At the beginning of the summer Sue and I hitched to North Walsham stopping off in London on the way. I seemed to know no fear. It was my idea to spend the night at Ronnie Scotts jazz club. I had heard it was open all night. Sue fell asleep and I met a man who said he was driving to Norfolk early the following morning but first he had to deliver some newspapers…would I like to join him. It was thrilling. I saw the sun rise over the Tower of London and, as promised, he dropped me back at Ronnie Scotts …where Sue, having woken up was livid. My excited, ’I’ve got us a lift to Norfolk. We just have to stand outside King’s Cross at seven am,’ etc met with scorn and disbelief. But after tea at a Lyons corner house and a wash and brush up in the ladies at the station we were waiting on the pavement. It was a perfect morning but while we waited I was lashed by Sue’s tongue . They wouldn’t come… but there they were.One of them jumped out wearing a bright turquoise boiler suit and opened the door so that we could squeeze into the back of their open -topped sports car next to the picnic basket!
My application letter for that final year had promised Mr Bailey, the manager a ‘fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’ and to my delight and amazement they took me back for a third time. And it seemed that all was forgiven. This year I met Alex from Glasgow. He was everything my parents would not like…six three, with long hair and a gold earring! He had been secretary of the Scottish YCND and told me he had spent several days in prison for repeated fly posting. We got fired from the factory. Mr Bailey found Alex and I canoodling in Toad Hall, the male students’ accommodation which was in fact the old factory building . We then hitched up to Scotland to stay with his friends at a logging camp on the Isle of Arran.
Saturday, Early Autumn 1966
My Dear Joy,
What’s this dull town to me –Joy’s letter’s not here. No luv, I’m not peeved or any thing like that , you have your reasons and possibly one of them is north of the border. ! I suppose its because we look forward to them very much and always they’re very welcome to the Sturgesses at “Braeside”.
Anyway, we ‘opes things are OK with you and that your efforts in the canning business haven’t been too draining.
Its been a very warm and humid week-very enervating for the season of the year, but now the weather has turned sharply brisk and cooler-more in keeping but very pleasant and enervating.
Mam and I had a very enjoyable evening at last night’s Young Wives Harvest Supper up at the hall. They gave us a lovely spread but when it came to the dancing I’m afraid this old trooper found he had lost much of his skill. I found myself tiring too easily where once no pace was too hot for me. I’ve been too long out of touch to get back into the groove. We entertained with the hand bells and they all loved that and the Young Wives put on two excellent and amusing sketches which no doubt would leave you not amused.
Today we are out again for an afternoon outing with the ringers in the Charnwood district. A busy week both at work and at No 12. –apples gathering. There was a far bigger crop than I had bargained for and it took Chris and myself two visits to clear but one tree. I helped mam stack twelve trays of apples in our bedroom so there will be plenty of ammunition for you to fire away.
Later. Well, we did indeed have a very enjoyable day out. It turned out a b=glorious day with bright sunshine and crisp air. The countryside was delightfully refreshing after the drab, everyday trivial round. We enjoyed ringing at Oaks –in- Charnwood and Collerton, both beautifully situated. A welcome tea at Coleville and afterwards a tour of the modern, newly erected shopping arcade-removed from the dust and flurry of traffic. We trailed along with Uncle George and Auntie Lil and in the evening all the party enjoyed a jolly get-together in a private room at The Crown at Ibstock.
The newly upholstered suite was returned yesterday and looks very nicely done and we’re all pleased with it. Already mam has got the covers fitted on and no doubt this time it will last to see us off. Uncle Albert asks what about another trip to Ringwood before the clocks are altered on the 27th but we can’t make up our minds –wishing to be with you and Sue at half-term whenever that is.
Well. I think that’s all there is to it for this week and so, once again, Love and Safe Keeping Dad.
Alex and I slept in a shed on The isle of Arran and I met his logging friends. Afterwards we spent time with his family in Glasgow. Alex’s dad was a huge and gentle man who worked in a shipyard on the Clyde and his mother, an absolutely lovely woman, was about to begin teacher -training. She was an ardent communist. I liked Alex’s three sisters and loved the warm tenement flat on The Great Western Road. This was real life! Alex and I decided to get married. Since Alex had no commitments he decided to move down to Bath when I started back at college.
That Autumn the return to college was very depressing. Sue and I were assigned digs in a house where the main bread winner was a milkman. All our melas were swimming in milk and this was a huge come down for Sue and I …we mourned The Royal Crescent. Something was not right for me too. I felt depressed and didn’t know why. Wasn’t I going to get married?
Alex moved to bath and we found a flat high above the city at No 10 Portland Place. It was the attic flat and was absolutely filthy. The whole house smelled of ancient cooking and ancient other things. I scrubbed and painted . But this flat had a lot going for it. It was surrounded by real life…across the road there was a house full of black and mixed race people and the sound of steel drums wafted up to our attic, the pink paraffin man lived downstairs. Alex got a job on the buses and this suited him fine. The buses often made lengthy stops in sleepy outlying villages and this gave him a chance to read. He read at least four books a day. Sometimes when he was reading his vague and absent -minded responses to my attempts at conversation annoyed me. I should have taken heed. One evening in my milky digs I downed a bottle of Paracetemol tablets but later threw up. I felt trapped but still I went ahead and sewed my purple wedding suit and continued to make wedding arrangements.
It was to be a very simple wedding in Earl Shilton on Boxing Day. I insisted on the church even though the thought of it made me squirm. I have often thought since that it was all built around my anger for my dad. Because dad and Chris were bell ringers we got the bells for free. After a very small reception at home Alex and I hitched up to Glasgow the next day for out Hogmanay honeymoon.