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I was born in a time when motorways were non-existent and open fields and farms were still the norm. I had a terrific childhood with my older brother and younger sister. Snow in winter, sun in summer. A life of adventure.
I wanted to go to university, but in the ‘50s, teachers thought it was more important for places to go to exceptional students, or boys, because girls tended to get married and have babies and it would therefore be a waste of a place. Never going to university is my one regret.
I met my husband at the local dance hall – where everyone met their future partners – and we were married less than a year later. Another year after that our first daughter was born. Money was tight (when you have to take up the floorboards once a week to see if any money had rolled down there, well, it will give you some idea how tight it really was) but there was a great deal of laughter and fun, and being poverty-stricken certainly makes you inventive!
Three years later we had our second daughter, who was born on the living room floor without benefit of a midwife. Ten months after that, there was a third. Three beautiful girls.
There was the usual story of growing up, of dogs and cats, hamsters and gerbils, which were forever escaping. The teenage years were relatively fraught-free. Fashions came and went. Boyfriends came and went. There were tears and sadness, happiness and fulfilment. And not very many free moments for husband and wife.
Between us we worked 101 temporary jobs to help make ends meet and so that I could always be home for the children after school and always have the school holidays off to look after them. I delivered leaflets, mended sheets in a laundry, and worked in an air rifle pellet factory. I worked for newspapers, taking down copy from reporters; taking dictation in pubs when no one was sober enough to talk let alone dictate. Insurance offices, banks, car showrooms, even a conjuror.
My last job, before I gave it up to pursue my writing, was as secretary to the chairman of a group of companies. I went as a temp, and remained by default because they couldn’t find anyone better. My letter of reference from them read: ‘She generally manages to hit the right keys.’ That was 12 years ago and I still receive Christmas cards from them.
And then there were weddings and the eldest two daughters left home. The younger went off to university and the house was almost empty.
And now it is almost full again with the laughter of grandchildren who all come to see me at least once a week. There are four so far – two boys and two girls. Sadly, my mother died not long ago, but I’m alright – my five-year-old grandson told me he saw her last night and she was laughing. It’s an ordinary life, but a happy life. I consider myself to be very lucky.