Royston is born.
Cliff was had a totally different nature to Mary. He couldn't bear me to be out of his sight and Dad called him bawling Billy. He was cuddlesome and once the feeding came right no trouble at all but that was to change.
I tried to include Mary in his bath and feeding times but she wouldn't stay and wandered off next door to Mam. It was all too easy for her but it really upset me. She also became more difficult with meals and I had great difficulty in getting her to eat.
Our worry about this made us stupid. Wes would take her up to her bedroom to try to make her eat and once when I was on my own, I shut her out of the room telling her she couldn't come in until she agreed to eat. I think this must have been after we left Birkin Avenue or she would have gone in to Mam.
Despite her early jealousy, Mary soon adopted a very protective attitude to Cliff especially after they started school.
Mary was still very under weight and had repeated attacks of tonsillitis and the glands in her neck had become tubercular. At last I refused to leave the hospital until they agreed to operate which they did before she was five.
I sold the pram, which had stood up well to carrying both children on our daily walks. We had a chair seat that fastened on the bottom of the pram for Mary but Cliff had a habit for unscrewing things and one day whilst I was in a shop, he unscrewed one of the arms. I didn't notice until we got home but then it was too late, it had gone. On another occasion he unscrewed the bolts on the ironing board whilst I was ironing fortunately I was able to catch it before it descended on his head
I had a canvas bucket type pushchair for Cliff, which was very useful especially if we were going on a bus or a trolley bus, as the sliding of two rings up the handle allowed it to fold. It was very light which was a good point since although the buses had conductors not all of them were helpful. We never needed a timetable since the trolley buses to Bulwell or to Trent Bridge ran every few minutes. There were also buses into town coming from the Aspley Estate and the stop was at the end of our street, opposite the Player cigarette factory.
Children under five travelled free but only one per full paying passenger, some conductors didn't enforce that. We didn't use buses much except in the summer to go to Trent Bridge. If it was fine, we took the boat trip to Colwick. There a sand beach had been made and a section of the river roped off for a paddling pool. We took sandwiches and had many a lovely day out there.
Another favourite place was the Arboretum. On Sundays, Wes would take the children straight after breakfast leaving me to pack up the sandwiches before joining them.
During heat waves, I caught a bus to Buiwell lido and Wes would come from work to join me. We were lucky in having several lidos in and around Nottingham. As well as the Bulwell Lido there was Highflelds at the Nottingham University, Carrington in the middle of town and Calverton which I think was provided by the Miners' Welfare there was also a privately run one at Papplewick. The Papplewick Lido was fed wutspring water and was exceptionally cold.
It was during a heat wave that Cliff became very fretful. I put it down to the weather and the cutting of his eyeteeth but I became alarmed whilst we were on the Arboretum when his breathing became very heavy and he seemed barely conscious. I sent for the doctor and she told me he was bordering on pneumonia. In those days doctors actually suggested mothers should send for them rather than taking babies to the surgery, moreover they continued to attend until the child was well.
Mary went down with whooping cough when she was four. Within a week, Cliff too took ill with this dreadful disease. All night long, they had bouts of coughing ending with vomiting. Cliff was in the next bedroom on the first floor and Mary in the bedroom on the second floor. I remember one night staggering out of bed to rush upstairs to Mary only to find it was Cliff who needed me but by the time he was settled I had to go back to Mary.
Once they were over the worst, I followed the time-honoured method of cure. I walked them wherever I heard they were tarring the road. The fumes from the tar were reputed to ease their chests. The coughs continued for months.
Some little time after this my father's sister, my Aunt May, invited the children and me to spend a few days holiday with her. I was surprised since I had only had one previous invite when I was a small child and she was a live in nursemaid. That was a disaster. I fought with her employer's child and cried all night with homesickness.
Now she was living in a cottage on some Lord's estate at Retford. I expected the cottage to resemble the one my work mate had been sent to when she was pregnant or the farm cottage at Farnsfield where I had once spent a weekend but this bore no resemblance to either. There was a baby-grand piano in the living room and it didn't look out of place with the sumptuous suite. The bedroom too was large and airy with frilly curtains and bedspread.
On the Sunday morning May and her husband Charles were going to church and I volunteered to do the vegetables. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the pantry door open and came to the conclusion that it was locked. May was furious - the door was just stiff. I could write an article about my problems with jammed doors.
Wes must have come to fetch me home because I recall we went a walk together and for the first time in my life, I saw a "host of dancing daffodils". Not ten thousand but still an impressive amount growing wild.
I have a feeling the invite was suggested by Dad, in any event the purpose was clear on the second day when Aunt May had a "serious talk" with me. "I was," she said, "too intelligent to waste my time bringing up babies. Any one could look after children and I was wasting my education. I should find someone to look after them while I took up my career."
I was not only surprised I was shocked. No one could care for my children the way I could. I wouldn't even consider the proposal. Besides which I didn't think I was particularly clever or well educated since I was in the "C" form and I missed several weeks at the beginning of the war when the school was closed down. I wasn't notified when it reopened and I was sent down to sit in with the first years for a term for truanting from a sports afternoon.
Two of our teachers were retired ladies brought back into teaching after many years absence. Naturally, we took advantage of them. The History teacher began each lesson with the question, "Now where had we got to?" Our answer was always Henry V111 and until the final year, we stuck with him. The other was a maths teacher and she pretended I wasn't there. As I was hopeless at maths I was content to keep my mouth shut and read a book under the desk.
We were able to take a holiday most years as Dad paid me to look after the shop for a fortnight while they took their annual holiday.
Our first holiday with the two children was at Mablethorpe in a caravan. It was dreadful. Water had to be fetched from a tap in the field, there was a smell of sewage, I developed cystitis, and a horse bit Mary.
The following year we took bed and attendance accommodation. The first shock was the sleeping arrangements. There was no room at all between the beds, one ran under the window at the foot of the other, the cot touched the wall and the bed. To lift Cliff out I had to crawl over our bed and stand him on the small bed to dress him. He lost his balance, clutched at the net curtain, which, although I didn't notice it at the time, tore.
The eating arrangements created a problem. There was one long table for all the guests and it was assumed we would all have egg, bacon and fried bread for breakfast. I had bought tinned cod's roe, which I knew the children would eat. The landlady refused to cook it. Then I asked if we could have poached egg. This too was refused. Reluctantly she agreed to boil the eggs providing we all had them.
We had to cut the bread at the table and Cliff screamed until he was allowed to sit on my knee. 1 can't think now why Wes didn't cut the bread but I suppose it was the woman's job.
Then I was told the only vegetable they were prepared to cook was cabbage! We were really browned off having to go out and shop again but greater trouble met us on our return. The landlord met us with the greeting, Tm afraid I shall have to ask you to leave. The other lodgers had complained about Cliff's screaming at the table and the landlord had found the torn curtain.
I accompanied him upstairs to inspect the damage. As soon as I examined the curtain net I realised it was rotted. I lost my temper and demonstrated its condition by shredding it between my fingers, from a small tear where his finger had caught it became a heap of rags. I also told him what I thought of the room and the so-called attendance.
As I packed, he said he wanted paying for the rest of the week. In those days, you paid a deposit on booking and the rest of your bill at the end of the holiday. I told him I was reporting him to the Council since we had got his address from their accommodation list.
We received every help there. They gave us the address of a small hotel and said they would look into the complaint. They also advised us to ignore any demand for payment.
Although the hotel was slightly more expensive, it was well worth it and we returned another year with some friends. Cliff once again caused problems by locking himself in the bathroom. The landlord made no fuss just instructing me to stay by the door and talk to him whilst he fetched a ladder to climb through the window
Another disastrous holiday was at Blackpool. We were greeted at the door by the landlady saying, "I hope you've brought your rubbers with you. And don't think you're going to leave them at night I don't provide a baby sitting service."
Wes gasped and almost choked. Then she added, "I had to burn the mattress after the last family."
Cliff had not wet the bed for over a year but I had brought a rubber and a cotton draw sheet, which was just as well since he wet the bed on the first night.
The following morning we found she had taken the glass door off the dining room because the evening before the children had played "peep bo" through it. The room was freezing but before the day was out a middle aged couple had arrived, the lady voiced her complaint loud and clear, and the door was returned.
The other guest continued to complain about any and everything and the landlady mellowed towards us even to the extent of offering to baby sit one night but there was no way I would have left my babies with such a sour faced bitch.
Once or twice I thought I was pregnant, I wasn't too upset since bank salary structure was arranged on the principle that men shouldn't marry before they were twenty-seven when they got an increase in salary so I was less worried about the expense and I had always thought four children a nice number. I was able to save the 5/- family allowance to pay for the children's clothes and there would be extra for each child after the first. Although money cannot have been plentiful since my friend and I walked up the mile of Radford road checking the prices of green-groceries to buy the cheapest on the return journey
However, each time after missing a menstrual period I began passing clots. I didn't seek medical advice at the time but later the doctor said I had probably had spontaneous abortions. As I approached thirty I decided I was too old to give birth.
One perfect holiday we had before our third baby was born. That was at Southbourne. We took bed and breakfast accommodation and hired a beach hut where we cooked potatoes and warmed tinned foods on the paraffin heater provided for the making of hot drinks only. We had hit a heat wave and spent long days on the beach. The landlady was a real gem urging us to go out after the children were asleep.
We could never forget this holiday for two incidents. To reach the digs we had to walk home from the beach via a park with a large goldfish pond. In spite of warnings Cliff insisted on walking round the edge and one evening he fell in.
The other incident was down to us. Wes was fond of cheese and biscuits for supper and one night I lovingly popped cracker biscuits spread liberally with Brie cheese in his mouth. We didn't put the light on for fear of waking the children. The next morning we found the cheese was wriggling with maggots. If it hadn't have been wrapped it would have walked.
I was helpless with laughter, (I hadn't eaten any) I took the cheese to the landlady, and she too saw the funny side. She agreed to dispose of it.
When we returned that evening, we found we had not heard the last of the cheese. Our host had buried it in the garden, later when the smell pervaded the kitchen they discovered their collie dog had found it and it had spread all over his beautiful beard
It was a good thing they were such an easy going pair.
We might have returned another year but then my periods stopped. I thought I was pregnant and although I was worried about my age I was quite happy at the thought of another baby as my youngest would soon be starting school and I had always thought four to be a nice size for a family. I would, have another as soon as possible after this one, if it was possible. Mary and Clifford had got on so well together and I didn't want this baby to miss out on having a brother or sister near to its own age.
When after ten weeks I visited the doctor, she told me she didn't think I was pregnant but I must leave it until I had missed three periods to be certain.
I had a heavy discharge but not a period and was sent to the hospital for tests. There I was told I had gone into a premature change and I was put on hormone pills. After a few weeks treatment I had a very scanty period and soon after I became convinced, I was pregnant. The specialist said it was impossible and I should carry on with the treatment under the supervision of my own doctor who was still insisting I was not pregnant even when I felt the quickening.
"If I'm not pregnant," I said. I've got rabbits inside and they are jumping."
Again, I was referred to the hospital and they conceded I was pregnant but that the baby was not due until the 30th. October. He was born September 4th. 1956 and he was full term weighing 9lbs 4ozs.
This time with Mary at school, Dad took Cliff with him to collect sausages and pies for the shop whilst I attended the antenatal clinic and for the first time since I was a child, I met and talked to local women.
Present day welfare benefits are today criticized as discouraging people from seeking work but they were no different then. I met one young woman about my age who was expecting her eighth child. Her husband was unemployed. It wasn't worth his while to work, she told me because he only earned ten bob more than he got on the dole and with her family it was worth ten bob a week to her to have him at home. Even in those days, some men helped around the house. Not mine unfortunately.
Another young woman was attempting to have a baby after suffering five miscarriages. I don't think I would have had her courage and yet another had a cancer that had spread down her arm like cat fur. She said she was to lose her arm but they wouldn't operate until she had the baby. I don't know whether she had the baby as mine came first.
Mary and Clifford took German measles when I was about four months pregnant. Mam couldn't remember whether I had had it or not so, I was very concerned for the baby, the doctor said it was too late to do anything about it but as my generation had most childish ailments, it was unlikely that I had missed out.
I had great faith in the painless childbirth theory and practiced my breathing exercises regularly but I made the doctor promise I could have pethidine since I had no faith in the gas and air.
A week before the actual birth I had a false labour and rang for my husband to come home from work. This time he wasn't taking his holiday as I had been granted a home help from the local council. By the time Wes reached home the pains had gone and he was very annoyed at being fetched from work. About ten days later, in the middle of the day the pains started up again.
This time I adopted a wait and see attitude. Mother wanted to send for the midwife but I thought the pains were not strong enough for anything to be happening. By five o'clock, they were every ten minutes but still not at all strong. Mam took matters in her own hands and she rang the midwife and the bank.
My waters broke before the midwife arrived accompanied by a student nurse. She literally threw me on the bed and I was still fully clothed when the baby arrived. Wes walked in about ten minutes later to be ordered out by the midwife with the words, "We don't want you in here, you've done enough damage."
1 was supposed to stay in bed ten days but after a week I was upset by Cliffs crying and decided to get up. My dragon midwife had gone to another birth and the younger less intimidating nurse who had accompanied her at the birth was attending me.
Conditions down stairs led me to send the "Home Help" packing. None of the pans she had used for cooking had been washed and the unironed washing on top of the sewing machine reached almost to the ceiling. Nor had she had to spend much time looking after Cliff since he spent most of the day next door with Mam. I can't remember how much I had to pay but whatever it was, it was too much.
We named the baby Clive Royston but for reasons best known to them Mam and Dad insisted on calling him Roy. It was strange since he had been given the name Royston at the request of my sister-in-law's husband who had acted as our best man. At the time, Dad bitterly opposed the choice, as he was a divorcee.
Breast-feeding was an even greater problem this time as although I had plenty of milk I am convinced the baby was allergic to it. The experts declared this impossible, yet within ten minutes of being fed he regurgitated like a fountain. My first thought was that he had a stoppage and in panic I visited one welfare clinic after another in an attempt to discover what was wrong. I tried the bottle with no more success and the whole house reeked of vomit.
He was only a few weeks old when Cliff took ill with Chicken Pox. His was a mild attack but Royston became desperately ill. The infection had attacked him internally and he developed enteritis. The doctor even attended Christmas day and Boxing Day.
All that I had learnt from my previous struggles were forgotten. I couldn't leave this baby to cry, for if I did he had an asthma attack. I often found myself cooking with him in my arms.
He was only a few weeks old when I began working in the shop again cleaning as well as serving at lunch times, not just for the money but because I was worried about Dad. He had taken early retirement but wouldn't let up. He was getting a lot of indigestion and had been put on a fat free diet. The weight was dropping from him week by week.
He had been very depressed by the death of his young brother who had suffered with his chest since doing service abroad. He was one of the first to be called up since, against Dad's advice he had joined the territorials not out of patriotism but for the extra cash. He too had been a union man and claimed Players sacked him when he tried to organize the men.
Dad took Gilbert's death hard and tried to get a pension for his widow. She was one of those who were hit by the new pension laws that denied married women under fifty and without young children a pension. Like most women of her generation, she had not worked since getting married, not even during the war since her son was still at school.
My younger brother John was called up for military service in Cyprus. It seemed incredible. When the Second World War broke out Harry, my elder brother, was sixteen. No one could have foreseen that John who was only three years old would eventually be called up.
To make matters worse the removal of price controls meant the business could no longer compete with the nearby stores. Dad had to pay more for goods at the "Cash and Carry" than the stores charged. At one stage, I was buying sugar from the Co-op for him to retail. He saw his profits eroded as his customers deserted him for Woolworths and Co-op. Ice-cream profits too were down. After complaining to the local "Trades Council" about the bicycle ice-cream peddlers stationing themselves outside the shop he began to be hounded by the local "Health Inspectors."
He was made to build a separate dairy at the bottom of the yard to make the ice-cream. Plus an additional sink for the washing of hands. After he had carried out these improvements, he was told he must have a separate toilet for the staff. (One part-time lady)
When Cliff started school, I left Royston in his pram in Mam's back yard whilst I took him. I had to meet him to bring him home at lunchtime and take him back but soon I was leaving Mary to bring him as far as the Boulevard and meeting them to cross the road. Years later she told me she had terrible trouble with getting him there but she never complained at the time.
Open day helped to strengthen my resolve to move house for Mary's teacher seemed inadequate and when I asked how Mary was doing she just replied, Oh she's alright."
For some time we had, during the summer months, been looking at houses with a view to buying. I had had no ambition to move but Wes suffered several asthma attacks and was very unhappy when we were confined indoors on wet weekends furthermore he had seen on his bank report a comment about his address.
The matter became more urgent after Mary had a very nasty throat and gland infection with a fever causing her to hallucinate. The doctor suggested her health would improve if we lived in a cleaner environment.
Our first thought had been to buy a newly built house on the same estate as my brother but we withdrew from that when we discovered there was virtually no back garden.
Dad urged against, "putting your life in bricks and mortar" but I was afraid if I stayed, I would be putting my life into the shop. He became cross when Mam and I went shopping together and was less tolerant of the children's misdemeanours.
When Mary had developed the habit of crawling under the counter and chewing both matchboxes and cigarette packets he made the cigarettes less accessible but when Cliff posted salvage in the milk churn that stood in the back yard, he demanded payment and wanted him chastising.
He also accused Cliff of stealing money from the mantelpiece. Cliff claimed the lady in the next street who the children called "our Grandma who isn't our real Grandma" had given it to him. I was shocked when Dad said Cliff would finish up in gaol.
I asked if I could pay weekly for the ruined milk and Dad relented to the extent of only making me pay half as he conceded the salvage should not have been lying about.
We eventually settled on a house to be built at Wilford Hill. The plot was at the top of a hill with an open field at the back and what I thought was a church on the horizon. The mortgage was really higher than we could afford in spite of the interest on the loan being only 2.5% (a special rate for bank employees) the loan was for the whole amount £2,500.
The choice was mine. I was tired of looking and Wes had set his heart on living south of the river. We saw an older house that we liked but the asking price was £2,800 and as we needed a 100% loan, the repayments would have been too much.
Wilford Hill was a new estate and the nearest shops were a mile away down an unmade road. The promised school had not yet been built nor did it have a bus service.
At first, I had to take the children to school across the main Loughborough Rd. and through a farmer's field but after a several weeks, the Council provided a school bus. This made life easier as I only had to put them on the bus and meet them off it at the end of the school day. One day a lady approached me to tell me Cliff had been swearing. I was surprised since I had never heard him swear. Apparently the bus had mounted the curb as it turned the corner at some speed and Cliff said, "what does the silly boggar think he's doing?" I guessed he had picked that up from Dad.
Once I met the bus only to find they were not on it. I panicked and ran with Royston in his pram to meet them. I found them just leaving the school. Mary had been kept in. Trembling with rage, I went to give the teacher a dressing down. She wasn't a bit concerned and seemed to think I was making a fuss about nothing.
We had a similar alarm a few years later when the children missed the bus from Sunday school. We discovered them arguing with an irate lady who was trying to offer them a lift. Her insistence had made them very frightened but she turned on us saying it was ridiculous to make children so afraid of strangers. I did not doubt her motive but if it happened today, I would call the police.
Soon after we moved to Wilford Hill I discovered there was a farm selling goats milk and I read somewhere that goats milk was often tolerated by people allergic to cows milk so I began to give it to Royston and it agreed with him.
As soon as the new school was built, I transferred the children and as they no longer had a main road to cross, I didn't need to meet them and they could come home for lunch. I think life is like Edward Thomas's "Roads"
"The next turn may reveal
Heaven: upon the crest
The close pine clump at rest
And black, may Hell conceal."
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