After University

Bob sent me a beautiful diamond engagement ring on my birthday. We married in Liverpool in the morning of 6th July, 1951 in the Registrar’s Office and had lunch afterwards in a restaurant. My mother and Bob’s father were there with four friends. I graduated in the afternoon. Bob arranged it so that we could go off on our honeymoon to France and Belgium the next day, to make the most of his two weeks holiday. It was my second visit to Paris and the first to Belgium to meet Bob’s mother’s brothers and sisters and his cousins. I was envious of Bob’s fluent French. “Why does your wife speak better French than you do?” they said. That wasn’t what they meant. I had a different accent because I had learned French at school but Bob was bilingual from birth, with the same accent as his family.

Then we went back to London. Bob had a small flat in Finsbury Park and I joined him there. We were still hoping that Shell would offer Bob a job. I tried hard to find myself a teaching post in London but at that time such jobs were few and far between. I didn’t want to be a teacher, but it was the first thing I thought of that would pass the time until we could go abroad.

I think I must have been too proud to take any old job. I was tired of that in my school holidays when I needed money to buy clothes. Now, for the first time, I had nothing to do. Finally, Bob received the awaited letter. He was to go just before Christmas on a liner to New York and then he went in another liner down to Caracas. He loved it, but neither of us wanted to be separated again, It was Shell’s custom to see how their employees who came from England, Holland and America, settled down well for about a year before they brought their wives over to join their husbands. Once again I had to go back to Blackpool and wait.

I still felt an obligation to stay with Mother for a while and also because there was Mary. Bob sent me an allowance and I spent the year making clothes for a warm climate. I felt anxious about my sister. I suggested that she apply for a teaching place with Shell in the primary school for the children of employees from England, Holland and America. Mary had recently earned her teacher’s certificate for infant and primary schools at Goldsmith College. She did very well there and discovered that she had a great skill for teaching children to read. Despite that, she was turned down by Shell. Now, of course, Goldsmiths has been a university for some long time.

Colin had left school. Neither of my parents seemed to take any interest in what he would do. Mary and I were very concerned about this. We thought it might be a good idea for him to to go to a training college for boy sailors. We talked to him about it and he liked the idea. In fact he enjoyed the training and achieved high marks as a telegrapher. He had to sign on for 9 years.

I was more and more eager to get right away from my mother for ever. She continued to let out rooms and thus had enough money to live on. Eventually Mary went to Harlow New Town where they were crying out for teachers for their new schools. She was given a semi-detached house. She invited Mother to leave Blackpool and come to live with her. Colin then could come to stay between voyages. This was a great mistake that led to tragedy.

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