Beatnick? Hippy? …Or just an insecure and neurotic lost girl? Like most young people who choose college/university I hadn’t much idea what I wanted to do with my life. The decision to teach had been made when I was eleven and I just went along with it. Having discovered that I actually did want to teach was a huge relief and made college bearable. As far as I was concerned my college wasn’t a real art college and I still felt that I had little in common with my fellow students. In retrospect my loneliness stemmed from to my blinkered and prejudiced perspective. I was very defended and stand-offish. However, there was life outside college and mostly that meant boys. Ian faded away and at a dance in Bristol’s Colston Hall where The Animals were playing I met Geoff, a stained –glass window designer from Newcastle. He wrote copious letters. Also later there was Albi, an architecture student living on a barge in the Bristol docks. I loved the docks and the barge probably more than I liked him. The local pub was called ‘The Hatchet’! I was a beatnik/hippy? and took to wearing no shoes but it was nigh impossible to have an attitude in Bath. Late one night I was rounding the corner of The Royal Crescent when a policeman stopped me with ,’’Aint you got no shoes me dear.’
In the following letter dad describes his new job sweeping up in a factory along Church Street. He worked mornings and feels very lucky to get a job so close to home. The boss was a relation of his and asked dad to clean his car with a , ’Clean the car Will.’ One day, much to my disgust , I saw dad touch his forelock to this man. Soon afterwards when did was sitting on the lawn in his deck-chair trying to relax I gave him a left-wing lecture. A look of utter weariness cross his face .He must have been sixty -six and just retired because I was then twenty.
Friday March 1966
My Dear Joy,
The first item to tumble out of the long awaited epistle from-the self assumed wayward lass were these welcome harbingers of Spring, the primrose and the daffodil. They were lovely and so was your letter, and thanks very much for both.
It’s grand to know that you’re pushing along nicely –both engines, with pottery an added flair and incentive. A very useful and interesting craft I should say and a big contribution to your armoury of the future that, together with other accomplishments all combine to ultimate achievement. And being now well down the road you seem to be settling comfortably down to the measure of your stride-all of which I can tell you is very heartening to us old ones back home.
About myself. I’m keeping just as usual and only waiting the uplift of a favourable report. It is now a fortnight gone and so far we have heard nothing and I’m hoping that it is to my advantage .
‘Odd Bod Willie’ –so mam greets me which aptly describes the routine of my new profession. It really is an anti-climax, where previously the dust was created for me in a high tension world I now create the dust myself by pushing my brush in slow measured council sweeps along the factory floor. The monotony is relieved by periodic bonfires of the accumulated rubbish or any other little menial jobs which I see or feel like doing. With the elevens break my little day soon makes its four and a half hours. It is commensurate to make my pension income tax-free and together with its next-door accessibility I ought to be appreciative – as indeed I am. Next week, starting Monday, I break out in a new line in polishing the floors of the new offices-that will make a welcome break. The firm is really going big with extensive improvements and plans which should in time be quite imposing.
The weather has suddenly turned bitterly cold today. Strong March winds with heavy outbreaks of hail and sleet –not at all weather for gardening. Still, there’s plenty of time and the ground’s not yet in condition.
I’m just home with chips for supper-mam’s next door on her weekly savings jaunt. Chris has just sailed out for a Thurlaston ringing practice. . He’s got a busy programme with bells tomorrow, a wedding peel in Hinckley, and a peel of Bristol Surprise with a Lichfield band in the afternoon. I’m hoping the weather stays OK tomorrow since we have been invited for tea and a ringing session at Leicester by the captain of Leicester cathedral bells and his wife and also evensong at the cathedral. Chris went to a stag party at Hinckley last night and his experiences were, to say the least, both alarming and amusing but I’ll leave mam to tell you about that.
And now , since your old dad’s a dustman I’d better dry up with the usual solicitations –kindest regard to Susan . Best love and safekeeping for yourself Dad.
Dad always loved having fires (it runs in the family) but the rule was never on Monday washdays. The new job afforded lots of opportunities for fires out the back of the factory and sometimes he forgot the Monday rule. Because he was deaf he couldn’t hear my mam screaming over the backs,’ Bill, it’s Monday. The washing will get covered in smuts.’