remember us. He also has long term plans for sharing his interests but I fear his dream has come true too late.

I find myself constantly psyching myself up for the time when I will be alone which is foolish since I may well die first.

22 - Royston is Born

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Royston is born.

Cliff was had a totally different nature to Mary. He couldn't bear me to be out of his sight and Dad called him bawling Billy. He was cuddlesome and once the feeding came right no trouble at all but that was to change.

I tried to include Mary in his bath and feeding times but she wouldn't stay and wandered off next door to Mam. It was all too easy for her but it really upset me. She also became more difficult with meals and I had great difficulty in getting her to eat.

Our worry about this made us stupid. Wes would take her up to her bedroom to try to make her eat and once when I was on my own, I shut her out of the room telling her she couldn't come in until she agreed to eat. I think this must have been after we left Birkin Avenue or she would have gone in to Mam.

Despite her early jealousy, Mary soon adopted a very protective attitude to Cliff especially after they started school.

Mary was still very under weight and had repeated attacks of tonsillitis and the glands in her neck had become tubercular. At last I refused to leave the hospital until they agreed to operate which they did before she was five.

I sold the pram, which had stood up well to carrying both children on our daily walks. We had a chair seat that fastened on the bottom of the pram for Mary but Cliff had a habit for unscrewing things and one day whilst I was in a shop, he unscrewed one of the arms. I didn't notice until we got home but then it was too late, it had gone. On another occasion he unscrewed the bolts on the ironing board whilst I was ironing fortunately I was able to catch it before it descended on his head

I had a canvas bucket type pushchair for Cliff, which was very useful especially if we were going on a bus or a trolley bus, as the sliding of two rings up the handle allowed it to fold. It was very light which was a good point since although the buses had conductors not all of them were helpful. We never needed a timetable since the trolley buses to Bulwell or to Trent Bridge ran every few minutes. There were also buses into town coming from the Aspley Estate and the stop was at the end of our street, opposite the Player cigarette factory.

Children under five travelled free but only one per full paying passenger, some conductors didn't enforce that. We didn't use buses much except in the summer to go to Trent Bridge. If it was fine, we took the boat trip to Colwick. There a sand beach had been made and a section of the river roped off for a paddling pool. We took sandwiches and had many a lovely day out there.

Another favourite place was the Arboretum. On Sundays, Wes would take the children straight after breakfast leaving me to pack up the sandwiches before joining them.

During heat waves, I caught a bus to Buiwell lido and Wes would come from work to join me. We were lucky in having several lidos in and around Nottingham. As well as the Bulwell Lido there was Highflelds at the Nottingham University, Carrington in the middle of town and Calverton which I think was provided by the Miners' Welfare there was also a privately run one at Papplewick. The Papplewick Lido was fed wutspring water and was exceptionally cold.

It was during a heat wave that Cliff became very fretful. I put it down to the weather and the cutting of his eyeteeth but I became alarmed whilst we were on the Arboretum when his breathing became very heavy and he seemed barely conscious. I sent for the doctor and she told me he was bordering on pneumonia. In those days doctors actually suggested mothers should send for them rather than taking babies to the surgery, moreover they continued to attend until the child was well.

Mary went down with whooping cough when she was four. Within a week, Cliff too took ill with this dreadful disease. All night long, they had bouts of coughing ending with vomiting. Cliff was in the next bedroom on the first floor and Mary in the bedroom on the second floor. I remember one night staggering out of bed to rush upstairs to Mary only to find it was Cliff who needed me but by the time he was settled I had to go back to Mary.

Once they were over the worst, I followed the time-honoured method of cure. I walked them wherever I heard they were tarring the road. The fumes from the tar were reputed to ease their chests. The coughs continued for months.

Some little time after this my father's sister, my Aunt May, invited the children and me to spend a few days holiday with her. I was surprised since I had only had one previous invite when I was a small child and she was a live in nursemaid. That was a disaster. I fought with her employer's child and cried all night with homesickness.

Now she was living in a cottage on some Lord's estate at Retford. I expected the cottage to resemble the one my work mate had been sent to when she was pregnant or the farm cottage at Farnsfield where I had once spent a weekend but this bore no resemblance to either. There was a baby-grand piano in the living room and it didn't look out of place with the sumptuous suite. The bedroom too was large and airy with frilly curtains and bedspread.

On the Sunday morning May and her husband Charles were going to church and I volunteered to do the vegetables. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the pantry door open and came to the conclusion that it was locked. May was furious - the door was just stiff. I could write an article about my problems with jammed doors.

Wes must have come to fetch me home because I recall we went a walk together and for the first time in my life, I saw a "host of dancing daffodils". Not ten thousand but still an impressive amount growing wild.

I have a feeling the invite was suggested by Dad, in any event the purpose was clear on the second day when Aunt May had a "serious talk" with me. "I was," she said, "too intelligent to waste my time bringing up babies. Any one could look after children and I was wasting my education. I should find someone to look after them while I took up my career."

I was not only surprised I was shocked. No one could care for my children the way I could. I wouldn't even consider the proposal. Besides which I didn't think I was particularly clever or well educated since I was in the "C" form and I missed several weeks at the beginning of the war when the school was closed down. I wasn't notified when it reopened and I was sent down to sit in with the first years for a term for truanting from a sports afternoon.

Two of our teachers were retired ladies brought back into teaching after many years absence. Naturally, we took advantage of them. The History teacher began each lesson with the question, "Now where had we got to?" Our answer was always Henry V111 and until the final year, we stuck with him. The other was a maths teacher and she pretended I wasn't there. As I was hopeless at maths I was content to keep my mouth shut and read a book under the desk.

We were able to take a holiday most years as Dad paid me to look after the shop for a fortnight while they took their annual holiday.

Our first holiday with the two children was at Mablethorpe in a caravan. It was dreadful. Water had to be fetched from a tap in the field, there was a smell of sewage, I developed cystitis, and a horse bit Mary.

The following year we took bed and attendance accommodation. The first shock was the sleeping arrangements. There was no room at all between the beds, one ran under the window at the foot of the other, the cot touched the wall and the bed. To lift Cliff out I had to crawl over our bed and stand him on the small bed to dress him. He lost his balance, clutched at the net curtain, which, although I didn't notice it at the time, tore.

The eating arrangements created a problem. There was one long table for all the guests and it was assumed we would all have egg, bacon and fried bread for breakfast. I had bought tinned cod's roe, which I knew the children would eat. The landlady refused to cook it. Then I asked if we could have poached egg. This too was refused. Reluctantly she agreed to boil the eggs providing we all had them.

We had to cut the bread at the table and Cliff screamed until he was allowed to sit on my knee. 1 can't think now why Wes didn't cut the bread but I suppose it was the woman's job.

Then I was told the only vegetable they were prepared to cook was cabbage! We were really browned off having to go out and shop again but greater trouble met us on our return. The landlord met us with the greeting, Tm afraid I shall have to ask you to leave. The other lodgers had complained about Cliff's screaming at the table and the landlord had found the torn curtain.

I accompanied him upstairs to inspect the damage. As soon as I examined the curtain net I realised it was rotted. I lost my temper and demonstrated its condition by shredding it between my fingers, from a small tear where his finger had caught it became a heap of rags. I also told him what I thought of the room and the so-called attendance.

As I packed, he said he wanted paying for the rest of the week. In those days, you paid a deposit on booking and the rest of your bill at the end of the holiday. I told him I was reporting him to the Council since we had got his address from their accommodation list.

We received every help there. They gave us the address of a small hotel and said they would look into the complaint. They also advised us to ignore any demand for payment.

Although the hotel was slightly more expensive, it was well worth it and we returned another year with some friends. Cliff once again caused problems by locking himself in the bathroom. The landlord made no fuss just instructing me to stay by the door and talk to him whilst he fetched a ladder to climb through the window

Another disastrous holiday was at Blackpool. We were greeted at the door by the landlady saying, "I hope you've brought your rubbers with you. And don't think you're going to leave them at night I don't provide a baby sitting service."

Wes gasped and almost choked. Then she added, "I had to burn the mattress after the last family."

Cliff had not wet the bed for over a year but I had brought a rubber and a cotton draw sheet, which was just as well since he wet the bed on the first night.

The following morning we found she had taken the glass door off the dining room because the evening before the children had played "peep bo" through it. The room was freezing but before the day was out a middle aged couple had arrived, the lady voiced her complaint loud and clear, and the door was returned.

The other guest continued to complain about any and everything and the landlady mellowed towards us even to the extent of offering to baby sit one night but there was no way I would have left my babies with such a sour faced bitch.

Once or twice I thought I was pregnant, I wasn't too upset since bank salary structure was arranged on the principle that men shouldn't marry before they were twenty-seven when they got an increase in salary so I was less worried about the expense and I had always thought four children a nice number. I was able to save the 5/- family allowance to pay for the children's clothes and there would be extra for each child after the first. Although money cannot have been plentiful since my friend and I walked up the mile of Radford road checking the prices of green-groceries to buy the cheapest on the return journey

However, each time after missing a menstrual period I began passing clots. I didn't seek medical advice at the time but later the doctor said I had probably had spontaneous abortions. As I approached thirty I decided I was too old to give birth.

One perfect holiday we had before our third baby was born. That was at Southbourne. We took bed and breakfast accommodation and hired a beach hut where we cooked potatoes and warmed tinned foods on the paraffin heater provided for the making of hot drinks only. We had hit a heat wave and spent long days on the beach. The landlady was a real gem urging us to go out after the children were asleep.

We could never forget this holiday for two incidents. To reach the digs we had to walk home from the beach via a park with a large goldfish pond. In spite of warnings Cliff insisted on walking round the edge and one evening he fell in.

The other incident was down to us. Wes was fond of cheese and biscuits for supper and one night I lovingly popped cracker biscuits spread liberally with Brie cheese in his mouth. We didn't put the light on for fear of waking the children. The next morning we found the cheese was wriggling with maggots. If it hadn't have been wrapped it would have walked.

I was helpless with laughter, (I hadn't eaten any) I took the cheese to the landlady, and she too saw the funny side. She agreed to dispose of it.

When we returned that evening, we found we had not heard the last of the cheese. Our host had buried it in the garden, later when the smell pervaded the kitchen they discovered their collie dog had found it and it had spread all over his beautiful beard

It was a good thing they were such an easy going pair.

We might have returned another year but then my periods stopped. I thought I was pregnant and although I was worried about my age I was quite happy at the thought of another baby as my youngest would soon be starting school and I had always thought four to be a nice size for a family. I would, have another as soon as possible after this one, if it was possible. Mary and Clifford had got on so well together and I didn't want this baby to miss out on having a brother or sister near to its own age.

When after ten weeks I visited the doctor, she told me she didn't think I was pregnant but I must leave it until I had missed three periods to be certain.

I had a heavy discharge but not a period and was sent to the hospital for tests. There I was told I had gone into a premature change and I was put on hormone pills. After a few weeks treatment I had a very scanty period and soon after I became convinced, I was pregnant. The specialist said it was impossible and I should carry on with the treatment under the supervision of my own doctor who was still insisting I was not pregnant even when I felt the quickening.

"If I'm not pregnant," I said. I've got rabbits inside and they are jumping."

Again, I was referred to the hospital and they conceded I was pregnant but that the baby was not due until the 30th. October. He was born September 4th. 1956 and he was full term weighing 9lbs 4ozs.

This time with Mary at school, Dad took Cliff with him to collect sausages and pies for the shop whilst I attended the antenatal clinic and for the first time since I was a child, I met and talked to local women.

Present day welfare benefits are today criticized as discouraging people from seeking work but they were no different then. I met one young woman about my age who was expecting her eighth child. Her husband was unemployed. It wasn't worth his while to work, she told me because he only earned ten bob more than he got on the dole and with her family it was worth ten bob a week to her to have him at home. Even in those days, some men helped around the house. Not mine unfortunately.

Another young woman was attempting to have a baby after suffering five miscarriages. I don't think I would have had her courage and yet another had a cancer that had spread down her arm like cat fur. She said she was to lose her arm but they wouldn't operate until she had the baby. I don't know whether she had the baby as mine came first.

Mary and Clifford took German measles when I was about four months pregnant. Mam couldn't remember whether I had had it or not so, I was very concerned for the baby, the doctor said it was too late to do anything about it but as my generation had most childish ailments, it was unlikely that I had missed out.

I had great faith in the painless childbirth theory and practiced my breathing exercises regularly but I made the doctor promise I could have pethidine since I had no faith in the gas and air.

A week before the actual birth I had a false labour and rang for my husband to come home from work. This time he wasn't taking his holiday as I had been granted a home help from the local council. By the time Wes reached home the pains had gone and he was very annoyed at being fetched from work. About ten days later, in the middle of the day the pains started up again.

This time I adopted a wait and see attitude. Mother wanted to send for the midwife but I thought the pains were not strong enough for anything to be happening. By five o'clock, they were every ten minutes but still not at all strong. Mam took matters in her own hands and she rang the midwife and the bank.

My waters broke before the midwife arrived accompanied by a student nurse. She literally threw me on the bed and I was still fully clothed when the baby arrived. Wes walked in about ten minutes later to be ordered out by the midwife with the words, "We don't want you in here, you've done enough damage."

1 was supposed to stay in bed ten days but after a week I was upset by Cliffs crying and decided to get up. My dragon midwife had gone to another birth and the younger less intimidating nurse who had accompanied her at the birth was attending me.

Conditions down stairs led me to send the "Home Help" packing. None of the pans she had used for cooking had been washed and the unironed washing on top of the sewing machine reached almost to the ceiling. Nor had she had to spend much time looking after Cliff since he spent most of the day next door with Mam. I can't remember how much I had to pay but whatever it was, it was too much.

We named the baby Clive Royston but for reasons best known to them Mam and Dad insisted on calling him Roy. It was strange since he had been given the name Royston at the request of my sister-in-law's husband who had acted as our best man. At the time, Dad bitterly opposed the choice, as he was a divorcee.

Breast-feeding was an even greater problem this time as although I had plenty of milk I am convinced the baby was allergic to it. The experts declared this impossible, yet within ten minutes of being fed he regurgitated like a fountain. My first thought was that he had a stoppage and in panic I visited one welfare clinic after another in an attempt to discover what was wrong. I tried the bottle with no more success and the whole house reeked of vomit.

He was only a few weeks old when Cliff took ill with Chicken Pox. His was a mild attack but Royston became desperately ill. The infection had attacked him internally and he developed enteritis. The doctor even attended Christmas day and Boxing Day.

All that I had learnt from my previous struggles were forgotten. I couldn't leave this baby to cry, for if I did he had an asthma attack. I often found myself cooking with him in my arms.

He was only a few weeks old when I began working in the shop again cleaning as well as serving at lunch times, not just for the money but because I was worried about Dad. He had taken early retirement but wouldn't let up. He was getting a lot of indigestion and had been put on a fat free diet. The weight was dropping from him week by week.

He had been very depressed by the death of his young brother who had suffered with his chest since doing service abroad. He was one of the first to be called up since, against Dad's advice he had joined the territorials not out of patriotism but for the extra cash. He too had been a union man and claimed Players sacked him when he tried to organize the men.

Dad took Gilbert's death hard and tried to get a pension for his widow. She was one of those who were hit by the new pension laws that denied married women under fifty and without young children a pension. Like most women of her generation, she had not worked since getting married, not even during the war since her son was still at school.

My younger brother John was called up for military service in Cyprus. It seemed incredible. When the Second World War broke out Harry, my elder brother, was sixteen. No one could have foreseen that John who was only three years old would eventually be called up.

To make matters worse the removal of price controls meant the business could no longer compete with the nearby stores. Dad had to pay more for goods at the "Cash and Carry" than the stores charged. At one stage, I was buying sugar from the Co-op for him to retail. He saw his profits eroded as his customers deserted him for Woolworths and Co-op. Ice-cream profits too were down. After complaining to the local "Trades Council" about the bicycle ice-cream peddlers stationing themselves outside the shop he began to be hounded by the local "Health Inspectors."

He was made to build a separate dairy at the bottom of the yard to make the ice-cream. Plus an additional sink for the washing of hands. After he had carried out these improvements, he was told he must have a separate toilet for the staff. (One part-time lady)

When Cliff started school, I left Royston in his pram in Mam's back yard whilst I took him. I had to meet him to bring him home at lunchtime and take him back but soon I was leaving Mary to bring him as far as the Boulevard and meeting them to cross the road. Years later she told me she had terrible trouble with getting him there but she never complained at the time.

Open day helped to strengthen my resolve to move house for Mary's teacher seemed inadequate and when I asked how Mary was doing she just replied, Oh she's alright."

For some time we had, during the summer months, been looking at houses with a view to buying. I had had no ambition to move but Wes suffered several asthma attacks and was very unhappy when we were confined indoors on wet weekends furthermore he had seen on his bank report a comment about his address.

The matter became more urgent after Mary had a very nasty throat and gland infection with a fever causing her to hallucinate. The doctor suggested her health would improve if we lived in a cleaner environment.

Our first thought had been to buy a newly built house on the same estate as my brother but we withdrew from that when we discovered there was virtually no back garden.

Dad urged against, "putting your life in bricks and mortar" but I was afraid if I stayed, I would be putting my life into the shop. He became cross when Mam and I went shopping together and was less tolerant of the children's misdemeanours.

When Mary had developed the habit of crawling under the counter and chewing both matchboxes and cigarette packets he made the cigarettes less accessible but when Cliff posted salvage in the milk churn that stood in the back yard, he demanded payment and wanted him chastising.

He also accused Cliff of stealing money from the mantelpiece. Cliff claimed the lady in the next street who the children called "our Grandma who isn't our real Grandma" had given it to him. I was shocked when Dad said Cliff would finish up in gaol.

I asked if I could pay weekly for the ruined milk and Dad relented to the extent of only making me pay half as he conceded the salvage should not have been lying about.

We eventually settled on a house to be built at Wilford Hill. The plot was at the top of a hill with an open field at the back and what I thought was a church on the horizon. The mortgage was really higher than we could afford in spite of the interest on the loan being only 2.5% (a special rate for bank employees) the loan was for the whole amount £2,500.

The choice was mine. I was tired of looking and Wes had set his heart on living south of the river. We saw an older house that we liked but the asking price was £2,800 and as we needed a 100% loan, the repayments would have been too much.

Wilford Hill was a new estate and the nearest shops were a mile away down an unmade road. The promised school had not yet been built nor did it have a bus service.

At first, I had to take the children to school across the main Loughborough Rd. and through a farmer's field but after a several weeks, the Council provided a school bus. This made life easier as I only had to put them on the bus and meet them off it at the end of the school day. One day a lady approached me to tell me Cliff had been swearing. I was surprised since I had never heard him swear. Apparently the bus had mounted the curb as it turned the corner at some speed and Cliff said, "what does the silly boggar think he's doing?" I guessed he had picked that up from Dad.

Once I met the bus only to find they were not on it. I panicked and ran with Royston in his pram to meet them. I found them just leaving the school. Mary had been kept in. Trembling with rage, I went to give the teacher a dressing down. She wasn't a bit concerned and seemed to think I was making a fuss about nothing.

We had a similar alarm a few years later when the children missed the bus from Sunday school. We discovered them arguing with an irate lady who was trying to offer them a lift. Her insistence had made them very frightened but she turned on us saying it was ridiculous to make children so afraid of strangers. I did not doubt her motive but if it happened today, I would call the police.

Soon after we moved to Wilford Hill I discovered there was a farm selling goats milk and I read somewhere that goats milk was often tolerated by people allergic to cows milk so I began to give it to Royston and it agreed with him.

As soon as the new school was built, I transferred the children and as they no longer had a main road to cross, I didn't need to meet them and they could come home for lunch. I think life is like Edward Thomas's "Roads"

"The next turn may reveal
Heaven: upon the crest
The close pine clump at rest
And black, may Hell conceal."

21 - Mary and Cliff.

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We took our first holiday at Butlins, Skegness, hoping to at least to be able to eat our meals in peace whilst Mary was in the nursery and perhaps to go out for an hour or so after she was in bed. No such luck! She screamed so much when they put her in the cot that we felt we couldn't leave her and although she was fast asleep before we went to the bar in the evening, she was screaming before we had finished our first drink.

It was at Butlins that Mary had her first birthday and took her first steps. We bought her a push along revolving wheel holding a mickey mouse. She tried to get the mouse out and screamed until we broke the toy to liberate him. How daft can you get? At the time we were sure she related the character's imprisonment to her own experience in the creche

Before the holiday was over I realised I was again pregnant. This was a double blow. The bank, where Wes worked, gave a child allowance of seven pounds fifty a quarter but they had earlier announced that this was not to be extended to any child born after December 31st. 1951. We had discussed having another child in time to qualify and as I had no intention of rearing an only child, I thought we should attempt it but Wes refused. It was strange really for he has made very few decisions during our married life.

I accepted his judgment and was using both a Dutch cap and pessaries but "Man proposes and God disposes," as my paternal Grandma was fond of saying. How much the allowance would have meant became more obvious as the months went by. I was supposed to save for the gas bills as well as paying the rent and running the home. In the time-honoured way I put the gas money in a tin at the beginning of the month, alas before the bill came I had borrowed to pay the milk bill or the butcher and when the gas bill came there was nothing to meet it.

We had a terrible row, which ended with my telling him to do the housekeeping. I think he deducted ten shillings a week and thereafter paid the bills himself.

Our monetary problems were not helped when we had our first attempt at wallpapering. I wanted to put Mary in a bedroom of her own before the new baby came. There is an old song "When father papered the parlour" which describes our efforts to the "T" but unlike the song, it wasn't funny for we could ill afford to make mistakes.

Plumb lines had never been mentioned and the pattern sloped at an ever-increasing angle between one corner and the next. We were covered in paste, there were several holes where our fingers had torn through the flimsy paper and the extra roll we had to buy wasn't quite the same shade as the rest, but it had to do.

Mary was still very thin although we did everything we could to encourage her to gain weight even making a bedtime drink of Bournvita in a bottle to which we added raw egg.

The Bournvita was expensive and Mam suggested I bought a canteen-sized tin from her. That proved to be a costly mistake for we kept it in the back bedroom and whilst we were scraping the several layers of paper Mary managed to get it open and played sand pies with the contents.

My second pregnancy was tortuous. Morning sickness developed into all day sickness. I had to stop my work in the snack bar for I could no longer cook without being sick. Even the smell of food made me nauseous.

The doctor couldn't help other than to suggest a dry biscuit. Everything taken would go straight to the baby so any pills or potions were strictly forbidden.

At this time, my old boss rang me to say the Inland Revenue was inquiring into my earnings and he thought he ought to warn me. We used to get a monthly bonus on top of our salary and he wanted to know if he should declare it. I was able to tell him it was Dad they were after. He had bought a car cash down and they were accusing him of fiddling his accounts. He told them I had tipped up all my wages since starting work and he had kept my wage packets unopened and used the cash to buy a car. I had left work three years before and they were checking on my wages.

And then Dad had a heart attack.

Some time previously I had noticed his lips were blue as he carried the milk crates from the backyard to the shop. I asked Wes if he would take them in for Dad before he went to work in the morning and yet I was shocked when it happened. I believe the tax authorities hounded him almost to his death. I remember feeling very bitter about it. God knows he had worked hard enough, he'd earned that car.

The last six weeks of my pregnancy my weight dropped by two pounds a week till December came, I begged the doctor to give me something to hurry the birth. I told her about the bank child allowance, which would continue as long as the child was in full time education, provided it was born before the end of the year, but she refused to help.

Dad had taken on a part time helper and she advised me to take gin and castor oil whilst sitting in a hot bath, so after Christmas I did just that.

The pains started and I thought the treatment had worked. Agonising pains rooted me to the toilet. The midwife was sent for and immediately asked me what I had taken. I thought I was going to die and felt it would be preferable to living.

The griping and diarrhoea lasted two days and afterwards I felt so weak I could hardly stand but the baby refused to be hurried.

I finally went into labour on the ninth of January. The labour was protracted, although I had asked for pethidine the midwife said she couldn't administer it and she was unwilling to send for the doctor. Instead, I was to have gas and air. The machine didn't work and the pain went on for hours until both the nurse and Mam were yelling at me to push while I was too exhausted to obey.

At last he was born. Nothing was said and when I asked if it was all right, I received no answer. Through half closed eyes I watched as the nurse blew into his mouth. Then she laid him on a towel, picked up the jug of cold water, and threw it over him.

She then began to blow into him again and then to clean him up before attending to me.

When I finally got a look at him he appeared to be bruised all over. Unlike his sister, he was a chubby baby and although his head was large it did not look out of proportion, his back was covered in hair.

The following day the midwife told me she had thought the baby was stillborn and dashing cold water over him was a last resort before asking mother to take him away. The water however had induced a slight movement and so she had resumed working on him.

Mother was very angry and asked why she hadn't sent for the doctor when I was having such problems with the delivery. Her reply was that the doctor too was in the ninth month of pregnancy and she was afraid she might have two babies to deliver at the same time.

The doctor came several days later, still pregnant. She said I had been badly ripped by the baby's head, which was very large. It was however too late for stitches but the tear would heal itself.

Once again feeding caused problems, this time I had too much milk so when the baby tried to feed it gushed like a fountain and choked him. For a while, some of my milk was collected and taken to the premature baby unit.

I named my son Clifford after my father and Wesley after my husband. From the beginning Wes said he wasn't going to put up with the sleepless nights . Cliff was to be fed strictly on a four-hour schedule and once in bed he was not to be picked up however much he cried.

I wouldn't have kept to the four hours during the day but for him getting mild enteritis due to over feeding. The welfare nurse couldn't believe his weight gain was due entirely to breast-feeding. He would regularly put on eight to twelve ounces a week whilst his sister grew ever thinner.

The contrast between them became so marked that when I took them both out strangers made comments about "feeding one and neglecting the other." I often went home in tears.

Dad recovered and in spite of hospital advice refused to have a bed downstairs. "You're not making an invalid of me," he said.

He received sick pay until one day the health insurance visitor came whilst he was attending to a customer. Mam had gone to the lav but that wasn't a good enough excuse he was told he must not serve in the shop whilst he was on sick.

He signed himself off.

Following Dad's advice we began to rely on "stop in time" for contraception. I hated it but was afraid of being let down by mechanical methods.

Mary had been out of nappies for several months before Cliff was born but soon after she began to wet herself and following the advice of the district nurse I put her back in nappies.

I now got up at 5am on Mondays in order to boil the nappies and do the household laundry, which was ponched in the kitchen sink before being transferred to the gas copper. We bought a mangle, a smaller lighter version of mother's old wooden roller one. The rollers were rubber covered and because it was so light, it had a tendency to walk when anything heavy was put through it. It had to stay in the back yard for there was not sufficient room in the kitchen.

Cliff was only three months old when Mary took ill with measles. The doctor reassured me that he was unlikely to get it as I was feeding him and he would take immunity from my milk.

Mary was very ill and lay all day in a semi-conscious state. I had the cot downstairs and we kept the curtains drawn as it was said the light could affect the child's eyes. She recovered and Cliff didn't take it.

Now more than ever, I was glad of my friend's company. She too had two children and once Mary had recovered, we both would do all the household chores in the morning and wheel out the babies in their prams in the afternoon. At this time, Wes came home for a midday dinner so it was usually after two o'clock before I was free.

If it was fine, we took them on the nearby Forest and if it wet we shortened our walk to take a cup of tea in each other's house. I had to be home by four thirty though because in those days, the banks closed at three thirty and Wes wasn't best pleased if he got home before me.

I found his attitude hard to accept. I couldn't see why he couldn't have made himself a cup of tea instead of waiting with a face like thunder. It was of course his upbringing. His parents were ten or more years older than mine and had known the time when they had a "live in" maid. His father would not have undertaken any household task, indeed he didn't even mow the lawns whereas my Dad scrubbed floors, cooked and dusted, though I never saw him iron.

However, my husband made no objection to Barbara and me going dancing once the baby was fully weaned, something my Dad would never have allowed mother to do. Indeed, he told Wes he shouldn't allow it. I found his concern quite amusing since we danced together most of the time and when we danced with a fella, we returned to our own table. Both of us agreed the men we had left at home were better than anything that could be found at the Palais.

We never saw anyone from the old days until one night when Cliff was two or three years old and Fred was there. He asked me to dance, I think it was foxtrot and I couldn't follow him. It was very odd for although we had never gone dancing together I had no problem the night we met at the Civil Service dance. We gave up trying and he invited me to have a drink. I told Barbara and the three of us left together.^

Spitefully I gave the glad eye to another fella that I had danced with once or twice. I was so angry because he thought I was going to fall at his feet again. The other fella came and asked me to dance and I left Fred with Barbara.

Later, she told me how surprised she was that I was obviously bored in his company. That too was deliberate, there was no way I would risk my marriage.

I tried hard to be a dutiful wife and to make our home nice. The red tiled kitchen floor was scrubbed with the wash water after the laundry was finished. It was a good smooth floor and I thought how nice it would be if I polished it with Cardinal Red polish. This was a heavy wax polish, which was supposed to need only mopping to keep clean. I used it first on the outside window sills and got Wes to fasten a wooden bar across so that I could put geraniums in plant pots on the sill.

Polishing the kitchen floor was a mistake. Not that it didn't look nice but one morning while I was making the beds the children decided to help by polishing the floor. I suppose I must have left the tin out. Unfortunately, they decided to use their Dad's suit as polishing cloths. I never bought dusters but used rags cut from old clothes so presumably they thought the suit was "old clothes" whereas it was his best suit that had been left ready to take to the cleaners.

I had forgotten this incident until my young brother reminded me. He went into paroxysm of laughter as he recalled me sobbing to mother. He fell about laughing then and she clipped him over the ear.

Mother's cleaning lady told me to take the suit to the cleaners straight away and tell them what had happened. They tried to be sympathetic but couldn't stop laughing as they told me they would do their best. Their best was marvellous, the suit was returned in pristine condition and Wes knew nothing about it until John and I were swopping memories for this biography.

When Mary began to crawl, we broke our resolution of buying everything in cash. We had a coco-matting floor covering which grazed her knees so we took out a Co-op club for a carpet square. I think it cost thirty pounds. The collector called every week and you got "Divi" on the payments. We continued to take out "clubs" with the Co-op for many a year, we wouldn't have managed anything new without it.

We acquired a new wardrobe, Mam's old one. It was oak and had an oval mirror on the door. Dad had bought a new one (second hand), a huge mahogany wardrobe lined with quilted blue satin. I'm sure he expected Mam to be delighted but she hated it.

They couldn't get it up the stairs and it had to be taken apart to get it through the bedroom window. Poor Dad he never did get it right. He once bought me a pair of opera glasses and I thought he'd found them. I went to plays not opera or revues and I had never seen anyone use opera glasses.

I was still working in the shop. Cliff took his day time sleep in the pram in Mam's back yard. Before I had realised he could pull himself up he had managed to fall from the pram and over the wall which must have been about an eight foot drop. I was distraught but there wasn't a mark on him.

Wes & me at Skegness

20 - Married Life.

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Married Life

Dad bought the two shop premises some time before (1936 according to my younger brother). The opportunity came when the landlord of no.87 which Dad rented offered it for sale. The adjoining shop premises no 85 had become vacant so Dad got both premises very cheap.

He rented no 85 to some one as a hardware business which failed. The tenant had then sublet the shop part and she incurred Dad's wrath when he came home one day to find it was to be used as the "Conservative Party" headquarters.

In spite of this he would have found it difficult to recover the premises for us but for the fact that he discovered she had accepted "key money" for the house part. This was a practise that had been made illegal.

We were delighted at our stroke of luck even though the rent was to be twenty five shillings a week.

The week prior to the wedding we spent every night scraping the walls and decorating the house that was to be our home. We scraped off layer after layer of paper only to find the walls were painted dark green with a two inch black border at head height. It had previously been a butcher's shop. A retired painter and decorator advised us to use powder distemper to cover it and he showed us how to stipple a pattern using a sponge. We used cream for the background and random dots in blue and pink. I was very satisfied with the result but we were both dog tired by the time we finished.

My cousin Jean was to marry the following month and we planned to share the house as it had a living room and kitchen downstairs and the shop could be used as an extra lounge whilst upstairs was a large room over the shop and three more bedrooms.

Dad had previously had a "cook an heat" put in both 85 and 87 kitchens and bathrooms built over the kitchens.

It was years before I lost the sense of utter luxury of having a bath in our own bathroom. Turning on the taps and pulling out the plug were miraculous to me.

Jean's parents stepped in to offer her a room at home at the same time pointing out that if she moved in with us she would probably forfeit her chance of a Council house.

The Councils at that time had waiting lists. Nottingham City would accept engaged couples names on the housing list providing the man was a resident in the City. Nottinghamshire County, however allocated houses on a points system. The first requirement was that the man should be married and a resident of the County. Points were added according to the number of children he had and as there was no way I was going to start a family without a home of my own we were ineligible for either list.

Dad had passed on to me his own fears of hire purchase and Wesley's father was of the same mind so we agreed we would pay cash for everything or go without.

We furnished the living room with Momma's drop side brown Rexene settee, and a wooden folding bed chair from mother in laws attic.

There were alcoves either side of the fire, in one we put Mam's old treadle machine, given on the understanding that I would do any sewing she required and in the other alcove an orange box covered with a piece of matching curtain. I had made the curtains very simply by hemming each length top and bottom and hanging them on a stretch curtain wire. The wire was not enclosed in plastic at this time.

Our last forty pounds went on a gas cooker that I bought new. I have always been particular about my cookers and couldn't abide the thought of a second hand one.

Wesley's father bought us a utility dining room suite that had a huge draw leaf table and a sideboard. He had chosen it with care but without any regard to the dimensions of our room. I would rather have had the money but we were given no choice although he did take us to see it before it was delivered. He had examined it carefully and told the shop he wanted that particular suite and not another from the production line.

We couldn't afford a new bed and I was allowed to bring the 3/4 bed that I had shared with my young brother until I was fifteen. I also brought my bedroom furniture, a wardrobe, which was a converted wall cupboard, and a three mirrored dressing table.

Mam gave me a couple of part worn blankets and sheets. The sheets were worn in the centre but I cut them and turned sides to the middle, one of my aunts bought us a pair of sheets and another a blanket. We were very lucky in our presents for the only thing that was duplicated was a teapot.

Before the wedding Dad warned me to avoid having babies too soon but as the Doctor had told me I wouldn't conceive unless I had my tubes blown I thought I had nothing to worry about. I intended to carry on working for at least five years before having a family.

On my wedding day Dad told me, "marriage is just hard work." I didn't understand then what he meant. Later I realised how right he was.

My main worry was that I would disappoint my husband in bed. He had confessed to an affair in the army and that his first sexual experience was with a prostitute.

Three months after the wedding I started to be sick in the mornings. I hadn't noticed the absence of my periods because I was so irregular.

At this time Wes was earning just under five pounds a week and I was earning just over five pounds so we were by no means living in luxury on two wage packets and yet I had no doubt, I would cope.

Fortunately I could both knit and sew and began to make the layette and to read everything I could about giving birth and rearing the baby. Dr. Spock's book on baby and childcare became my bible.

One promise I made to myself was that I would never smack my baby. The other was that we would never quarrel in front of the children. I thought I knew it all.

After the morning sickness passed I bloomed but it wasn't easy to keep working and I was relieved when the time came that I could give up and still qualify for the maternity grant.

It did not occur to me that I would ever go out to work again.

Natural childbirth was the vogue in 1950 and my baby was to be born without pain. At least that was what the books told me.

My doctor did not attend childbirths and so I was referred to a doctor at the other end of town.

She was a Catholic and as a result of an article I had read I asked her what would happen if at the time of birth she was faced with a choice of my life or the baby's. She assured me that it couldn't happen for if there was any doubt about my being able to deliver safely I would be admitted to hospital for a caesarean birth.

I travelled across town by bus and alone for my antenatal checkups. These visits became ever more wearisome as I passed the projected birth date. My mother's cleaning lady said I should be induced but the doctor insisted the baby would come when it was ready.

I had continued to work for the first six months and I bought as much as I could for the coming event. An aunt gave me a dropside cot which Wes painted lemon so that it would be all right for either a boy or a girl. We had to secure the bottom with string, as it was apt to collapse.

I am always amazed at the magazines costing of having a baby. In 1950, we used terry-towelling nappies and the recommended number was three dozen. I bought one dozen plus one dozen muslin ones and I had to manage.

The gowns, three instead of the recommended six, I made myself from vyella. Mam advised against the cheaper flannelette in view of the fire risk. One of her brothers had been burnt to death

I had set my heart on a Silver Cross, coach built pram, for babies spent most of the first year of their life in a pram. They were one of the most expensive prams on the market but we were lucky. Every night I scanned the Evening Post advertisements and answered every advertisement, at last we found one in mint condition. We had raised the money by selling both our bikes. The family forecasted that "no good would come of it." for it was considered unlucky to buy the pram before the baby came.

After I left the lab I worked in Dad's snack bar at lunch times for ten shillings a week. We had the use of the house not the shop. An entrance from his shop through to ours had been made and he had set up a snack bar hoping to attract customers from the nearby Players factory. He had the idea that I could provide homemade cakes but I told him they couldn't be made cheap enough to be viable.

Dad had thought there was a fortune to be made in cups of tea and bought a second hand urn from a market trader. The tea was vile!

The second error was in setting up a bar with bar stools. No one used them and he had to abandon them in favour of tables and chairs. Another mistake was he had calculated the profit to be made on such items as beans on toast, reckoning on one tablespoon of beans per customer. He had over looked the possibility of every customer making a different order so that not only did lunch time end with the kitchen table full of various open tins but as cooking was done on a standard household gas cooker the waiting time gave great dissatisfaction. Microwaves were unheard of,

Mam had been against the idea of the snack bar from the beginning and they argued bitterly. She reminded him of a costly mistake he had made previously. He had been offered a large quantity of sugar pigs, coupon free. Unfortunately just after he bought them sweet rationing ended. The walls of my old bedroom, which he had converted into a stock room, were lined with boxes of sugar pigs.

One of the best things that happened at this time was that my former school friend had bought the house where Momma used to live, she had a baby girl and we took turns to visit each other. But for her companionship I would have been very lonely indeed as Dad told me I should not invite neighbours into the house. I suppose it was because of the easy access to his shop premises.

May 1950 was very hot and I sweltered in a wool pleated crossover maternity skirt and crimplene smock. I remember the heat bouncing off the flagstones, and the sweat running under my heavy breasts as I puffed my way up the avenue. I was grossly overweight due, no doubt, to following folk law and "eating for two" and stuffing myself with chocolate.

By the time labour began I'd lost my fear of the pain to come thinking thank God that these wearisome months would soon be over. My friend, always Job's comforter, said it had to get worse before it got better and I knew she was right.

They say pain is the quickest thing forgotten and in this case, "they" were right. I was given pethidine and although my parents told me I suffered, I had no recollection even immediately after the birth. My mother was present most of the time. Not all the time for she was obliged to keep going downstairs to fortify herself with a drop of gin. By the time my daughter was born, the bottle was empty.

I think the pethidine had addled my brain for although I had spent many hours choosing names, when mother asked I said "Mary" which was mother's name and the last one I would have chosen in the cold light of day.

Dad's first concern was whether she had the full compliment of fingers and toes. I hadn't checked for it hadn't occurred to me that my baby might not be perfect.

I was rather shocked at her appearance for head seemed too large for her scrawny body and she had inherited her father's aquiline nose, she had a mass of black hair falling low into her neck. At the moment of birth, she looked a perfect replica of him. I wondered afterwards if I hallucinated for by the next day, the elongated head had shrunk and the nose was a tiny bud. She was as pretty a baby as anyone could wish to see.

The first night she uttered not a whimper and I asked Wes to bring her to me. I was alarmed to find she was icy cold in spite of the coal fire that he had stoked up before coming to bed. I lay her across my body to warm her and kept her with me all night. I know the experts preach against this but I honestly believe she would have died that night if I had left her in the cot.Besides Momma told me she always kept her babies with her and pooh-poohed the notion of a mother overlaying her own child.

The midwife terrified me. She was typical of the harridans who had slapped me in hospital when I was child.

"I hope you haven't any silly notions about putting her on the bottle," she said. "I always insist my babies are breast fed."

With hindsight I should have said, "I didn't know you had any Miss-" but I was too intimidated.

Just as my childhood nurses, she railed at me for the state of my bed, especially the pillows, "There are four corners to every pillow and four corners to each pillow case," she snapped every day as she proceeded to make my bed.

I was thrown into despair as she stripped the baby and threw all her clothes and cot linen, into a bucket of water into which she added a liberal quantity of Dettol. I had only three of everything and no washing machine or dryer and I knew I would run out of baby clothes and linen. Moreover, I thought one bottle of Dettol would be sufficient and it obviously wouldn't.

On the third day she was very late so I asked Wes, who had taken his holiday fortnight to look after me, to bring in the baby bath and I attended to her myself. The Midwife was furious!

"How dare you," she fumed. "I haven't even shown you how to bath her. Suppose you had dropped her."

Why I didn't tell her I had been bathing my brother and cousins since I ten or less, I'll never know, but then nurses, doctors and policemen represented authority and one didn't answer back.

She wouldn't give an inch and even though I had just changed the baby, she went through the same routine of stripping her and pouring water and dettol over her clean gown.

I could have choked her.

< p>Mother-in-law came and found her darling son labouring over a sink full of nappies. She had bought him a thick woollen dressing gown that she had made herself. She gathered up the bed linen and crying, "This mustn't happen again," stormed off. Someone should have told her I didn't do it all by myself.

My father was disgusted but I couldn't help seeing the funny side. West Bridgford people in general considered themselves a cut above the rest while we regarded them as penniless snobs. It was a standard joke that if you dated a Bridgford lad he'd meet you inside the pictures.

There were many snide jokes about them. We called them the'Plus fours, and no breakfast" brigade.

Question: "What is a West Bridgford pheasant?"
Answer: "A kipper with a feather up its arse."

"What do the West Bridgford folk have for dinner?"
"A sausage on a silver plate with the blinds drawn."

All this because most of those on the other side of the river struggled to buy their own homes in an area where rates were less than in Nottingham. At the same time it must have been an awful blow to her that her son not only married a girl from Hyson Green but also went to live there.

Poor Wes it seemed as if someone at the war office was having a joke at his expense when the day our daughter was born his war medals arrived. Dad ribbed him for years.

Breast-feeding was a traumatic experience. At twelve, I had tried in vain to shrink my bust with tight binding so I had always assumed I would have no problem feeding a baby. Alas, it doesn't work like that. I appeared to have the milk and after the first fortnight, she gained an ounce or two every week but I seemed to have her on the breast every hour of the day. The experts said feed on demand. "Never mind that," Mam said. "Feed every four hours," I thought the experts knew best.

It wouldn't have been so bad if she had been contented but although she suckled and slept through the day, she screamed all night from ten o'clock until she was put at the bottom of the yard in her pram at five o'clock in the morning. It is the biggest wonder she wasn't a battered baby for nothing stopped her crying. I remember once after I had tried feeding her, crooning to her and walking up and down to no avail, I threw her on the bed. Not, thank God, very violently but had Wes not taken over she might have gone out of the window. I think it was despair at her lack of response to me. I had always had a way with babies-other people's babies responded to me but not my own.

Wes had a remarkable store of patience and after putting her outside in the morning he would literally fall on the bed asleep.

We were kept awake every night for six months. In desperation, I consulted the local chemist who gave me a sleeping draught for her. It was a brown sludgy potion that smelt of chlorodyne. I don't know what it was or whether it would have worked for after the first few drops, her eyes dilated and I was thrown into a panic. The rest of the bottle went down the sink.

Later the doctor prescribed reducing doses of phenol barbitone and she began to sleep but not to gain weight. My friend Barbara saw me struggling to feed her and gave me a bottle of her own baby's feed, "top her up," she said. I was amazed to see Mary guzzle the whole bottle.

I knew Dad wouldn't approve so for some time I tried to hide the fact that I had put her on the bottle, which was difficult as he could walk straight in through the shop.

Another thing my father disapproved of was my habit of reading while I was feeding. Of course he was right but unhappily I saw no point in talking to this inanimate creature. Just as in childhood, I was made to feel very guilty about wasting time reading. To this day, unless I am away on holiday I feel guilty if I read during the day.

I was soon back working in the snack bar at lunch times for, little though it was, I needed that ten shillings but I was full of resentment when I sometimes had to take the baby off the breast to attend to late comers. Dad thought she should be allowed to cry until the last customer had gone especially as Mam's eyesight was deteriorating and she often burnt herself when cooking.

Looking back, I can see Mother was prematurely old. I remember Dad saying to me, "Can't you do something about your Mam? She looks like an old woman."

I remember too my callous answer, "She is an old woman." She was fifty-two or three.

She had cataracts in both eyes and was almost blind, her hair was grey and had becoming sparse and she sprouted both a moustache and whiskers. Now in my seventy ninth year, I am ashamed to remember my indifference, yet could anything I might have done made any difference?

With hindsight, it was a mistake to live in such proximity to my parents. It was strange that Dad had made it possible for he had always maintained that he would not allow his children to begin married life in the parental home for he blamed his own marital problems on such a beginning, mainly because Mam relied too much on her mother who did all the cooking.

There was no fear of that with my mother, just the reverse. Dad suggested it was a waste to have two stoves on to cook Sunday roasts so why didn't I put theirs in with mine. This of course led to my providing them with a pudding every Sunday with more regard to Dad's taste than to my husband's.

It wasn't all one way though for whenever Wes and I squabbled I would go through to Mam's in the evening and Dad would provide a glass of beer. He would also call Wes through to join us though if he did he would be sent down to the beer-off with the jug.

Also, Mam and Dad baby-sat one evening a week while we went to pictures. Every time, although we had left the baby fast asleep she was downstairs with them when we got home. She was always in an excited state as Dad played with her by putting matchsticks between her toes and then she wouldn't settle.

In return for the baby-sitting, we took care of the shop while they had a night out.

Weaning brought more problems. Dad opposed the use of prepared baby foods and apart from Farley's rusks, I tried to feed her on normal food, beginning with soft boiled egg, the only food she took eagerly. I was very apprehensive regarding her food as she been so dreadfully constipated that her bowel had protruded during evacuation.

19 - Wes.

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September 1947, and I was back at night school.The Trip was near to The People's College and I arrange to join my friend Barbara (W) there after the Thursday session. She was with a couple of fellas when I arrived and I was obviously meant to make a foursome. One look was enough for me. They were rough, uncouth louts. The one allotted to me was ginger and normally I admired ginger hair but this chappie had pale skin and eyes, a heavily freckled face and his "You'll do for me duck" earned him the most scathing look I could muster.

I ignored his "What'll you "ave?" and pushed my way to the bar which took some doing - the place was jam pack solid. Barbara (W) came after me and hissed in my ear that we were with them and I should let them pay. I shook my head but as I moved from the bar with my drink I found myself back with them. We stood in the passage for there was no way we could have got into the side room.

While I was wondering how to leave without drawing attention to myself my eyes met those of a fella at the far end of the bar. There was an immediate sense of recognition although I had never seen him before. He obviously understood and was amused by my situation or by the pint mug in my hand. In the words of the song. "It seemed as if we'd met before, and lived and loved before." And if that sounds corny I must admit that I didn't think I'd "fallen in love" it was just a sense of immediate rapport.

The toilet was in the back yard and that was also a way out so I finished my drink and left by way of the toilet. I didn't tell Barbara (W) I was leaving in case she and the fellas decided to come too.

I was surprised when I found the fella from the end of the bar waiting for me. He walked me home even though it meant he would have a five or six mile walk back to his own home and I warned him there would be "nothing doing" at the end of it. That was the first of many walks home.

His name was Wesley and he was everything I had been waiting for although I was a bit worried that he came from "Bread and Lard Island" as we called West Bridgford as the fellas from there had the reputation of being mean.

Barbara was furious; she thought I had arranged to meet Wes outside though how she thought I could have done that from the other end of the passage is beyond me.

Soon after I met Wes he arrived at a date minus his top teeth, which he had just had extracted. I can't understand why it didn't put me off but obviously it didn't as I continued to see him. Looks have never been important to me.

I can't remember much about our early days together. I think we mainly went for a drink or to the pictures. (Cinema)

Although I was dating Wes I still saw Barbara (W) and we arranged to go to Goose Fair in a foursome. It was a ride in the huge swinging baskets that put me off Barbara forever. I suppose youngsters today would think nothing of the ride but they swung to perpendicular and we clung on for dear life.

Neither Wes nor I cared very much for the ride but Barbara's fella went white before turning green. When the ride was finished she insisted on taking a ride on another horror. Wes and I went home and I didn't arrange to meet her again.

Before long I had taken Wes home to meet my parents.

Dad thought he was too old for me and didn't believe it when I said he was only one year older than me. I suppose his service in Germany had aged him for the first photograph of him in uniform shows a very young looking eighteen year old.

Wes didn't meet Granddad perhaps I was reluctant to introduce him after Fred's reaction although Granddad was back in the sitting room with Momma. He died shortly after Wes and I met.

Momma must have been still been in hospital on my birthday. However, Wes did meet Momma. We were going to a dance and I had a full-length evening dress. She called it a ball gown and said wistfully that she had never been to a ball. She also said, "Now I've seen the man you will marry."

I shook my head, "We've only just met," I said but I felt pleased.

Despite her pain, before she died she said of her life, "It's not been so bad." I wept to hear her say that. Her life had been so hard and she had been betrayed not only by her husband but also by her daughters. She had always been there for them but when her hour of need came they turned away.

Momma didn't survive long without Granddad. She died in agony the following March. (25/3/48) A pill had been left for her to ease her death but she refused it and I was told she cried out in pain all night long.

I had not been told how ill she was and to my father's disgust, I slept through it all. No doubt I had been drinking heavily.

Once again my memories of the funeral are hazy although I am sure I was responsible for the refreshments. I believe Harry attended the funeral and recall the family were scandalised because one of the aunts didn't and she was seen shopping on the "Green" when the hearse passed.

When Harry married (May 22nd 1948) Wes was his best man. I was a bridesmaid despite the bride not wanting me. It was not my choice either but Dad and Mum were up in arms when they realised I wasn't to be asked. Harry consulted me as to whether it was normal practice to ask the bridegrooms sister. I told him it was but he needn't bother, as I didn't want to be anyway. However he persuaded me that my attitude would spoil his wedding day and so I agreed.

During the summer Wes and I took my young brother John and his pals out at the weekends. We took them fishing at Fairham Brook, Clifton blackberrying and picnicking

Christmas '48 we got engaged. Wes didn't propose but I pointed out an engagement ring to him in Chantrills, a jewellery shop on Radford Road. I had deliberately chosen a cheap ring (ten pounds) for I knew anything expensive would set him running.

I should have been happy but suddenly I became very depressed.I realised the reality of death. I could think of nothing else. Sitting on the bus going to work I wanted to scream at my fellow passengers, "Why are you laughing and chattering? Don't you know you are all going to die?'

I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat and I couldn't tell anyone how I felt. I can't remember how long I was in this condition but I can remember the first thing I ate. It was a pyclet, toasted in front of the kitchen fire at my future Mother-in-law's.

Our courtship didn't run smoothly for in the first place his Mother didn't like me and his father thought I was a "gold digger." One of my worst enemies was my own tongue and I didn't help matters when Wes told me his father asked if I was a gold digger, I retorted, "If I was a gold digger I dig in a gold mine not a muck heap."

To make matters worst soon after we became engaged we went to his father's work's dance and who should be there but Fred my school day sweetheart and several of the old drinking crowd.

Neither Wes nor his father danced and I loved dancing so I was soon whirling away with Fred and his pals. Wes said some very unpleasant things, before leaving, including that I had embarrassed his father. Fred took me home.

Whether it was the influence of drink or whether he had deteriorated since last we met, suffice it to say he made sexual advances such as he had never done before. I can only suppose he thought I'd fall into his arms like a rotten apple since his approach was direct and without any assurance of love or apology for the past. I told him I wasn't that kind of girl and if he was looking for sex he should go to Long Row (a notorious haunt of prostitutes)

The following day I wrote a letter of apology to Wesley's father explaining that the fellows I had danced with were school day friends. It was a deliberate ploy to get back with Wes for although I couldn't see what they had found so appalling about my behaviour, I knew Wes was the man I wanted to marry.

I can't remember how we got back together but we did.

We had one holiday together before we married. Dad tried to forbid it but I told him I was going to Skegness with Wesley and nothing he could say would prevent me, at the same time I assured him of the propriety of our arrangement. We lodged separately, he with his Aunt and I in a boarding house, it was fabulous. The sun shone everyday and it was more of a honeymoon than the one after we married in June 1949.

Clothing coupons were still needed but I was fortunate for I obtained some white parachute silk to make a long under slip and my manager was able to get some sample material for me for the dresses. I didn't, of course, have any choice of cloth or colour, but he got a length of white crepe and enough turquoise crepe to make two bridesmaids dresses. One for Wesley's sister and one for my cousin Jean. The turquoise was rather dark so I bought some beige net (coupon free) for the yokes and puff sleeves.

The youngest bridesmaid, Aunt Helene's child was dressed in lemon net. My mother's cleaning lady asked to be allowed to make the dresses and she made them beautifully. My dress had a sweetheart neckline and a full "A" line skirt. I borrowed a veil that I wore over my face. It stayed there throughout the ceremony as my bridesmaids forgot to lift it.

My mother-in-law to be, offered to make the cake. I had planned to make it myself and it was with some trepidation that I agreed. I was shocked by the extravagance of the ingredients she asked for. I would have managed with far less but the resulting cake was excellent.

It was a two-tier cake and I saved the top tier, in the prescribed manner, for the Christening of my first child although as I didn't intend this event to take place for at least five years, I privately thought it would come in as a Christmas or birthday cake.

Dad agreed to pay for the reception but we had to buy the bouquets. I remember being terribly shocked by the price and I decided to carry cut flowers. Uncle John gave me beautiful Irises for the bridesmaids and sweet peas for the little one. I had gladioli. I took the advice of Mam's cleaning lady and kept them overnight in the cellar so they were tightly closed and I suppose ruined the effect but they looked OK on the photograph.

The honeymoon was a fiasco. We had been unable to have the Saturday of our choosing as Wes worked for The Westminster bank and could only have the Saturday morning off if the clerk already on holiday would agree to come in and our second choice was vetoed by Dad as it would have been the weekend of sweet points and that was his busiest day of the month. I determined on a morning wedding, as I wanted to avoid an evening party with all the dirty jokes I had heard at other family weddings.

My menstrual period started on my wedding night. I had warned my husband to be that it would probably happen sometime during the week but it was a bit off putting. We went to Yarmouth and it was cold and wet. The one redeeming feature was the landlady. She was a lovely woman who served yorkshire puddings with every dinner. By coincidence her name was the same as my maiden name.

We planned to rent rooms at the top of a three storey house on Gregory Boulevard for which we were to pay £1 a week. There was a cooker on the landing and the shared bathroom was on the floor below. However Dad asked if we would be prepared to live behind the shop next door.

18 - Looking for a Husband.

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Looking for a Husband

Dad and Mam often took Momma to the cinema when there was a film they thought she would like. Momma really enjoyed these outings and I didn't mind looking after the shop while they went.

One day Mam and Momma were dressed ready to go and Dad didn't come home until it was too late. To make matters worse he was drunk.

His eldest sister, named May at birth but in later years called herself Maisie, had warned him against drink as she said alcoholism ran in the family. I don't know whether she based this on their father being a drunkard or if she knew something of their grandparents but it seems Dad went through a period when he let drink get the better of him. I was really shocked at him letting Momma down.

With the Americans gone I started dancing at the Palais again. I had various boy friends - one I remember was named Jack. I met him at a party at Barbara's. I recall wearing a green blouse I had made myself. It had a rather revealing sweetheart neckline and Jack said he would not take me wearing that.

Needless to say, I didn't change the blouse and we did go dancing. My ex fiancé, Fred was there with Nella his new girl friend. Her neckline was far more daring than mine.

Some time later Fred asked me to meet him as he had something important to tell me. I liked his Nella and I assumed he wanted to tell me he was getting married.

To my surprise, he asked if there was any chance, if he waited, that we could get together again. He looked so miserable that if I hadn't had my heart set on the first Fred I might have weakened but as it was I told him no. He then said he was going to marry and emigrate to Canada where he had an uncle. I was so relieved I didn't want him haunting my life. We parted with a kiss.

In 1946 Dad asked if Barbara would come and stay to help run the shop while he and Mam went on holiday. He said we could close at nine and at twelve midday on Sunday. I think one of Mam's sisters must have been working and the other had recently had her first baby. Barbara stayed with me and at night after we had closed the shop, we had to cook the ice-cream ready to freeze the following day. I don't think Dad had anticipated us being busy since it was the middle of the month when few people had sweet points left but we had a heat wave and ice cream sales soared.

We were so tired we ate baked beans straight out of the tin to save washing up and we still ran out of pots.

Cousin Joyce went to America in 1946 and I felt very sad. I liked her husband Rex but I couldn't see her being happy so far from her home and family although I knew she had always quarrelled a lot with her brothers.

My life was turned upside down when I heard Momma was in hospital! My Aunt Helene, the youngest of the sisters came in tears to tell us, before going to Aspley to let the rest of the family know.

Every one was deeply concerned; the sisters gathered at our house to discuss what was to be done about Granddad. He could not, of course be expected to fend for himself. It was decided to care for him on a rota basis with someone sleeping there every night. It was suggested I was old enough to take a share.

Aunt Violet refused; she had young children who couldn't be left. Aunt Rose worked in a pub at night but she offered to take his washing as she had a washing machine; Aunt Cis, Uncle John's wife, said she would alternate with the washing. Aunt Jenny couldn't help as she had a heart condition. In the end only three of us were left to provide in house care. Mam, Aunt Helene and me.

A rota was agreed and everything settled until Dad came home from work. "You can't leave the poor boggar on his own," he said.

The "sitting room" above the shop was turned into a bed-sit, and Granddad moved in. I admired Dad's prompt action but it was Mam and I who bore the brunt for Granddad was not a man easy to please.

Food supplies were still very restricted; we had dried egg, snoek and whale meat. None of my family liked whale meat it had a peculiar fishy taste. Dried egg wasn't too bad but a bit pasty. I really enjoyed snoek on toast with dried egg but the rest of the family didn't care for it. Granddad now had all the fresh eggs we could get. I wouldn't have dared to serve dried egg to him.

He was very fond of omelettes but maintained that they could not be made with less than six eggs and eggs were still in short supply. Nor could he be fooled. I tried to satisfy him with a three-egg omelette but he declared the result to be overcooked even though the yolks in the centre were still liquid.

Aunt Cis (John's wife) and Aunt Rose visited on alternate weeks to collect his laundry and Uncle John, the eldest son, climbed the stairs to share a drink with him. I don't recall any of the others visiting him.

A greater shock came after Momma's operation for a twisted hernia- she had an inoperable cancer. There were many tears shed and horror expressed. Helene said Granddad had done it when she had received a kick aimed at the dog. She also told them that Momma was still having "the curse," and that she had begged her more than once to see the doctor.

Granddad had chronic bronchitis and suffered a great deal of pain. He asked the doctor to put him out of his misery. His health deteriorated so badly that towards the end he could not wipe his own bottom. As compensation he became less irascible and although he often had me in tears over the inadequacy of my cooking (for which I received no support from Momma, although she never complained herself) we developed a rapport and he told me many stories of his background.

From Granddad I heard the details of his courtship and how the Pope had granted Momma dispensation to marry him provided they promised to bring their children up as Catholics. He had been prepared to agree to this but when he discovered he must attend confession before marriage, he refused.

Why, as an atheist, he couldn't have paid lip service to this is beyond my comprehension. However, they were married in a civil ceremony and after the ceremony the women of the red light area stoned them. He laughed as he recalled sweeping Momma in his arms and running to the awaiting carriage. He had been contracted to a girl prostitute promising to take her out of the brothel, an arrangement which seems very strange to English minds but which was apparently quite common in France.

I can't remember when Fred came home but I know I thought my future settled so I was surprised and hurt that all our rendezvous were with a gang. All his old friends with their various girl friends met at the Barley Mow and he never seemed to want to go anywhere else.

He did linger over goodnight kisses and once told me, "You're not pretty but you've got something."

I pretended to be cross and thanked him coldly. That annoyed him he obviously thought he had paid me a great compliment.

"Christ what do you want me to say? You're not perfect."

I knew that the "something" was sex appeal or "oomph" as we called it in those days but I'd known that since I was fourteen and found no satisfaction in one more lad recognising it. Of course, I wanted him to say he loved me, but he never did.

One of the girls said she was engaged to one of his friends but when I mentioned it to Fred he said she was kidding herself for the fellow in question was already engaged to someone else. I told her and Fred was furious with me.

Things didn't go well from the start. I had gone to a lot of trouble to get one of the youngsters at work to queue for cup final tickets for me. I thought all men were football mad. Fred wasn't impressed, he came with me but made it clear he wasn't keen. Moreover, he didn't see me home.

We had a terrible winter; the snow came in January 46 and lasted through until March only to be followed by floods.The buses stopped running and some days I walked to work so I could no longer get home for lunch. Granddad had to make do with sandwiches and have a cooked meal at night.

One day the factory floor was flooded and we had no heating in the lab. The boss brought in a paraffin stove. It was a round black stove that gave out very little heat. By the time we were allowed to go home the path by the canal was flooded. I saw a man looking into the water. "I reckon there's "summat" in that bag," he said.

I looked where he was pointing to a sack caught up in some flotsam. There was something moving inside it and a faint mewing sound could just be heard. I got my shoes sodden but with the aid of a stick I managed to get it out. It was a kitten. I was on my bike so I put it in the back carrier and rode to the P.D.S.A. Unfortunately nothing could be done for it, it was badly ruptured.

Whether it was my distress made me careless or the motorist was in too much of a hurry, I'm not sure but I had an accident on the way home. I wasn't greatly hurt but my face was grazed and my finger sprained. I was taken to the General Hospital and after treatment I had to walk home as I had left my purse in my bike carrier bag and I had no money for bus fare. The Nottingham Evening Post reported the accident in one line, which said I'd hurt my little finger.

Fred read the report and roared with laughter. He neither expressed nor, I'm sure, felt any concern for my trauma. Fortunately the Transport and General Workers" Union, of which I was a member was more sympathetic and they managed to squeeze £30 out of the driver's insurance for damage to the bike and for pain and suffering.

It doesn't sound much but it paid for a new bike. I bought a Raleigh bike with three speed gears and a dynamo. It was a mistake! The bike was so heavy, I didn't understand the gears and I had been far happier with my old bike that had no refinements.

My twenty-first birthday brought matters to a head with Fred. I had a party in the "sitting room" on the previous Saturday.

Momma was still in hospital so Granddad was moved to the small upstairs bedroom for the night. I took Fred up to see him and saw his face register disgust. Granddad must have appeared a poor neglected old man sitting on a hard wooden chair beside the bed that was pushed up to the wall. A spittoon sat in the hearth and the chamber pot had been used. I suppose Fred couldn't understand why he hadn't been taken downstairs but it would have been too much for him to climb back up to go to bed nor was he in any condition to use the outside toilet.

I had invited all my current boy friends to the party hoping to announce my engagement but instead of a ring, he bought me a locket. Foolishly, I asked whose photo I should put in it. He muttered, "I can see I nearly made a big mistake."

As we said good night, he asked if I was going out on my actual birthday, to which I replied tartly that I was hardly likely to be staying in. Apparently, my birthday fell on the day of the week that he usually took his mother to the pictures.

I suppose I should have said bring her too but it didn't occur to me, how could it? I had never known my brother to take mother out. I said not to worry as I was sure I would find someone to take me out. The upshot was he took me to the pictures but I sensed I had blown it. As we said goodnight I told him, "The next time you chuck me there will be no coming back, I shall get married."

"I'll never marry," he said. "I've promised never to leave Mother and two women can never share a kitchen."

I didn't believe either statement. I hadn't read Lawrence's Sons and Lovers then and had never known a mother-ridden lad.

I can't remember whether that was our last meeting but soon after he left me again. At least this time I was waiting at home instead of in the street. It seems strange that now I cannot remember clearly an event that ended the relationship but although I was hurt and disappointed I think in a way, I was relieved. The heartache was there but as Grandma Allen said, "As one door closes another opens." I have never been one for looking back. Besides Harry was home and had promised to take me dancing.

Dad said Fred would be back when all his friends were married but Mam said I'd be a fool to wait. I'm sure she was right for I knew of a girl who had been engaged for ten years to a fella who in the end threw her over to marry a girl of sixteen, besides which, I wanted "Love. 'Of course, I knew I would never love anyone else the way I loved Fred but I believed I could make any man happy as long as he loved me. I never entertained the idea of staying single because I wanted babies and for that a husband was necessary.

It was several months before Momma was due for discharge from the hospital. I was filled with disgust and disbelief when I discovered that not one of her daughters was prepared to take her in. They all said they could cope with her if they had the room but were not prepared to take Granddad. They knew, of course, she would never consent to be parted.

I wished then, with all my heart, that I was married with a home of my own to offer, as it was I could only offer to take a share in the rota system.

Once again Dad stepped in. There were tears in his eyes as he lambasted the family. She had been the best mother in all the world, carrying them all through the depression. Caring for the grandchildren - he was choked. Without any delay or discussion with Mother, he fetched Momma home.

Mam wasn't best pleased. She didn't see how she was to cope with running a home and the shop, preparing extra meals and caring for an invalid.

"Joan will help," Dad said.

Momma had a colostomy and her womb was totally external. For a while, the district nurse came in to attend to her but Momma was not happy about this and asked me if I could do it for her. Fortunately, my firm was very flexible about hours.

When I first started at the lab, I worked eight thirty until six on weekdays finishing at one on Saturdays, but after the director owner took to sleeping on the premises he told me to come in later as the lab was above his bedroom. He was a heavy drinker and liked to sleep in, so there was no problem in attending to her and giving them both their breakfast before I went to work.

At this time we didn't have a bathroom so water for washing Granddad and Momma had to be carried upstairs. Dad applied for a licence to build a bathroom over the kitchen but both grandparents were dead before permission was granted.

I had been used to eating a snack in the lab at lunchtime, poached or boiled egg cooked in a beaker, baked beans, or colwick cheese; now I took a longer lunch and worked later in the evening.

Harry came home at the beginning of May and he took me to a church hall dance at Sandon Street. At first I was delighted but it became clear his motive was to introduce me to his girl friend.

However, with Harry home things became easier since he could help in the shop while Mam attended to the grandparents and so I had my first holiday without my parents.

Barbara and I went to Torquay. The landlady had no idea how to feed two healthy young girls and used the excuse of rationing to serve us with half a sausage each on half a slice of toast for breakfast and yet she would put a whole cake on the table every day at teatime. We were so hungry we put the cake into our handbags to eat the following day.

To be fair, food was in shorter supply than than during the war and bread had been rationed since July '46 but it was a mystery where she got her supplies for the cakes.

Once again we met a couple of fellas who should have served in the forces, perhaps they were on demob leave. They lived in the area and gave us a great time and when we were late back one night and the landlady locked us out (she insisted no decent girl should be out after ten o'clock) they banged and shouted until she let us in. The next day she threatened to write to our mothers if it happened again.

We were twenty-one years old and I got very merry on scrumpy. One night to prove I was sober I walked along the harbour wall. The next day I was horrified to see the sheer drop below.

We both wrote to these fellas and arranged to meet them in London. Aunt Gladys obligingly put us up, they stayed in a hotel. I think we met them a couple of times in London and I was presented with a ring although I refused to consider it an engagement ring.

I had a skirmish with my fella but managed to dampen his ardour with a fit of giggles. After that weekend, he wrote a strange letter breaking it off. As I had not considered it "on', I wasn't upset. I thought the ring had been a ploy to have his way with me.

My school friend Barbara and I talked about getting a flat together but flats were in short supply and we couldn't have afforded it anyway.

Granddad's death, when it came, was easy. He asked for the pill left by the doctor, with a warning of the possible consequence, and slipped away in his sleep. (11/12/1947)

Until Granddad died, Momma rose from her bed each day to fuss over him. After he died, she stroked his head, murmured poor Johnny. She was moved into the small bedroom and she never got up again.

All her married life Momma had let Grandpa dictate to her so everyone was surprised when she said he was to be buried. His request had been for cremation but Momma believed in resurrection of the body, so it could not be destroyed.

Grandpa was buried at Bulwell Cemetery (ref10-xx15) in the plot where Alice was buried.

Momma was bitterly disappointed that the insurance she had saved wouldn't pay for a headstone. The aunts contributed towards an engraved flowerpot. Later Helen had the marble curbs placed round the grave and the area filled with white chippings.

I can't remember anything about the funeral but I think I stayed at home to prepare the funeral feast.

Momma died three months later. She had an agonising death, refusing to take painkillers and fighting for every last breath.

During the summer of 1947, I spent a lot of time in pubs. A friend of Barbara's, named Joyce, who was also at a loose end joined me in taking the bus out to various village pubs at the weekends. In the week we went to whichever town pub was open for there was a beer shortage and the pubs opened on different nights.

It was on a night out to a country pub with Joyce that I was subjected to an attempted rape. We had been drinking with a couple of fellas who seemed like nice country folk when we said we had to leave to catch the bus. They said there was a later train and that the station was just ten minutes walk away across the field.

As we were crossing the field, they attacked us. It must have been planned for we hadn't stopped for a cuddle or anything like that. I was terrified for I never imagined anything like this. I had always been careful not to let a fella get too excited even in town. I wouldn't have dreamt of going on a park with a stranger. My friend was made of sterner stuff, I don't know what she had in her handbag, but she wielded it with devastating effect first on her own assailant, then on mine. While they were wondering what had hit them we ran. They didn't follow and there was no train.

We decided to hitch and the gods must have been watching over us for the car we stopped held an old school fellow and her Dad.

Soon after this, Joyce became a Jehovah's Witness and I lost a friend.

Then I met a marine. I can't even remember his name, or where I met him.He was the antithesis of everything I was looking for but my head reeled under his kisses. (With Fred excitement at the thought of meeting him again was a matter of butterflies in the stomach and trembling at the knees) The Marine took me home to meet his parents. They lived in one of the poorest parts of the city in a little cottage that gleamed and sparkled with brass.

His father had an allotment where he grew magnificent dahlias and unlike any other parents I had met, they thought I was wonderful. They told all their friends and neighbours how clever I was and that I was a "grammar school girl" and his father gave me a huge bunch of dahlias.

I found their warmth wonderful but at the same time embarrassing. They were so eager to welcome me into the family and although I told them we had only known one another a few weeks, they insisted I was the girl for their lad.

In my heart, I knew he wasn't what I wanted. I had set my heart on a man who went to work in a suit, wore a collar and tie, and had clean nails. I had never really believed in "the world well lost for love" fairy tale. Dad had always said "When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out through the window," and that made sense to me.

Dad had been besotted with Mother before they married and yet the only time I saw them kiss was when he returned from convalescence at Stoke Mandeville. And I never saw my grandparents kiss. Nevertheless I might have found myself deeply involved save for an incident which shocked me into metaphorically "hitching up my skirts and running away."

I had often heard talk of "gigolos" and Dad roundly condemned any man who would ask a woman for money and my Marine did. He asked to borrow ten bob. (50p in present day terms) I had no objection to paying my share of nights out and in fact always stood my round with service men as I knew I earned more than they did.

I had been paying my board ever since my brother Harry had returned from the forces, which still left me with money in my pocket. More money than I could spend as I was able to buy supposedly "second hand" clothes from a little boutique specialising in coupon free models.

The owner was a small very ugly Jewess. She wore loads of make-up and very bright clothes. She made me feel uncomfortable by her extravagant flattery but I think her heart was in the right place. I remember buying a black suit with horizontal stripes; I must have looked like a bumblebee!

My Marine made the request as we were saying good night and all the warning bells rang. I gave him a ten-shilling note but when we reached my doorstep I put the key in the door before telling him I wouldn't see him again.

He knew why with out explanation and offered the note back, insisting he would have paid me back and begging me to reconsider but I didn't stop to argue and left him on the door step.

My heart was thumping wildly but any regret I felt was that in giving him up I had also to give up his Mum and Dad.

Barbara's haunted my youth. My next pal was another Barbara (W) she was the daughter of someone my parents met in the pub.

We began to meet at the Trip to Jerusalem, Monday and Thursday, my night school nights. Bodies like sardines in a can squashed up from bar to the door where there stood a brass nude the boobs polished lovingly by many lascivious hands. In the tiny room on the right the piano belted out war time melodies played by Bob a round-faced middle-aged man who passed round a green velvet bag for his wife and ten kids. When the Yanks came, he made a fortune.

We drank pints since there would not have been time to fight our way to the bar twice. Closing time was ten o'clock but sometimes they ran out of beer at nine. When they were open until closing time the last tune was "Now is the hour, when we must say goodbye" which was sung with many a tear laden eye.

Barbara didn't dance so going to pubs was our only entertainment. I met several fellas at this time, each one I coldly studied as a potential husband. Time was no longer on my side and I didn't intend to waste it going out with anyone who had no chance of fitting the bill.

However, a confession Barbara made, reminded me of something I had known and forgotten. She went away with a man who had proposed to her. He took her home supposedly to meet his parents but on arrival at his home, she found they were alone. He persuaded her to go to bed with him to make sure they were compatible. The next morning he threw her out because she wasn't a virgin.

I decided then that if I found a man I wanted to marry I would have sex before we wed. Not only because I knew he would not believe I had ruptured my hymen on the back of a cinema seat but also because I didn't want to marry anyone who saw sex as the most important part of marriage.

I wanted someone I could laugh and joke with and who could hold a conversation. The problem was opportunity for I felt love making in a park or against an entry wall too sordid for romance and even if I could go to a hotel they demanded your identity cards. But above all, I wanted to be loved for myself not just for my body.

Sexually I was either immature or frigid. I had indulged in plenty of petting but can honestly say I was never tempted except by curiosity. At sixteen I longed for kisses that would make me swoon with delight and passion that would sweep me off my feet but the nearest I got to actual sex was from the printed word.

I listened with disbelief when my friend said she lost all her will to resist when fellas stroked her nipples. Lads had surreptitiously groped my nipples since fourteen years of age, on top of my clothes of course, but even later, when hands reached inside it did nothing for me.

I would have liked to get away from home for I didn't get on with Mother and Dad still made rules about the time I had to be in and he waited up for me. He paid no attention to the time Harry came home but bolted the door without checking whether he was in.


17 - Political Interest.

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Political Interest.

May 8 1945 was V-E (victory in Europe) Day. I walked into town with yet another Barbara - my brother's girl friend. Market Square was packed solid.

We had a street party for the kids at which I served lemonade donated by Dad. Saturday night there was dancing round the bandstand on the Arboretum. I went with cousin Jean, I enjoyed it but the concrete floor made my feet burn.

At this time I became close to my father when I joined the local Labour Party and became their Trades Council Delegate although I was only nineteen and not yet allowed a vote. I was instrumental in squashing a move to put pressure on my old headmistress, Miss Harding, who was accused of snobbery in forbidding pupils to take paper rounds. I was able to point out that she also forbade the undertaking of night school courses (I knew this since I had myself asked for permission). Her reason in both cases was that school work was too demanding to allow for these extra activities.

I might have had a political career but, as I learned many years later, Dad put a spoke in the wheel. The Chairman told him they were considering putting my name on the short list as candidate for the next election but Dad suggested I was too young and should be allowed to "get over my teething problems."

However, I knew nothing of this, took a correspondence course in "Local Government" through Ruskin College, and was instrumental in persuading my father to stand for the council, as a trade union candidate. Unfortunately, he was given a staunch Tory ward to tackle and although he substantially reduced their majority, he was not offered the same ward the next time round. He was very bitter about this, particularly as the chosen candidate was a businessman who had previously stood as a Tory candidate. He felt he had been "sold out" by his branch secretary.

I enjoyed canvassing and heckling Tory speakers at public meetings. With all the faith of youth, I thought my generation was going to alter the world. I sang the Red Flag with all the gusto that I had once sung La Marseillaise and held to Karl Marx's doctrine "To each according to his need and from each according to his ability" as divine truth. Dad told me his only religious belief was that it was up to every man to leave the world a little better for having known you.

Dad gave a great deal of his life to union work to this end. My elder brother felt he should have devoted the time to his own family and to the business. With hindsight perhaps my brother was right for all the gains made by the unions on behalf of the workers have been eroded under Margaret Thatcher's rule. Dad did not live to see the decimation; it would have broken his heart.

There was an election in July and Clement Attlee defeated Churchill. He was a small unattractive man who probably wouldn't stand a chance today when image is everything.

Since 1935 Attlee had been the leader of the Labour Party and officially became deputy to Churchill in the wartime coalition government.

The Labour party remained in power until 1951 and Attlee was its leader until 1955.

The atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6. Many people think this was a good thing as it supposedly shortened the war but to me it was an atrocity compounded by the dropping of a further bomb on Nagasaki on August 9. There was no way Japan could continue with the war and September 2 was VJ day.


Joan Mary Fulford
Fulord Consulting Ltd
West Bridgford
Nottingham NG2 5GF


Clifford W Fulford
162 Edward Road
West Bridgford
Nottingham, NG2 5GF

Send e-mailclifford@fulford.net
Telephone: 07923 572 8612