Autobiography Teens

Putting Our Feet In Water

Bob didn’t ask about me and I didn’t ask about him. The first two or three times we went out together I realised that neither of us had learned the art of conversation with new people. He told me long details of a film he saw and I chattered about Spanish literature. On the third time we met he asked me what I wanted to do. I thought for a minute and told him I liked classical music. He booked two tickets and we duly met at the entrance to the Hall.

It began with one of my favourite Beethoven symphony, number 7. Half way through I was overcome with emotion and turned to look at him. To my amazement his face was expressionless. He was clearly very bored. “Didn’t you like it?” I said. His answer was “No”. “Don’t you like classical music?”. Another negative response. “Why didn’t you tell me before?” I said. “I wanted you to enjoy yourself”.

That was the first thing I learned about him. He wanted to please me. I was bitterly disappointed. I wanted us both to enjoy ourselves.

Over a drink afterwards I asked him what he liked to do. He had to think for a while. “I like the cinema” he said. “What kind of films do you like?”

“Those that make me laugh” he said. Well I had to agree about that. There had been very little to laugh about so far in my life. I had always been deadly serious and I was fed up with it. I thought I had no sense of humour. I was wrong. It was buried deep inside me and later I realised I had repressed it. Once I dared to let it out, it worked overtime, but at first only with those I allowed to get close to me. I was still very wary of other people. We were both in the same boat. Bob thoroughly enjoyed his time in the army. He liked the camaraderie of men and knew how to lead them as an officer, but he was an only child who had no experience with women and because I was the eldest with a father and brother I had not felt close to, I did not then know how to relate to men.

We went to a cinema one afternoon in a seedy area of Liverpool. The film we saw was “The Paleface” with Bob Hope, an auspicious name. Is their hope for me with Bob and vice versa? The cinema was only half-full. There were some rough looking blokes sitting a few rows ahead of us.

It wasn’t long before Bob began to giggle. As the film proceeded it turned into the heartiest guffaws I

could ever have imagined. His whole body shook, his arms and legs were all over the place. I had never seen, nor heard, such hilarious and whole-hearted explosions of laughter. Tears poured down all over his face. There was one thing wrong. Not one other person present was laughing at all. After a while the rough blokes in front of us began to complain in no uncertaim way, using words I had never heard before. Bob took no notice of them whatsoever. I felt quite frightened for him and for myself. But Bob went on in full flow.

I was amazed that the other men did not do what they threatened to do. Bob just ignored them and soon after, they walked out. Needless to say I didn’t find it funny at all. But it was good to see him expressing himself in such an exhilarant way. He, too, was able to express his emotions just as I could, but for different reasons. After that afternoon we were much more relaxed with each other.

Autobiography Teens

Fate Steps In

The University of Liverpool was housed in The Victoria Building which was completed in 1892. It was a red brick building that my Professor Allison Peers named The Redbrick University, because it was the first of its kind. The Department of Hispanic Studies was very small. It trained students for an honours degree in The Faculty of Arts which took four years to complete.

When I went up in 1947 the total number of students in all four years was about forty. Our lecture rooms were at the very top of the building. We all had to climb a spiral staircase. The steps were made of stone and very hard on the legs and feet. Young as we were, few of us could get to the top without at least one pause to take breath.

I was in the first year; one woman with seven men. Did I make friends with them? No. Not really. I had not yet learned the art of getting to know other people. Not only that, we did not share the same interests despite the fact that we were doing the same course. I was back to my situation at school.

I had some doubts that I had chosen the right subject. It was possible to change it after the first year, but I could not think of anything else I wanted to do.

At all universities there were lots of groups to join. I tried one or two of them and turned them all down except The Spanish Society. We met occasionally for social purposes and sometimes a visit and short talk by someone associated with our subject. For one year I was the one who made the sandwiches and tea and welcomed the visitor in Spanish.

The Students’ Union arranged all sorts of diversions, dances and day-trips out, usually into Wales which was so close and full of beautiful landscapes. I went to most of them. Right from the first day I had noticed one particular man who was in the third year. He was one of those who had completed one year at university and had returned to finish his degree after five years in the army. He reached the rank of Captain. I was impressed by his kindness and courtesy when we had our meetings together, especially to several old people who were parents of some of the students.

At the top of the stairs there were always a few people leaning against the steel rail, chatting together and watching other students appearing, taking a breather as they waited for their lecturers to arrive. Robert Pain was often there on his own. There was something about this young man that intrigued me. He seemed to be more like me than like most of the rest. It took a while before the penny dropped. I suddenly realised that when I got to the top of the stairs he was always there. He was interested in me. At last he spoke.

“Would you like to come out to dinner with me?”

I was astounded. This was the first time such a question had been posed to me. Would I like to have dinner with him? What could I say but “Yes”. I would love to be taken out to dinner for the first time. Never did I think for a moment that he would be my husband. I was still at the stage when I was doubtful whether or not I should marry. But I also wanted to have an intelligent boyfriend.

Autobiography Teens

To Marry Or Not To

two doves by Catherine PainIn 1947 the male students were almost all considerably older than the women. The reason is simple. Those men who were ready for university when the war started were allowed to complete their first year before being called up. They had mostly been in The Officers’ Training Corps, so they usually became officers very early. By the time the war was over, they had served anything up to six or seven years with the heavy responsibility of command. With such grave experiences they returned as exceptionally mature, and were naturally given priority for university places. Healthy men who were ready for the next stage of education after the war were obliged to do a two-year stint in The National Service before they could move on to university. Some of the women had also served in the forces and had the chance to go to university with exceptionally good grants.

However the vast majority of women went up straight from school. At that time they still regarded marriage as important and university was clearly the best hunting ground for it because there was no other place where they would have such a good chance to find husbands whose intelligence and education matched their own. Nevertheless, many of us women were anxious to have careers as well. Society was changing. It had to be a daring couple to decide to live together before or without marrying.

It isn’t easy for men and women who are busy working hard to do as well as they can with their chosen studies to manage their boy and girl friendships with ease, especially when the natural inclination for mating begins to impress itself. Most of the women came from girls’ schools and most of the boys from boys’ schools. Therefore they had had little experience of each other. Moreover those men who had fought in the war were much too busy to think about the lack of female colleagues. University then served as a playground for making up for lost time by getting the chance to mix with the opposite sex for pleasure and for work.

Our fellow animals who cannot speak have no problems with mating. They don’t have to get married. All they have to do is follow their instincts when they are old enough. We humans are physically complete when we are in our early ‘teens but we have to wait until we are much older before we can go through the rites of marriage. This has always been a problem for civilised societies who do things differently from all our fellow animals.

We young women students wanted to have our cakes and eat them. Unlike the rest of the female race who left school earlier and usually married earlier at that time, more and more of us were planning lifelong careers. We were born at a time when many of the unwritten rules for man/women relationships were hangovers from Victorian times. We were at the threshold of much more freedom for women when they could choose whether to have children or not.

The result of all this was that we would get together at night with our cups of cocoa, having endless discussions of “How Far Can we Go?”. Meaning, of course, how could we avoid getting pregnant and still enjoy what some people call “making love” and others “having sex”.

Women’s Lib was hovering on the threshold. This is a subject about which I have much to say. I intend to write my own ideas about what has gone wrong with it and how it can be improved for everyone’s benefit. I might start it on this blog soon, or I might wait till I have finished this book about my life.

Autobiography Teens

A New World

In my last year at school, my teachers suggested that I would stand a good chance of getting a scholarship to Oxford or Cambridge if I stayed on for a third year. I would have loved that because having tutorials with some of the best teachers in the country appealed to me strongly. BUT, the thought of having to stay at home for another year was definitely not desirable. I was at the end of my tether. I had had enough. So I was accepted at Liverpool in the Spanish Department with Professor Allison Peers, one of the best known of dons for his books about Spain.

I finished my exams and wondered what I should do for the long summer holidays, whilst I was waiting to see if I had won a scholarhip. I was very short of money as usual. I always had to earn it for myself. I managed to get a job making sandwiches and worrying what I would do if I didn’t get the scholarship.

At last the day arrived when I got the letter that gave me the good news. I was overjoyed. My headmistress wrote to tell me that I had earned the highest marks ever for my French scholarship paper. I was to receive a generous grant, the equivalent of a secretary’s salary in those days. My father, after some twenty years, received his first promotion. He was very happy but he did not offer to help me. My mother had a talk with him and suggested that he lend me some money. He grudgingly handed over a five pound note which then was white and the size of a small tablecloth. I had never held one in my hands before. I was not given the first payment of my grant until nearly the end of the autumn term.

I repaid Father and at last I was secure.

I arrived at The Women’s Hall of Residence on my own. To my astonishment, most of the new students were accompanied by their father or mother or both. I was to share a room with a girl from my school who was going to read social sciences, which was a very new subject. She had a large suitcase full of brand new clothes. I had an old battered case with not much more than one of everything. My father had given me strict orders to return the case immediately as it was the only one he had. I asked him to make sure he sent it back before the end of term but he did not. I had to wrap up my few belongings in carrier bags. Like Scarlett O’Hara I made an oath that I would never be poor again. My room-mate’s mouth dropped open when I took up the lid. “Is that all you’ve got?” she said. I was filled with mortification and hatred. But I said nothing. I had not yet discovered how to respond to such insensitive people. I very soon decided that we must change rooms as soon as possible. I thought I should be alright with a medical student, but again we didn’t get on. And in the third term I had a room to myself.

It took me a long, long time to learn how to talk with these people who seemed to come from a different planet than I. All the girls were dressed up to the nines with smart suits, new shoes, many of them with high heels, nylon stockings and New Look dresses. The war had been over for two years. We were still rationed but good clothes were beginning to trickle into the shops. We had ration cards for them but they soon died away. The black market was still rife so most people with money could get all kinds of extras.

We had no idea that the tables would turn in the sixties when it was the done thing for students to wear torn jeans and the sloppiest of trainers or tennis shoes. I would have had no dressing problems then. In close proximity with young women from all over the place and living together in a sort of hotel gave me the opportunity to study all kinds of them and why they behaved and spoke as they did. I came from the stone ages.

Autobiography Teens

First Boyfriend

I met my first boy-friend when I was in the sixth form. I saw an advertisement for four hours work on Saturday afternoon. I applied and was taken on. I earned ten shillings for four hours work. It was good money in those days. I had some typing lessons but no knowledge of book keeping. Sam ran a small advertising agency for boarding houses. He was attracted to me from the start but I did not know this for the first two months. We were very formal with each other. He was divorced and had custody of his two little boys.

The first time he took me out I felt very flattered. He was tall, good-looking and loved dancing. So did I but I had very little practice and no experience at all of men. He took me out to the Tower Ballroom which was very popular. He introduced me to gin- and- tonics and I found I quite liked them, but I never had more than one at a time. I was wary about alcohol, especially as I was under eighteen and therefore doing something illegal. By this time my skin and general appearance had improved and my black hair and dark eyes began to look attractive, even in my own eyes.

I did not know how old he was. I assumed he was about twenty-eight. One day when he was out I looked in his desk and found out that he was thirty-eight. I was astonished. That made him old enough to be my father! I told him I had found this out. My first thought was that I could tell the girls at school and shock them too. Those who had boy-friends were few and we all knew very little at all about the male of the species.

I told my father the first time Sam took me out. He said he wanted to see him the next time he came to the house. They had a short talk together and to my surprise they seemed to get on quite well. Father said afterwards that he seemed a decent sort of bloke. Dad was quite right. He was what mother called A Perfect Gentleman who Wouldn’t Take Advantage. I still knew very little about men and women relationships.

We went out together for a year and I continued to work for him. He had a little runabout car and he always drove me when we went out. It seemed a great luxury in those days. Of course I had no experience of men. The fact was that Sam badly wanted to marry again and have a mother for his sons. His ex-wife never took any interest in them and she had lost contact with them. He had been in the RAF and, like many other husbands his wife felt lonely and found someone else.

I knew he was quite besotted with me. He asked me to go away with him for a week-end but I refused. Above all else I wanted to go to university. I liked kissing and cuddling but I always felt very wary if matters got more intimate. He asked me to marry him and I said “No” several times.

Our friendship lasted little more than a year because I wanted to stop working for him and concentrate on studying hard enough to win a scholarship. I never put myself in a situation where I could not get away quickly: not because I didn’t trust him but because I didn’t trust myself. His longing for a whole family was so strong I felt he would soon find someone else. He did. He introduced me to her when they decided to marry. I liked both of them and wished them well with a sigh of relief, because I wanted him to be happy and he and I were poles apart. I settled back to my studies and thought of nothing else.

Autobiography Teens

Role Models

Like many other young women I was profoundly affected by the cinema: the films themselves and the glamorous film stars. When “Gone with the Wind” came to Blackpool the excitement was overwhelming. Some of us had to wait for hours, standing in all sorts of bad weather, to get in. The film was played over and over again, as much as they could fit into one day. It ran for a long time. Every time the theatre was emptied a new audience piled in. As soon as the last seats were filled the doors would be slammed in our faces and we had to wait another four hours.

The character of Scarlett O’Hara fascinated me. I liked her toughness and determination not to be beaten by misfortune. The scene that I remember best was when she came home to Tara after the war. The situation was very bad. Food was scarce and there were looters all over the place, helping themselves to anything they could lay their hands on as they made their journey back to the North.

Desperately trying to survive and take care of Melanie and her baby, Scarlett sees a vegetable still left in the arid ground, seizes it and stuffs it into her mouth. She retches. Raising her fisted hand against the crimson sunset she swears an oath. “As God is my witness, I shall never be hungry again.”

Most young women, whether they were at school or out in the world making their living, took as their models these film-stars. We copied hair-styles, make-up and intimate ways of moving and facial expressions. When we were in the sixth-form, influenced b y the sultry alure of Lauren Bacall, we took to smoking cigarettes, preferably in long holders at the week-ends, once we were well away from home.

I spent hours changing my hair-style every day, twisting my straight black hair into strange coils and twists with hair-pins.

I was cursed with oily skin that erupted into unpleasant purple spots. I had to wash my hair every two days. I was full of despair. I spent my hard- earned money on ointments that did no good at all. I finally settled for calamine lotion with a dusting of powder on top. I looked paler than ever. Moreover, my body was thickening and I had longed to be slim and willowy. To top it all, I had severe period pains most months and I had to go to bed and miss school. My thirteenth year was the worst in my whole life. I was so sorry for myself but I knew that I alone had to find my way through.

I constructed scenarios in my head of suicide and a consequent funeral, surrounded by weeping people who had failed to recognise m y genius and great personality.

My nature was becoming more and more extreme. Either I was euphoric, my mind buzzing with ideas and vivid images or I was in the depth of despair. I felt there was no-one in my life who understood me. No-one I could share my thoughts with. No-one was there to guide me. I remember all this so clearly that when I became a psychotherapist I was able to give unhappy adolescents the support they needed to help them to take control of their own lives.

Autobiography Teens

Life Gets Lighter

Mother’s condition was slowly getting worse. She went into hospital for an operation that might help the open ulcers to close. After she came home she had strict instructions that she must stay in bed. Mary and I took time off school to look after her and make sure that she didn’t get up. One day Mary had been out to do the shopping. When she got back Mother was pottering about on her legs. Mary was naturally cross with her. “I only thought I would make a bit of dinner for you.” This was typical of Mother. She knew that we were both taking valuable time our of school to give her the chance to get better and then she sabotaged us by not following doctor’s orders. At that time I was beginning to think that she did not want to get better. When she was ill she got attention and company, just as she received when, as a sickly child, she was sent for lovely holidays with the Lincolnshire cousins. Eventually she was provided with a very large and unwieldy mechanised wheel chair so that she could go out and do the shopping and we rarely had to take time off school. Yet her legs would still not get better. A long time after, when Mary and I were both married with children, she began to show signs of dementia. We found a good nursing home for her. She still retained her cheerful self and all the staff loved her. It is easy to be cheerful when we do not take responsibility for ourselves. At long last the ulcers closed completely. She got all the attention she had always wanted. I knew then that if people have a vested interest in being ill, nothing will make them better.

Once the war was over I slowly began to recover from my depression. My life was beginning to change. My time in the sixth form was the most rewarding because I was immersed in what I enjoyed: English, French and Spanish, both language and literature. I read English and Spanish metaphysical poetry and began to find some answers. John Donne, St. John of the Cross and Santa Teresa were my favourites. I found the concept of the dark night of the soul, when faith appears to vanish and a strong sense of meaninglessness overwhelms the soul. I wasn’t the only one. I felt comforted that some of the greatest poets had experienced this phenomenon and that it was another aspect of the life of the spirit.

I realised that I did not need to belong to an organised religion. We are part of a whole and have the powers within us to make the best of ourselves. If we want to feel secure we must all learn to understand ourselves and trust our own judgement. We should question whatever we are taught and decide for ourselves what we need. It is useless to ask people if they believe in God because we all have our own idea of what the word ‘god’ means to us. I developed a love for the golden age plays of Shakespeare and Calderon. I realised that the best of literature and philosophy can tell us all we need to know about the nature of mankind and spirituality.

My sister Mary and I became much closer because we both loved the theatre. Mary loved acting and I went to see her several times. I was astonished at her confidence to play parts that needed a lot of learning without drying up. At that time the best plays toured the provinces before they opened in London. We queued up at least twice a month at the Grand Theatre to get seats in the gods. We saw Edith Evans in “The Chalk Garden”, John Mills in “Five Finger Exercises”, Emlyn Williams in “Night must Fall” and many others. We attended our first operas, “La Boheme” and “Tosca” which remain my favourites. We both had a passion for jigsaw puzzles. To make it more fun we would take two or three, mix them up and finish them all.

Autobiography Teens

The Worst Time In My Life

My years at school from 11-18 were by far the most unhappy in my life. My school work and my love of music were the bright spots in my life. This is the short list starting with the mildest up to the worst of my distressed state.

  • A cold and uncomfortable and constantly untidy house.
  • Getting to school in overloaded buses and trams with bad-tempered conductors twice a day there and back.
  • Having no-one to talk to about what interested me except for some company with my sister.
  • The constant squabble about money between my parents.
  • My difficulty in dealing with the bodily change in my adolescence.
  • My feeling that I must take full control over myself with no guidance whatsoever.
  • My fears for my brother who was an unusual child from the time he was born.

Because of my intense sensitivity I was so upset by what was going on in the war, especially in the concentration camps, that I often wondered whether life was not worth living when such dreadful things could happen.

There were three levels of state schools. I was in grammar school, where the aim was to get as many pupils as possible to university. Mary went to commercial school, The Palatine School for Girls, otherwise known by the pupils as the Pallyringworms, where the children were mostly trained as secretaries or nurses, although a few managed to get to university and teacher training colleges, which then ran two-year courses. Mary went to Goldsmith’s College before it became a university and Colin went to senior school where only basic learning was given and all the pupils left when they were fourteen. They had to get anything they could find to earn money.

Since, as any sensible person ought to know, teachers are not necessarily the best judges of intelligence, Winston Churchill and Einstein, for example, were not recognised for their genius in their early schooldays.

Mary and I went on the same bus to school and then we parted company to get on different transport. Mary and I were very different people, I loved to do my homework but she would do as little as she could get away with. Mary went upstairs to sit with her friends, all squashed together on the back seat copying each other’s homework. I sat downstairs on my own with my finished homework tucked in my satchel and a pious look on my face.

Getting on to the bus was a feat in itself. Every conductor’s priority was shouted out as the doors opened. “Forces first, workers second and schoolchildren last.” Their priorities were right in view of the fact that winning the war was the most important thing.

Everyone was overworked in those days. Bus conductors were always bad-tempered. The women were the worst. They wielded their power officiously and without pity. We often had to stand waiting for several buses to go past, full up, before we could get on. We had to do this journey, to and fro, twice a day, because there were no school dinners until after we left school.

Sometimes Mother had dinner on the table and other times she did not. More than once we found her sitting there, the breakfast things still on the table, in a trance, trying to work out where the money had gone. More than once we ran off to get some food so that at least we could eat something before getting back to school. We had to ask the shopkeepers to put the money on Mrs Barker’s slate. They all knew Mother, some way or other she always managed to pay her debts, but the shopkeepers always grumbled.

Mary and I learned a good lesson. Both of us manage money well and never, ever did we get into debt or borrow money from other people. My psychoanalyst, many years later, told me that a bad example could be just as useful as a good example.

Autobiography Teens

The Enigma Of Mother

Mother became less and less able to go out as her health deteriorated. She had suffered from bad legs since I was five years old. It was very common to see women in bandaged legs in those days. She had chronic ulcers supposedly resulting from varicose veins. This particular complaint is not prevalent today. I wonder why? Every generation seems to have a popular disease. Now it is all heart attacks, stress and so-called mental illness.

One of the common sights of our later childhood in Rayleigh was Mother washing bandages, drying them in front of the fire and winding them first round her hands and then on her legs. I found the sight of her ulcers sickening. I decided there and then that whatever I chose to do with my life I did not want to be a medical doctor.

I often wished my body could be made of stainless steel, like a machine kept nourished by oil rather than by blood: cleaner and more efficient. From a very early age I had two outstandingly powerful and frightening dreams. The first began when I was about five and ended when I was twenty-five.

I am watching a screen. On it is a matrix of shining, silver machinery, working perfectly. Suddenly something starts to go wrong. There is a slight slip in the right-hand corner. I know that little by little every part of the machine will be destroyed. Before the end I always woke up in a panic. So great was my fear that it took at least a half-hour to recover.

The strangest thing is that my first son had the same repetitive dream when he was a child. He didn’t tell me about it until he was grown up. I could understand it in his case because machinery has always fascinated him. The strangest thing of all was that my dream ended soon after my son was born and it never returned.

During my ‘teens another recurring dream began. I am walking through a dark wood and suddenly become aware that I am being followed. I turn around and see a glinting-eyed witch chasing me. In her hands are big loops of cloth: bandages. I know I have to run very hard to get away from her. Sometimes she captures me, sometimes not. I usually awake just as she reaches me and begins to wrap the bandages around me from the feet up. There is the same feeling of panic that I felt in the first nightmare.

I felt that I should end up bound like an Egyption mummy, unable to move or cry out: a living death. I didn’t have to be a genius to interpret this dream.

It is a wonderful example of an important message from my unconscious mind: It contains a perfect example of a Freudian pun and a warning to me that I must psychologically free myself from my mother for good. Years later I understood why I had a great fear of becoming a “mummy” myself and why I had an aversion to dolls and babies.

Having loved my mother so much in my early years it was very difficult for me to accept, as I grew older and wiser, that I did not like her in many ways, especially when she complained to us about our father.

I couldn’t wait to get away from home and after I married we went to Venezuela and I ended up with three children. I, who thought mistakenly that I did not want a family, changed my mind. I still managed to have a career as well. I was determined that I would never cause the pain to my children that I felt in my own first family. Step by step, with a continuous search to understand myself better, I discovered what was good for me and what was not. That is what the rest of this book is about. How it is possible for us, if we are dedicated enough to learn to think for ourselves to find the right paths for ourselves and lead a satisfactory life.

Autobiography Teens

Mother In The Money

Blackpool was crowded right through the war. It continued its tradition as a favourite holiday playgtound for the Lancashire mill workers who came for their annual Wakes Week. People who had never heard of Blackpool before the war came for their holidays too, because the southern beaches were cut off by rolls of barbed wire to protect us from invasion. Walking along the promenade in the height of summer you would never believe there was a war on had it not been for the number of men and women in different kinds of uniform. At night time there was no doubt, for instead of the brightly coloured illuminations of peace-time a black pall would descend.

The blackout restrictions were strictly enforced. We were allowed torches with very weak batteries so that we would not get entirely lost in the dark. Parents did not worry about children coming home from school in the winter. The sense of camaraderie was strong. People watched out for each other, especially when they saw children on their own. Air-raid shelters abounded at street level.

We had one right outside our house. The only purpose they ever served was as a hiding place for courting couples and a platform for sergeants drilling their squads of new recruits on the promenades. Soldiers, airmen and a few sailors thronged the streets alongside Wrens, WAAFs and ATS girls. Many were foreigners from Europe who had escaped to join up with us. Later on the American G.I.s arrived.

All these people had to live somewhere. There was never enough accommodation. During our first year in Blackpool a billeting officer from the RAF called on all the houses in our street looking for rooms for airmen, some of them accompanied by their wives. Mother, without asking Father , said “yes”.

We had a succession of young couples during the training periods before the men were sent for operational duties. Mary and I had to give up our room for the damp spare one at the back of the house.

When we got back from school we entered into conversations with the incumbent wives, usually on the stairs. They had little to do while their husbands were out being trained. They were mostly newly married and liked to talk to us about their love-lives and we encouraged them. There were many gaps in our knowledge of what went on in marriages. They didn’t talk to Mother. Probably she was too busy or perhaps they were frightened of shocking her. Like most mothers at that time she was afraid to talk about such matters to her daughters. I never saw pregnant women. They were very good at concealing themselves or perhaps I didn’t know what the signs were.

When the airmen had finished their training and left, Mother found a new source of income. The number of holiday-makers increased. Blackpool was famous for its numbers of boarding-houses. During the summer there were plenty of customers. Mother kept all the money she earned for herself except for what she gave us for helping her with the work of looking after the guests. In winter visitors were sparse and once again Mother complained that Dad did not give her enough money. She often borrowed from Mary and me. I found ways of earning a penny or two by making all sorts of little things such as toys, purses and necklaces made of sea-shells, especially at Christmas time.

So much of the government’s money went into the war effort that things that were considered not to be necessary were scarce and I found a ready market.