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Saturday, August 12, 2017

London and about......................part one.

When I was near to or about 18 I had asked my parents if I could move to London. My reasoning to myself was that I could see "my" band more often, that was not the only reason though. I wanted independence. They agreed on condition that I came home on weekends. What was I thinking? I was 18 and did not need their permission. I would have been happy to just stay up there at that point in my life. I enjoyed my life. Still, I had never done that before even though I had worked from the time I left school at just passed 14. My birthday being July I began work in August so was just into my 15th year. I went to work at AC Delco and I think I have talked about that before.
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Well I had been working in Luton for a time before this came up. I found a job at NAAFI somewhere in London. I can't quite remember where but I know I got off the bus at Vauxhall. So for me to go home on weekends was a real pain in the butt but at that time I really didn't mind it because I got to live in London. From home I would walk to the bus stop in the village (lugging suit case) and get a bus to Luton train station (1/2 hour) and then the train to St Pancras in London. From there the underground to Putney Bridge and a bus to Wimbledon Common. Several hours to make the trip most times. I would go home Friday night straight from work and back again Sunday night.
I had to have a good excuse not to go home. A special occasion.
Heathlands as it is now, a retirement home. At least it has not been pulled down but it's not as beautiful as it was. Its been added to with really modern structures.
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NAAFI had a women's hostel for its female employees. I stayed there rather than try to get a flat or somewhere else to live. It was reasonable rates and came from my wages. A beautiful old mansion house with paneled wooden walls and a huge stone fireplace with steps up inside it. For the chimney sweep boys. There was a Matron, Miss Tyson who ruled over us all. There were women from all walks of life, some older ones who had worked at NAAFI forever. I met some great friends there. There was a lounge where we were allowed to entertain a guest or two. A TV room where the more senior residents no doubt had dibs on the programs and a room to play cards or whatever. I didn't go in more than once or twice being too shy to mix with a lot of people.
Miss Marjorie Tyson and the cook Miss Nellie Ewens.... At the retirement of Miss Tyson from her task of being mother to hundreds of girls.
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There were two staircases one that led up to the first floor rooms and another servants staircase that went down to the kitchens. There was a basement that was rather creepy all white tile. The ladies would hang up the dedicates to dry on lines. Twice we had guys break in and steal underwear from the lines. It was around that time that we heard of "The Michigan Murders" where young nurses were killed in a basement much like that one.
The bedrooms were either double occupants or four beds and the room I chose that was a dorm. We had two beds with a wardrobe each and night stands. A curtain ran around the two beds so we could close off our area to be private and keep a light on and read without disturbing others. I loved it because during the day the curtains would all be open and we could all talk together. One night One of the girls woke up to see flash lights and police dogs in our rooms, they shone a light on each of us and the dogs checked us out. I didn,t wake up. One girl did, she sat up and saw all that and was told to go back to sleep. She did and thought she dreamed it. Someone had broken in and stolen the safe from Miss Tysons office.
They had some awesome claw foot tubs that were so deep you could not see over the rims. The windows had stained glass and the paneling was wonderful. Some of the doors had crests on them. One day I was leaning against a wall talking with someone and what I thought was a crest moved..........a huge spider. They heard the scream for miles I think. It fell down and I walloped it with a shoe pounding the poor thing into the rug. I was very proud of myself and told Miss Tyson what I did she said "yes we heard you all the way down here"
We had a cook, and I loved going down for breakfast. Meals were provided and were good. Someone cleaned the place no doubt while we were all at work. When we got back from a weekend there were clean sheets for us to make our bed up again.
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Sometime around then Margaret, Sheila and I went on our first holiday without parents. We booked a caravan at California Cliffs near Yarmouth in Norfolk. It was overlooking the sea and so we spent our time on the beach among other things. Sheila's sister and husband and baby came down later in the week and were close by to keep an eye on us I suspect, although they stayed away mostly.
Next 3 taken at California Cliffs....on the beach
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Margaret and me
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Sheila and me
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Sheila at that time was engaged to be married, but Margaret and I were open to seeking out boys. We had good radar we thought. One day we met two guys who were walking on the beach and who came over to chat with us. Graham and his friend Len. We hit it off and saw each other for the remainder of the holiday, they had been working on trawlers and were from London. Dagenham to be exact, the east end of London. Well how lucky was that for me? Being new to London I got the invite to be shown around. For a short time the boys would come down to our places on weekends, either staying at my house or the farm. During the week I met both of them in the evenings when I was in London. Sometimes Margaret would come up to London for a day.
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We had some fun times at first. Len told Margaret he was married and so that was not going anywhere, he was apart from his wife but not looking for a divorce. Hmmmmmm eventually she stopped seeing him as there was no point to it. I still saw them both when I was in London. I got to see parts of London I never would have seen. They never had money so we just would walk around all over the place. I really loved London. We would go through Soho and they knew all these out of the way places. I loved the architecture and back streets and loved exploring. Then I discovered they had a fondness for Hashish. I was NOT amused and would have nothing to do with that. I did go with Graham sometimes when he went to buy stuff and the places he went to were a shock to me, I was very naive. I saw young boys with tracks on their arms who did the hard stuff, Graham at least had sense enough to not do anything like that he said they would not see their 21st year. He didn't smoke or drink but liked the weed. One place he went to in the back streets was an eye opener for me. He knocked on a door, the door opened onto concrete stairs that were filthy and two little kids were just sitting there. The person he came to see got a wad of Hashish from under a dustbin lid. Yeuk!!! Further on was a drunk? old man laying in another doorway. We moved on up through Soho. A couple of police officers had a row of kids lined up facing a wall as they searched them. Graham told me to palm the hash and I refused, he said they would never look at me. (remember I was a mod and dressed according) I refused. He was not at all happy with me, expected me to support him and I would not. We walked on by and no one noticed. I thought then of my "band" as there were clubs there that they played sometimes. I never did see them again.
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Weeks later when I was at the hostel I got a phone call...........from Grahams wife. She was apologetic and asked if I knew Graham, I said yes and told her how we met. Well naturally I broke it off right away. He found a way to see me to "explain". Miss Tyson had a few words with me, she was concerned. She said "men who are married seldom leave their wives, they just go on to the next affair and will never be faithful". Graham told me they were married at 16, given no choice as she was pregnant. Blah blah blah.........well I refused at first to reconcile but eventually he wore me down and I listened. I met her, Carole, she invited me in for tea. I was not expecting that, I was tricked by him. I was waiting around the corner while he went to get his key, and there she was in front of me. Come on over she said and I being struck dumb followed like a sheep to slaughter. She was very nice, told the story of how they met etc.......she loved him she said, but he loved me and she hoped we could be happy. She had two kids. He had taken me to his apartment one evening (before I knew all this) and it turns out Carole was in hospital having their 2nd baby at that time. I had no idea. I missed clues? It took some time for all this to unwind and for me to get to know the "Real" Graham. Carole was not the first to have had a child by him it turns out. I do not make any excuse for myself from here on. Up to that time I was clueless, besotted and still a virgin. When he convinced me that it was over with Carole and she seemed to know it was time for her to make a better life for herself (smart woman). she wrote me a letter wishing us well, that she loved him but had to take care of her kids. However, I knew that if he could do it to her, he could do it to me and I know he did. Although we had not at that point had intercourse, I got pregnant because we did go apparently far enough for that to happen. I keep saying I was naive, I was also gullible and believed what I was told. I had gone to the doctor when I missed a period and got the 3rd degree from him. Talk about embarrassed. I said "I can't be pregnant, I haven't done anything" with that the doctor asked pointed questions and said "well you did something!!!!, did he do this or that?" I think the electric bars of his fire burned into my eyeballs as I stared at them. I could not look at him, the fire burned my cheeks and my cheeks burned from inside out. I told you, I was very naive and innocent. I mean I knew how you got pregnant but not enough apparently. There was no birth control and I had not had intentions of "going all the way".
Anyway as it turned out I was indeed pregnant. I told Graham, his first words were "Is it mine".............that ended it for me. Len said "well he had to ask" and I replied, he knows me and he knows that I have not been with anyone. At least he accepted that the baby was his. Even though he could not do much about it being married and all. Thank the Lord for small mercies. He wanted me to stay with him but that was out of the question, I had more to think about now.
Laura brand new.....
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Eventually my parents found out. I would have done anything at that point to avoid them knowing. Abortion was not available, not legal anyway and I had no idea how to go about anything like that, I do know though that I was desperate enough that had it been available I would have done it rather than my parents knowing. For that reason I am totally against abortion. I would have done it because I was scared even though it was not something I knew anything about and would not have been able to live with later.
When my Mother found out as she eventually would, her words were "you're not bringing any bastard into this house especially his".................and so I looked into Mother and Baby homes and stayed away from home for as long as I could. At that time I could only work up until I was 6 months pregnant and I did so. What I did learn was that I was stronger than I thought I ever could be. I am stubborn and decided I could take care of myself and I did. I can't say Graham stood by me, he was no help in any way at all, but I did see him now and then. His infidelity, lies and dishonesty were not something I could live with and eventually it fizzled out and I moved on. I saw him once after Laura was born because he came to my parents house. I will continue this story later because I want to tell about the Mother and Baby home as it was then.......................

5 comments:

Nana Diana said...

I am absolutely fascinated by this story. We were about the same ages at the same time and I, too, was very naive. Yours is quite a story---you should write a book. xo Diana

Nancy C. said...

Enjoying this blog. so honest and interesting.

Jeni Street said...

Janice, I love your blogs!
It is great to hear about your life.
We are cousins but I never really knew much about you and your life.
Facebook brought us together, thank goodness!
Jeniđź’•

Kay G. said...

Yes, you should write a book! Ask Diana for help, she has written a book herself and it is very good!!
What an interesting story and with photos, thank you for this post.
(If I had ever looked like that in a two piece, I would have the photos framed and put on a wall where ALL could see me!!)

Magic Love Crow said...

Wow Janice!!! I don't know what to say! Bless your heart! I can't wait to read more! Big Hugs!