Lust, love and Work
I admired Edna, the new girl, tremendously. Although we were the same age she was so sophisticated but I couldn't understand how she could fancy young Jack, the youngest lab technician. As well as being prissy he was pasty faced and sly eyed. His hair was greased back and his mouth was wet and sloppy. Worst of all he had been educated at a private school and was a terrible snob. Added to all this he was so conceited.
Previously he had propositioned me; no doubt he assumed that a girl of my class had only to be asked. There were no preliminaries!
"Will you have intercourse with me?" he asked out of the blue. I should have felt insulted but I thought it was so funny to be asked straight out and even funnier when he pouted and said, "I offer you the flower of my manhood and you behave as if I had insulted you."
I laughed until my sides ached. "That's not a flower," I said. "It's a bloody dandelion."
But Edna fell for him and it wasn't long before they became intimate. He soon tired of her and I found her sobbing in the loo. She had been using a Dutch cap and found it impossible to remove it herself. She asked me if I would do it. As I had never put my fingers inside myself I couldn't possible accede to her request! instead I tackled Jack and he agreed to take her out once more to remove the thing.
A few weeks later she asked for my help again. There was a herbalist in Hyson Green who sold "occasional" pills for ladies. She believed they would get her out of trouble. They didn't work and she was faced with being turned on the streets or being sent away until the child was born and then giving it up for adoption.
I bought a second lot that were supposed to be stronger. Before I could pass them to her, Mam found them. I think Johnny had taken them out of my bedroom cupboard. I told her they were for a friend and she advised me not to give them to her.
"They don't work and could cause the baby to be damaged."
When I asked her how she knew she told me she had tried to get rid of me.
I told Edna the herbalist wouldn't sell me any more pills and she decided to tell her parents.
Jack blamed her, claiming she had made him have sex on that last occasion believing if she "caught" he would have to marry her but even had he been prepared to stand by her, his parents would never allow it. "Anyway," he added, "there is no proof the child is mine."
This was long before DNA testing.
Poor girl, it must have torn her apart, not that he was any loss, but how could anyone part with their baby? I knew in her place I would have found some way of keeping it even if I had to work as a skivy. Servants were in such short supply that room and board for mother child in return for housekeeping tasks was sometimes offered.
BA I would never be that position, like Anne Boleyn, a ring would be the way to my bed. After Edna left I analysed some of the pills and was horrified to find that their main constituent was lead It was a wonder they didn't kill her.
She went to live with a couple in the country. I went to see her in the cottage, It was so primitive it made the terraced slum I was born in seem like a palace. The loos were tubs that had to be emptied by hand. There was neither gas nor electricity and as oil was in short supply they went to bed when it got dark; not that it was ever light in the low beamed living room.
She had the baby in a mother and baby home and returned home without it. She didn't come back to work and I never saw her again. I often wonder what happened to her.
Not long after she left, Jack was called up and I was promoted and given the task of training a new assistant. A pleasant child but only fourteen and hadn't even the rudiments of chemistry so I delegated the filament counting to her. This was a tedious task in which the yarn had to be split into its separate fibres, these were very fine and the task was eye straining.
Fred had walked out of my life at the end of my last school holiday and I accepted at last that I had lost him. My pride was hurt but as my mother said, "there are plenty of fish in the sea" and I was never short of a boy friend.
During this time I had a series of crushes, intense at first but petering out after about three months. I don't recall many of them now. One I do remember was a holiday romance.
Holidays were still spent with the family although Harry no longer came with us. In September 1943 the Transport & General Workers Conference was at Blackpool and it was there that I wore trousers for the first time. Dad hated women in trousers but began to accept them when the bus conductress wore them. They were however the cause of a most embarrassing moment for me.
I had got up early and gone for a walk along the sands. I've always been a daydreamer and lost in thought I didn't notice the tide that had cut me off until a group of young airmen leaning against the rails on the promenade yelled to attract my attention. If I had been wearing a skirt there wouldn't have been a problem since the water was as yet only a foot deep but even though I rolled my trousers as high as I could it soon became obvious I was going to get them wet. The airmen yelled, "Take 'em off" and it was the only sensible course of action but nose in the air I waded through. The trousers were ruined.
We stayed in a boarding house at Squires Gate run by a Mrs. Dransfield. Mrs Dransfield was a big motherly woman and I think she must have offered to keep an eye on Johnny in the evenings after he was put to bed. I couldn't go out on my own at night so I went to the pub with Dad and Mam and there I met Gordon. He was an army bandsman and twenty-eight years old, tall slim and with blonde hair that fell over his forehead.He asked Dad if he could take me on the amusement park and to my surprise Dad agreed. Gordon took me on the big dipper and I was terrified.
At the end of the holiday he promised to come to Nottingham to visit me. I knew Dad wouldn't approve.
"Tell him he'll have to stay at the Y.M.," he said.
It wasn't that we hadn't got room but that Dad thought we shouldn't be under the same roof.
I found my senses reeling when Gordon kissed me but the pleasure evaporated when stroking my armpits he said, "Your Dad was telling the truth when he said you were only a baby. You haven't even got any hair yet."
His voice was tender but I was mortified. I wanted to be regarded as a sophisticated woman not a child just out of school. I pretended I had removed the hair and was astonished when he became angry telling me under arm hair was one of the things that was attractive in a woman.
I thought that was peculiar but many years afterwards a friend told me her husband felt the same. "There is nowt so queer as folk." Actually, I have never grown much hair under my arms though Mam had a real bush. I only wish my pubic hair was as sparse.
Dad told me he had instigated inquiries about Gordon. I remember feeling quite devastated when I was told he had heard that Gordon was a married man. I wrote a most insulting letter telling him I never wanted to see him again.
Later I discovered the story to be untrue and I regretted my hasty outburst. I apologised but by then I had met someone else.
The following year Dad suggested my friend Barbara came with us to Blackpool and we met up with a couple of real country bumpkins. They too came to see us at home and were relegated to the Y.M. but Dad liked Gilbert, he was "a good solid fellow with no side."
Gilbert came to see me again on his embarkation leave and I wrote to him for some time until I got a letter in which he said Barbara had told him I was playing fast and loose with him.
I was shocked to learn that she had been writing to him and I quarrelled with her. At the same time, I wrote pointing out that we were not engaged and I only regarded him as a friend. He didn't write again.
After I quarrelled with Barbara, I met up again with my junior school pal. She lived at Basford and one night after she missed the last bus home she stayed overnight. Or rather part of the night.
Neither of our families had a phone but she assured Dad that her mother knew she would be staying if she missed the bus. Well her mother knew where to find her all right. She turned up in the middle of the night, very drunk with a man in tow and practically accused Dad of abducting her daughter. After that episode I was forbidden to see her again.
It was so unfair; noone can be blamed for their parents so of course I defied them, not openly, but by pretending I was seeing my friend former friend Barbara. I had to confide in her and she agreed to back me up which overtly she did but so hesitatingly that it was obvious we were both lying. I suspected her betrayal was deliberate.
As my junior friend was also named Barbara (Clarke) the lie was easy. She had a Polish boyfriend and we were invited to a dance at Hucknall. Dad checked on the bus times and I promised to catch the last bus home. We arrived at the stop in good time but the bus didn't come.
"He'll never believe me," I said as we began the long walk home. It was pitch black and spotting with rain as we began the long walk home. It took about an hour to reach Barbara's house and from there was a good hour's walk for me and I would have to pass under the Northern Bridge alone. My nerve failed me so when she suggested I stay the night, I accepted but first I rang the Hyson Green police station and asked them to let my parents know where I was.
After a miserable night sharing a bed with Barbara, her two young brothers and a sister I arrived home to find Dad waiting, his mouth compressed into a thin line.
The Police hadn't contacted them and he didn't believe me. However, he was always fair and he said he would check with the driver who was a colleague.
The driver admitted he had taken a different route and driven straight into depot missing out the stop where we were waiting.
I was becoming increasingly bored with my job so when the boss told me he had obtained a reserved occupation status for me I was furious. It was ridiculous because no one paid the slightest attention to the results of my tests. The raison d'etre for the lab was merely an advertising ploy. Potential customers were told how carefully controlled everything was.
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