History in Kent => Life Writing => Topic started by: busyglen on March 02, 2014, 11:37:19

Title: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 02, 2014, 11:37:19
I was born in January 1941 in 13 Harbour Terrace, Sheerness, Kent, which was a small terrace house, and at that time, England was in the middle of WW2. Shortly after my birth, my father who worked for the Admiralty in Sheerness Dockyard, was offered a change of occupation, which meant our family would be moving into a large house, which would be a blessing as it had more room.   There were now five of us, (my older sister Gwen having died aged five, before I was born.)  The oldest, my sister Georgina was in Wales having been evacuated by her school, because of the War, my brother Bill, who was almost six, and me. My mother wrote to my sister, and asked what she would like to call me, and she said `Glenysí because it was Welsh.  Thus, I was duly named, and have spent my life correcting the spelling, as it is Welsh!  Anything from Glennis, Glenis, Glenice, Glynis, even Gladys!  But it is only a name, and gradually it was shortened to Glen most of the time.

My father was offered the position of Head Groundsman at the Royal Naval Sports Grounds in New Road, Sheerness.  This came with a large house which was constructed in wood, which stood on stilts of metal, with steps leading up to a back door. There was also a front door on the side but that wasnít used very often. A door at the other end led to the storage room for coal, and later sacks of potatoes. Around the outside of the house, there were buckets of sand and water at strategic points.  There was also a large water carrier on wheels that could be pushed to where it was needed.  These were for the protection of the house should it have caught fire!! There were also two metal tanks in the garden which collected rain water from the drainpipes, which was extra help if needed.

Previously in WW1 the house was used as a Pigeon Loft, where the pigeons were released and received, carrying messages to and fro, to various strategic points. The roof had a small door on one side where the pigeons used to come and go.  After WW1 pigeons were no longer used, so the Admiralty decided to use the building for other purposes, and eventually the grounds around the house were used for sports such as Football, Rugby, Cricket, and later Tennis.  These all needed to be maintained in good order so that the Navy could go to the grounds for a game when their ships were in dock.  Also in the grounds was the RAB, or Range Accommodation Buildings, where naval personnel were sometimes billeted during WW2.  At the end of this block, there was a building with a large domed roof, which had a large gun inside, which was used for training gunners to spot and shoot enemy planes.  On the other end of the block, nearest our house, there was also a Concert Hall where shows were occasionally put on.  Opposite the house, there were   brick-built `Headsí (toilets) which had a separate section for the Officers, and were surrounded by hedges and poplar trees.  Beyond these there was another large building which housed a kitchen, several  offices and stores, a ladies rest room (which was up a large flight of outside steps) changing rooms and on the far side there  was the shower rooms which were also upstairs.  In front of the kitchen, there was the Pavilion where people watched the Cricket matches and had their tea.  The grounds consisted of two cricket pitches, one on each side of the buildings, and later a football pitch was set up just past the RAB.  There were also three large Rugby pitches further up the road. Later tennis courts were built, both hard courts and lawn.

My earliest recollections, surprisingly, were when I was two years old.  The first was being held in my motherís arms, at the backdoor, and watching the searchlights criss-crossing the night sky over the Dockyard, looking for airplanes.  Shortly after this, I remember going to sleep downstairs (we all appeared to sleep in the large room which was later our sitting-room, during air raids) and when I awoke I was in the bunk of the air raid shelter, outside our back door.  My mother was sitting in a chair, knitting, and she dropped her needle which went down under the floorboards.  I realised in later years that she was pregnant and had been knitting a jacket for the baby, who was to be my younger brother Trevor. When the shelter was dismantled after the war, the turquoise needle was found.

I also recall being pushed in my pram by a lady who was an Officerís wife who was staying with us, and was going shopping, and then I remember looking into a shop window from my pram and at that moment a large dog (which I later understood was a Golden Retriever) put its front paws on the end of the pram and looked at me. I screamed as I had never seen a dog before, and the lady came running out of the door with the proprietor.  Of course, the dog took off, and after a while I calmed down.  It was an occurrence that was to stay with me for many years, as I always felt afraid around dogs.

My next memory was of my mother bathing my new brother Trevor in front of the kitchen range.  I had a ragdoll, which I think my mother had made, and I watched her putting Trevor in a nappy and hooking it on a weighing hook.  I decided I wanted my doll weighed, so when she had finished dressing Trevor, my mother showed me how to do it.  I remember laughing as it seemed so funny. It was quite a while before I realised or understood, that Trevor had been born with only one hand.  His left arm was normal to just below the elbow, where it closed over to reveal a tiny hand with small pimples attached, which were the fingers.  As he grew, Mum started to put elastic in his pyjama trousers to make it easier for him, but he was adamant that he wanted `properí trousers with cords.  He taught himself to tie them, and was to grow up finding ways to do most things.

My memories come and go at this point, but the next main recollection is of my brother Raymond being born in 1945, so I was four years old.  I can remember my mother sitting in her dressing gown at a sewing machine in her bedroom, with some brightly coloured material, and I asked what she was doing.  She replied that it was a surprise.  The next day my brother was born, and I can remember he looked so tiny.  My mother had to spend several days in the bedroom, as in those days, it was appropriate that they rested and got their strength back, but Mum had Phlebitis so she was confined to bed anyway.  Raymond was her seventh child (two having died). Whilst confined to the bedroom, she got my father to carry her sewing machine upstairs, and she sat at her dressing table sewing away.  The next day when I went in to see her, she told me to `shut my eyes, and hold out my handsí.  When I opened my eyes she had given me a Golliwog.  (I realise that this is not PC these days, so forgive the mention)  The body was made from black lining, and the hair was from an astrakhan collar.  He had red felt lips and she had embroidered his eyes.  He had on a red jacket and pyjama stripe trousers.  I was thrilled to bits.  She also made one for Trevor, with different clothes, and he loved his as well.   Looking back, I can see how canny my mother was in giving us younger ones something to play with to take off the fact that she was not able to be with us for a short while.  Iíve never forgotten that. 

Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 02, 2014, 11:42:14
When I was 5 years old, I started school at Rose St. Primary School.  I was taken to school by my father, who sat me on the crossbar of his bicycle, and I had some dinner money in my pocket for my lunch.  I had been told to walk straight home after school, which was about three-quarters of a mile. As my father was always working, even evenings, and my mother was looking after the others, being met from school was not an option.  My father took me into the school and handed me over to a teacher and I was taken into a classroom.  There were quite a lot of new children and we all sat at desks which had small chairs, or on the floor.  We were asked our names and a teacher started to tell us a story, but she was constantly interrupted by a girl who cried almost non-stop.   She wore a frilly bonnet and a party dress, which looking back seemed rather strange, and  it didnít really help as all the children kept looking at her.  The teacher carried on with the story about a woodcutter chopping wood in the forest, and at this point the girl started screaming again.  Nothing would pacify her and losing her patience, the teacher said that if she didnít stop the woodcutter would come after her.  (Not exactly the thing to do, but she did start to quieten down.)  Dinnertime, as it was then called, we were led into the school hall, which was utilised also as the dining room.  We all sat down with the other children in the school, on benches and a monitor went and got our dinners.  I canít remember what we had, but it certainly didnít taste like my motherís cooking as hers was lovely.  We were allowed to go out to play for a while and then we were taken and shown the room that we were to go to the next day.  When it was time to go home we sang a hymn` Jesus tender shepherd hear meí.
Quite a few children had parents meet them, but the majority went off in groups or on their own.  They were mostly the older ones.  I was asked if I had someone meeting me, and I said that I knew my way home, so off I trotted.  My legs were a bit tired by the time I got home, but Mum met me at the door with a big smile, and asked me what I had done.

A few weeks later, I was in class and for some reason the teacher started the evening hymn, so in my mind it was teatime.  Off I trotted home, but was a bit surprised when I looked into the school hall as I passed and saw the dinner monitors with their aprons and caps on.  When I got home, my parents, younger brothers and sister, were having dinner.  I told my mother I had thought it was teatime, so she got me something to eat, and my father took me back afterwards on his bicycle, and explained to the teacher.

There used to be a bakery near the school, and I can remember some of the children going there to get a halfpenny roll, which was still warm.  Sometimes the children hadnít had any breakfast so their parents had given them money to get something. Mum always made me eat some breakfast, sometime it was an egg or a rasher of bacon and a piece of fried bread.  I didnít really like breakfast, but I would always try and eat it, and occasionally I wouldnít eat the fried bread so she put it in a bag and Iíd eat it at playtime. 

Miss Wood was the Head Mistress, and she seemed really old to me, and for some reason, she always called on me to run errands around the school.  One day she asked me to take some books back to the local Library for her during a lesson.  I was too shy to refuse, so I put my coat on and went.  I hadnít been to the Library before, and it meant I had to go into the town.  I did know where it was though and I was quite interested when I walked in.  The librarian took the books and gave me some tickets to take back.  After a while, this became a habit, and I would regularly be sent to take books back.  One day, I mentioned to my mother that I would like to get some books from the Library, as they had a childrenís section.  She asked how I knew that and I said that I often had to take Miss Woodís books back.  My mother was furious and told me that I was at school to learn, not to run errands for her.  So the next time a girl came and told me that Miss Wood wanted me to run an errand, I said no!  She was furious and sent for me to go to her office, and I had to stand outside the door for half an hour!  She never asked again, and another poor girl had to do it.  Nevertheless, my mother agreed that I could get some books from the Library, and on Saturdays, I used to go and select a book to read.  I was hooked on the Enid Blyton books originally, but gradually I found myself  looking for what I called girls adventures. 

One day a teacher came to our classroom and asked me to go with her.  She asked if I would like to be the May Queen.  I had been chosen with another girl, and they wanted us to go to each room and they would ask the children who should be the Queen.  The one who had the most votes was chosen for the Queen and the other would be the attendant.  I was always shy, and hoped I could be the attendant, but somehow I was chosen.  It was a lovely day, and I wore a party dress and had a crown of flowers put in my hair.  There was dancing round the maypole, and also some games.  It was a
lovely day.  I believe they still do that at the school nowadays.

I loved school, and reading books but I didnít like `sumsí.  I also liked writing little stories, and one day the teacher said there was going to be a competition, and that those who were interested, should write a story about what they do, or like   So, I decided to write about the Saturday Matinee, which was held at the local Cinema on Saturday mornings, which my mother used to let me go to sometimes with a friend.  I also drew a picture of a crowd of people waiting to go in the door......I won the prize which was a book called `What Katy Didí.

In 1947 we had a lot of snow which surrounded our house, and it was quite deep.  I can remember going down the back steps with my wellington boots on and trying to step into my elder brotherís footsteps.  It was too deep for my little legs and I got stuck...I couldnít go backwards or forwards.  My father had to lift me out!  When the snow eased and started to melt, I went  back to school, but when I got there, only a couple of teachers were there.  The toilets were outside and had frozen, and the boiler wasnít working, so another lad and I was given a cup of cocoa, and sent home again.
cont...
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Sentinel S4 on March 02, 2014, 12:56:13
What are you worried about Busyglen? This is good stuff and I'm enjoying.

S4.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: chasg on March 02, 2014, 13:15:24
Ditto...   :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Lyn L on March 02, 2014, 13:43:55
And me  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on March 02, 2014, 14:05:51
and me too     :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: peterchall on March 02, 2014, 14:24:14
Seems OK to me  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on March 02, 2014, 16:36:23
Being born on Sheppey in 1947 and lived here ever since, I recall fondly the type of childhood that you are recounting and find it amazing the way we travelled such distances, on our own, at such a young age and in all weathers. Makes a mockery of all the molly-coddled, little darlings of today that think their legs are there purely in order to enable them to climb into a car and be driven to school.
I'm looking forward immensley to more tales of how it used to be back then on Sheppey and having my memory jogged about places and things that I had forgotten.

Well done.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 02, 2014, 16:53:31
Thank you all for your kind comments.  :)  It always seems a bit boring to start with, but it I hope it gets better as it progresses.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 02, 2014, 16:58:41
I loved the summer and the school holidays, as my brothers and I would have the fields to play in, when there wasnít a match being played.  When I was about six and Trevor was four and Ray two, I used to amuse them by playing `Orphansí.  I asked Mum for a piece of old blanket, and a bottle to put some water in, plus a slice of bread.  (She always knew what that meant.)

Opposite the house there was a small trailer that my father used to pull things around with the tractor, and I decided that would be our shelter at night.  Iíd tell the boys that it was night and that we had to go to sleep, so weíd lie down and I covered us with the rug.  When I decided it was morning, Iíd give them a small mouthful of the bread and a sip of water. We would then have to go and look for more food, and make sure nobody saw us otherwise we would be taken to the orphanage!  Weíd run and hide behind buildings and then make our way to my fatherís kitchen garden which had lots of vegetables, such as peas, carrots etc.  We would sneak in and Iíd pull a carrot, and if peas were also growing Iíd take a couple of those.  Iíd go to the kitchen tap, which was outside the building, and wash the carrot.  Iíd put them in the paper bag that I had, and we would then scamper off towards the edge of the field where the trains ran past.  The grass was quite long and there were a couple of places that you could hide, so, Iíd give them a piece of carrot to nibble on, and picked a few dewberries that grew wild along the edge of the field. Then Iíd hear a train coming, so I told them that we must hide quickly before anyone saw us otherwise they would catch us and we would be taken to the Orphanage.   Even at that young age, they followed me and hid in the long grass until the train had passed!  We would look for some more berries, (I knew which ones were edible) and then we would make our way back to the trailer, where I would dish out the berries and a bit of bread, which would be washed down with a sip of water. We would then lie down to pretend to sleep for the night, until the next adventure.

My mother had an old school bell, and she would stand on the back steps and ring it to let us know that it was dinner or teatime, and would wait until we ran out from wherever we were hiding and waved to her.  It always worked, and we never ignored it, even when we were older.

This is the trailer that we used as our pretend hiding place in our game of Orphans.


Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: kyn on March 02, 2014, 18:46:49
Thank you for posting your story, it is really strange to read as I know the area but it has changed so much!  I look forward to more posts :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 03, 2014, 10:58:46
Thanks Kyn. :)  As a point of interest, the building behind the tree, is the Pavilion kitchen, and to the right is the Ladies rest room at the top of the stairs.  To the right where we are sitting behind the hedge, is the `Heads'.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 03, 2014, 14:31:00
We three younger children, used to sleep in the large bedroom.  The boys slept one side of the room and I slept on the other.  Apart from a chest of drawers, the room was quite bare, although we used to have a paraffin heater when it was really cold.  I can remember us three going to bed one night, but the two boys started to throw their pillows at one another, and then across at me.  There was a lot of laughing and shouting when all of a sudden, Mum opened the door and we scrambled to get into bed.   She pulled the clothes back, and delivered a slap to Trevor and Rayís legs, before coming and giving me one as well.  We were told to go to sleep, and out she went.  We were so shocked, as Mum had never hit us before.....she only had to give us a look, and we knew.  We compared the slap on our legs to see who had been hit the hardest, but they appeared to be the same, so we settled down and went to sleep.  That was the one and only time that she ever did that. My father was always busy working, so Mum would just give us a look if we were naughty, but strangely, I canít remember us giving her much grief.  Occasionally Trevor became a bit upset if he couldnít master something, but he would soon calm down, and a short while later he had managed to do what he wanted.

When Trevor was five, he started school at Rose Street, so I used to take him with me.  He soon settled in and we used to go home together.  New Road, where we lived, was quite long and on the way home, we used to have to pass the Catholic School.  There were a few rough lads at that school, and one in particular always wanted to fight.  Although Trevor was smaller than me, he always tried to protect me and would get in front.  One day, this lad stood in front of him ready to give him a punch, but Trevor waved his `littleí arm in front of his face and whilst he was watching that, Trevor landed a punch with his right hand.  After that the lads always parted and let us through! He was my hero, and only five years old!

We used to call Raymond `Smilerí or Sunbeam, as he always looked happy and was quite placid, and looked forward to us coming home from school, so that he had someone to play with.  After school we used to have some tea, and then go out to play for an hour.  We had a garden with a flat swing which was stretched between two trees.  We could lay on it and swing, and sometimes Ray would fall asleep.  We also had a shed, and Dad used to keep rabbits.  Some of them were caught in the fields, and were put into cages, and we would go looking for thistledown or various bits that the rabbits liked, to feed them.  I was given a white rabbit once which had pink eyes and I called it Suki, and I used to go and get food for it, but sometimes Iíd forget, so my mother would feed it.  One day I suddenly remembered and went to give the white rabbit some food, and found it had gone!  I hadnít realised that we had eaten it several days earlier! Not that my mother told me then, I think she said it had got out.  Times were hard, and Dad also kept chickens.  He put a chicken run up, and Mum used to go out to them with scraps after weíd had dinner.  One day when she was busy, she took the plate with the scraps out, and returned a few minutes later laughing her head off......she was about to put the remainder of the joint down, when she realised she had taken the wrong dish out.!  The hens had come running up, and were most disappointed!   On another occasion, Dad decided to breed some ducks, and we had these little balls of fluff wrapped up in the kitchen until they were strong enough to put outside.  There also followed half a dozen geese until they eventually ended up on the table.  The fact that my mother was a trained Cook, meant that we were luckier than a lot of families, especially during the War as she could make a meal out of nothing. What she could do with a bit of corned beef was amazing.  I think I still have some of her recipes, but confess that I am not my motherís daughter....in that I was hopeless at cooking! My elder sister took after her.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 03, 2014, 14:33:53
Christmas, about 1947, I can remember my sister bringing a roll of wallpaper home and we cut inch wide strips, which we wound round a knitting needle and sealed it with a flour and water paste.  They were left to dry and then we threaded them on cotton and draped them across the ceiling and walls for decorations.  We didnít have much in the way of presents, but I can remember us three younger ones would have a parcel on the bottom of our beds which would contain a few sweets, an orange, and a bundle of comics that someone had given her.  One year I had a Walt Disney story book in pictures which we had to share.  It had Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, Mickey Mouse etc. which proved quite popular with the boys.

On Boxing Day, my mother used to do a lot of baking and preparing of food for a party. All the family, plus friends, came and it was great fun. Two large tables were brought in from the Pavilion, with bench stools on either side.  White sheets were used as table cloths, and the tables were laden with food.  Mum used to save tins of ham or whatever she could find for several months before hand, and she would make pickles, and bottle beetroot from Dadís garden, and whatever happened to be around.  She would make rolls and cakes, and there was always a special Christmas cake.  One year it was a crinoline lady.  The crinoline dress was a sponge cake cooked in an oval dish, which she decorated with icing to look like lace.  The body and face was china.  Another year it was a house like Hansel & Gretelís. Afterwards we used to have a few games. One game we had a lot of fun with, was a tray covered with about twenty items, which was passed to each person (sitting in a ring in the dark) who felt the items and tried to guess what they were.  When the lights went on they had to write down from memory what they thought the items were.  The one who guessed the most had a prize.  It was hilarious, especially as my father was prone to slip all sort of odd things in!!  They were happy times.

Sorry, that is it for now.  There will be a pause, whilst I find time to write some more.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: kyn on March 03, 2014, 14:36:32
You wouldn't need to catch and cage the rabbits on that land now, there are hundreds along beside the track!  So many that one of my cats thought it would be a great idea to catch them, bring them home an munch them in my back garden :(
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on March 03, 2014, 17:59:34
Oh dear! I was at the Catholic School in those days. There were two Irish families and a Maltese family that seemed to thrive on fighting and bullying.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 03, 2014, 18:23:27
You wouldn't need to catch and cage the rabbits on that land now, there are hundreds along beside the track!  So many that one of my cats thought it would be a great idea to catch them, bring them home an munch them in my back garden :(

Oh dear! I keep meaning to go to the bridge from the path from the Westminster Rd. to have a look as I haven't been back since it was all cordoned off.  I know I will be upset when I see what it's like now that I kept putting it off.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 03, 2014, 18:26:58
Oh dear! I was at the Catholic School in those days. There were two Irish families and a Maltese family that seemed to thrive on fighting and bullying.

I remember one family and the son I believe was actually a fighter for a while.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 05, 2014, 19:08:59
Cont.....


Over the next few years, we enjoyed our life at school and at home in the grounds.  Occasionally we would have a few school friends to play with us, but we had to be careful, as they were only allowed in at our request.   We liked sitting on the back steps and watching when the sailors marched past on their way to the Rugby or Football pitches further up the road.  Sometimes, they would pass us a bar of chocolate, and always waved.  Although when Mum found out we were told not to take them.

I really loved the freedom of the fields as there was so much to do, and I loved climbing the trees!  Girls didnít wear trousers at that time, so I was constantly putting my foot through the bottom of my dress, so I ended up with patches on some of them.  My two younger brothers loved climbing as well and we would make all sorts of camps.  After the War, a lot of the baulks and large round buoys that were used in the sea as barriers, were put all the way around the road (from the bridge that went over the railway) on either side of the road to the RAB.  Later another load was stacked on top of one another, opposite our house, and in some cases there was a gap where they had missed one.  We used to love making camps in them, or scrambling through the hole in the middle of the round ones.  Great for hide-and-seek!

Every year the Admiralty would have a Sports Day at the Grounds, for the Navy personnel ,  and we always looked forward to that.  My father had to set up obstacles for the Obstacle Race, as well as make sure that the Long Jump pit was ok, and keep the boundary whitened for the long races, and an area for Hurdles etc.  I used to love the obstacles...tyres hanging from ropes off the ground, which had to be climbed through.  Two large tables stood up on two legs and tied together at the top, which was then covered in grease, which had to be climbed.   I decided I would try it one day, and didnít realise how high off the ground the table was when it was lifted on two legs, and when I slid down the other side, head first and put my arms out when I landed I sprained my arm!  Trust me to go head first, I had my arm in a sling for days!  There was also the Relay Race, and High Jump etc. We rarely got to see all of the actual Sports Day, as we were usually at School, but we still liked to have a go on some of the items.  Actually, although it was man-size, I used to practice the Long Jump, and when I took part in the School Sports, I actually came first!  I swear it was because I had a hole in my plimpsoles.  My mother was going to get me a new pair, but the school decided to have the Long Jump on another day to save time, so I hadnít got my new ones.

There always seemed to be Cricket matches going on at the weekends, sometimes one on each pitch.  Not only was there friendly RN matches, but gradually the `Clubsí built up teams as well.  There was the Joiners Shop from the Dockyard, the VC Club, the Boilermakers, and others I canít remember at the moment.  I made friends with some of the children who came with their parents to watch the games on Sundays, and had a lot of fun.   My father was well known for the condition of the pitches.  They were always kept mowed, and any holes that appeared at the wicket were covered with sand and seed, and watered so that they were repaired by the next week.  He also moved the pitches over every so often so that they could recover.   Originally my father used to have to mow the outfield with gang-mowers towed behind a tractor, but later he was given a Lorry.  I can still remember the number 03RN42.  Sometimes when he was mowing the grass, we three young ones used to climb in the back and lay down looking up at the sky and sing.  I think one song was Home Cooking!

cont...
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on March 06, 2014, 10:03:20
Oh my goodness ... I used to have camps in the buoys and torpedo nets, but on the Westminster side of the railway bridge. I lie in my secret dens reading library books!

One summer holiday I helped the painters to tar the wooden buoys. At the end of the week they would all chip in and I'd run home and give my mother the 'two bob' in pennies ans ha'pennies   
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 06, 2014, 10:23:01
I'd forgotten that they also had the buoys on the other side of the railway.  Surprising what comes back after all these years.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on March 06, 2014, 11:28:21
"The Buoys", as my circle of pre-12yr friends knew the site, was a favourite place to visit, as was "Bird Cage Walk". We also used to love standing on the bridge over the railway there as the steam trains went by underneath.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 06, 2014, 18:14:53
It was quite popular with a lot of the young lads around the area.  They used to sneak under the fence further down `Bird Cage Walk'  and hide in the Buoys.  It was ok until the Dockyard Policeman came on his bike, to check the grounds and buildings, and occasionally caught a boy or two!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 09, 2014, 11:27:37
Cont...


Whilst at the primary school, I joined a lot of the children in catching the various illnesses that went around. Measles, chickenpox, etc. and I also kept getting tonsillitis. It meant that I kept missing various lessons, which made it hard for me to catch up at times.  I loved reading, which meant that I didn't have problems with English, but I really struggled with figures.  Each time I went back after being ill, the class had moved on to something new.  For example, on one occasion they had moved on to division.  We could all add, subtract, and multiply, and knew the tables off by heart, but when I had got back to school, I hadn't got a clue on division.  So....I had to go out the front and have it explained to me.  I don't know about other people, but learning in class all together is much easier than having something explained to you on your own.  Still, I managed, but it seemed that I was always sick when something new was being learnt.

Eventually my mother was advised by the Doctor, that I needed to have my tonsils out. I was terrified about going into hospital but in I went.  I awoke with a terrible sore throat, and a nurse came and gave me a sip of water.  Later in the evening, my mother and father arrived to see me and brought me an ice-cream from the shop opposite.  Oh that was heaven on my sore throat. After a couple of days, I was helping around the ward taking drinks to people or putting the flowers on the lockers.  When I got back to school...you've guessed it, the class had moved on to higher things!

I remember that we had a large English Dictionary, and in the evenings I used to play a game with my father.  I would ask him to flick the pages, and I would call `stop'.  I would say something like left page, and he would run his finger down the page until I said `stop' again.  Whatever the word was, he would say it and I would try and spell it.  Sometimes they were really hard but I was surprised how many I got right. I wish that I enjoyed arithmetic as much!

In my last year at Rose Street School, we had a teacher called Mr. Palfreyman.  He was quite stern, and from day one, he made us go and stand in two lines at the front of the class...boys to the left and girls to the right.  The first one in each line had to go to the first desk, and so on, until we were all sitting boy/girl. The boy I sat next to turned his back to me as he was shy, and it felt really strange. Nevertheless, we all got used to it after a while.  Mr. P commanded attention, and I learnt fairly quickly, that if I didn't know an answer, I would still put my hand up and pray that he didn't pick me!  Those who didn't put their hand up would be subjected to the blackboard eraser being thrown at them.  In English, he would ask us a question, (we all had dictionaries) and having used one at home, I was able to quickly come up with the answer and put my hand up (with others as well) and so avoided the blackboard eraser!  But, I still had problems with arithmetic.  After having quite a bit of time off with the various children`s ailments Mr P took me under his wing and would spend time explaining things to me for which I was very grateful.  When the time came for us to take the 11+ exam, I was terrified.  We did a mock exam first and it was all double Dutch to me.  I took ages trying to work out what the signs were, although some I found quite easy.   But....when we came to the proper exam, I panicked and couldn't think.  I didn't do too badly, but trying to work out the formula of A and what the difference was of B etc. held me up for time.  So....when the results were out, I had failed to go to the Grammar school.   As it happened, I was glad and spent an enjoyable time at the Secondary Girls School.....

Cont...
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Lyn L on March 09, 2014, 11:43:47
Echoes here busyglen  :) That was exactly what happened to me in primary school. I never did get the hang of maths, one teacher really helped me eventually in secondary school. The board eraser was a nightmare with one particular teacher , any disdemeanor and it would hurtle across the room.
I suppose I didn't do too badly in the 11+ I did end up in one of the top streams at secondary but I was only just turned 10 yrs when I sat the exam , an extra year may have made a difference ?
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: JohnWalker on March 09, 2014, 12:07:35
Great writing busyglen - looking forward to the next instalment  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: chasg on March 09, 2014, 12:18:04
I'm with you there, BG. I can manage arithmetic these days, but the sight of anything algebraic my brain still switches off...   :(
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: peterchall on March 09, 2014, 16:13:50
It's unbelievable that any teacher would drag a pupil out in front of the rest of the class to 'show them up' - if they weren't much good at a subject that would be a sure way of making them worse.

Keep the posts coming :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: peterchall on March 09, 2014, 18:05:59
Busyglen, I hope my last post doesn't read as if I don't believe what you wrote about having to go out to the front of the class. I meant that no teacher who understood children would do it.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 09, 2014, 18:33:39
PC, I probably didn't explain myself properly.  I wasn't exactly dragged out to have things explained to me whilst the class were watching.  They would get on with the lesson, whilst the teacher went through the sums with me and explained how to do them.  He sounded a bit of an ogre, but his bark was worse than his bite.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 09, 2014, 18:37:05

I suppose I didn't do too badly in the 11+ I did end up in one of the top streams at secondary but I was only just turned 10 yrs when I sat the exam , an extra year may have made a difference ?

You did well then Lyn L.  I will add that I was also in the A stream at the Secondary school, so didn't really disgrace myself.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 09, 2014, 18:38:32
Thanks for your kind words JW.  :)  Hope it's not too boring.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 09, 2014, 18:40:20
I'm with you there, BG. I can manage arithmetic these days, but the sight of anything algebraic my brain still switches off...   :(

I wouldn't know where to start with Algebra!! :(
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 09, 2014, 19:18:01
This is a very poor picture of the Groundsman's  House before we left (or should I say Pigeon Loft!) Previously it had several poplar trees in the garden, and flowers around the boundary fence.  It looks so sad. The fields were reverting back to their natural state as games were no longer played there.  Such a shame, and to think it has either been built on or left to go wild now.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 10, 2014, 20:53:50
Cont...
In 1950 my sister got married at the Dockyard Church on Boxing Day, and I was a bridesmaid.  I was really excited as I put my dress on which was made by my sister and mother.  Her friend Christine was also a bridesmaid, and she took charge of me.  We travelled to the Church in one of Hogben's taxis and I can remember jumping up and down in the back saying how comfortable it was!  It was pure excitement which lasted all day!  The reception was held back at our house in the large front room, and my mother had done all of the catering.  One thing that I have never forgotten is, that whilst walking to the vestry to sign the register, we had to pass a Christmas flower arrangement, and my sister caught her veil on a piece of holly.  It took a couple of minutes to extricate it and caused some smiles.

Going back to the school memories, I recall that after leaving Rose Street for the holiday, before the move to the Secondary School, I had to go into hospital for an operation on my `ring' finger.  When I was about two or three, I had a thing about running through the doorways, but shutting them after me (Mum had always told us to shut them to keep the warmth in during the winter) the only problem was....I always forgot to take my hand away, and squashed my fingers as I closed it. The consequence was that my third and fourth finger on my left hand, had been damaged, and the knuckles started to grow out the sides.  When I closed my fingers, the two `bumps' kept the fingers apart.  Each year I had to go to the hospital for them to measure them to see if they were still growing, and eventually they decided to cut the bones out, to straighten them.  Of all times to do it, they chose the week before I would be starting at the Secondary School!  I went in and had the operation, and had my hand in bandages for seven days, and wasn't allowed to put my hand in water. I used to go and get the vases of flowers from the sluice room, and put them on the lockers in the mornings and trotted around trying to find things to do to occupy myself.  I had a book, but I had read it in one day, so the week really dragged.  The next week I was supposed to have started at Jefferson Rd. School, and was quite upset that I would be on my own when I eventually started the week after.  I left the hospital on the Monday after the bandages had been taken off and the stitches taken out.  I had both fingers bandaged and was told not to get them wet, and take them off at the end of the following week. So began my life at the Secondary School.....

I left home at 8.0 am on the Monday to walk to the new school, which was quite a trek from our house.  I presented myself at the Office and the secretary got a Prefect to take me to Room A1.  At this point, I hadn't a clue what stream I was in. The teacher asked the girls who knew me and several put their hands up, and I saw quite a few of my old classmates.  One was on her own so I was put next to her.  The rest of the day was bewildering, trying to understand the change in rooms for the different subjects.  The next day there was a French Lesson, and as always I had to wait at the teacher's desk to advise that I was a `new girl'.  By the time I left the room I knew `Bonjour Madame' `Merci'  `sil vous plais' and several other phrases.   My head was in a whirl at the end of the day, but I was quite enjoying it.  I slept like a log that night!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: chasg on March 10, 2014, 21:21:22
Yes, I think we've all been there, BG.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on March 11, 2014, 06:08:56
Seeing your mention of learning French at the Secondary School, is something that has always surprised me. I started at the Boys Secondary School in 1958 and was in the A stream all the way through and yet we never had any language lessons, I wonder why the girls did and we didn't.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 11, 2014, 11:23:41
I've never really thought about that Minsterboy.  I do know that after a couple of years, those who showed an aptitude for it continued until we left, and the others had double English. I can't say that I used it much after I left school, although quite a few words still remain in my vocabulary.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Sentinel S4 on March 11, 2014, 11:36:08
Could it have been an alternative for the Girls to do whilst the Boys were bashing metal or wood? Something more 'genteel' in that wonderful pre-politically correct world that we knew and loved.

S4.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Lyn L on March 11, 2014, 12:21:40
I only have experience of two secondary schools, the first in Broadstairs and last year in Gillingham (Upbury Manor).
I started secondary in 1958, French was a subject we had to tak . It was my favourite, but my parents moved to Gillingham in early 1961 and I was disappointed that Upbury Manor didn't have that. If I'd stayed in Broadstairs I would have taken CSE's in the following September. If I remember rightly it was the first year that the exam was put in place, but could be wrong about that. UM seemed so behind the times with a lot of things. I left in the December of 1961 aged just 15 years with NO exams to my credit.

I still remember a good deal of French but never used it, apart from one time a good few years later when we got lost in Calais  :) I did manage to get our problem across though, probably because the Gendarme understood English  :) :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on March 11, 2014, 12:35:03
You might be right S4, but wouldn't the girls alternatives to metal and woodwork have been needlework and cookery - just a guess.
Mind you, I wouldn't have wanted to try and teach my class French, although by the 4th year some boys were becoming experienced in French post - (think about it).
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 11, 2014, 14:20:02
Your comments are interesting, and I hadn't really thought about it before! Apart from French, we also had Cookery and Needlework, which I hated!  I still do.  Both my mother and sister were great seamstresses.  As my husband says....`why did I pick the one that doesn't like cooking, or needlework?' !!  But then of course, I decided to have different talents.  I speak a little French, quite a bit of Dutch (due to the Olau Ferries bringing them here) I love writing, singing, and I used to like acting, but mostly at school. Now my excuse is that I am an OAP, it's nice to take a break now and again.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 11, 2014, 14:24:15
Minsterboy, I wonder if the language differences between the Boys and the Girls, was because in some schools, the boys learnt Latin in the past, did they not?
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on March 11, 2014, 14:56:23
Well,  certainly Latin was still taught in the posher type of schools but it certainly wasn't at the Boy's Central. I learnt quite a bit of latin some years later when learning the latin names of flowers and birds, but that's all. Did you not get involved in the gardening there? When I was a trainee groundsman at both schools in the early 1960's the mistress that did the gardening was, I think, a Miss Greenstreet.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 11, 2014, 18:14:10
Yes I did do some of the gardening at one stage, but at that time it was Miss Eileen Clarke.  She died quite recently I believe.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on March 11, 2014, 19:40:50
Yes, I'd forgotten Miss Clarke was also there and she did die recently. She lived within a few yards of my house, just across a communal rear drive.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 20, 2014, 19:56:53
cont...

As the weeks went by I settled in quite well, and really began to enjoy `most' of the lessons.  At that time, Geography and History, were not my favourite subjects, although I began to get into History a bit later on.  It really was down to the person teaching it, some made it interesting, and others boring!  I really started to enjoy Art as well, not that I was very good at it, but I can remember helping to make Angels and various other people out of fine cardboard, which was put around the hall at Christmas.  They were quite large, about four feet high and by pleating the cardboard, it made them stand out like statutes.

I really wanted to learn the Violin, but because I started school a week late, they had all gone to the other `newbies' that had the same idea.  Instead, I had to learn the Recorder, which I found quite easy.  As the months went by, the School set up an Orchestra with those students that were interested.  I loved music in any shape or form, so I joined as well.  Later, we were to take part in the Kent Youth Orchestra, taking part in various places and actually winning on one occasion.  I was also in the School Choir, (I love singing) and I can remember singing on the stage at the Hippodrome, when the School took part in a National Savings event.  I became quite keen on Netball, not that I was particularly good at it, although I ended up as captain towards the end of my time at school.

The school was divided into four Houses, named, Warwick, Keller, Curie, and Macmillan.  I was in Curie which was the red team. We all tried to earn `house points' so that we could be the top house at the end of the year.  The trouble was, if you were naughty, you would be given a `bad' house point which would eventually be deducted from the good ones!  Looking back, I can't really remember being unhappy at the school.  There seemed so much to do and although I still hated Arithmetic, as it was then called, I tried hard and eventually started to get better grades.  English was my favourite, and I loved it when we had composition.  My imagination always ran riot when we were asked to write a story about `this or that' subject.

We also had Domestic Science, and Cookery, and Science, plus Needlework.  I found Science too technical at that time and also a bit boring, and Needlework was my worst subject.  I can remember getting quite upset when the teacher had a go at me because I couldn't get the sleeve of a blouse I was making, over my elbow.  I had measured the top of my arm which according to the teacher, was wider than my elbow.  After I had pinned it up and sewed the seams, I tried it on, and I couldn't get it over my elbow.  It was obvious to me, even though I was a skinny kid in those days.  The teacher called me a stupid girl, for not measuring it properly, and didn't like it when I said that anyone could see that my elbow was larger than the top of my arm. I never did finish the blouse!! 

cont...
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: peterchall on March 20, 2014, 20:24:08
Keep it coming :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 21, 2014, 18:47:22
Keep it coming :)

I'm trying....been a bit busy with a friends Golden Wedding celebrations lately, plus my printer gave up the ghost and I had problems with a new one!!  All sorted now. :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on March 23, 2014, 22:30:15
I've not been very well for a few weeks, so I have just caught up on your writings, busyglen, and really enjoyed them, many thanks.

I never learnt a foreign language at school.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 24, 2014, 10:42:14
Thanks John38.  Sorry you haven't been well, but hope you are better now.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 24, 2014, 12:07:46
Cont..


As time progressed I really enjoyed school, and eventually became a Prefect, which I didn't really want, but had to do as I was told.  I also ended up as Team Leader of Curie House (which was my House) but didn't really want to do it.....I hated having to be `in charge'!  I was always shy and didn't like pushing myself forward, preferring to blend into the background!   I guess the teachers thought it would be good for me!  In my last year I became Deputy Head Girl, something else I didn't want, but I didn't have to do that much, so carried on as usual.  As is evident by my remarks, I hated being the centre of attention for whatever reason, preferring to blend into the background, but something came along that was to change my life, and give me a bit more confidence.

Each year the school put on an Opera or Musical, and being in the school choir, I joined the Wednesday classes.  I never went in for the leading parts preferring to be in the Chorus, where I could sing my heart out.  The first Operetta we did was the `Bartered Bride' and it was full of colour, dance and humour.  I was one of the gypsy dancers and my mother went to Featherstone's, which was a shop in the Marine Parade, and found me a patchwork skirt.  It cost more than she really could afford to pay, but she decided to buy it for me.  There was one dance which involved entering through the hall and then on to the stage by a set of stairs.  I could picture myself with full skirt over the top of petticoats running through the audience on to the stage, and dancing.

However...several girls auditioned for the dance, and we ended up with one over.  When we were getting near the dress rehearsal, the dance teacher decided to put us through our paces and the odd one would change partners several times.  Eventually she called out that all the dancers on the floor would be the ones taking part.  The lone girl got really upset and cried.  So, I went to the dance teacher and asked if it would be possible for me to do the dance two nights, and the other girl the other two.  She agreed.  However, what I hadn't realised was.....the evenings I was going to dance, I had to be the man, and wear shorts!  So...I never got to swirl around in my circular skirt with petticoats.  I still wore my skirt in the rest of the show though so I suppose it was some consolation. 

The next year, the school was to put on 'Tales of Vienna Woods' and this was going to clash with the fact that I was leaving school at Easter.  By a stroke of luck, I was to get a job which gave me Wednesday afternoons off, so I was able to go to rehearsals.  I never had a loud voice, but was able to project it when singing, but was dismayed when Mrs Hall the Music teacher, told me that she wanted me to sing the second part, especially in a complex part of one of the pieces.  I was filled with dread and terrified that I wouldn't be able to pitch the note correctly.  After a lot of practise, I felt I was going to be ok, but then she told me that on the actual night, I would take my cue from just one note of the orchestra!  We did have a dress rehearsal and as she was conducting, she looked straight at me and nodded.  By some fluke, I hit the right note and all the others that were coming in straight afterwards, hit the right notes as well, so I was able to heave a sigh of relief!  The only problem was....there were several performances!    Needless to say, all went well and I worried for nothing.

cont..
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 24, 2014, 18:49:42
cont..

Back-tracking a bit, to my last year which actually began in September 1955, and ended at Easter 1956, (as my birthday was in January), it meant that I only spent six months at school.  There were only about three of us I think that left at that time and it felt really strange.  No mass leaving at the end of the summer term, and I felt rather sad to be leaving.

I didn't know what was going to happen apart from the fact that I had to go to the Youth Employment Bureau, located near where Woolworths used to be.  I had to take my birth certificate and was put on a register.......thereby hangs a tale!  I was asked for my birth date, which I gave and they entered it into the records. I was also asked if I had any special interests (not that I would get a job that I would really like)!  I was asked for my birth certificate which I handed over, and they said that I had given them the wrong date.  I assured them that I hadn't.  So they asked me the date again and I gave them the same date as before.  They then pointed out that according to my birth certificate I was born 10 days before the date I had given them!  So, my parents had to apply for another birth certificate (a shortened one) to prove that there hadn't been any alterations, although that would have been obvious. Back it came with the same date as the original.  Now, my mother knew that her sister had a child 10 days before her, and there was no way that I was born on that date....so whether my father had had one too many drinks in celebration, when he went to register me, or whether he just forgot the date, we shall never know.  However, it does mean that I have to give my certificated date of birth on all documents, even though it is incorrect!  It was strange that it had never been spotted before, not only by my parents, but also the school and other places where I had to show it. The only good thing to come out of that error, was that later in my life, I received the old age pension early!

And so to work!  My father knew the Manager of the Maypole groceries shop and mentioned to him that I was leaving school and asked if he had any vacancies.  He told him that he could do with a Junior, and asked for me to go and see him.  I duly presented myself at the shop and he asked me various questions, and then advised me that I would be doing quite a bit of stocking up, scrubbing the floors and polishing the tiles to start with.  I said that I didn't mind as I had to start somewhere. I had no idea that at some point I would be lugging 56lbs of butter up and down the cellar steps, or 28lb cheeses. I was only a slip of a girl, but surprisingly, I was quite strong even though I didn't look it.  Having been used to climbing trees, or lifting heavy boxes to make camps, I had strong arms, even if I looked as if a puff of wind would blow me over!  My childhood pursuits were to come in useful to me during my next couple of occupations.

cont...

 

Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: peterchall on March 24, 2014, 20:34:36
Note that in several of these life stories we got our first jobs as a result of dad knowing somebody. It meant you were going into an environment that was not totally strange and therefore less likely to prove a misfit. I know the phrase ďItís not what you know, itís who you knowĒ suggests that that sort of thing is not good, but I think itís more reliable than a few minutes interview with some manager who may not know much about interviewing. I know of one college Head of Department who was influenced by whether a candidateís hand was sweaty when he shook it Ė if it was he judged him to be a nervous type who wouldnít be able to control a class of students!

Even under the Old Boyís Act an employer is not likely to take on an unsuitable youngster just to please dad. So perhaps the phrase should be ďItís who you know AND what you knowĒ
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Sentinel S4 on March 24, 2014, 21:47:06
I've always believed that it's 'What you know about who you know' and in my case it was a Masonic connection (no aspersions cast as I know only too well what these guys do)...........

S4.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: redge on March 24, 2014, 21:55:46
What is wrong with knowing who you know or what you know,? or is it a closed shop.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Sentinel S4 on March 24, 2014, 22:18:24
Nothing as far as I'm concerned Redge, nothing at all....... I would rather do business that way than have to be 'conventional'.

S4.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: peterchall on March 24, 2014, 23:02:09
Sorry, I didn't mean to muscle in on Busyglen's thread and I realise the Old Boy's Act can't apply in the case of large organisations. I was just observing that in small firms, or small branches of larger firms, personal relations are just as importance as job knowledge :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 25, 2014, 14:17:27
In those days, jobs could be just as hard to come by, and as I had no experience, it was a question of walking round the shops or whatever to find one.  I didn't even know the Manager, and he sure put me through my paces.  I left a year later as soon as I was able......but all will be revealed.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on March 25, 2014, 15:38:52
Mr Creedy (spl)?
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 25, 2014, 15:50:34
Mr Creedy (spl)?
Knock off the y.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 25, 2014, 15:51:50
Before I start my work days, I realise that I have jumped somewhat through the school days, without any reference to the family life during these times.  Apart from my mother and father, my elder brother, myself and two younger brothers still lived at home (my sister having married in 1950) so there were six mouths to feed and also clothe. My father worked long days on the grounds, and summer evenings were taken up with cricket matches.  In the winter, my mother was knee deep in football & rugby strips that were covered in mud.  These were all soaked and washed in the bath, which was in the kitchen.  She was paid 1d per strip and the smell of wet washing drying was awful. Of course she still had to wash our clothes, and these were boiled in the copper, and then put through the mangle which was outdoors.  She always seemed to be busy, and was constantly making pies or whatever she could out of the bits and pieces she could lay her hands on.  Vegetables were not too bad to come by as my father had his large kitchen garden, and grew lots from seeds.  Usually we had enough potatoes put in sacks and stored in our cellar, to last almost the year.  Apart from the, washing and cleaning, she also made most of our clothes.  My father's trousers were unpicked and another pair made out of them for the boys.  There was also a naval Commander and his wife, who had a caravan on the fields, and they used to come when his ship was in dock, and stay for the weekend with his wife.  She used to bring cases of clothes that she didn't want, and my mother was able to make many dresses, trousers, blouses etc. for us out of them.  Mum also started to make wine from recipes that she had from her mother, Elderflower, Parsley, Potato, and many others.  The Dockyard had put in a new floor to ceiling cupboard in the kitchen, which not only aired our clothes (as the fire was the other side of the wall) but was handy to store the wine whilst it was fermenting. As mentioned earlier, we kept chickens, and occasionally ducks and geese, so these also helped with eggs, and later were handy to eat when meat was hard to come by.

Our stair carpet became very thin and Mum was worried that we might catch our foot in a thread and fall, so she made one out of wool.  She unravelled all the old jumpers and woollies that she could find and these were washed and wound into skeins.  My father found some old sacks which he cut to the width of the stairs, and they were sewn together lengthwise.  Mum had a metal sort of long pin, which she wound the wool around to the end, and then laid it on the sacking and machined it along the middle.  The pin was removed, and she did the same thing again until she had quite a few lines.  She would then razor cut the loops and push them up to make the pile, and start again.  When she had finished it was brilliant and so warm to walk on if you were barefoot!  These sort of occasions were very much a part of my childhood, and even though times were hard, we all seemed to be happy in our environment, even if we didn't have much money.  The things that we learnt from her whilst growing up, I am sure were instrumental in the way we turned out, and gave us many lessons we were to remember throughout or lives.  That is not to say that our father didn't have any input.  He worked very hard and we hardly saw much of him, but he cared for us, and he would give us rides in the lorry or treat us when he could.  Unfortunately he became mentally ill during these times, although he recovered after treatment and we got our father back eventually.   
 
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on March 25, 2014, 17:31:46
As your family will find out, busyglen, this writing is a 'treasure'...it really is a delight to read
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 25, 2014, 18:22:20
Thank you for your kind words.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: peterchall on March 25, 2014, 20:03:25
Keep the posts coming, Busyglen. Are you not finding that the more you write the more you remember?
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 25, 2014, 20:42:07
Keep the posts coming, Busyglen. Are you not finding that the more you write the more you remember?

Yes you are right PC! The trouble is, I am quite busy in other areas at the moment, and when I find a quiet moment I think of what I am going to say next, and it just flows......then I realise I have gone off at a tangent and need to back-track a bit. I will say though that all of this is being saved on my PC, and when I get to the end of this (WHEN) I will go back and fill in all of the parts that I haven't touched on for the family. I don't want to bore people, but then I think that if they are bored, they don't have to read it. :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on March 25, 2014, 21:25:11
Nothing boring here. I thought your description of making the stair carpet to be an unique contribution to the history of those times.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on March 26, 2014, 06:10:16
I agree with John38, it's an interesting contribution to local history and particually interesting for me because being only six years behind you I can recall much of what you speak of.
Looking forward, as you progress through your teenage years, to see if you had a naughty side. I know I had a fabulous time during the Swinging 60's and took full advantage of the various freedoms that they offered.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Sentinel S4 on March 26, 2014, 06:45:54
Having met this very nice Lady I am certain that she behave as a model to all in the 1960's. As a product of the mid 60's I always feel that I missed out on something, not sure what though..........

Busyglen this is exactly what I meant when I started, I will do more I promise, and the same with PC and others who have contributed to this section of the KHF. There are a couple of you who are within a year or two of each other but the diversity is vast. Although you had the same problems your differing solutions to the way you overcame your surroundings and, what would be deemed today as incredible, poverty to become who you are makes for fantastic reading.

S4.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 26, 2014, 11:27:40
Thank you all for your kind comments.  I must admit that I feel a bit embarrassed by your reactions, as I see the things that I write from a personal slant, but nevertheless, I am happy that you are enjoying the story.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Lyn L on March 26, 2014, 12:08:14
REALLY enjoying your story Busyglen  :)
There are many things that remind me a lot of my early years. My Mum made rag rugs, but not a stair runner. All old bits of worn out clothing no longer any good. Being a few years younger though and my Dad having quite a good job after demob from the Army, I was very lucky that life was improving for most people. My older siblings wouldn't have done, they all went through the war years and were in the same sort of position as you were. And how I enjoyed the 60s  :) :)
On the employment front, I started work in the furniture dept. of a shop in Gillingham, my Dad came with me to my interview! but I really can't remember how I even knew about the job and I'm sure Dad didn't know anyone there? That's been lost from my memory (too busy enjoying the entertainment around  :) )

Looking forward to the next instalment.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on March 26, 2014, 12:46:58
It's probably hard for a lot of people to believe that conditions such as busyglen has described so far, actually existed, but like Lyn L I can remember experiencing many of them. Until I was 11 we lived in a rented house in Unity Street, Sheerness, in which the total water supply was one cold tap above the sink in the scullery. All hot water had to be boiled in a kettle or a large round metal tub with a gas ring under it, which I think my mother also boiled the clothes in. The one toilet was outside in the yard and in the winter, no one read the newspaper out there, it was to blooming cold - although there was newspaper in there, cut into squares and hanging on a nail for the obvious.
After completing nightwork at the "Bottle Works" and cycling home and before going to bed, my father went along Sheerness sea front collecting driftwood for the fire, coal was used very sparingly.

As for work, I found all the jobs myself with no parental help, although the last one at Sheerness Docks, which I stayed in for 34 years until I retired, was the result of "who you know". My mother-in-law at the time was a member of Sheerness Labour Party and sometimes had the odd meeting round her house and the shop steward in the docks was also a member, so when they recruited new dockers she had a word in his ear and I was in.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 26, 2014, 13:20:53
Why don't you start your own story Minsterboy.  It doesn't matter what era you were born in, everyone has a story to tell of some sort.  It doesn't have to be about your life, it could be a hobby, school, work or whatever. :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on March 26, 2014, 14:34:04
I've written chunks of it on my blog over the winter, with the latest instalment in February, so I'm happy to leave it there.
I don't think it's as good as you guys have written but if you want to have a look go to www.lettersfromsheppey.blogspot and open up the February postings on the RH side and work back from there.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 26, 2014, 14:34:39
 My father was in the Royal Marines (mentioned in my mother's life story) and he still belonged to the association up until he died.  He used to take us to Deal when he could afford it to watch some of the celebration parades, and he also belonged to the local RMA club in Sheerness, where they used to have meetings in the rooms at the back of the Crown Public House, in the High St. We also used to go to the Remembrance Day church service at the Dockyard Church.  They all used to be lined up along the walk way between the trees, with their standards and medals gleaming.  Even as children, we grew up to respect these occasions.

My father joined the Royal Marines as soon as he left school, and he lived in Chelsea at that time.  He came down to Chatham to enlist, and that was the start of his life ashore and on the sea.  He'd had a hard life living in London as a child, and relished the chance to see other parts of the World.  He became a keen shot with the rifle, winning medals at Bisley.  He also saw action in WW1 and was on   convoys. Quite early on, he became a Batman looking after a Colonel Grant, and later another Colonel Jones.  This meant that he went where they were stationed.  He still did all the usual drills, shooting, and normal duties, but he had to make sure that his `officer' was turned out immaculately. They were very kind to my father and mother when they got married, which was a great help to them.  Thus, my father was able to turn his hand to most things when he joined civvy street, and was able to get the job at the RN Sports Ground.  He was not academic, but used to do crossword puzzles with the aid of a dictionary, and also helped me when I was practising my spelling.  He was however, quite good at drawing.  He could look at something and then draw it from memory.  He liked to sketch when he had time, but he didn't have a lot of that whilst at the grounds.

In February 1956, as I left school in the January, my eldest brother started National Service and went into the Army.  It seemed strange without him around.  He used to look after us, when my mother and father used to go to various committee meetings.  We had to go to bed at a set time, but he used to let us play, and then it was a rush before they came home.  He was also in the St. John Ambulance Band as were my younger brothers when they reached the age of entry.  So now we were all starting to grow up and soon would be making our own way in this world.
 
cont..
     
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 26, 2014, 14:36:25
Will do Minsterboy.  I have looked at your blog now and again before.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 28, 2014, 19:01:18
The first thing I needed when I was about to start my working life was a bicycle! I was used to walking, but in order to get to work on time, I needed wheels.  So, I was given some money for my birthday, and used it as a deposit for a bicycle.  I went to Matthews, which was a large store that sold them, and found one that would cost me 5/- per week. (My first week's wages was £1.15s.). I gave my mother £1, and 5 shillings went for the bike, so I had 10 shillings left. That first week, I used the ten shillings to buy some dress material for my mother to make herself a dress, and some material for a dress for me!  Riches!

And so.... the next stage of my life started.

I presented myself at the shop at 8.30am and was told where to put my bicycle, which was in the garages at the back of the Bell & Lion pub just round the corner.  The first day was spent being shown where the stores were kept.  Some were upstairs, and others in the cellar.  I also had to make the tea for everyone.  This was achieved by boiling the kettle on a gas ring, and filling the large teapot.  All the girls in the shop took turns to have a 10 minute break, and as they left they topped up the teapot and kept it warm on the gas ring.  By the time it was the last persons turn, you can imagine it was weak and stewed!!  I was rather shy, and didn't say a lot, but the girls were friendly, and were soon getting me to run down to the cellar for something for the shop that had run out.  Soon I was automatically filling the shelves, remembering to put the old stock in the front.  I found myself weighing sugar into blue bags, which had to be exactly the right weight, as the Weights & Measures people used to come and do random checks sometimes.  I weighed out lumps of Lard and wrapped them, and I constantly had to wash the counters and floors in the shop.  Gradually I began to learn bits and pieces, and was able to do the filling of shelves, without being told.  The pigeon holes were quite small so they soon got empty.  There was a large can opener screwed onto the bench in the back room, where the bacon was boned and cut up.  I had to open the large cans of corned beef and spam, and being `knee high to a grasshopper', sometimes I couldn't stand over the can properly to get the purchase to turn the opener.  One day my hand slipped and the jagged edge of the can cut into my wrist.  There was blood everywhere! 

Gradually I progressed to being allowed to slice the corned beef and luncheon meat, and then bacon.  The job I didn't really like was boning the sides of bacon.  I was fairly strong, although my slim body belied that belief.  I was shown how to score down the sides of the ribs, and then with a piece of looped string, that had a toggle on the end, I had to slip it over the rib and pull hard to separate it from the side of bacon.  It was quite a struggle, but I gradually managed it. There was also a bone called the `oyster' and it was round, but it was angled underneath, in that it could be just below the surface one end, but was thicker at the other.  If you weren't careful, you could dig down too far and leave a hole in the bacon.  Luckily, I was too busy doing other jobs most of the time, so the Boss, or another woman used to do it.

Mondays was cleaning day!  I had to start the day by scrubbing the floor in the shop, which wasn't too bad as it was tiled.  Then I moved to behind the counter which was wood, and got quite sticky from bits of fat that dropped when the girls were serving the bacon etc.  Luckily first thing Monday was usually fairly quiet.  I then moved through into the preparation room, where the bacon was boned, and the meat cut up and sliced.  That floor was the bane of my life, as you almost had to scrape the fat off in places!  I then had to go down the cellar steps, which were also in this room.  From there it was out into a scullery, where there was a large refrigerator that the meats were kept in overnight, or the tins of corned meat to keep them chilled for slicing. The scullery had the gas-ring where the tea was made, and a sink in the corner with a gas heater for hot water.  The floor was of rough concrete, which seemed to have pebbles in it which collected the grease as people walked over it.  That was hard to scrub!  From there a winding wooden staircase went to the rooms above. It was quite new, and had just been left, not painted or stained.  So that had to be scrubbed as well.  At the top of the stairs, there was a Ladies toilet and cloakroom, which was also new wood that had to be scrubbed.  Can you imagine the number of buckets of hot water I had to use? If you looked out of the cloakroom window, you could see the Jewish Cemetery beneath with the headstones placed against the wall.  It was quite covered with weeds.   When I had finished all this, it was usually lunch time, so when I got back afterwards, I had to go into the middle room upstairs, and fold all of the sacking that covered the sides of bacon, and put them into a bundle, for when the goods van came from the train station with the next lot.  Any time I had over would be stacking the tins of biscuits, and tidying up.  I always slept well on Mondays!
Thus my education into the Grocery trade took off.  As the months went by, several new members of staff came and went, and I took on more work.  I had to go down to the cellar, and strip the muslin off of the Cheshire cheeses which was a horrible job!  It was dark in the cellar, with only one light bulb hanging in the middle.  I would sit on a crate, and peel away, getting cheese in my nails as it was always a bit sweaty.  My eyes would constantly scan the floor and ceiling for spiders, which happened to be my only phobia, and as the ceiling was sloping and I couldn't stand upright, I was terrified of one dropping on my head.  It meant that I did that chore in record time whenever I could. When there was a delivery of butter and margarine, the packs came in a cardboard box of 28lbs and 56lbs.  Occasionally the manager would take it down to the cellar, but more often I would have to do it.  I could manage to slide it down the steps, but lifting it was more of a problem.  I devised a way of sliding it onto a box at the bottom of the steps, and pulling it along the floor to where it had to go. It was back breaking sometimes, but I never complained.  Luckily, the Manager used to take the boxes up most of the time.  Tins of fruit were kept in the cellar in boxes as well, but they were only taken up a few at a time as there wasn't sufficient storage in the shop.  Several staff left and a few more took their places, and although I got on with the girls (two came Queenborough and Pier Cottages, and they passed our house, so we would ride to work together) I slowly became disillusioned.

After  nearly a year, I thought of moving and started looking for other jobs. One day I was talking to my sister, who lived in Westminster, and by now had two children, and she mentioned that the woman who worked in Lanes Builders Merchants in the Broadway, was expecting a baby and would soon be leaving.  My sister had worked there from leaving school until she had her first child.  She suggested that I rang Mr Lane and ask if he had any vacancies.  I did know him, as he took my sister and I out for a run in his car when I was younger. He was a hard task master, but very fair, and an old fashioned gentleman.  I decided to actually go to the shop and ask if he had any vacancies in my lunch hour one day, and he remembered me from when I was a child.  He said there would be a vacancy in a couple of months time, and asked me to call in to the shop on Saturday morning.  This I did and he asked me lots of questions, which I think I answered appropriately.  He said that when I had worked my notice, I was to let him know and he would take me on.  I was over the moon!  I knew I was in for a hard time, but I was happy to think I was getting away from groceries, and cramped conditions, and ever changing staff.     
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: peterchall on March 28, 2014, 20:31:32
Busyglen, running through both our life story threads is how we got jobs because we just went to a place and asked if they had a vacancy, or we knew someone who knew someone....My wife got her first job in Lefevre's because her dad worked there. As late as 1970 my then future son-in-law got his first job on the railway because his dad was a railwayman. It seemed much more the practice than it is now, and I don't think I ever heard of a CV until much later.

Anyway, keep up the good work :).
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Sentinel S4 on March 28, 2014, 20:34:32
I have got more jobs by just asking than I ever have from looking. Word of mouth is so much better than the Sit's Vac page. PC I always thought a CV was part of the power train in a car, what have they got to do with getting a job?  :)

Loving this a lot Busyglen.  :) :) :)

S4.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 29, 2014, 13:59:10
Thanks for the comments.....it helps to know that the words are being read.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 29, 2014, 16:03:13
I need to drop back in time again for a short spell, to recount some of the holidays that we had as youngsters. As already mentioned, being born post-war, like most people, there wasn't any spare cash for holidays.  So as soon as things got a bit easier, my mother and father started to try and put a little money aside when they could.  This money, was then used towards three coach trips during one week.  I hated the old coaches, as they smelt of oil and petrol and nearly always made me feel sick.  The coaches at that time usually had three seats together on the front, right-hand side, so my father always booked that for us three youngsters, and they sat behind. We always went to a place of interest, or historic, depending what trips were available.  Mum used to make sandwiches, so that we wouldn't go hungry, and we would just buy a drink.  Some of the places we visited, were Burnham Beeches, The Golden Ball Mausolium, several castles, and churches.  There were other places, which escape me at the moment as it was a long time ago.  Another great trip was when we were taken to London on the train to the Natural History Museum.  We had never seen such wonderful sights, and couldn't stop talking about it for days.  So, although we weren't well off, we were rich in memories, which helped us learn, and gave us a reason to search out more interesting things for ourselves.

My two younger brothers got interested in Woodwork, and decided to make themselves a couple of carts, and used to go to Leysdown and meet the people getting of the coaches, and carry their suitcases to their chalets, or caravans.  Some days they came home with quite a few shillings, which they used to save for holidays.

Just before I left school, my mother and father decided to take us on a Camping Coach holiday.  This was run by the Railway company, who thought it would be a good idea to have coaches, converted into living accommodation, and place them in a siding of a country station.  We eventually went to one in Limpley Stoke,  Wool, and another one in Dorset, which name escapes me.  Mum used to pack our clothes up in a trunk, and another large case used to contain groceries to save having to buy too much food.  These were sent on ahead, free, by the railway.  I took a school friend with me and we shared a room, which was a converted ordinary carriage, with two bunks.  The same applied for my parents, and my brothers.  There was a large carriage which was the dining room, and also had seating.  Just as you went in the door, there was a small kitchen, which had water connected.  The only thing we didn't have was a toilet, and we had to go to the one on the platform.  As these places were in the country, and in a siding, we didn't really encounter any problems.

On one occasion, I had left school, and was on the last holiday that I would have with the family, and just before my friend and I were going for a walk into the village, I got her to take this photo of my mother and I, which has been a long time favourite.  So now, I will move on to my next job, which was to last ten years.   

Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Lyn L on March 29, 2014, 16:38:36
What a lovely photo of you and your Mum  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on March 30, 2014, 15:52:51
Thanks LynL, it's the one I love the most, and doesn't show her looking exhausted!  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 01, 2014, 21:04:09
I presented myself at TH Lane and Sons in the Broadway, just before 8.30am and went to the side door.  I knocked but nobody came, so I opened the door and called out.  One of the decorators heard and came from the workshop at the back.  He told me that I would have to keep my bicyle in the store over the road, and showed me where the key was kept, and took me over.  Several of the workmen's bicycles were kept there as well.  He escorted me back, and told me that the man who worked in the office would be there shortly.  My working hours at that time were 8.30am - 5.30am with an hour for lunch and Saturdays, 9.00 - 12.00.  After a short while the gentleman who worked in the office arrived, and chatted to me until Janet, (the lady who was leaving to have a baby) arrived.  She found me an old overall, which was a bit large for me but it was better than nothing. The shop itself was very dark although there were three lights on the ceiling.  The shop, had pigeon-holes around the walls, which reached the ceiling.  They were about 18inches square, and the majority held rolls of wallpaper.  Other shelves had glass bottoms, and held tins of paint or wood stain, or other products.  There were also drawers that held various items, including various thicknesses of sandpaper.  Paper bags of lime or whitening lined the floor and also a tray of putty rolled into balls. Paint brushes were hanging on hooks on cards as were other types of brushes. There were so many items that my eyes couldn't take it all in at first.  As Janet was showing me around, having stopped a couple of times to serve a customer, Mr Lane arrived.  He was a formidable gentleman, with white hair and a white moustache, but as I had met him when I was younger, I wasn't too nervous at that point. I was given a duster and asked to dust the glass shelves, which gathered dust quite a lot because of the movement of the rolls of wallpaper, and also observe Janet serving.  On the second day, the shop was really busy, and there was a queue of people waiting to be served.  Now I knew I couldn't take the money at this point, and I didn't know how much things were, but I went to a man who was looking a bit impatient, and asked if I could help.  He said he wanted a piece of glass and gave me the measurements on a sheet of paper.  I took it down the passage to the large room at the back and gave it to Mr Lane, who was cutting some glass at that time.  I said that the shop was really busy so I asked a man if I could help.  He said ` Thank you Miss, I'll be up as soon as I've cut the glass'.  By the time he had cut the glass and returned with it, the shop was almost empty apart from the man waiting, and a customer that Janet was serving.  I was busy dusting at this time!
 
Gradually, I began to learn where things were, and if I didn't I would ask.  It was all so new, but I was a quick learner, and I found that I was really beginning to enjoy the work.  After about a fortnight, I was allowed to start taking money.  The shop had an antiquated till, which you wrote a brief description of the purchase and price and pulled the handle to open it. Thus, my induction to the decorating trade, was on its way.
 
After about a month or so, I was moving some large cans of Varnish which stood on the floor, to dust them, and found a half-crown. As I moved another can I found a florin (2/-).  So I picked them up and went to Mr. Lane who was in the office, and told him I had found these on the floor.  `Thank you Miss,' he replied,` they probably rolled off the counter at some time.'  I didn't think anything of it, but mentioned it to my mother when I was at home.  She said that he was probably testing me to see if I was honest, and that I was cleaning the shelves!  I never found any more.

A few months later, Mr Lane decided to have a Sale of end of line wallpaper and odd rolls that were left over.  It was a good way of clearing old stock before new lines came in.  He spent a day upstairs rolling up the bundles, and pricing them, and then he asked me to clear the shop window out.  After I had done this, he started filling the window up with all of the bundles, and put up a large `Sale' sign.  I hadn't a clue how chaotic it was going to be, and was quite shocked when I arrived next day to find a queue outside.  When the door was opened, they piled in, and I climbed in and out of the window trying to get out the bundle requested, which was usually at the bottom, or somewhere difficult to reach.  By lunch time it had quietened down, and I was glad to cycle home for my dinner.  It wasn't so bad when I got back, but by the time we closed the doors in the evening, I was shattered.  When I went to get my handbag, and put my coat on, outside the office door, I found a box by my bag.  It was a box of chocolates! I knocked the door and told Mr Lane that I had just found the box by my handbag, and he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said that it was mine! 
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on April 02, 2014, 05:42:00
busyglen,

Where were Lanes in the Broadway? I seem to recall that they were between the Rio the Post Office but could be wrong.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 02, 2014, 11:23:51
The building is still there Minsterboy, next to the Post Office.  It was a nail bar, but I have a feeling it is a cafe at present.  Not too sure, as I haven't been past there lately.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on April 02, 2014, 11:52:30
Ah, I was right. It also used to be Cassell's bookshop.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 02, 2014, 14:32:14
Ah, I was right. It also used to be Cassell's bookshop.
That's correct.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on April 02, 2014, 17:56:20
Cassells Bookshop rings a bell (as does Lanes).

Like the sound on Mr Lane!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 02, 2014, 18:51:48

Like the sound on Mr Lane!

He could be a right tartar at times, and sometimes I wanted to throw something at him, but underneath it all, he was a gentleman.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 02, 2014, 18:58:50
After a while Janet left to have her baby, so I was on my own for a while, with help from the man in the office when we were really busy, and also Mr Lane.  Some days were really busy and others fairly quiet, but no two days were the same.  They had an odd job man, who used to run errands and deliver wallpaper books to people in Sheerness, so that they could look at them at home.  We tried to sell the paper from the stock book, as it was more profit for Lanes, but when nothing would suit the customer we could bring out more books that we could order from.  The only thing that embarrassed me slightly when I first started serving, was that the old overall that I had didn't really fit me properly, and I hated climbing the ladder for something that was up the top.  Eventually Mr Lane bought me a couple of white nylon overalls which were too long really, but I didn't mind that. A couple of Naval Pilots used to come in now and again for bits and pieces, and one day, one asked for a small can of paint (1/8th pint) which happened  to be right at the top near the ceiling.  So I climbed up and got the colour he wanted, and climbed down again.  He then decided that he wanted the next size up, so up I climbed again.....then the penny dropped, and I asked if he was sure that was the size he wanted, as I wasn't going to spend all day climbing up and down.  He grinned, as he realised that I had caught on to what he was doing.   Having led quite a sheltered life, I was surprisingly fairly quick on the uptake in the shop. 

There were several painters and decorators, plus sign-writers employed at Lanes, and they often used to put their head in the side door to see how I was getting on.  Sometimes they would pull my leg, but they were all very kind really.  When it got to my 18th birthday, (bearing in mind this wasn't a celebrated special one in those days) I awoke in the morning to find that there was a large box on my bed. When I opened it up it was a can-can petticoat, (which was all the rage at that time) and when I looked at the card, it was from the men in the workshop, and also the clerk.  I was quite taken aback, but had a quiet laugh to myself.  Apparently they had got my younger brother to slip it in my room when I was asleep.  I promised that I would wear it one day, and I did, but my overall was quite slim, so they didn't really get the effect that they had hoped for. Later on when it was my 21st Birthday, they all clubbed together and bought me an expensive silver bracelet, which I still wear today.

Eventually we needed another person in the shop so Mr Lane brought another man in who had just left the Navy.  He was full of himself, and I didn't take to him very much, but learnt to get on.  He had to learn to cut the glass and various other tasks to help Mr. Lane, as he was trying to ease out of work a bit when he could. Mr Lane suggested one day that I dress the window, so that he could see how I coped.  I was a bit nervous, but after emptying it I knew the way in which he liked to display things, so I did the same, only using different products and making sure that larger things were at the back etc. When I had finished, he went and looked outside (as I had done to see whether things were visible from lower down on the pavement) and after a short while he came in and said, "Yes that's ok Miss, although I think that can needs moving further back".  I knew that he would have to put his mark on it, but was quite pleased.  After that he let me do the window, as and when I could.  Sometimes he could be really picky or in a bad mood, and get me to do things just for the sake of it, but I just got on with it until the bad mood wore off.  He very rarely smiled, unless it was to a female he knew, and if he had his trilby on he would doff it and smile. 

I found that I had a good memory of matching faces to certain wallpaper patterns, even up to a year later.  This always surprised some people, especially when they came back to see if we had a spare roll of paper to patch a wall up after an accident.  I suppose it was from spending quite a while helping them to choose a pattern.

I know Mr Lane wasn't aware of it, but I had a couple of young police admirers who used to stand on duty outside by the telephone kiosks.  They would sometimes look in the door and wave, or stand and watch me whilst I was decorating the window.  One year I had a Valentine card, (my first) and it said "from Vic and Hugh, both being rivals for your affections!"  I was chuffed to bits, and still don't know how they got my address.  Looking back, I suppose I got on quite well with the opposite sex, as I had three brothers.  I never felt threatened, and knew that someone was always looking out for me.  Although I shouldn't say it, I felt more threatened by women during my lifetime in work, than men.

The new man was very obvious, and rather fancied himself, but he found it hard to adapt to shop life, which I suppose was to be expected as it was a different life than being at sea.  In a way I felt sorry for him, but being about 20+ years younger than he was, he had more world knowledge than I so I carried on in my usual way.  Eventually after several mistakes, and causing problems which incurred Mr. Lane's wrath, he decided to leave and found another job.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 03, 2014, 14:50:58
The next few years saw quite a few changes, as the decorating side of the business closed down, mostly due to the fact that the men were coming up to retirement age. There was also a growing change to DIY and a lot of the products were becoming geared to that.  A new paint was launched, which came in various finishes: Gloss, Eggshell, Emulsion, and the Undercoat, which were in white as the base.  You then chose a colour from a card which had a number/numbers on it.  These related to tubes of paint that went to make up the chosen colour.  We used to take the paint and colourant  down to the back workshop for one of the men to mix it for the customer. I think the make was called Robbialac.  We also used to supply several of the local Painters and Decorators with materials, so this kept us quite busy. People always wanted wallpaper, so that side of it was practically the mainstay of the business.  We had another elderly gentleman that used to run errands and take the wallpaper books for people to view at home, (the previous man having given the job up).  This gentleman we called Tommo'.   He always called me Missy, and when he found out that I liked Polo Mints, he would leave a packet on the side for me every lunch time when I got back to work.   Around this time, Sheerness Times & Guardian, started a `Best Shopkeeper' competition, and I suddenly found myself being photographed as a nominee.  When the photographer turned up, I went to Mr. Lane and said that the local paper wanted to take a photo of me for the competition.  I wondered what he would say, but he just said, `Well you had better let him take it then Miss.' The photo appeared in the newspaper along with the other entrants. I didn't win, but received a pair of nylons as a runner-up, so I was quite chuffed.

I must now return to the Groundsmans House or Pigeon Loft, for a short while.  Because of the gradual closing down of the Dockyard in 1961, it meant that the grounds were no longer going to be maintained, and therefore all of the Cricket, Football and Rugby matches would not be able to use the grounds.  It was such a shame to see the fields that had been so lovingly tended for many years, turn into weed ridden patches, and later, long grass.  The buildings, tennis courts, and all the land around, fell into disrepair.  My father was over retirement age, and it meant that we would have to find another home. My father and mother found a job making up boxes for the Sheppey Shirt Co. which provided them with a little extra money. My younger brother had also started work, which helped. Eventually the Council found us a house in Trinity Road, which was one of the old Coastguard Cottages, and then Police Quarters, until the Local Council took them over.  It was a sad day when we moved in at the end of 1961, but it also meant that I didn't have to cycle to work....it was just a two minute walk.

The day after we moved in, I was back at work again, and kept busy.  Late in the afternoon a lady came in to look at wallpaper, and was finding it hard to make any decisions.  I suggested that she could have the book at home, to make her choices at leisure, and she perked up at that.  She was going to take the book with her, and when I asked for the address, I found that she lived in the same block of houses, and also had moved in the day before!!  I told her that I would drop it off for her when I went home later.  Little did I know then, that she would end up as my Mother-in Law!! 
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on April 03, 2014, 15:18:30
Really enjoying this, Busyglen. Not often do I get to see life through female eyes  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 03, 2014, 18:27:09
Thank you!  (I think) :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: grandarog on April 03, 2014, 20:55:48
Really enjoying reading your story busyglen. Did you have a visit from the Dulux rep., with a big cardboard cut out of the Dulux dog? He spent a day in Mrs Sampsons shop in East Street, Sittingbourne when I worked there in 1956. He demonstrated the coverage on different coloured boards all day. I had to clean the paint off with turps (out the back, out of sight) before it dried so he could keep using them. My favourite job was trimming the wallpaper edge on the winding machine did your shop have one. :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on April 03, 2014, 21:14:12
One Dulux rep finished his presentation by drinking a pint of gloss.... awful death, but wonderful finish!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 04, 2014, 16:33:39
Really enjoying reading your story busyglen. Did you have a visit from the Dulux rep., with a big cardboard cut out of the Dulux dog? He spent a day in Mrs Sampsons shop in East Street, Sittingbourne when I worked there in 1956. He demonstrated the coverage on different coloured boards all day. I had to clean the paint off with turps (out the back, out of sight) before it dried so he could keep using them. My favourite job was trimming the wallpaper edge on the winding machine did your shop have one. :)
Thank you grandarog.  :)  Being the sole agents for Robbialac (can`t remember how it was spelt) we didn't sell other makes.  Apart from Valspar which was a hard gloss paint, which was only sold in pint cans down to 1/8th.  Yes we did have a wallpaper trimmer, but I never had to use it.  We had one of the other decorators men do it.  Quite often some of the rolls were semi-trimmed, which meant that the edges had been perforated so that they could be hit on the edge of the table, and they would fall off.  The only problem was, if they hadn't been perforated properly, they could come off leaving a `v' where the paper tore.  That meant the roll was useless!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 04, 2014, 18:31:05
One Dulux rep finished his presentation by drinking a pint of gloss.... awful death, but wonderful finish!

Grrrroooaaannn!!  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 05, 2014, 16:00:51
We gradually settled into our new home, which seemed so small after the freedom of the large house.  I had the small box room, and managed to squeeze everything in, although we all had to get rid of a lot of things that there simply wasn't room for.  My two younger brothers had the large back bedroom which gave them plenty of space, and my parents had the front bedroom next to mine. Along the passage next to my brothers' room was the bathroom.  A luxury we never had before.....it was heaven to be able to shut the door and relax without someone wanting to walk through into the kitchen.  I will never forget when I was about sixteen or so I was in the bath in the kitchen having closed the door to the living room and warning the family so they wouldn't wander in.  I normally made sure and locked the other door to the backdoor just in case someone walked in. This day I forgot and the door suddenly opened....I slid down in the water whilst this chap asked if my father was in.  I told him that he was down in the pavilion, and he said thanks and toddled off!  He didn't blink an eye, and treated me as if it was a normal thing for him to walk in on me without an apology!

Going back to our new house, downstairs, there was a front room on the left of the passage, and a door next to it led to the living room.  It was fairly large, with room for the five of us.  We had a table and chairs, plus a settee and a chair each for Mum & Dad.  The door to the stairs went up on the other wall, which was in between the piano, and the door to the passage. Another door led out to the smallish kitchen.  There was a toilet outside, as well as the one in the bathroom.  Mum altered the stairs carpet which we took with us, but it wasn't too long before we had a new one!  Mum used to listen to Radio Luxembourg Bingo, and one day she won £200.  Straight away, she went and blew the lot on a new stair carpet, and a large gas fridge!  We'd never had a fridge before so it was a luxury! 

The following January, I was asked if I would like to go to a 21st birthday party of one of the son's of the lady who lived in the end house. I could take a friend, so I asked my friend Ann if she would like to come.  We both turned up at the hall, and met the lady and her husband, plus the younger son.  He was in the house when I collected the wallpaper book the time his parents moved in, but I didn't really take that much notice.  I gave him a card, and we were invited to sit down with and aunt and uncle.   We had a nice evening, but the relations had plied me with Cherry B's and as I didn't really drink, I felt quite `wobbly' when I walked back.  Luckily it was only just round the corner.  What had surprised me though, was the fact that the son was only three days older than me!  I hadn't planned on having a party, as I hadn't much money and neither had my mother & father.  However, Dad said that we could put on some sandwiches, and Mum would make a cake, and we managed to get a function room in the Seaview Hotel.  The lad's mother and father said they would come and play some music for us to dance to, so I invited quite a few friends, who I went to Square dancing with, and some were from the Canning Town Glass Works Tennis Club that I belonged to. It was a great evening and we had quite a few laughs, but this time I stayed sober!  And so.....this led to another episode of my life.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on April 05, 2014, 19:47:36
I'm three days older than my wife ...if that is the way the story is going :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 06, 2014, 11:38:30
I'm three days older than my wife ...if that is the way the story is going :)

Yep! The same.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on April 06, 2014, 12:19:14
Not sure of the significance of that, I was 20 years older than my third wife.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on April 06, 2014, 12:40:01
No significance, Minsterboy, merely coincidence  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on April 06, 2014, 15:49:55
Oh I see, sorry, I was reading more into it than there was.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 08, 2014, 18:52:29
Life carried on much the same over the next couple of years, although my friend and I used to go Square Dancing at the Labour Hall in Halfway. There were quite a few people there that we knew from the Tennis Club at CTGW that we went to as well.  Some of the crowd paired up over time, only to have a row and change partners with someone else!  All good fun!  We used to all go off by bus to Mote Park sometimes and play Golf!  We were rubbish, but it was fun to get out and about when we could.  I missed the Sports Grounds at times like this. Around this time, my friend met with a girl who was in the same class as us at school, and she invited her back to her house.  Her brother was on leave as a Chef on one of the Liners, and they got on really well together.  It wasn't long before they had got engaged, and I was in line to be a bridesmaid.

Around this time, Mr Lane wasn't too well, and he didn't come in so frequently.  We still had the Clerk in the office, who was also a back-up when we got busy, and there was also `Webby' as we called him who had worked there for many years as a Decorator.  He was beyond retirement age, but carried on helping out and used to cut the glass when Mr. Lane wasn't there.  He also started to help in the shop when he could.  Slowly, we realised that Mr. Lane was not going to come back to the shop, but we tried to keep everything going.  There was a firm of Accountants a few doors away from the shop who always looked after the finances of Lanes, and gradually they took on the task of paying our wages and paying the bills. The clerk realising that things weren't looking too good, decided that he needed to find another job, as he still had a while to go before he retired, so he gave in his notice.  Mrs. Lane also came into the shop at regular intervals to see what I was up to and whether I needed anything.  I'd found the telephone numbers of the companies that we used to order some of the wallpaper from, and took it upon myself to continue ordering.  At least I was bringing in money so that we could be paid.  Between Webby, who knew enough to order the sheet glass, and I, who could order a few cans  of paint, paper, and other bits and pieces, we managed to keep things going.  In odd moments, I found out how to check the accounts of the various small businesses who ordered things from us, which were kept in a large ledger.  Several of them were overdue, as they hadn't been brought up to date when the Clerk left.  Looking back to see what usually happened, I discovered that a yellow invoice was sent out at the end of each month with the amount due.  I had previously taken typing lessons with my friend, at the Technical School when I first left school, and tried to do shorthand, which I gave up, but I did pass the typing exam.  Not having had access to a typewriter, for some time, I thought I would probably have forgotten what to do, but when I decided to try the one in the office, I found it came back quite quickly, although it was quite hard to hit the keys as they were stiff.  Anyway, I persevered and after a couple of hit and miss attempts, I managed to produce an invoice.  I found that these were entered into the ledger, so I did the same, keeping a copy in a folder.  I repeated the process for the remaining invoices that were outstanding, and put them all in envelopes.  I told Mr. Thompson that there were some deliveries, and he trotted off and delivered them.  Within the week they had all paid up.  Another job that I had got landed with was cashing up the till every evening!  Once the clerk had left, and Mr. Lane was taken ill, I took the till roll out and added it up manually.  In those days it was still £.s.d.  After a couple of attempts, I managed to get the till roll right, and checking it with the cash it actually balanced!  So from thereon in I cashed up every evening.  I also worked out where the cheques were entered when the builders paid their bills, and added them to the ledger.  I felt quite pleased with myself having worked out the mysteries of some of the bookkeeping!  I used to lock the money in the safe of a night, but I can't remember whether I ever paid the money into the bank or not.  I think Mrs. Lane came in on a Saturday morning and took it but I'm not sure.

Suddenly, Mr Lane died.  It was a bit of a shock, as although we knew he was poorly, we didn't really realise how bad he was.  The shop was shut, and we were given the rest of the week off.

On the Monday of the next week, we went back and the Accountants who were just along the road, came in with Mrs. Lane and spent time with her in the Office.  I'd been given a float so that I could keep things going and had to start a new book for everything.  I believe a Stock-Take had taken place whilst the shop had been closed, so everything was started afresh.  After the Accountants had gone, Mrs. Lane called me in to the Office.  She had been a tall lady, but she was now in her late eighties, and was a bit stooped.  She thanked me for carrying on in the way that I had, and asked if I felt I could manage to continue in the same way.  I told her that I would do my best, and we discussed the various things that I needed to know.  The shop was going to continue, until such times as it could be sold, and she would advise me as soon as they had a buyer.  She upped my wages, and asked `how on earth have you managed to live on that amount?'  She then asked me where the tea was made.  I said that I'd never had a drink in all the years I had worked there, and as far as I was aware, no one else had either.  She was quite shocked, and ordered ' Webb' to go and buy a teapot and a kettle, and some milk and tea.  After that, we had a drink in the morning and one in the afternoon. 

I was instructed to carry on and order stock when it was low, and to obtain various paint etc. when it was required.  Webby was to order the glass as it was needed and we were to use up the stocks of sand and cement that was kept over the road in the workshop there.  Thus, we carried on, and the Accountants came in every week on Friday to pay our wages.   Things carried on in this way for several months, and Mrs. Lane tried to come in most days.  She lived in the last house before you reached the Canal, so it was quite a walk for her, and towards the end, she used a stick.  Eventually, a buyer was found (I think - although it may have been let) but before I was due to leave, I was approached by a man who worked in the Accounts at the Solicitors in Trinity Rd.  At that time it was Winch Greensted & Winch. He asked me if I would go and work as his assistant in the Accounts Office.  I said that I didn't know a lot about accounts and that figures were not my best subject.  He said that he knew I was intelligent, and that he would soon be able to teach me what I needed to know.  His previous assistant had left, and he had heard that I might be leaving the shop.  His sister was a teacher at the Secondary School, and remembered me, from when I was there.  I said I would let him know the next day, after I had talked it over with my parents.  I was of age and didn't need their permission, but it gave me a chance to talk it over with them, and it would also mean that it would only take me two minutes to get to work, instead of four!

As I needed a job, and it was on my doorstep, I decided to give it a go - thus a couple of weeks later I started my new occupation, and another new chapter in my life began!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: peterchall on April 08, 2014, 19:22:34
Looking forward to reading about it :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Lyn L on April 08, 2014, 21:42:02
And me  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on April 08, 2014, 22:07:31
My goodness, you should have won a medal for those efforts ... no wonder they snapped you up at the accountants.

You deserve a round of applause!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 09, 2014, 11:42:05
My goodness, you should have won a medal for those efforts ... no wonder they snapped you up at the accountants.

You deserve a round of applause!

That's very kind of you, but at the time it seemed like the normal thing to do.  There was no one else, and I felt sorry for Mrs. Lane who was struggling, first with the fact that her husband was ill, and then his death. Having to cope with the business as well, especially at her age, seemed insurmountable.  Plus....I don't like being beaten and will have a go at most things.  My next job at the Solicitors will show you how I coped when the man who was head of accounts was taken ill, and I hadn't a clue what to do!!  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: kyn on April 11, 2014, 22:48:27
 :)  I have just read through your posts and caught up, Wow!  You certainly didn't get an easy run of it, but coped fantastically.   Many people would have given up and moved on, but instead you took it upon yourself to make things work.  More importantly, you did it with someone else in mind, not many people like that out there anymore!

I found this image that I thought you may like, I am hoping I caught it right :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 12, 2014, 16:23:36
Thank you for your kind words Kyn.  :)  I have been a bit surprised by the reactions of people reading this, as to me at the time, it was the normal thing to do.  I had no one else to guide me on what needed doing, or even a role model, so I just got stuck in and used my common sense.  I think that if I hadn't had a natural inbuilt way of trying to solve a problem, I would have just thrown my hand in and waited for someone to sort the mess out.  I think I get this from my mother, and if any of you have read my mother's story, you will find similarities in the way that she coped when she encountered problems.

It is only now, from the comments made, that I realise that I sound a bit as if I am seeking approval for things that I have achieved in the past.  That was never further from my mind, as the writing has come automatically without me even giving the format or plot any thought.  All that being said, I really appreciate everyones  comments, as it shows that so far it has been readable!  :)

Thank you for the photo Kyn.  As it is 1940, it is about a year before we moved there, but I am having a bit of difficulty placing the buildings.  The `Y' of the train lines seems to be too far towards Westminster, and yet the buildings seem to show the line of the building more or less correctly.  I think the roadway that lead to the RAB must have been laid down after the War, but I was only a child so probably don't remember it.  The buildings do seem to be right though.  Thanks.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: kyn on April 12, 2014, 16:44:44
I think we all go through life doing what we think is right, and then look back and realise the strength we had and achievements we have gained. 

Does this picture help place it?
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 13, 2014, 11:10:16
Thank you Kyn...that is much easier to understand!  I didn't realise the scale so couldn't get it into perspective.  :)

It is interesting to see what buildings were there in 1940, and also the expanse of the fields before the road to the bridge was built. Thanks again.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: peterchall on April 13, 2014, 11:28:46
Busyglen, Kynís map has helped me too. When you wrote that your father became Head Groundsman of the RN Sports Ground I thought it must be near the Gun Wharf, where I lived in 1938, and tried to imagine places along Garrison Road - not knowing where New Road was - thinking that I should have remembered it.

Mystery solved :)

Keep the posts coming
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 13, 2014, 11:31:25
Glad that has helped PC (thanks to Kyn)  :)

I'm always happy to answer any questions if I can.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 14, 2014, 10:42:45
It was with some trepidation that I presented myself at 9.0am on a Monday morning in the reception at Winch Greensted & Winch.  I asked to see Mr. G who was expecting me, and he came down to meet me.  He introduced me to the Receptionist, and then took me upstairs to his room which was in the front of the building. The offices were converted from two houses, which had a communicating door from the accounts office to the Solicitors room.  There was a table against the fireplace wall, which was Mr. Gs and the table I would be using was under the window.  There were also several filing cabinets.  We had a chat and I told him that I had never done book-keeping as such, although I had found out a little from trying to help sort out Mr. Lanes.  He told me not to worry, as to start with I would be copying items from the paying in books and cheque books, each day, on to the clients ledger cards which would be placed on large day sheets, which had carbon paper between.   These would be added up and balanced each day. At the end of the week, they would also be checked against the Bank Statements.  I was terrified that I would make a mistake, but he put me at my ease, and said that everyone makes mistakes at some time or another, and they can always be rectified.  He then showed me the previous days' work, and sat beside me to watch what I did, whilst I looked for the clients card which was in a large card holder on the desk which was alphabetically sectioned off.  After a couple of entries, Mr. G said that he had to go and see the Boss, and told me to carry on, and if I got stuck, just wait for him to return.  Surprisingly it seemed fairly straightforward, so I carried on until I got to the end of the day.  I stopped at the payments, as I wasn't sure what to do, but shortly after, he came back.  He said that the Boss had given him a load of figures that needed adding up and checking, so he asked me if I could use a calculator.  I hadn't used one before, but said I would have a try, if he would show me.  After a few trial efforts, I got the gist of it, and said I would have a go.  So, I went through all the pages and added them up, checking each one as I went.  I made a couple of mistakes, but was able to correct them and when they were done, Mr. G. went over them again to make sure I hadn't missed something.  It took quite a while, and before I realised, it was lunch time.  The office was shut for an hour, so I was able to go home and have my lunch.  My mother and father were interested to hear what it was like.  I told them I'd met a few of the staff who had popped in to check a balance on a card etc. and they appeared to be very nice.  I hadn't as yet met the Boss!

When I got back, I went upstairs, but found I could not get in as the door was locked, so I spoke to the girl who was in the room next door.  She was a secretary to one of the conveyancing clerks, and gave me a quick run-down of who was who. When Mr. G got back he said that he would have to get me a key cut so that I wouldn't have to wait if he was late.  I was a bit surprised as I had only just started work that day.  I guessed that he said it just to make me feel comfortable, so I just said thank-you and that I didn't mind waiting.  Later in the afternoon, the Boss came in from the adjoining door, to speak to Mr. G. and I was introduced to him.  He was quite pleasant and said that he hoped I would soon get used to the work, and that it was important to get it right, as we were governed by a body that checked everything we did regarding the money was correct.  If anything went wrong, then he would not be able to practice. I told him that I would do my best to make sure that everything was correct within my capabilities, and would ensure that Mr. G. checked my work to make sure that I hadn't made any errors that would cause concern. He smiled and said "Thank-you" and left the room.  Mr. G. said that he was ok, but he had quite a temper if things went wrong.  He didn't like waiting for anything, so he always tried to second guess what was coming, so that it would take the wind out of his sails.  That didn't actually cheer me up....I began to wonder what I had let myself in for! Oh well, tomorrow would be another day and I decided to give myself a month (if I hadn't got the sack before that) to see if I felt that it was going to be a job I would enjoy.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 15, 2014, 15:41:09
Although it seemed strange working in an office, I soon settled into the routine, and it wasn't long before I was also doing the banking.  I was quite surprised at that, but to start with there were two of us going together to make sure that everything was ok.  Mostly the money was in cheque form, and only a small amount of cash, so hardly worth being hi-jacked for it.  I was also given the job of keeping the petty cash box up to date and making sure there was always enough cash for Commissioners Fees, should one of the staff need to go to another Solicitor to swear a document. I gradually got to know all the staff, although I was still quite shy in that environment, but on the whole they were all quite friendly.  The months passed by and I began to feel quite settled, although I was still wary of the Boss who had piercing eyes that bore in to you when he asked you a question or was giving orders.  After a while I began to feel that he trusted me, and would not always check whatever he had given me to do. Luckily, it was Mr. G. that usually carried out most of his requests, so I was quite happy about that. 

Gradually the offices were taking on a lot more work, so more staff were employed, and a part-time lady was taken on to help us in Accounts.  We got on ok, but she did like to gossip, and I found it difficult to keep on top of my work.  Mr G. also liked to chat, which made it a bit awkward, as I had my back to him when I was working.  I wasn't confident enough to carry on talking with my back to him, so would have to stop what I was doing and turn round.  Somehow I managed to cope, but often felt under pressure.  Having worked in shops before, the office environment was totally different, but within the year, I had settled down and was getting to grips with all sorts of monetary queries.  One such query completely threw me, and on this occasion Mr. G. wasn't there.  The Boss gave me some figures, and asked me to work out how much the shares were. Errr?? Luckily, there was a trainee Legal Executive next door, so I asked him if he could help me.  He got me to ring the Bank for the Bank Rate, and then proceeded to show me what to do.  It was almost double Dutch to me, but I managed to grasp the gist of it.  I worked it out and got him to check it for me, and he agreed it was ok.  So...I passed it on to the Boss, who looked at me somewhat askance, so I explained that it was the first time I had done anything like that before so had asked for the Legal Exec's help.  I had worked it out, but had got him to check it in case I had gone wrong.  He gave me a bit of a smile, and thanked me.  From then on, he seemed to let me get on with whatever he asked of me. 

Soon it was Christmas, and we were all looking forward to a break.  On the last working day, some of the older women had taken in mince pies and sausage rolls, which we ate in the early afternoon.  Then around 3.0pm, the Boss came in with some cardboard boxes, and proceeded to give us one each.  They contained fruit, nuts, chocolates, mince pies, and a bottle of Sherry. We were all a bit surprised, but it was a great way to start our Christmas break.   Little did I know what the New Year was about to bring me!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 16, 2014, 20:29:05
I'm afraid that my memory fails me regarding Christmas as we usually had my two brothers that were still at home, and myself with Mum & Dad for Christmas Day, and we sometimes went to relations for Boxing Day.  There wasn't the frantic cooking and organisation that we used to have when we were at the Pigeon Loft.  Mum still made a lovely Christmas meal, plus the usual mince pies, Christmas cake and trifle etc. and we would watch TV.  My memory fails again with what would have been showing at that time, as it obviously didn't leave much impression! After we went back to work, it felt really strange as I hadn't had time off since I started work there.

I soon settled back into the routine, and was learning new things nearly every day.  I thought that the job might be boring, but there was no time to even think, let alone be bored! The New Year festivities came and went and I found myself being geared up towards the end of the Financial Year, and had no idea what that would entail.  As we approached the end of March, Mr G. was busy getting ready for the Annual Office Accounts Audit, so he left me to make sure that all of the Clients accounts were ok without any discrepancies.  It kept me busy as usual, and I began to recognise a lot of the names of clients, which helped sometimes if a member of staff wanted information.  When the end of the financial year approached, all of the Client's ledger cards were checked and marked in pencil with the balances.  All of the balances were then noted and a total taken, which should balance with the Clients Bank a/c at the end of the year.  Mr. G. had to do the same with all of the Office a/c transactions. Eventually, everything was all organised for the Accountants, and we just had to wait for them to check everything and give us the starting balances for the New Year.  In the meantime, I had to check everything daily, but until the balances were given to us by the Auditors, I could only pencil them in for the time being.

A few days later, I arrived at work as usual, and was called into the Boss's office.  He told me not to panic, but said that Mr. G. was in hospital, as he'd had Appendicitis, and would be off work for a couple of weeks or so.   Knowing it was a very busy time, and that this was my first year end, he wanted to know if I thought I would be able to cope alright.  I said that I could only do my best, and I still didn't know exactly what I was going to have to do.  He said that he'd had a word with the Auditors, and that they would liaise with me and explain everything that they wanted, and what I needed to do. My reaction was a deep gulp!  Actually they were very helpful, and they sent someone to help me through it.  Once they had got all they needed, I carried on as normal, but without the proper balances.  A couple of weeks later they came back with the new balances for the Clients and the Office a/cs.  They also gave me the new reconciliation figures, which I hadn't a clue how to apply them.  So.....I found the file of the previous year's figures and looked to see which side they were put (ie. Debit or Credit) after playing around I managed to see which side they we went, and then applied the same principle to the new figures.  Typically, I couldn't get them to balance, so in the end I had to ring the Auditors to ask them for their help.  Once my error was found, everything was sorted and the whole job was done!! I had a headache for days, but I felt quite pleased that although most of it was gobbledegook, I came out of the experience with more knowledge than I went in with!  When I took the final figures in to the Boss, I think he was a bit surprised, that it had all been sorted and everything was up and running. In the end, it was almost a month before Mr. G. came back, and he was relieved to see that everything had been sorted, and he didn't have a load of work and queries to sort out.  Thus, my daily work continued as before until new problems arose, which they always did.  But for now, I will leave this somewhat boring account, and return to other areas of my life.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on April 16, 2014, 21:14:05
Busyglen, this is far from boring.

You have a natural talent for writing and really shouldn't neglect it. You have taken a subject that could easily mystify your reader, and made it entertaining as well as informative and easily understandable. Sorry to sound patronising, but it needs saying.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: kyn on April 16, 2014, 22:34:25
But for now, I will leave this somewhat boring account, and return to other areas of my life.


I was going to post "far from boring" but John38 beat me to it!  Thank you busyglen for taking the time to write these and for including everything.  Nothing has been boring so far!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 17, 2014, 11:19:03
Thank you John38 and Kyn for your kind words.  :)  I was beginning to bore myself, so thought it was a bit heavy!  Strangely I have no set plan, of what I am going to say, it just pops into my head, and when I read it back to check for errors, I can't believe that I've used some of the words, or where they have come from. Strange!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on April 17, 2014, 13:46:19
That's what happens when the 'pen takes over,' busyglen, it seems to write on its own and leaves you just have to think.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 18, 2014, 18:56:07
Going back a bit before, I actually left Lanes, I quite often used to see the young man who lived near me and came to my birthday party, in passing, and we would say hello.  He used to cycle around, and I came to notice that most days he would park his cycle outside the shoe repairers opposite, when he left work.  I was able to look across the road through the door, from a vantage point behind a display cabinet in Lanes. When I left work, he would pass me and say hello.  Later he gained some confidence and would stop and walk along with me to the gate near our house, and then cycle to the gate at the other end where he lived.  One day I was on a short holiday break, and had been to see my girlfriend, and when I walked in the gate at the end, the young man was just going home from work.  I said hello, and he stopped and asked if I would like to go to London the next day to see the Radio Show?  I said that I was sorry but I was going on a coach trip with my girlfriend.  He said never mind, and I realised he probably thought that I didn't want to go out with him, so I replied that it was a shame as I would have liked to have gone. He brightened up a bit and asked if I would be free the day after, and when I replied that I was, he beamed.  He confirmed that he would pick the tickets up from Barons Electricals in the Broadway, who was a friend of the family, and call for me in time to go and catch the train to London.  It was the first time I had been on a date with a boy (actually it should be young man as we were both twenty-one at this point) although I was used to being in a mixed crowd with some of my other friends that went to the youth club, and other young men.  Plus having three brothers I was used to their ways. We caught the train to Sittingbourne and then changed to the one to Victoria.  I seem to remember that we talked non-stop, although I couldn't have said what we talked about!  We enjoyed the show, and then went and had something to eat, and caught the train back home. When he left me at the front door, I said that I had really enjoyed it and rather nervously he replied that perhaps we could do something like that again.  Not pushing it, I said that I would like that, and he left.  I knew he was nervous, as indeed so was I, so I was content for nature to take its course.

Still at Lanes during this time, I can remember that (PJ as I will call him) asked me if I would like to go to a wedding of a friend of his at Rainham on the following Saturday.  I still had to work Saturday mornings at this time, so I went to ask Mr. Lane if I could have the morning off to go to a wedding.  He replied that he was going to be away also, but after a couple of minutes, he replied that a wedding was more important, so I had better go!  I think we caught the train, and got to the Church on time, but after sitting there for over half-an-hour, everyone was getting fidgety.  All of a sudden, the music started and the bride and groom entered. There was an apology for the late start, due to the original Vicar not having turned up, and the one taking the Service confessed that this was the first wedding that he had officiated at.  All went well, until he gave his sermon.... the theme was `Worshipping' and being one of our `overseas' vicars, he had a sing-song voice.  At one point he started to talk about the `Television' and he raised his voice and said `You will not worship the television'. One of the young lads in front of us started to laugh, which caused several people to have a fit of coughing, as they tried not to laugh. PJ and I also had our faces buried in our handkerchiefs trying not to laugh.  I felt so sorry for the bride and groom, as the whole thing seemed to be a complete disaster, but later at the reception the happy couple said that at least they would never forget the sermon.....every time they looked at the TV, it would bring a smile!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on April 19, 2014, 06:40:20
Gawd busyglen, you certainly remind us of the age of innocence that it was back then - no first date until 21 and youth clubs! I was four years behind you but still never had my first girlfriend until I was nearer 18 and the height of the weekend might be a dance at the Labour Hall, but then bang - the Beatles, the Stones and Swinging 60's all came in with a rush. Boy, did things and experiences then change overnight and did we have a fantastic, hedonistic life for a few years, or at least, most of us did.

Was the cobblers opposite Lanes Dennis Smith's place, or hadn't he begun there then. I recall the old Hippodrome building was also still there as well, my father took me to a circus type show in there once when I was a kid and alongside Lanes would of been the Rio, a lovely cinema inside that an uncle of mine was manager of at one time.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on April 19, 2014, 08:09:58
What a difference to me...remembering that I got married in 1959 ...we had a fantastic time as youths in Sheerness.

I don't know how many girlfriends I had between 15 and 21.

 There was the Co-op, Labour and County Youth clubs. Dances at the VC, Wheatsheaf, Conservative Club, Minster Workingman's Club ...the 'Tanner Hop' in the Borough Hall, Queenborough, not to mention Leysdown. Then there was the Cellar Club, Bishop's Milk Bar. Three cinemas, two live theatres, a Fairground with skating rink. Not to mention the beach with all the girls from London (nobody went abroad in those days). Two massive swimming pools, tennis courts, putting greens, the Judo Club, Sheppey Athletic Club, Sheppey United FC.

Sheerness was  a great place for growing up in those early days of Rock 'n Roll ........ yes I had a thoroughly misspent youth, luckily!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on April 19, 2014, 11:01:20
No doubt one of Sheppey's original Teddy Boys then John. What a fantastic place Sheerness and Sheppey was for entertainment in those days! I remember it well. 
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 19, 2014, 15:31:03

Was the cobblers opposite Lanes Dennis Smith's place, or hadn't he begun there then. I recall the old Hippodrome building was also still there as well, my father took me to a circus type show in there once when I was a kid and alongside Lanes would of been the Rio, a lovely cinema inside that an uncle of mine was manager of at one time.
Yes it was Dennis Smith there at that time, and the Hippodrome and Rio.  Although I have a feeling that the Rio may have been an Electronic Company by then.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 19, 2014, 15:40:51
I suppose I do come over as a sort of `goodie, goodie,' but remember that whilst this story is true, it's possible that I may not   want to reveal all depending where I go with the story...or seeing as it is mostly writing itself, `where it decides' to take me! :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on April 19, 2014, 16:40:52
I didn't mean to imply you were a goodie goodie!

You're telling the story perfectly - I was replying to minsterboy really  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on April 19, 2014, 17:33:20
Don't take offence John, busyglen will be referring to me.

Carry on as you are busyglen, it's still immensely enjoyable.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 19, 2014, 19:23:09
I didn't mean to imply you were a goodie goodie!

You're telling the story perfectly - I was replying to minsterboy really  :)

Sorry John38, minsterboy was correct, I was referring to him.

Thanks for your support, I'm glad you are enjoying it, as am I in writing it. :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on April 21, 2014, 16:15:58
Returning to the Solicitors era, life continued as before, but at home we were experiencing problems.  My Grandfather had been living in a caravan on the grounds of my mother's sister's small holding on the outskirts of Maidstone, but she became ill and died in hospital of cancer.  This meant that the house and grounds were being sold, and my Grandfather would not be able to stay where he was.  Therefore, it was decided by my parents, that he would come and live with us.  They turned the front sitting-room into a bed sitting room for him and he was able to wash in the kitchen, as he couldn't climb upstairs to the bathroom.  He was a lovely man, and in his 90s, and I would often go and sit and chat to him when I had a bit of free time.  He had a lovely sense of humour and would often make me laugh with a wicked gleam in his eye. Later he was to become quite fond of PJ who would sit and chat to him for ages.  We all settled down quite well to this addition, apart from my father who was going through a bit of a bad patch at that time.

Because of his previous illness, the addition of my Grandfather to the family brought back old feelings and he struggled to maintain some sort of normality. Unbeknown to us at this time, he was also suffering from cancer.  Sometimes I would see him walking past the office from the window, and now and again he would stop and rub his back as if it hurt.  I mentioned this to my mother and she had a word with him, and persuaded him to go to the Doctors.  After quite a few tests, it was discovered that he had cancer of the kidneys, and that there was no cure.  He was given pain killers, and used to sit in his chair by the fire and mostly sleep.  The Doctor used to come every few days and check his medication (this was in the '60s) and he would mostly sleep all the time.  Eventually, the Doctor said he was going to order an ambulance to take him in to hospital, as he needed specialist care and at this time he was hardly talking.  I went with my mother in the ambulance, and we waited until he was taken on to the Ward. That was the last time I saw him, although my mother went a couple of times with my elder brother who had a car. About a week later, I was in bed with a sickness bug, when a secretary came from the office to say that my father was failing fast and could my mother get there.  She called my brother from work, and off they went.  About half an hour later, the secretary came back to say that he had passed away and that they would have been too late. Before my mother had returned my younger brothers had disposed of the chair that Dad had been sitting in, so that it would not be staring Mum in the face when she walked in the door. That was the first time that I had encountered a death in the family.  My Grandmother had died when I was six, and lived in Deal so I hardly saw her, and later my Aunt Dorothy, (my mother's sister) died in Maidstone and again we hardly saw her as we didn't travel a lot.  This was also the first time that I had been to a funeral which was at Vinters Park Crematorium.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on May 21, 2014, 20:05:31
Time passed and I was kept busy at work.  The staff was growing and the Boss had acquired another building next door.  Mr. G had left and I was asked to carry on in his place, with the help of another employee.  We got on well together and coped with all of the book-keeping and daily banking, together with the addition of managing the stationery, and ordering etc.  It definitely was a full time job.

During this time I had been seeing PJ on and off and at one point I cooled it as I felt I was getting too fond of him, but didn't feel that he felt the same.  He was a bit shy, but we got on well together most of the time, but I didn't want to get in too deep, and then find out that it wasn't going anywhere.  After a bit of a break, he knocked the door one day, and came in and asked if I would like to go to Wales to see his brother with his parents.  I said ok, providing it was alright with them.  He hadn't asked them and got a rollicking when he said I would be going.  I found out later, that his mother had said it would be ok, providing he was serious and not messing me about. From then on things only got better!

As time went by, I began to go to various events that PJ had to attend as he was an officer in a local boys' organisation.  He grew up spending most of his spare time, teaching and training them to become (hopefully) better citizens, in much the same way he had he had been taught.  He was very strict, but at the end of some sessions, he would have a `free for all' where the young lads could let their hair down and try to wrestle him to the ground.  From this, they learnt that although he was strict and demanded their best attention, he was approachable if they had any problems or needed help.  On one particular `open evening' I happened to hear a parent thank him for what he had done for his son.  He replied that he hadn't done anything specific, it was all down to the lad himself.  When he gave an order, it was obeyed without question, and if the lad had a problem, he would ask.  The parent said that he had previously been unable to get him to listen, and the more he shouted at him, the worse he became. But recently he found that he was able to talk to him normally and the tantrums had disappeared. I was quite chuffed for PJ as it proved that all of his hard work and discipline was reaping rewards.  Some boys joined, stayed for a month or so and then left, but there was always a regular group that stayed and then in turn, took exams and moved up the ladder to become instructors.  I began to travel with PJ to the various places where there were competitions and also met many of his friends, and this was to form a way of life for many years.

Meanwhile, my Grandfather was getting older, but was still able to walk short distances, and he used to go with my mother to Bingo at the Argosy once a week.  He had a lovely laugh, and always a twinkle in his eye, when he said something funny.  He smoked a pipe and it wasn't unpleasant, even though everything in the room smelt of it. If PJ happened to call in, he would knock on the door to his room and spend some time with him, and they had many a laugh together. We fell into a pattern of work, and on Saturday evenings, we would go to the Ex-Servicemens' Club where we met up with several people we knew and had a drink and a dance.  I was not a drinker ... the odd Babycham was enough and would last me the evening.  One evening as we were about to leave, (it was drinking up time) a friend bought me a drink which I didn't want, but in the end I drank it.  It was an Atom Bomb, (I think they called it) which was Brandy and Babycham.  I sipped it and then when it was closing time, I took a swallow.....bad mistake!  Once I got outside in the fresh air, I was really dizzy, and kept laughing.  PJ later told me that I kept walking with one foot in the gutter and one on the pavement, and insisted that I did it that way.  When we got to my house, we went in and my mother always left a flask of tea and a couple of cakes on the table.  Apparently, I took my shoes off and stuffed them under the bottom of the upright piano (which is not very deep), insisting that that was where I wanted them. We had a cake and some tea, and then PJ said goodnight, gent that he was!  When I got up in the morning, I couldn't find my shoes anywhere, and later PJ told me where they were!  I said that I would never make that mistake again, and really meant it....but of course, I did slip up again on one other occasion!  There was a promotion at the VC Club one evening for the drink `Calypso' so we went with several friends, and it happened to be PJ's birthday.  We were given a free glass of Sherry, which I sipped, and later another friend gave me a Brandy and lemonade.  We were then given a free glass of Calypso, which I vaguely remember drinking.  Then some dancing started up with the Calypso dancers, doing a limbo dance under the pole.  People were invited to have a go, and I said no when pressed.  I did have a vague feeling that I was standing in the line at some point, but can't remember going under the pole, although I was told that I had.  I then remember sitting on a chair, leaning against PJ who was standing behind, when the band struck up `Happy Birthday'.  They called him out onto the floor, and then I thought he was back, so leant back onto his stomach.  A little while later, PJ came back and spoke to me, and I suddenly realised that I wasn't leaning on him at all!!  Luckily it was another friend of ours, and he laughed and said I looked so peaceful, he didn't want to disturb me!!  I had my leg pulled for quite a few weeks afterwards, but I don't think I ever got into that state again! 
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on June 19, 2014, 19:19:43
Life carried on as usual, and although we had talked about getting married and buying a house, our wages were such that we couldn't really afford it.  One day PJ met me from work, and said that he had first refusal of a house that had been repossessed.  It was in a bit of a state, and needed new floors, and complete re plastering in one room. It would be a lot of work, but he had been given confirmation that he could have a small mortgage.  We decided to go for it, and spent the next couple of weeks cleaning the place and putting carpet in the dining room and bedroom. Plus begging and rescuing an old cooker and fridge.  We also bought a bed and a table and chairs before the money ran out.   We managed to get a mortgage, which was £3 per week!  We decided that we would get married within the month, so set about organising that as well.  We hired the Ex-Servicemen's Club for the wedding breakfast.  The cake cost £3 guineas.  I went with my sister and niece to London to buy my wedding dress, which cost £10 guineas.  I had decided on a slim fitting one, but as we went through the rails, I spotted one with a crinoline skirt.  It was in the sale, as it was the end of a line, but the others persuaded me to try it on.  The face peering out at me when I looked in the mirror, totally amazed me.   I looked like a princess, (or so they told me) and it fitted like a glove, so I came home feeling on top of the world.  We found a lovely dress for my niece which suited her, so that was one less thing to worry about. By the time we had counted all the family that was going to be invited, with a few friends, we had got up to 100 people, and I began to worry.  However, I was assured that everything would be ok.  We thought about going to Blackpool for our honeymoon, but as we didn't have a car, we weren't sure about that, until Mr.G (who had retired) told me that we could borrow his car as he was no longer working.  PJ had a licence as he drove his father's car occasionally, and Mr. G's car was `any driver' so it was agreed. Looking back, I am sure quite a few people thought that we `had' to get married, as it was arranged so quickly, but we needed to pool our money in order to buy the house, and it was the `push' that we both needed.

The night before, I invited several of my girl friends, and female relatives to the house for drinks and nibbles.  All of the wedding gifts had been laid out on the front bedroom floor, which had no carpet, only white paper, and  everyone went up to have a look. We still didn't have a stair carpet, but that would come a bit later. The front room was bare boards and rendered walls which showed that hardly any cement had been used and sand kept falling off if the wall was touched.  Such a lot of work to do!!

The day dawned and my cousin helped me with my hair as I decided to do it myself.  It was a hot day, and PJ sent for his suit which was packed in a case.  He was aiming to wear his uniform, but he felt it would be too hot.  We had an Armstrong Sidley car from Hogbens, and although we only had to go a short distance (as we were going to Trinity Church) which was only a couple of hundred yards from our house, I felt quite excited.  When I walked in on my elder brother's arm, followed by the bridesmaids, I was surprised to see so many people there.  I knew we had about 100 guests, but there were a lot more than that. Afterwards we drove round to the Club for the Wedding Breakfast, and found the tables and chairs filling the hall.  Afterwards the hall was cleared and there was a band for dancing.  After about an hour, we left and went to my house to get changed and to pick up our cases.

We drove to Mr. G's house and swapped cars, and then started our drive to Blackpool.  We were staying in London overnight and hadn't booked anywhere, but knew of a road where there were quite a few boarding houses.  We finally found a room and were told that we must be out by 7.00am, and there was no breakfast!  It was so noisy...the toilet was down the hall, and someone kept crying, and another sounded drunk!  In the end we got up and left about 4.00am.  We made our way to the A1 and stopped at the service station for breakfast, and then climbed back in the car and had a sleep. Feeling a bit better, we then ploughed on to Blackpool and found a room, and again fell asleep on the bed, fully clothed.  We managed to wake in time for the evening meal and we were starving! The next day was hot and sunny, and we walked along the sands and found a deckchair to collapse into, and observe all that was going on around us.  We found that there was a good film on, and decided to go that evening.  We walked to Stanley Park Gardens, and had a peach and an ice cream.  They were the best I could ever remember tasting!

 The next day we decided to go to the Lake District, and set off in the car looking forward to the trip and possibly staying overnight.  When we got to Bowness, we decided to have a trip on the lake but by the time we stopped at one of the stages to have a cup of tea, it started to rain quite hard.  So... we decided to go back and pick the car up, and make our way back to Blackpool.  When we got there the sun was shining again!  We booked into another small hotel for the night, and went out that night to see the lights.  There were hundreds of people walking along the front and also in lots of coaches. The next day we packed and made our way across the country towards Wales to stay a couple of days with family.  The journey was quite good although the roads were busy, but we had a couple of stops in transport cafes.  We duly arrived, and had a meal with the family and then collapsed into bed.  We had a couple of good days there and then had to return home. We couldn't believe how quickly the time had flown.  We took the car back to Mr G and he wanted to know how the journey had gone, and we were pleased to say that all was well........apart from the fact that the boot had a dent in the middle of the back where a young lad in a sports car had braked too slowly and hit us up the back!  We offered to pay for the damage, but he was insistent that it wasn't a problem and he would sort it!  And so we started our first night in our own home.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on June 19, 2014, 22:09:40
A great read busyglen.

If only people today could be so grateful for small mercies and things instead of expecting so much for nothing. I also recall using some pretty rank items of second hand furniture when I first got married.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: ann on June 20, 2014, 10:59:31
Totally agree.  If you could not afford something you went without, and saved up.  Made you appreciate things so much more.  I too was given lots of secondhand furniture by relatives keen to help out.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: John38 on June 20, 2014, 12:07:07
Really good read, really enjoyable.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on June 20, 2014, 12:38:51
Curious to know where this first house of your's was busyglen, was it in Sheerness.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on June 20, 2014, 14:02:48
Curious to know where this first house of your's was busyglen, was it in Sheerness.

Yes it was in Sheerness, Minsterboy, a small terrace, but I prefer not to say where at present.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Minsterboy on June 20, 2014, 14:38:43
OK busyglen, fair enough, just me being nosey.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Desbrow on June 20, 2014, 18:30:23
Another great entry busyglen.  You have a fine knack of interweaving both personal and social history in the small details you include (e.g. white paper until you could afford some carpet).  Reading these posts I'm reminded of Helen Forrester's books on growing up in pre-WWII Liverpool that start with 'Twopence to Cross the Mersey'.  It's been a while since I read them but I recall they captured both a life and an era in a similar manner.  Your description of the wedding preparations certainly contrasts with the "production numbers" some feel they have to put on these days!
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on June 21, 2014, 19:11:44
Thank you for your kind words Desbrow.  It's strange but I don't start out setting the plot and sort out in my mind what is next, I just think of what happened next in my life and carry on!   I automatically start writing in the period I am talking about and sometimes when I am reading it back, I hardly remember writing it, as I see everything in picture form.  Weird!

I also have read Helen Forrester's books and enjoyed them.  :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on August 09, 2014, 16:14:10
Cont...

On the Monday, we both prepared to go back to work, and for me it posed a bit of a problem!  Having been an excellent cook all her life, my mother could serve up dishes from nothing, and I had not even begun to wonder what I was going to cook (or indeed more importantly, IF I could cook)!! The only times I had cooked anything before was when my mother went on holiday, after my father had died, and I muddled through with warming a pie, and cooking potatoes and some vegetables.  So we discussed what to have when we had gone shopping for groceries after our return from Blackpool.  We had been given a nice set of Pyrex dishes, and one was suitable to put in the oven to slow cook something.  So...I put two chops in it and covered it and put it on (what I thought was a low gas) and after preparing the vegetables, left them ready to cook when we got home.   When I got home a few minutes after PJ there was a sort of haze in the kitchen!!  I'd left the gas a bit too high, and the chops had burnt and the dish had cracked in the heat!!  Oops!  Lesson No. 1!  We managed with the vegetables and made up for the lack of food when we got home after work!    Gradually I sorted myself out and between the two of us we managed quite well, and a bit later I was inviting friends to come for a meal. 

I had to get used to signing my new name, not only at work, but on cheques as well, and occasionally I slipped up, but like most things, it soon became second nature.  To start with, it took a while to organise my days, as PJ was out two evenings, and occasionally three, and sometimes we were both out on a Saturday or Sunday if it was for a function that related to the organisation he belonged to. Slowly, we began to buy bits of new furniture and decorate, and eventually we were able to put in a new bathroom, which was originally the coal-shed in the garden.  It was to be ten years before we were able to move to a better property, which was quieter (no buses roaring past) and a nice garden. Unfortunately, it meant I had to catch the bus to work then which was a bit of a pain as I was used to just popping up the road! But back to the earlier days.

Life carried on as usual, and eventually PJ was offered a new job with another firm.  It meant more money, and also it would give me the chance to have a break from work.  I'd been working full time ever since I left school, and I was now in my early 30's.  So, I was persuaded to give in my notice, and it was decided that I would learn to drive.  I filled in the forms and was quite looking forward to being independent, once I had passed the test. However......before I had the chance to book a lesson, PJ came home with the news that the firm he was working for, had just gone bust!!  "POP!" all my dreams came crashing down!

So - I started hunting for another job, and eventually I found a part-time job as a proof-reader, at Smith's Printers in Bluetown.  The money wasn't great, but it would certainly help whilst PJ found another job.  I quite enjoyed the job, even though it was reading and correcting copy, and shared the job with a young girl, and sometimes with the secretary.  Obviously I needed to be able to spell, and some words I had never heard of, so had to check them out, but on the whole I didn't have a problem.  However, one day I mis-read the information on a label, which only had one letter in the middle, and I had checked it as having two!  There were several boxes of these, and Mr Smith was furious that he would have to print them all again!  I can't for the life of me remember what the word was, but it was something that could be spelt either way, and I picked the wrong one!!  After that, I always got things double checked if I was unsure.  And so, I settled in and PJ soon obtained another job, which although he had to travel, he was given a company car, and the salary was more than he'd had before.  We were slowly heading in the right direction.
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on August 12, 2014, 15:29:42
cont...

After I had been at Smith's for about nine months, I received a call from the Solicitors asking if I could help them out by taking over the accounts again, as the gentleman who had taken over, had made such a mess of everything, and had left.  I was a bit reluctant to go back again but in the end I said I would help out until they found another Legal Cashier, and duly gave notice to Mr. Smith.  Actually, I had been getting a bit bored over the last month or so, and the chance of something to get my brain going again, was quite welcome.

Thus I found myself in Trinity Road again in a different office, as they had acquired another building.  I was quite shocked when I looked at the books, as they were a complete mess!  I started off going back to the beginning of the year which was the only place I knew that would be correct.  From there I had to re-construct several months all over again! There was someone to help me, which was great and the lady had managed to get the daily banking into order.  As the rules are very strict in Solicitors Accounts, the only way I could sort everything was to set a new set of books up along the side of the ones that were incorrect. Each day had to be reconciled with the bank, and all cheques entered on the drawn day.  Gradually I was able to sort out the errors, and eventually I had a balanced and reconciled set of books ready to be scrutinised when necessary.  It wasn't just the Clients account though, the Office account was also a mess where the man had tried to reconcile the books with the opening balances and didn't know which side they went on.  I guess he thought it would be a doddle, but unfortunately for him it was more complex than he imagined.  If I hadn't had the training in that office in the first place, I would never have taken it on, as, believe me or not, I have always hated figures!!  But then again, I also hate being beaten, if I can find a way to sort a problem.

After everything was sorted I was asked if I would go to a Seminar and Computer exhibition in London, which was quite a shock!  I'd never been to London on my own before, but not wishing to appear a wimp, I agreed.  I was asked to see what Computers were around which would assist the Solicitors business, as at that time, computers were relatively new. So, off I trotted!
I found my way around the underground, and eventually pitched up at the right place.  I got chatting to a couple of girls and we pooled our knowledge and information in order to see what models would be helpful.  We had lots of leaflets thrown at us, and I tried out several machines, but at that time, I couldn't see anything that would be of help to us.  There were several ideas for normal office work, but not, as far as I could see, suitable for accounts.  I was advised that they were hoping to set up an accounts package shortly, and gave me details.  By the time I left to catch the train, my head was buzzing with all of the information, and my bag was full of leaflets!  I reported back the next morning and it was agreed that it would need several different seminars and exhibitions to find something which would suit the firm.
 
Shortly after this, I was advised that they had found an Accounts Legal Executive, who was coming to join the firm, which would relieve me from a lot of pressure.  I was asked if I would continue to work in the accounts office, as it would allow them to take on more accounts work.  I thought about it, and talked it over with PJ, and he told me to do whatever made me happiest.  As long as I wasn't being exploited, and enjoyed the job, then go for it.  Thus started another new spell where I also managed to obtain letters after my name!   
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on August 20, 2015, 19:06:49
cont...

It was nice to hand back the `heavy' stuff and concentrate on the daily work plus quite a bit of general stuff like ordering stock, and sorting out problems etc.  Most of the daily bookwork was quite easy, but there was still a lot to do with banking, getting bank drafts, and arranging bank transfers of monies for house purchases etc.  I was also given the job of keeping track of stationery stocks and re-ordering whenever necessary.  Whilst this was all going on, the gentleman who had taken on the job of doing the Company books, and also drawing up wills etc., asked why I hadn't gone on to become a Legal Cashier.    I replied that I didn't think I had the knowledge, and that I also didn't think I could find the time to study.  I was told that it was possible to do written exams, showing your ability and knowledge of various subjects.  I still didn't think I was competent enough but was eventually pushed into having a go.  The first part was answering several questions in depth, which took quite a while to assimilate.  Once that has been done, I could choose a subject and write  a short piece on it.  I decided to write about the life of managing an Accounts Office for a firm of Solicitors, which after all, was what I was actually doing.  I set out all of the rules etc. needed for banking and also the ordering of stock, plus keeping the daily books up to date, and methods used for transferring money between banks and other solicitors.  I finished in a bit of a panic, as it had taken me a while to work it all out.  Nevertheless, when I finally received the results, I had passed with distinction! Eventually I became a FILC.....a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Cashiers....How I will never know, as I thought I had `fluffed it'. 
So, I came down to earth, and continued working hard. 

Later, a part-time lady was brought in to help with some of the day to day work, which relieved me to get on with other jobs which included keeping all of the stationary up to date, and organising typewriters to be repaired where necessary.  As well as manual, they had moved on to electric typewriters by this time, and although they were much quicker, they often seemed to cough up a fault.  The girls used to complain if it couldn't be sorted there and then, and they had to go back to a manual whilst it was repaired.
A year or so passed, and the Legal Executive who was head of the Accounts Department, and who also did Wills and Probate, announced that he was leaving the next month.  It was a bit of a shock, and I was advised that he would be replaced eventually.  Days and months passed, and I found myself taking on more work, until one day the Senior Partner came in to my office in a bad mood.  He asked why I had done a certain thing, and I replied that he had told me to.  He hotly denied it, and told me to get it sorted!  I was furious, but did what he asked, and then went and left the information on his desk.  When I got home that evening, I told PJ that I had had enough and was going to give my notice in.  I was doing more work than ever, and even though I had been given a rise, it was not what I wanted.  He said go ahead, as he had a good job by this time and we could manage ok. So the next day, I handed my notice in to the other Partner, who dealt with the staff.
At the end of the day, he came into my room and said that he had not handed it in to the Senior partner, as he wanted to give me time to change my mind.  I was adamant that I wanted to leave, and so he went ahead and told the boss, who sulked for days and gave me a wide berth.  Eventually he came and spoke to me and told me that he was sorry I had decided to leave, as he didn't want me to go.  I told him that I had been there over 10 years altogether, and felt I needed a break.

 At the end of the month, I left, and was treated to a lunch with the senior staff, and left on good terms.   
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Signals99 on August 21, 2015, 10:16:03
Hi just caught up with your story Busyglen, you make a subject that would drive most of us to madness, so very interesting. Are you still working? Or  have you retired, looking forward to the next episode of your life.😀
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on August 21, 2015, 15:04:34
Thank you Signals99.  :)

This is the first time I have written for about a year, as my time has been taken up with other things.  I agreed to carry on when a couple of other `writers' said they would continue also.

I retired nearly 12 years ago having worked all my life, and having written my late mother's story, I decided to try and do mine which I thought might be boring. We'll see how it goes. :)
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: Lyn L on August 21, 2015, 17:43:48
Certainly not boring busyglen  :) I've enjoyed all the stories
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on August 21, 2015, 19:27:12
Cont...


After a short break at home, I began to get bored, and decided to look for a part-time job.  My sister worked as a Manageress for Crown (paints & wallpaper) in the town, and they needed someone for a couple of weeks whilst a staff member was on holiday.  Seeing as I had worked in that trade before, she asked if I would like to help out.  I said yes, and it was nice to be busy again, plus it was a bit of pocket money for me!  Whilst I was there, my sister started talking to a lady we both knew, who's brother ran an Insurance Service Office, and they were looking for a part-time typist, and my sister asked if I was interested.  Rather than being bored, I said yes, and ended up being with them until I retired!  I started off part-time, but eventually I progressed to full-time and had a couple of girls working with me.  I was also a guinea-pig when they went over to computers, and subsequently ended up doing the banking and paying the Insurance companies each month.

In the meantime, PJ had several jobs in the Building Trade, and worked his way up to a Site Foreman, which also meant travelling quite a bit as the Company had quite a few building sites spread around. Eventually he was promoted and was in charge of various sites around Kent.  He used to make me laugh with some of the stories of problems the builders had.  One site he went to which was already under way when he got there, looked odd to him.  He checked the plans and discovered that they had started the brickwork the wrong way round.  The front was at the back, and visa-versa!  It all had to be re-done. Lucky for us his job came with a car, which was nice, as it saved us having to fork out.

We had a couple of friends, one of whom used to work in the same solicitors office as me, but they moved away as they had a change of work which took them to Marlowe.  We visited them a couple of times including one Christmas which was nice.  Later they moved back to Kent, so we were able see more of them. One Christmas, we decided to fly to Malta for Christmas with them.  We had flown to Jersey before, but this was quite different.  We had booked an apartment, which was quite nice and we took a bit of food to keep us going.  Christmas Eve we went out to a restaurant for dinner, and our friend said he would have octopus soup.  When the dish arrived and they put it in front of him, there was a tentacle hanging over the rim.  His face was a picture and we couldn't help laughing!  There were quite a lot of lights in the various villages and it was quite pretty.  We decided to go back again, but in the summer.  On another occasion we had a holiday with them in Cornwall.  We had chalets which were quite nice, and the weather was sunny and hot.  PJ sat on the beach too long and that evening he went into shock when we were trying to sleep.  He was very red, and hot, so I got him to drink plenty of water, and after cooling him down with lukewarm water, I covered him in cream.  He was a bit better in the morning, but he'd learnt his lesson, not to sit too long in the sun.  Strangely he was dark , and usually tanned easily without burning, but as I told him,  Cornwall is hotter than Kent! 
Title: Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
Post by: busyglen on September 02, 2015, 18:58:09
Cont...
PJ continued to spend two evenings a week, plus occasional weekends, training the lads with the other Officers.  He was so pleased to see a shy, quiet lad, who on the face of it, wouldn't say `boo' to a goose, suddenly blossom and gain not only stature, but confidence in himself. On a few occasions a lad would join and try to cause chaos, but he either gave it up as a bad job and left, or realised that he could gain a lot more and get to travel a bit by conforming.  Sometimes they would go to camp at another area, and I can remember that the Unit had bought a second hand Minibus, and I went along with them and PJ.  It was better than staying home on my own!  At one time they also had their own band and would parade through the town on Carnival day.
 
In the late 70s we had been getting a bit fed up with our next door neighbours.  They were noisy and being an old house we often couldn't sleep when they were having a bath, as it echoed, and they were inclined to shout!  So....we decided to look for another house.  We found one at Halfway, which happened to be a bungalow, and we loved it straight away.  We managed to put in a bid which was accepted, and we managed to find a buyer for ours at the same time.  We didn't have a lot of furniture even though we had been there for 10 years, so we managed to do the move ourselves, with the help of a friend and PJ's cousin who had come for a few months visit from Australia.  We managed with our car and a minibus, and by the end of the day everything was done. Gradually we replaced things and had new carpets etc. and it slowly became a home....our home!   Time moved on and we had a couple of holidays in Yugoslavia.  It was not expensive, and part of the country was really beautiful. We liked exploring and would walk miles around the seashore, which was very unspoilt at this time.

I still worked for the Insurance Service and used to catch a bus to work, until one of the girls who worked there also, use to pick me up in her car. I was always busy work-wise as I ended up being head of Accounts. Being a busy office, there were always people coming and going to take out insurance or similar.  I also did the banking, so that was a walk out every day.  Not that I minded, it was a bit of a break on nice days, but not so good when it snowed!