I was beginning to find my feet and feel some stirrings of a genuine interest in teaching but I was more interested in a planned trip to see Ian and visit Glasgow Art School.
This Autumn I had my first secondary school teaching practice and not only liked it I felt wholly engaged. Eileen Mackinlay, my supervisor, crept into one of my classes …an English class based on the symbolism of the sun and gave me a glowing report. She asked me to repeat the same lesson with another class so that Geoffrey Summerfield, another tutor could see it. (He had just written ‘Voices’, a wonderful set of books for use in secondary schools.) My lesson went badly, a self-conscious and fumbling mess. But there were more important matters like a planned trip to Glasgow at half term (we did go and stayed with school friend Sheila in Manchester on the way). I had known all along that Ian was as good as engaged to another student but she was going away, he still wrote and , and …Sue and I hitched to Glasgow. A flat high up in a tenement just off Sauchiehall Street where everything had been tampered with… It was all wonderful…smoke seeped out of the kitchen hot water tap, the toilet flushed to the sound of bells, the Charles Rennie Mackintosh art college …
I was thrilled by everything. Arriving in Earl Shilton, breaking our return journey to Bath, we slept for seventeen hours solid.
My Dear Joy,
I’m just back from work after another week o’ nights, and with an enjoyable chip supper tucked away we’ll get down to our weekly letter. I’ll have to hustle along this time since we are off to Ringwood tomorrow but I’ll try and not give a weakly show.
It’s turned sharply colder and with frost warnings and the rapidly drawing in of evenings I wouldn’t say ‘,No,’ to a stay at home.
The day began beautifully with your very welcome letter at the breakfast table. If you could see the pleasurable reactions your efforts bring I’m sure you’d feel a glow and this one was particularly bright. You seem to make them live and flow with effortless ease and certain it is they’ll get better and better.
If the deep mourning envelope is a token of the demise of the Scottish trip I’m afraid it didn’t find me reaching for the blinds. Actually there was a feeling of thankful relief, for my heart took a downward plunge when I read what you had contemplated. It would be a fearful assignment for a young man let alone girls, especially at this time of year coupled with the great attendant risks. It would be much, much too far and altogether unthinkable.
It was very heartening to read of your achievements in the classroom-‘Good old Joy,’ we said. It is surprising how unobtrusively confidence creeps in as one warms to its theme. Your status seems very elevated too with tributes from English and art masters. High praise to you, but we hope that you don’t overreach yourself with attempting too much with the mass of work you describe. The half-term break will brink a much needed respite and a time to relax and tone down. It will be grand having you and Sue with us again, although only a brief “Braeside “ roadhouse-(that was a good one)in the first instance. As you say, Manchester isn’t a far jaunt and it will be nice to link up with old friends and an experience for Sue.
Just now the house is redolent with the pungent odour of pickled onions. Mam has prepared and pickled two huge jars of them. Moreover she has cut up and bottled a barrow load of fallen apples from No 12. Together with a vast assembly of kidney beans and tomatoes our “Harvest Home” should see us well into the winter. We’ve got a wonderful lot of apples and potatoes stowed away. And now there only remains a rough digging and tidying up of the garden and allotment in readiness for another year.
I’ve still nothing in view to suit my retirement so I expect I’ll just coast along as I am until an opportunity shows.
To revert back to your letters. Items that amused me-The old mother’s query of the gramophone needle being stuck on the Bob Dylan record. I’d thought that myself but hadn’t better suggest !!!To perlease try and get you a job on the post-relative connections and various machinations and to press 2/6 into uncle Ron’s palm. Well, we hope that you are successful and to that we have done our best for you. And now for Ringwood. Best love and safe keeping ever. Dad