After a difficult year the following Summer I experienced freedom! Throughout my first year at Newton Park I had occasionally hitch –hiked home, mostly with Sue. Sue and Paul were my only real friends (they met again in later life and married).
1965 was a wonderful summer. I had got the sack from the canning factory the previous summer because they discovered that I had lied about my age and anyway I was a disruptive influence. My application letter for year two promised a ‘fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay,’which was the manager, Mr Bailey’s mantra. In his office he said that in light my previous year’s behaviour this time he would separate me from the others and found me a job in a huge warehouse printing packing cases. (several of my old school friends had returned to North Walsham, including Jenny). But there were breaks and even after a thirteen hour working day there was time to meet in The Feathers pub after work. I met Ian, an art student from Glasgow, and we were out late virtually every night and eventually I got the sack again; the repetitive whoosh of the printing machine and the rhythmic movements feeding it were soporific Behind me was a mountain of cardboard bales. I made a nest up high and managed to sleep up there most days… but inevitably Mr Bailey found me.I spent a week working in a laundry on the Amazon Eight Roll Steam Ironer. This was the second worst job ever; operating sheets which smelled of cooked blood flew red-hot out of the ironer and I had to catch and fold them. I lasted a week.
We were restless anyway so Ian, his friend Bruce and my old school friend Jenny travelled around Norfolk for a few days sleeping rough. The Norfolk coast is crumbling away and on our most memorable night we stayed in an empty hotel on the cliff edge. There was a sheer drop from its cracked front step to the beach below. The next night we slept in someone’s garden on the outskirts of Norwich and woke to the sound of a lawn mower approaching in ever increasing circles.
Ian and Bruce had pre booked a holiday in Switzerland so after a brief visit home Jenny and I travelled by train to meet them in Basle.During the two hour wait on Basle station I smoked my first cigarette…the first of many. Nothing mattered …it was dark so where should we sleep. After meeting up we found a spot on the outskirts of town and woke in the morning to discover that we were on the edge of the city dump. Lucerne was wonderful when we arrived but the next day the clouds lowered and it rained for a week. Our tent had no ground sheet and the slugs were enormous. For most of the week we lived on eggy bread. We washed in the public toilets. The first time Jenny and I did this I was down to my underwear with my foot in the sink when a man walked in. The German for the men’s toilet is Herrentoilette which sounded feminine! It was all wonderful…this was living. At the end of the week we were broke. There had been a fatal skiing accident.In Lucerne Ian and Bruce made pavement art next to a sign saying that any proceeds would go to the families of the victims! In three hours we made enough to travel home. I remember feeling very uncomfortable about this ( and feel ashamed writing it now) but I passively went along with it and of course benefited from the proceeds.
In September I returned to college for year two. Sue and I were lucky and assigned digs in The Royal Crescent.
My Dear Joy,
Its been a wild and stormy night –flowers and shrubs blown about in the garden s and apples strewn all over the place. And with you its almost a week since we said our cheerios-how quickly time do fly. It’ll be half –term before we know where we are. Your sentimental old dad travelled a long way with you and we hope you made it nicely and found everything tied up on arrival.
It was lovely having you with us , but when there’s a job to be done its best to turn to with right good will and feel all the better for it afterwards. We’re all cogs in the wheel of happy harmony-to keep the belt going as it goes in the old cannery.
And how’s Sue? Did she return to the fold happy and contented, keen to resume old associations? There’d be lots to tell, comparing notes and relating events.
I had a good week at work though long and dreary, I’ve long trained myself to take it in my stride and to accept it so long as good health permits. I’ve always been thankful that life with me has been wonderfully well favoured. And in so telling, bear with me-to leave mam space for news. I have to fill in somehow and stretch out my narrative like chewing gum. Anyway, there isn’t a lot to tell since you left and here is something on account. [big ink blot] Yes, I’ve blotted my copybook whilst filling my part-time Occupen and here comes mam dashing in with a ,’What the heck have you been doing now?’ Fortunately the damage was only confined to that portion of the letter and not , thank goodness, on the carpet else I’d be there myself.
Well, it seems that you didn’t find the ball so our fortunes are still unmade. The ball wasn’t in the jackpot either so it goes up to £750 next week…what say?
And now I must away for the time being. I’m on the bells for two weddings at church this morning and one at Kirkby this afternoon-quite a nice little remunerative occupation.
Back from ringing. Had quite a busy day though the one at Kirkby was really lovely. The bride was a nurse from market Bosworth Infirmary and a large contingent of nurses were in attendance as guards of honour. Meanwhile the day had brightened considerably and the little country church made a picturesque setting for a delightful village wedding.
Hope you received your trunk OK. We had a little difficulty getting it off and I was pleased to see that it had gone when I returned from work at twelve, midnight. After stumbling over it the previous nights
It seems that poor old Chris’s ordeal has rather taken it out of him. He has contracted a cold which aggravated his condition. And in consequence has left him wan and thin faced. We hope however that when the effects have worn off it’ll mean better health for him for his teeth ought to have been out long since. And now here’s mam t take over with something more interestingly readable. Meantime, here’s all love and safe keeping always, Dad