As John’s memoir was extremely long, I decided to make notes on every page to make it easier for myself when retracing my steps. Listed below is every single detail about John Sawyer and his life. I didn’t want to waste it, so enjoy!
John Sawyer- One man in his time…(Or- The first sixty years)
- He was born in 1914 at Beeston, Nottinghamshire
- Some memories of World War I, ie. Gas powered buses, an uncle on leave.
- Father was manager of one of a chain of grocery and provision stores.
- Descriptions of neighbours.
- Moved to Ramsey in the Fens when he was 8
- Work- clerk in solicitor’s office, Ramsey.
- Social life
- Moved to solicitor’s office, Nottingham. Describes social life.
- World war II.
- Drafted into army. Basic training. Clerk at Prestatyn, Noth Wales, then London.
- Describes duties, billets, social life.
- Air raids
- VE day
- Married in 1946. Lived in Richomond London.
- Ill with TB
- Worked for oil company
- Descriptions of learning to drive, living and working in London.
- Visits Holland, Brussels, Austria.
- Visits Ramsey again after 30 years.
- Mentions illnesses, accidents.
- Made redundant
- Moved to Bideford, Devon, then to Westward Ho, Devon.
Page 1 – Introductory pages.
- ‘No modern computer is infallible – it has to depend on some human element.’
- Describes the mind as an ‘infinitesimal space’ and how no computer can compare to the mind.
- He details how he recalls memories- ‘some can be recalled easily, some are recalled by association, by a snatch of conversation, by a tune.’
- He has a negative attitude towards computers, expressed through his admiration of the mind and its infinite capacity- ‘one can journey back over the years and be with anyone, anywhere, any time, all without the necessity of complicated data programmes, expensive equipment, and intricate mechanism and microchips.’
- ‘I have done nothing to warrant recognition.’
- ‘No event worthy of recording’
- It is his first attempt at writing a book, and outlines how no one could be interested, yet exclaims that ‘no other person in the whole wide world could have written it.’
- He includes 2 quotes.
- ‘But words are things, and a small drop of ink, Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think. (Byron- Canto iii St. 88)
- ‘I cannot but remember such things were, That were most precious to me. (Macbeth- Act IV, Sc. 3.
- Contents pages, split up into chapters;
Page 1- the Early Years
- The Early Years, spent in Beeston.
- Very positive descriptions of his uncle- ‘I remember him with great affection’ and ‘He was a great guy…he was always laughing and joking and bringing happiness to others.’
- Very detailed description of childhood memory at having coal stuck in his eye- ‘he produced a piece of coal the size of a walnut, and said ‘No wonder it hurt.’
- Describes how his young mind didn’t register the struggles and privations prevailing at the time.
Page 2- The Early Years con.
- Describes the aftermath of the war through his fathers assistant-‘ George had a key to the warehouse, and during hard times after the war succumed to temptation and helped himself’. (misspelt succumed)
- First experience in school was Miss Brown’s private school
- Calls school a ‘great adventure’
- Betty brown, first love affair – ‘she became my girl, I would take her home after school and carry her books.’ – childish recount.
- Sunday School Teacher, Miss Prentice, next love affair. ‘I may not have learned much about the scriptures but I did win a prize for one hundred percent attendance.’- comical
- Mr Clough, neighbour, owned confectioner’s shop, him and his wife had no family and took a liking to John.
- Every Sunday morning, him and Mr Clough would go down to River Trent and help bathe the dog. This way he saw ‘more of the outside world.’
Page 3- The Early Years con.
- The author tends to have a habit in going back and correcting his work or adding extra snippets in, maybe for context?
- ‘I naturally had to form an alliance with the rougher element in the neighbourhood’ – he felt obliged to fall into a bad crowd of kids. There as more excitement in rebellion- in ‘letting the wind out of bicycle tyres’.
- He also learned swear words, shocking his parents and forcing them to bring a policeman over and conjure the story of him calling about boys with bad language. This made him give the ‘local police station a wide berth for years.’
- Neighbours daughter would take him and her nice to the park to play hide and seek. He recalls specific details such as the fact that the babysitter was reading and how he asked her for a hiding place
Page 4- The Early Years con/ We move.
- He hid under his babysitter’s skirt as she continued to read- ‘lifted her skirt and told me to huddle between her legs; she covered me with her skirt and carried on reading. In my innocence I regarded it as nothing more that an ideal hiding place.’ – they left shortly after, ‘otherwise I might have been a much earlier developer.’
- They left due the difficulty his father has with running the business, so they moved to the Fen district so his father could take over a grocery business. ‘We pulled up our roots, said our goodbyes, and started a new life in new surrounds.’
- Doesn’t remember his emotions, packing or anything about moving.
- Describes his memory of moving as a ‘faulty piece of tape (handwritten edit- in my mind computer) which only commenced operating again on arrival.
- Remembers distinct names of people- Mr Miller, an ‘old Bill’ type of character, driving a horse drawn conveyance.
Page 5- We move con.
- Describes his surroundings, depicts the society and setting at the time. ‘one felt rather than sew the darkness’.
- Lighting- ‘a few oil lamps with smoky chimneys at road junctions provided the only light in a dismal setting.’
- Spent 15 years in Ramsey, Fens. Small town.
- Early times- district was a ‘vast, desolate, waste of flooded rivers and treacherous marshes.’ Small areas of higher ground would usually be taken by hermits. Primitive chapels developed into monastic foundations of the Fens.
- Ramsey developed from water and bogs into the market centre for surrounding farms.
- History of Ramsey, started in Saxon times with foundation of monastery- he’s very educated.
- Provides history- ‘in 17th century, Cromwell (handwritten edit- cousins of Oliver) came to reside nearby. It is said that a member of the Cromwells brought the Great Plague to Ramsey in 1666, 400 people died.
Page 6- We move con.
- Interested in history? – ‘fifteen dwellings were destroyed by fire on one occasion, and in 1731 a more serious outbreak destroyed so many houses that over a hundred families were rendered homeless.’
- He was 8, and spent 15 years here.
- No piped water, each house had water tank dependant on rain water. Only the aristocracy had flush toilets. Other toilet facilities- large bucket sunder a wooden seat housed in the smallest room furthest away from the main dwelling. These were disposed by council workmen into a ‘night soil’ cart and disposed of. Occurs at Midnight. On night a long distance driver was returning home and drowsily crashed into the cart, earning the name ‘Stinker.
- Fresh water was supplied from an everlasting spring to a pump at the end of town. Collected in buckets.
Page 7- We move con. And Schooling.
- History- drought emergency in 1976- stand-pipes, ‘I was queuing with my buckets, my thoughts went back over the years- I thought, ‘so this is progress’- hes sarcastic.
- Enrolled into the only elementary school in town
- Mixed opinion- ‘I can’t say they were/the happiest days of my life – I can’t say they were the unhappiest!’
- Average pupil.
- Enjoyed football and cricket- ‘I hated history and exams.’
- Hated woodwork, only completed a few articles included a beaded bookshelf that ‘house my Charles Dicken’s volumes to the present day, were some recompense.’
- Mixed school- different subjects.
- Didn’t aspire to mathematics or languages
- Stayed in school when his time was up – stayed for 6 months to avoid ‘remaining idle awaiting employment
Page 8- Schooling con.
- Had a good sportsmaster- held cricket sessions in the playground. ‘I never made an accomplished bowler’ ‘I did, however, make good progress as a bowler. ‘ I modelled myself on the sportsmaster.’
- Enjoyed soccer sessions, joined local team, goalkeeper in reserve. Would have Saturday fixtures, travel in a lorry to different away grounds, wouldn’t have changing or washing facilities. Return home wet and muddy in kit, ‘until we could remove signs of battle when we reached home.’
Page 9- The Choir
- One month probation
- Two church choir practices a week, two services on Sunday.
- If accepted one would eventually undergo initiation in full view of the assembled congregation at evensong.
- ‘The collar stud always seemed about to apart company with the attached bow’
- One felt humble and proud at having been admitted to the ranks of such a body.
- First choir practice- ‘It was hard to believe that the little cherubs in white surplices on Sunday could take on the shape of little demons on the following Tuesday.’
Page 10- The Choir con.
- As payment for their services, they were treated in summer to a choir outing, in winter to a tea party and a visit to the local cinema. One summer outing that he loved was to Wembley Exhibition and he London Zoo.
- Organ blower, getting on in years and his exertions would sometimes prove too much. He would sleep between hymns and prodded with a cane. A boy would climbs over the row to ‘set the bellows in motion’.
- Choir boys would test how low the organ pump could fall, so ‘were subjected to a severe telling off and threats of dismissal, but we managed to survive.’
Page 11- The Choir con.
- ‘After all good choristers were at a problem’
- Senior boys would bully the verger into giving a hand in ringing the church bells before service. System of small ropes, some chimes were tuneful, some would have ‘had recognised bell ringers climbing up the ropes in despair.’ This would make the choir boys rush to get their cassocks and surplices on, and non-participants tied the sleeves into knots. ‘One boy once took his place in the choir stalls before realising he was still wearing his cap.’
- ‘We may have had our lighter moments, but I think we deserved them.’ In serious times, were a good choir and added strength and dignity to the church services.
- Sporting curate- fell to the curate sometimes to conduct an early evensong due to their being another church 4 miles away- vicar couldn’t make it in time/ To make it, he would tuck his cassock into his trousers and mount his bicycle and ride like fury.-‘For the first of ten minutes of the service he was surrounded by a halo of steam from his bald top’
Page 12- Community Life
- Small community- all-embracing.
- Everyone knew each other and shared their joys and sadness- Television hadn’t arrived so amusements consisted of and for the community
- Weekly visit to local cinema- regular family affair. Manager wished every single person a ‘goodnight to you’ at the exit door.
- One elderly patron- would always be in the front row of the stalls, he would see every film three times.
- Boy scouts- one of the largest troops in the county, did well at yearly rallies- did victory rings on the County Flag. Yearly camps, spent at Gorleston-on-Sea ‘were looked forward to with great anticipation.’
- Each night of camp would stand with other member on cliff edge and blow the Last Post out to sea. ‘We felt very proud.’
- Yearly concerts, last three nights, great competition. ‘We put in a lot of work, but end results justified the efforts.’
Page 13- Community Life con.
- In one play, played a character suffering with a heavy cold. Before performance, he had a nosebleed, played his part with his head held back, ‘sniffing through the whole of my dialogue.’ ‘I was afterwards complimented on my realistic performance.’
- Armistice Day remembrance service was a big event in town. Assembled local bodies, British Legion, Red Cross, Fire Service, Council members, scouts, guides. March was headed by town band for united religious service. ‘I had the honour of sounding the last post and reveille on my bugle.’ During song, a fox terrier appeared at his feet and howled in protest.
- Jobs- small community, hard to come by for school leavers- however managed to get a job as a junior clerk in a local Solicitors’ office. Asked in interview whether he could play piano or cricket. ‘This seemed to me a strange introduction to the legal profession.’ – Principal then suggested that if he could play piano, then he could soon learn to use a typewriter.
Page 14- Community Life con.
- Further education- correspondence courses through ‘Let me be your father’ campaign run by Bennet College. Studied hard and made up for what he missed in school.
- Taught himself typewriting, studied shorthand too. Great asset in later years when he moved in to large city office.
- Matured quickly from schoolboy to member of firm- ‘the principals which had a finger in many pies.’ Clerks of Council, Magistrates, Burial Board, Catchment Boards, District Coroner, Insurance Agents.
- Had to serve first notice to a very useful farm worker. ‘I approached his dwelling in fear and trepidations,’ – the farmer greeted him and thanked him when he gave him the notice. ‘What torments we go through unnecessarily.’
- Had to type depositions of witnesses for Coroner’s Court to an accident when a light plane in Sir Alan Cobham’s Air Display crashed, killing pilot. ‘I felt that I was living in a very important world.’
Page 15- Community Life con.
- Boss give him a couple of days to skate- the fields would flood from surrounding rivers and freeze over in winter, ‘Whittlesey runners consisting of blades in wooden frames, and for the ‘posh set an all steel Norwegian pair.’ Went on through the night with car lights providing light. ‘What joy we had, and what a healthy appetite it all fostered.’
- Formed a small band to play from church social, decided to carry on and ‘hope for more engagements.’ Acquired full size drum with name painted on.
- Progressed from ukulele banjo to a trumpet- learned by written tutor, they would play at monthly dances. ‘Although our repertoire was somewhat limited, and there were many repeated during the four hours, we were encouraged by our performance, and most important we were paid for it.’ (continues onto page 16)
Page 16- Community Life con.
- Changed from trumpet to saxophone- trumpet became tiring. – ‘Always my ambition when funds would allow.’
- Played in unit dance band during his war service with ex members of Geraldo’s orchestra and of Jack White and his Collegians- highlight of his musical efforts. ‘It meant nothing to them, of course, but it certainly did for me.’
- Enjoyable pas time- played in institute halls, school rooms, hotels, marquees, gardens, tennis courts, and on one occasion on a lorry ‘as we led the parade at a carnival.’
- Would carry on for another hour because the gathering would do a ‘whip-round’
- Vic was violist in band- has passion for motorcycles.
Page 17- Community Life con.
- Would take many trips on his ‘near a car’ – two wheeled vehicle like motorcycle, large fixed mud guard, not unlike ‘those on the cars of that era’, traded for a Morgan three-wheeler, more comfortable and protected from wind and rain. Sounded like two motcycles, if they weer out late at night, the following day people would complain, so it had to go.
- From three wheels to his first four wheeled vehicale- an Austie seven- ‘this had many advantages’
- Vic’s sister was first pianist in their band- ‘I was rather sweet on Eva, Vic was rather sweet on Eva’s friend.’
- Car crash- lorry caught them broadside on a narrow bridge and rammed them into the side of the bridge- escaped with slight bruising but car was destroyed.
Page 18- Community Life, con.
- Fancy dress dance at Huntingdon. Cowboy, Spanish dancer and Elizabethan lady and John dressed as ‘The answer to a maiden’s prayer’- He won first prize in the modern section, he won a pair of ebony-backed hair brushes in a leather case. ‘I still have them- they have never been used.
- Love affairs
- ‘One’s love affairs usually commenced towards the end of one’s schooldays.’
- Refers to them as pastures, ‘One had to be careful thought, as a result of a few pastures available and the close liason of one with another.’
- First serious love affair- 14, secretive, added excitement, her father was a very strict disciplinarian, had to have good reasons to go out. He was friendly with this girl’s boy friend, so they would make up a foursome.
Page 19- Love Affairs
- Met on the outskirts of town, when left each other, they would break up and make their respective ways back to town.- ‘Hardly up to present day standards, but there was a joy and happiness in it that far outweighed anything the permissive society has to offer.’
- Three years later, his boy friend drowned in boating accident, cast gloom over whole town.
- Through meeting with his family, he took a liking to his girl friend, neglecting his own- ‘It did not seem to make sense, but it happened.’
- ‘Poetic justice came to me a few years later.’
- Speaks of his father’s death with no emotion, why?- Father died suddenly when he was 19, disposed of family business, long term prospects in the solicitors’ office were not promising, os he said goodbye to ‘all and sundry, to my way of life, and to the memories which were many and long lasting’
- Moved to Nottingham to commence employment in a larger Solicitors’ office with more scope.
Page 20- Love Affairs con.
- Housed with Y.M.C.A, very different from what he was used to.
- During break with love affair, wanted to save money, and eventually get his girlfriend to join him. Spent occasional weekend together. Had week holiday together, on last night, she told him that she didn’t enjoy the solitary existence and had met someone from the local R.A.F Station, – ‘and so my own world fell apart.’ 30 years elapsed before he visited that town again
- City Life
- Threw himself into new activities to push his previous unpleasant memories into the background.
- ‘After fifteen years in a small country town, life in a large city was a great adventure’
- Large store and shops, places to visit, cinemas theatres, dance halls, art exhibitions, county cricket, two football league club, an ice stadium, bus and tram and trolley bus services, steamer on the River Trent, people, new faces, and girls for which Nottingham was noted. (goes onto page 21)
Page 21&22- City Life con.
- ‘ I was twenty two and life was for living’
- ‘As a country bumpkin I was a slow starter but I soon made up for lost time
- ‘the stronger set of males in my new office were occasionally asked by the female staff to assist them in the office strong room.’ –sexual activities, – ‘there was quite a bit of grabbing, and not only for documents.’
- Struck a long lasting friendship with a friend of one of his colleagues, he owned another firm of Solicitors, both members of the cricket club.
- After matches wold assuage our thirsts, formed a regular party of 6- meet every Friday evening at the Old Trip to Jerusalem, a famous tavern built into the rock of Nottingham Castle.
- Excellent pianist, evening were both musical and jolly. Would get free drinks as their activities attracted customers.
- Clarkie- trifle irresponsible and absent minded, Solicitors cashier, completely tone deaf, apart from when he head La Paloma, and would sing off-key. He had an M.G car, took them to pubs or dances. He would order a round of drinks and pay carelessly, telling the waiter to have a drink for himself, ‘He would’ve lost pounds had we not been watching over his welfare.’
Page 23- City Life con.
- Clarkie was forgetful- always forget if the safe is locked, forget to get petrol- one time broke down and pushed the car home in early hours
- Invited to house warming in Derby- car was ready for scrap yard – ‘luckily the M.O.T test had not then(in handwriting) been introduced’
Page 24- City Life con.
- When arriving, Leslie the host asked if they received their telegram, house wasn’t ready for party. Leslies mother got parsnip wine, – ‘we had to pour pints of strong black coffee into Clarkie for the return journey.’
- Describes hangover as ‘little mean inside our heads beating a tattoo with silver hammers at the slightest movement.’
Page 25- City Life con. /More Love Affairs.
- Joined tennis club when he first moved to Nottingham to increase social activities.
- Played with County players in mixed doubles
- Applied for membership of another club the following season.
- During army service, he played with and against other local units.
- More Love Affairs- ‘although the wounds of my broken romance were still felt, and the scars had not completely healed, I was constantly in search of someone to fill the void.’
- Affairs only lasted a few months or weeks, nothing long lasting.
- First- Mildred, say her on a train from Grantham to Nottingham, he was returning home after a wedding, he was best man.
Page 26- More Love Affairs con.
- ‘she was having difficulty suppressing a smile.’
- When he arrived at Nottingham, he followed her. She boarded and smiled at him. He took the number of the bus. ‘Every evening the following week, after leaving the office, I made my way to the bus terminus just on the off-chance of seeing her again. On a Friday evening he almost bumped into her around the corner from the bus and said ‘Good evening – no further trouble with steam I hope.’ Joke from steam from the train. Conversation developed, mutually agreed to meet again.
- Had a lot in common and met frequently. Visits to cinema. Dances, visited her home, met her family
- ‘Thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.’
- Meeting became less frequent, he can’t remember why they did
Page 27- More Love Affairs con.
- Maybe the nights out with the boys and evenings of study took up too much of my time.’ He still studied.
- Was she too possessive? He thinks that maybe he found it difficult to keep up the impression he tried to foster was too much for his salary.
- Slowly drifted apart and it came to an end.
- ‘I sometimes wonder if she ever recalls our times together.’
- Then Mavis- attracted to and met her at an evening at the Palais.(a public hall for dancing)
- She was a good dancer and had lots of laughs
- ‘The attraction at the Palais was that one never had to wait for a formal introduction’ – only had to walk up to a woman and say ‘May I have the pleasure.’
- Affair didn’t last long. ‘I guess I was too sensitive.’
- Then Monica- met at a party ‘Strange how ‘Ms’ came into my life’
- ‘Monica was everything.’ ‘Think of any adjective, any superlative- that was Monica.’
- Had few dates with her, competition was too great, ‘she was very much in demand’
- ‘Oh! lovely Monica’
- His subsequent affairs were not serious and usually comprised a foursome with hi friend- social occasions at Palais, drinks at horl, mild attempt at love making, a good-night kiss, and that was the until the next encounter.
- Him and his friend believed in variety – no ties, no commitments.
Page 28- More Love Affairs con.
- Carried on this ‘no-tie’ pattern until war. Friend was on reserve and called early.
- Took on an assistant in work, Edwina, Attractive, tall and looked older than her actual age- 18
- Her first job after college, travelled form small village, she loved city life. She wanted to see as much as possible. ‘Who better to act as her escort?’
- ‘She was great company and a joy to know.’
- He then had to report for active service.
- He has letters from her during his first month of service, and then became less frequent until they stopped all together.
- He tried to contact her when he was on leave but found out she went to service, and the office did not know where she was.
- ‘I count knowing her among some of my most treasured memories.’
- ‘I hope she found someone suitable to share her sweet and magnetic personality.’
- Had four years in Nottingham- summary- ‘they were full years, and years well spent.’
- Multitude of experiences and happy memories of places and people. Life is made of sadness and happiness, and if happiness predominates then the good times far outweigh the sad, and life has been worth while.’
Page 29- For King and Country
- Joined H.M Forces in June 1940, reported to Glasgow.
- When leaving, recalled days on the Trent Bridge cricket ground, afternoons watching Notts County and Nottingham Forest.
- On arrival, delivered to temporary home in a school at Renfrew. Issued with eating utensils and routed to trestle tables in playground for first meal with army.
- ‘I shall never forget the first billy-can of greasy tea.’
- Given a paliasse (straw mattress) and told to fill with straw.
Page 30-For King and Country con.
- First job in morning was to cart paliasses over the straw heap and deposit surplus straw
- Intro to army life- Dunkirk, young soldiers made drill sergeants quickly.
- Short supply- arms drill was carried out with broom handles, two rifles per platoon.
- When more arrived, platoon was moved from schoolrooms to canvas, ten to a tent with blankets, kit and equipment. Articles began to disappear from kitbags. No use complaining ‘This was different from previous camping experiences with Boy Scout Troop.’ Sergeant would’ve said that if someone nicks your kit, you nick someone elses.
- Short on kit inspection, then they go on the fizzer.(disciplinary charge.)
- Whistles blew and bells rung, they would assemble in an orderly fashion, wait for all clear, then go back to school/canvas. Switched between both sleeping areas.
Page 31-For King and Country con.
- Some would stay in bed when alarm sounded- defaulters’ parade the next morning.
- Three most promising members of each platoon were taken out for a few drinks and visit to Theatre Royal by a section officer. He was chosen.
- Posted to a battalion (large body of troops ready for battle) of his local infantry unit- Sherwood Foresters, after initial training was transferred to Royal Corps of Signals in North Wales. Were short of personnel so was built up at the expense of other arms of service.
- Left arm was useless as he was suffering from vaccine poisoning, result of over zealous medical orderly.
- Signals Training Centre at Prestatyn- taken to medical centre, given tablets excused duty for ten days.
- Then posted to the depot Batallion for initial training again.
- ‘My uniform, already bearing signs of some form of active service, I felt quite an old sweat.’
- Then passed on to a technical training batallion.
Page 32- For King and Country con.
- Route marches, P.T sessions, saluting drill, rifle drill, kit inspections, cleaning sessions for rifles, barrack rooms etc.
- Firing practice and rifle range- they would lay on their stomachs and crawl along the sand, ruing ‘the labours of the previous night’
- When completing depot training, they faced the ordeal of the passing-out parade before Commanding officer- arms drill, rifle insepection, presents arms, shoulder arms, and then march past.
- Inspection of rifle, had to slam the bolt shut and engage lock, hands were cold after slamming the bolt so her left the bolt open and didn’t lock- got away with it
Page 33- For King and Country con.
- 2 months training in General Trades Batallion learning army procedure, army forms, and typing to attain a speed of thirty words a minute. He could already manage over sixty
- Top at the final exam, posted to Grade II Clerk to Brigade Headquarters,
- Life was easy. No drill no guards, no patrols. Had lae passes to 23.59 hours, not subject to discipline like the other batallions. ‘We wished they had made less noise when parading in the early mornings’
- Posted to new holiday camp
Page 34- King and Country con.
- Facilities were brand new- mess hall, bars, concert hall and dance hall, gymnasium, swimming pool and tennis courts.
- Had a spring mattress (compare with palaisses.)
- Chalets had no heating, on coast, used to burn candle.
- Would share night duty staff rations of hot cocoa before turning in,
- Received messages from Western Command, North Wales Divison, and occasionally firect from the War Office. Some were in code and had to be deciphered.
Page 35- King and Country con.
- Life was peaceful in North Wales.
- A.T.S Company attached to centre for telephone exchange duties. If it was quiet, night duty clerk would try to fix a date with a girl on the telephone exchange. He did this many times – ‘It would’ve been easier to walk down the stairs to the exchange, but then, of course, I would have been deserting my post, and, anyway, one can be more daring on the phone, than face to face.’
Page 36- King and Country con.
- At 11.30 one night, had a phone call from A.T.S duty officer, very attractive girl, that had her window jammed. He smartened himself up and unjammed the window for her ‘She was attractive in uniform, but in ‘civies’- well!’
- Returned to his office with his imagination running riot, the phone rang again, but it was Western Command with a cipher.
Page 37- King and Country con.
- Every fortnight a dance was held in ballroom, it expressed appreciation of the work done by W.V.S and other organisations in providing canteens in Prestatyn and Rhyl, along with cheap meals and other comforts.
- Wide circle of friends that invited to homes.
- Girl had a birthday party, six of her friends saved rations for weeks and prepared ‘a delightful table’
- Ignored 23.59 pass to get back to camp, stayed until 6.30am.
Page 38- King and Country con.
- The Guard Commander didn’t put them on the absentee report. ‘you scratch my back old man and I’ll scratch yours.’
- Early in service days he was on defaulters parade at 9 o’ clock. When asking, he was told A.W.O.L , when he asked what this meant, the Sergeant Major told him ‘Absent without leave after 23.59’.
Page 39- King and Country con.
- ‘H.Q. personnel never had to undergo the routine of a pay parade’ Staff Captain would come into their main office with cash and nominal roll, they would sign.
Page 40- King and Country con.
- ‘train and bus services were somewhat restrictive, and fares prohibitive on army pay.’
- Journeyed to Colwyn Bay where the Ministry of Food, evacuated from London, held a monthly dance.
Page 41- King and Country con.
- Story about Jack – he was slow at deciphering messages, one night when coming back from a dance, he developed a slow puncture, a lorry give him a lift back
- ‘Lets make the most of the present- let tomorrow take care of itself’ – when husbands and boyfriends were away on active service, local girls were in need of male company, troops were of female company
Page 42- King and Country con.
- Associations, some were platonic, other developed into broken marriages and one parent children
- Other associations were prudent and controlled, but were one the less strong and loving associations; we knew they wouldn’t last.
- ‘what is life without memories?’
- Names his affairs- Janet, Vera and Janette
- Four years at Prestatyn-happy memories.
- Pastures new
- Three main training centres were cut down to two. Prestatyn as cut, he was sent to London for duty at the War Office.
Page 43- Pastures New.
- Saw first-hand the signs and ravages of the London blitz
- No accommodation , short term vacancies
- War Office staff were housed in three buildings ; the War Office proper, the Victoria Hotel and the Northumberland Hotel, both in Northumberland Avenue. John was in Northumberland Hotel.
- Civilians worked to set hours, military worked all hours, guard duties, fire watching, and the periodical night duty stint thrown in. Guard duties consisted of patrolling every floor of building.
Page 44&45- Pastures New con.
- Story about Brooks (one of the men one guard duty one night) had went to News Theatre, after made his way home and then realised he was on guard duty. Got away with it because of nice Guard Commander.
- On one duty, had to act as a pall bearer when Major died at desk. Major was heavy, number his arm.
Page 46- Billets (a billet is a living quarters)
- A girl at the office offered a room they have to spare.
- Girl would flirt
Page 47- Billets
- ‘what a good partner she would make for someone- nudge, nudge!’
- Saw the red light, ‘any excuse to keep me away from my billet’
- Mother thought he was playing the daughter along, threatened to report to the Commanding Officer as an unsatisfactory billetee.
- He decide to move out, mother regretted saying the things she said, and daughter had a mild bout of hysteria.
- Billet was at West Kensington. A kind widow with two sons in the force and a daughter living at home- ‘what a contrast to the previous mother and daughter relationship’
Page 48- Billets con
- Accommodated 6 soldiers, mother called them ‘her boys’
- Stay was comfortable but short-lived
- Bombing attack by the Luftwaffe had for a few months were concentrated elsewhere and London had few nuance attacks
- Night raids became more regular
- Makeshift shelter in the cellar.
- ‘It is really amazing how one small decision can alter one’s whole life.’
- One Saturday in August 1944, he spent afternoon with Prestatyn buddy at Kew Garden, afterwards went to the Richmond, then went to a dance at Community Centre
- ‘It was here that I met the girl who was to play such an important part in my life.’
Page 48a- Billets con.
Page 49- Billets con.
- Visits to Richmond became more frequent until he spent all his free time with Nancy
- She was a secretary at the B.B.C, got tickets to radio shows, could see famous artistes in person- he loved the Victor Sylvester orchestra, visited Paris cinema in Regent Street and danced to his live broadcast.
- On one of his visits, air rid. West Kensington caught it badly
- Three houses took direct hits, no casualties.
- Mrs Brown and her daughter left to stay at relatives due to shock. Had to look for accommodation again.
Page 50- Billets con.
- Authorities made her home habitable again and she returned. She was a very strong character and adopted the attitude ‘well it could have been much worse, after were till breathing.’
- He stayed with Nancy and her mother until he found accommodation with a couple of bachelor friends who were looked after by the cousin of one of them, a widow in her late sixties.
Page 51- Billets con Incidents start
- They would cram into the shelter in case sirens went off.
- V.1 flying bomb, or buzz bomb, ‘were most unnerving’
- The approaching engines ‘sounded like the roar of a dozen motor cycle exhausts’
Page 52- Incidents con.
- Bombs came day and night
- Describes the bombs he’s seen, he was on a train that detrained at Waterloo station, bomb hit platform and shattered ceiling and showered people in the station.
- On a Sunday morning duty on the roof, one passed over the building and landed on Guards chapel- many casualties.
Page 53- Incidents con.
- London churches- direct hits.
- R.A.F attacked the launching sites.
- V.2 Rockets followed
Page 54- Incidents con.
- Describes the panic of people on the tube and when it came to a halt, and even when it reached the platform, crowds of people bumping into each other, all thought a bomb was going to go off. ‘It was utter chaos’ ‘There could have quite easily been another Bethnal Green disaster.’
- When he switched from tube to Richmond train, outside Hammersmith a flying bomb followed the train down the line.It went over the train and seen the explosion and saw the clouds of smoke and dust rising a few miles away.
Page 55- Incidents con.
- ‘it was just another incident!’
- V.E Day and demobilisation
- ‘business as usual’ – no work was done that day in our building, had a party
Page 56- V.E day and demobilisation
- ‘It was a night to remember’
- Farewell parties as staff were reduced through demobilisation, Northumberland Arms.
- ‘Eventually the great day arrived’ – reported to the Royal Chelsea Barrack, the home of the Chelsea Pensioners
Page 57- V.E day and demobilisation
- Talks about a man that had a constant ringing in his ears and he was constantly on sick parade, he was then transferred to another unit, and was on sick parade there. He was then discharged as the medical decided that he was a dead loss.
- Picked up civilian outfit at Olympia
Page 58 V.E day and demobilisation
- Had his farewell lunch with his party of six- seen Alfred Drayton and Robertson Hare in Madame Louise
- Vowed to keep in touch, some did for years, but as they ‘scattered in their civilian pursuits, they were ‘confined to Christmas greetings’
- Civvy street
- Nancy had no desire to pull up her roots and move to Nottingham, so he stayed in Richmond and seeked employment.
- It was challenging as previous employees would get their old jobs back.
Page 59- Civvy Street con.
- ‘In April 1946 Nancy and I were married, and our first married quarters were in their house’
- In June that year, a friend suggested to approach to oil company, and he got it.
- ‘So it was an eventful six months. Demobbed in February, married in April, and started work in June.’
- Was in army for 6 years
- Housed in Club house, and private houses in Teddington alongside the Thames
- ‘everything seemed to be working out extremely well. I was settling in and enjoying my work.’
Page 60- Civvy Street con.
- Following 12 months of service, needed strict medical, after results, divisional boss told him to see his own doctor.
- ‘Your X-Ray plates have disclosed some shadows on the lung, and we think you should attend the chest clinic for further examination and tests.’
- ‘Their findings confirmed TB shadows.’ – ordered to rest at home, plenty of milk, keep a chart of temperature and pulse rate morning and evening.
Page 61- Civvy Street con.
- ‘What a way to start one’s married life!’ Life is like that – it picks you up ad then it knocks you down.
- X-Rays once a month, then every two months.
- Never underwent any treatment or medication.
- Spent most of summer months either at Lords or The oval, basking in the sun and feeling guilty.
- During winter- visit exhibitions, attended Law Courts and Old Bailey, sat through murder trials
- ‘My spell off work certainly increased my knowledge and experience.
- Despite short spell of service, paid in full for first 6 months, then half pay for 3 months, then nothing.
- Nancy carried on work at the B.B.C until boss, Robert Macdermot, left to free-lance, then worked for him.
- ‘My spell of illness enabled us to get our first unfurnished self-contained flat through the local authority, so some good came out of it all.’
Page 62- Civvy Street con.
- 6 years army pay were his savings- little.
- Nancy helped her widowed mother, and was in the same boat.
- ‘However, with my gratuity and the necessary dockets we were able to provide the essential pieces of utility furniture with which to start our first home.
- Accommodation consisted of sitting room, kitchen and small bedroom
- Got a fridge, it would cut out
- ‘In the view of the acute housing shortage we felt that we were fortunate in, at least, being able to close our own door so we made the best of it’
- Leading radiologist told him he was fit to work.
- Advised that he could commence work immediately as permanent member
- Worked shorter hours for first three months
- ‘delighted’ to be back in harness once more
- Offered better accomedation- felt tide had really turned
- Life was pleasant working at Teddington on the banks of the Thames
- ‘all good things come to an end’ – had to move back to city, reesatblished as sporting club house
- Understands, as they had to travel far – ‘they deserved the change’ – ‘realised how lucky we had been’
- Waterloo train (the drain) all underground ‘foul smelling crowded train’ – ‘to reach street level and breathe the petrol and diesel fumes was like a breath of fresh air after what one had been subjected to down below.’
- ‘Its amazing just what the human frame can stand’ – became routine.
- One time ran for a train- notice onwindow said ‘ladies only’ – ‘I grinned sheepishly, shrugged my shoulders, and hid behind my newspaper.
Page 65- Driving Lessons
- Despite the strain of trevelling, ‘life had its compensations working in the City’
- Lunch spend on Twoer Hill listening to Lord Soper dealing with hecklers at his weekly sessions; lunch hour band concerts In Finsbury Circus gradens in the summer; visits to art exhibitions at the Royal Exchange or Shoreditch Art Gallery, or mid-day talks at famous churches by such personalities as Bernard Miles and Maurice Denham. – he combined his social lieks into his labour
- During holiday in Cheshire, Friend hired car and offered driving instruction
- When coming back home, colleague offered to carry on his tuition.
- Thought of driving in London traffic made him nervous wreck.
- Describes his first experience with the car – ‘risk my life’
- Continues to talk about driving experience, didn’t know about braking.
- Engine failed – ‘we were still struggling when, with a purr, a Rolls Royve drew alongside. I repeat a Rolls Royce!’
- (goes on page 69- ‘I had enough lessons to become full acquiainted with the gear changes, the accelretaion , the turning circle, and , in fact, felt part of the car.’
- His driving test was in a different car than his lessons- Triumph Herald instead of A.40
- Everything was different
Page 70 – London grows on you–
- When driving, he felt more confident and controlled the car easy than the previous one.
- He passed on his birthday
- Felt like he wouldn’t be able to stick London for long
- In wartime restrictions, still over-powering, so many people, traffic and noise, yet in Parks it felt like ‘another world, with the roar o the traffic minised to a distant hum;
- ‘London grows on you’ , everything ( hustle and bustle, theatres, parks) all became part of one’s existence; you feel part of them all, you feel they are yours.’
Page 71 –
- He list famour buildings – ‘all became part and parcel of one’s life and heritage, even to an outsider.’
- Spent many hours at Lords criekt ground during days of Terrible Twins – Denis Compton and Bill Edrich
- Say Wimbledon every year, went greyhound racing at White City, backed winner at Epson Debry and were there in person to see it first past the winning post
- Attended many places including west end theatres, danced at the Hammersmith Palais
- Life was saved when he suffered a perforated duodenal ulcar
Page 72 –
- Emergency operation- ‘for weeks afterwards, on a Saturday evening, without consciously realising I was doing it, I glanced at our clock – it was showing 9.20 exactly. It never happened on any other evening’
- Years later – first car crash as a driver himself – driven to lords to see test match against Australia – ground was already full, decided to go home, crashed into lorry due to pushing the accelerator accidently, car flipped upside down, two people dragged him out – ‘I never expected anyone to come out of that alive.’
Page 73 – Overseas visits –
- ‘thankful I had been alone’ – passenger seat took most impact
- Reaction set in – administered a sedative and pain killing tablets – badly bruised rib cage
- ‘Yes, London certainly had memoires for me’
- He was committee secretary, half committee were dutch, meetings would alternate between London and the hague, holland
Page 74 –
- First trip to hollland he twisted his ankle by slipping on ice
- Went to a restaurant called House of Lords – ‘I could not have received better treatment had I been Royalty’
- Calculated price and it was alarming, he was on expenses anyway
Page 75 –
- ‘it was certainly an experience, but on my subsequent visits to Holland I chose smaller retaurants, with fewer trimmings’
- ‘Over the years I became quite an experienced traveller’
- Air travel caused apprehension- taking off and landing- ‘ had an effect which no lump of barley sugar could assuage’
- First flight was in two engined Elizabethan, aircraft dropped fifty feet – ‘I thought ‘this is it – we’ve stalled’ – everything was fine – ‘my return flight was in a Vanguard tubro-prop. With four engines I felt safer’t
- Subsequent flights – Viscoutns, BA 111s, Tridents and DC 10s, never experience a VC.10 or a Jumbo Jet.
- Once in Schipol Airport, flight officer and three mechanics were inspecting the aircraft , one started to strike the under carriage with a hammer
- Jeep appeared again with captain , mechanics busied themselves for half an hour, despite delay, was told to board aircraft
- 15 minutes into flight- Captain mentioned electrical storm, will be descending, nothing to worry about.
- Thankful only caught fringe of storm- ‘one instant we were thrown some twenty feet upwards, and the next we were dropping like a stone’
- ‘I suddenly remember that our flight number added up to 13, and that the date was the thirteenth’
- ‘it is amazing how the mind plays certain tricks, and at times begins to run riot’
- Another occasion when returning from Rotterdam to Heathrow, mechanics working on aircraft, flight cancelled, either coach to Amsterdam to catch flight there or get place leaving immediately to Gatwick- ‘I did a quick calculation and realised that if I had any luck with train connections from Gatwick I could be home muchearlier that going to Amsterdam for that flight (quote lead on to page 79
- Felt like next mornings papers would read ‘jet crasheson take off – many of the passsengers had transferred from another flight’
- One made a landing on slush, and went left to right, eventually came to rest at right angels on runway
- ‘stacked’ over London airport due to fog, circled above with many other aircrafts
- ‘one tends to imagine’ ‘one forgets the marvellous
Page 80- continental experiences
- ‘aicraft is under watch the whole time’ – by computer,John says that passengers should be relaxed due to this
- ‘I take off my hat to all aircraft crews, and to all those traffic control officers staring into radar screens for hours, and giving split-second instructions to ensure the safe landings of the millions of passengers carried’
- Had arrangement with dutch colleagues- on outward flights would take them a bottle, supply would stock up- ‘as I now sit ekeing out my one bottle of scotch, I sigh and think of the good times’
- Linked business trip to Holland with a week’s holiday, spend it in brussels to visit the Exposition – ‘arrived a stranger in a strange land
- Small hotel, decided to see sights and a sample night life
- Thought he found respectable night club for a quiet drink and cabaret, walked past building a few times to get courage
- Girl approached him for a lighter, he held it lower so he could see more of her features
- Made small talk, found out she was working in Brussels for Exposition
- ‘you like me? She asked. As soon as I gave her confirmation, I realised she meant, ‘would you like me?’ – she quoted prices, short time, long time, for the night
- He apologised, and said he was not able to consider such prices as it was the nd of his holiday, she said ‘time is money’ amd left – ‘ I felt many eyes were on me, and decided it was high time I made my departure.
- Before he could leave, another woman appeared, asking tha hes not satisfied with the girl, had said on the contrary, and that he had no time or money, she left
- Doorman followed him for a tip, he gave him an irish penny ‘In the dim light he seemed satisfied’
- Woke up in hotel next to man ‘I sat up in bed. Simultaneously the other fellow sat up. As II switched on the bed light I realised that I was staring into a wall mirror which ran the full length of the bed.’
- Confined his activities to more mundane pursuits
- The acreage, and the many building to be viewed was most tiring, so he cut his trip short to spend a few days in Amsterdam
- ‘I shall always be extremely grateful for the oppurutnities my job gave me to make these visitw, and for the many friendships I so enjoyed’ 9runs onto page 85
- Interesting spectacle is to see the harring fleets sail out
- First impression of Holland was always the smell of herrings and cigars
- Loved viewing Amsterdam from the air- 80 canals
- ‘a water trip along the canals is always a good way to enjoy some excellent sight-seeing-so many dignified houses and building lining the route
- Visited Rijkamuseum, outstanding art gallery, works of dutch painters of 17th century
- Amazing Mesdeg Panorama in the Hague, huge canvas depicting Scheveningen in 1881- fascinating spectacle
- Seamen’s Quarter in the Zeedijk- girls in windows inviting custom
- ‘I have see the carpets of bulbs stretching over the countryside, and have wandered through the park at Keukenhof at the right time. The bulb fields in full bloom tend to become somewhat monotonous, but the setting at Keukenhof never.’(runs onto 87)
- Visite villages of Volendam and Marken- villagers wear Nstional costumes
- ‘unfortunately, they have become too commercialised, and a lot of friendly spirit has vanished.’
- Journeyed to Arnhem, and from there a wonderfully kepy Airborne Cemetery at Costerbeek- ‘to stand in the peace and stillness of this cemetery was one of the most moving experiences of my life. It defies description’
- Visited Peace palace – ‘a gimmick maybe but it does give one a certain sense of satisfaction and importance
- Strolled through Lilliput ton of Madurodam, miniature Dutch town is an amazing sight
- ‘This narrative may be sounding like a Cooks’ tour of Holland, but it does form part of my life.’
- Visited Rotterdam for work, not permitted of any sight-seeing
- Made several vvisits to Holland- wandering round new shopping centre- difficult to imagine that in may 1940 within forty minutes, entire city centre was turned into bomb craters, Luftwaffe attack, 11 thousand building were deatoryed, rendered seventy thousand homeless- ‘the amazing programma of reconstruction was affected with intelligent planning, a lasting moment.’
- Totally unconnected, and going off on a tangent, my mind suddenly recalls other incidents, presumably because they occurred on the Continent.’
- Village of St Anton in Austrian Tyrol is from chair lift travelling down from the usmmit of the mountain
- Person getting off at top has to release safety bar, get off, leave bar open to allow other person to make descent, who then jumps into chair and pulls bar across- unfortunately on the chair that I picked the bar had been knocked’
- Had to hold onto bar with one hand, wrap his legs around as best as he could, was able to release the bar and slide into the chair
- Another incident, when in Austria, the mad Belgian coach driver tore down mountain passes at breakneck speeds – our hearts were in our mouths for most of the journey.’
- On return jounrye, there was contruction work and it rained so road was like sea of mud, bus driver got bus stuck in it- ‘the rear of the coach was overhanging the low wall, alongside the road, with a sheer drop of hundreds of feet below’
- Asked males to make their way to the rear of the coach to all jump to see is the wheels would grip, each jump and each acceleration of the engine coach moved further over drop, rushed to exit door
- Two army trucks and crane got coach to safety- few passengers who booked for coach ride to Switzerland cancelled
- ‘I had a desire to see more of Europe’
- Nancy was recovering from breakdown didn’t feel up to travelling involved, fdecided to have less strenous holiday with widowed mother – ‘she was very understadnong and considerate, and in spite of initial qualms we mutually agreed that is was a good oppurtuniry, and one that might not arise again.’
- Made his way to Victoria Coach Station to board coach for the firs tstage of journey to Dover for cross-chanel ferry.
- ‘bevy of blondes and brunettes who were to be my companions for a fortnight , and who were just waiting to drag me, an eligible unattached male, aboard.’ (runs onto 92)
- When boarding coach, sad to see no ravished blondes nor brunettes nor red-heads
- Adjoining seat was vacant, crossed fingers, woman in early sixties arrived ‘proved to be a most interesting and pleasing personality’
- Later girls of own age group arrived ‘ice began to melt’
- Coach driver made people stand up one by one to introduce themselves
- Got on with three aussie girls, courier and unattached bachelor
- 7 nights in St Anton- went to various clubs – ‘a good time was had by all!’
- One club had small band, courier took over drums, he took over saxophone
- Before crossing frontier into Germany, passports were chcked by a guard, life and soul of party said ‘Ha! Ew haf ways of making you talk.’, guard checked his passport nd left with it, courier said ‘ they don’t like jokes like that’, guard came back with senior officer, guard said something to officer and pointed to our colleague, left again
- John Glanced at courier, he winked, guard talked to courier and handed passport, stared at funny man, then left. They were let through to Germany
- John asked courier whats the score, courier said it often happens the guards think it’s a great joke. It break monotony for them. They’re not all sausages and sourkraut
- Everyone laughed when they found out it was a joke.
- Life followed a fairly orderly pattern for some years’ – sxame daily routine, one tendsto become rather complacent. – ‘Then to His judgment He decides to shake you out of it and subject you to a bout of shock and emergency to make you realise its not all plain sailing’
- In the early hours of one morning in 1962, Nancy has extreme abdominal pains, went to hospital
Page 98 – I go back
- Stayed with her to comfort her, then went home to look after dogs and rang for further news, told it could be appendicitis
- Turned out to be twisted gut- life was hectic
- Routine returned eventually; then we had more sorrow when we lsot our pet Norwich terrier;we afterwards had to have our pet cat put to sleep. Nancy’s aunt died suddenly, meanwhile, and I had to attend the funeral. It was a bad spell.’
- Retained interest to go back home by having the local paper sent to him weekly
- Had repeated invitation from relative to go
- He went back home, after thirty years
- Went to visit old landmarks, any changes that had taken place and maybe familiar faces
- In a small town one knows every building, every house, every shop. I glanced through some fo the shop windows; the assistants were a new generation, but suddenly the faces of the old faces became superimposed’
- Nostalgic walk, remembers childhood accident
- Entered tobacconists shop, reunited with the son, who is of his age, who had taken over family business
- Ventured into the church and remembered his ten years as a chorister
- Walked past hall where they held dances ,w here he used to either dance or play in his band
- Stood outside sweet shop, old shop-keeper was still behind counter
- Went to car showroom where he knew his old drummer was manager, said to him ‘can you manage a band practice on Tuesday’ – ‘where the hell have you sprung from
- Went into fathers old shop, was now a chemist’s and hairdressers, recognised boss- ‘it was so strange to see cubicles and wash-basins in what used to be my bedroom.’
- Rmemebred all shops on high street, but they now seemed so much smaller than I had imagined’
- Visited close friends, promised to call before departure
- Visited solicitors office, ‘saw myself sitting on a high stool at a large sloping desk.’ Rmemebred the old Underwood type writer on which I first practised my arts.
- Imagined himself jumping down the office steps with letters to post, girlfriend waiting at post office – is there anything to compare with one’s first serious love affair?following day visited her and her husband and had tea with them, how the memories flooded back
- A few years later found out that her husband had heart attack and died
- She moved into a nursing home
- She died a couple of years later
- ‘memories are naturally not all happy ones, but the happy ones are stronger, and thankfully outweigh the sad ones’
- Later that evening he rang his subsequent girl friend for whom I had lef the town, to seek fame and fortune, and who tired of waiting. I felt that the years, and subsequent company had repaired my broken heart’
- He met her husband and daughter, had much to talk about
- Whent to house they moved to after father sold business
- His mother took in paying guests as source of income
- Incident with everitt
- Recalled incident, ‘I could hear once again his laughter’
- Remainder of stay was most pleasant, he made other visits later, but ‘none quite came up to my first return’
Page 108- more shocks and changes
- In 1968 came his car crash, bruised ribs and Nancy had another bout of severe pain
- Discovery of fibroids, operation scheduled
- Waiting for pre-med, then name was called, didn’t have pre-med – sorry luv, no time now, they’reewaiting for you’
- Went to visit her, ‘I was shocked beyond words’ he hardly recognised her
- Every time phone rang his heart stopped
- Nancy moved to general ward
- Neither of us felt on top of the world for some time after this episode, but time marches on and nature is a great healer.
- Living in large garden flat in one of the older type houses in rchmond – in older days carriages were to fill up and take their iccupants around the adjoing Richmond park
- Expiring leases were not renewed, and as houses became vacant they were knocked down.-it was an unsettling period, wondering just what the future had in store – where we would go’
- A large reorganisation programme had taken place of his firm, and large cuts were recommended, already two drastic cuts. Staff were told there was no room for them in new setup, given redundancy payments
- Company was good in helping find them employment
- Own department scheduled to move to Holland, seemed little point to move as he was five years away from retirement, accepted redundancy terms
- Farewell parties- ‘a break In an association with colleagues for almost a quarter of a century did not come lightly.’
- Joined local dole queue, registered for employment
- His seniority put him out of the running, yet he was contacted by old department for a job, went for interview, got it
- Had session with section head for who he would be directly responsible, his desk was a mess, it was chaos, in addition to his own duties he would have to move his work load too.
- Managing director was impressed by him
- He was offered the job, but was having second thoughts, decided to not take it, -‘what price financial soundness ifone’s health would suffer as a result, as I was sure it would’
- Told manager, he was understanding, he said to find a little local job without the ravages of travelling- ‘he said that I had made a sensible decision and in fact he envied me’
- Obtained job with an aircraft firm, offices short ride away, wage was pittance , every pound was reduced by 50p- tax, national insurance and pension fund- ‘however it gave me an interest and kept my mind active’
- In old job- had reasonable position, own carpeted office; personal contacts with Directors and Senior Executives
- In new job, ‘able to see at first hand how the other half worked’ – plain desk, uncomfortable chair, open plan room, housed a computer, adding machine and typewriters, ‘I had to clock in and out for the first time in my life’
- ‘instead of having morning coffee delivered by waitresses one had to queue at a vending machine’
- ‘in the end I tok my own flask from home’
Page 115- we move
- I had been accustomed to restaurant service with waitresses – I was now reduced to canteen facilities, with the workers. You had the meal of the day – or else.
- Factory workers took break for union meeting , john, being administrating staff, was not in union
- ‘rather felt that I had been demoted from Lieutenant Colonel to a mere private, but at least it was somewhere to go, and the wages (not salary) helped to pay for the groceries
- Only lasted two years, decide to try pastures new, home was scheduled for inclusion anyway
- Friends of ours from Twickenham had moved to North Devon and opened a small business. Visited them, liked what they saw and moved there.
- ‘then our problems really started’
- Their two widowed mothers living in separate flats in Richmond, had to find suitable property which would allow them a bed-sitter each. Had no success,
- Put notice in local Bideford paper, friends had someone sellig property
- Travelled to devon again, and liked the house, bought it, but the man changed his mind- ‘we were disappointed, but that’s life.’
- Friend said elderly could contacted him, terrace property in a cul-de-sac, decided to take it
- Negotiations went through and then began the mammoth planning operation
- ‘how can one dispose of things that have been part of one’s life? But we had to be drastic’
- Termination of all leases, moving off the furniture that couldn’t fit in the room plan
- Moving process
Page 120- we arrive
- Had a nightmare about the move
- ‘my calculations and measurements had been spot on. I felt rather cocky’
Didn’t know how dog would react with new cats, St francis must have been on our side, because in a comparatively short time, they met and mixed.
Loads of other cats in neibourhoood, many a battle royale, afraid for their cat, who was a doctored tom and has a stump for a tail,caused bu some action by ‘little horrors# of its previous owners
Life at times became somewhat hectic
Friend died of pneumonia, suffered cerebral haemorrhage, died suddenly, vary sad start to the new year, before we had got over this shock, Nancy’s mother died suddenly – we seemed to be having all the bad luck that was around
Wanted to move again
Decided on bungalow at Westward Ho!
Owner wanted quick sale, unfortunately had own property to take care of, but it Was a buyers’ market, however the bungalow owner bought their house, and he was almost speechless ‘I thought ‘who said the age of miracles had passed.’’
We were passing through a good phase
Moved in July, in November Nancy was suddenly strickenwith severe abdominal pain
Went to hospital for another operation
I sat at home in solitude
‘I thought when is it all going to end?’
At 1.45 sister phoned to say operation was fine
Three days later, phone rang, my heart missed a few beats, moving wife to another hospital
Recovery was quick , Nancy was back home in eight days , then had to put dog to sleep
‘we began to think that we had had our share one way and another. They say (hope springs eternal’ so we endeavour to be as optimistic as possible, and await the good times for what time we have left’
Page 128 –
Put cat to sleep
This then is my life. Nothing outstanding, but belonging to me and me alone. They say that everyone has a book inside them. This is one that no one in the whole wide world could have written, apart from me. I enjoyed the writing of it; it recalled incidents that had been stored away in my personal computer, and revived many memories – some sad – some happy – but after all that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?