INSIGHTS ON IVOR PART 39

IVORS INSIGHTS
 
Part Thirty-Nine
 
 
In 1959 Kathy and I were very lucky to start our married life by accepting the offer of having two rooms in my Dad’s house in Wedmore Road. This same act of kindness had been done twice before. The first time was when my sister Lily and her husband Jack upon their marriage moved in with Dad and Mum and stayed with them until they eventually found their own property in nearby Ruislip. The next occupants of these two rooms were my brother David and his wife Doreen after their marriage in 1952. They followed the same pattern as Lily and Jack and only moved out when they found a Flat, or what was called in those days, a maisonette in Isleworth Middlesex. 
 
Whilst Kathy was still during her midwifery training at Queen Charlottes and living in the nurse’s quarters I was still living with Dad. But it wasn’t long before she successfully completed her training and was able to join me at Dad’s in Wedmore Road.  We were very happy as we settled into our new environment thanks to Dad.  We were very grateful to him for giving us this start which enabled us to, at least, dream that one day we, like Lily and David, would be in a position to buy our own property.
 
 Sharing with Dad was easy and there was also a fortuitous element to it which benefited us all.  This came into play due to the fact that I worked shift hours and there were many evenings when I didn’t get home until 10 or 10.30 p.m. Rather than Kathy being on her own, Dad would always invite her into his room where they watched television together thus providing company for each other. 
 
It wasn’t long before Kathy got a job nursing at King Edwards Hospital in nearby Ealing and we were able to add a few more ‘pennies’ to our income. I remember we would visit the shops in West Ealing, looking wistfully through the windows at the many items on sale. We worked, saved and managed to buy a three piece suite (two armchairs and a sofa) for our lounge. This ‘luxury’ cost us the princely sum of £45 which was a lot of money in 1959. In due course, other items were added as we put our stamp onto our room. Married life was getting better all the time and it was to get even better, when on October 24th that year, another great life-changing event occurred. It was when our first child, a boy, was born. Not surprisingly he was born in Queen Charlottes Hospital and we named him Christopher John.
 
Becoming parents was a wonderful experience and we embraced it with love and gratitude. I was so glad that Kathy already had the natural loving instincts of a mother (which she’d inherited from her own mother) and this attribute, combined with her common sense and nursing training, meant I just had to watch, learn and provide love and all the support required to mother and child which I was naturally glad to do.
 
My father was also thrilled, to not only having another grandchild, his 6th, in the family but also this child, being a boy, meant he would carry on the Hodgson name.
This sentiment was also shared by my three brothers Bert, Bernard, and David.
Dad kindly helped us with the cost of buying a pram for Chris. It was a lovely experience for us to put Chris into this gleaming white chariot and proudly walk down the street showing him off to all the neighbors and passers-by.
 
Meanwhile whilst we were preoccupied with our lives there were other events which were occurring in the UK at this time. This included a very severe frost in January 1959 which caused the newly opened Preston Bypass, Britain’s first motorway, to be closed whilst repairs were carried out. Even worse was to come at the end of the month when the whole transport system throughout Britain was in utter chaos as the worst winter fog since 1952 enveloped the country causing widespread disruption.
 
A historical event occurred when the Jodrell Bank telescope transmitted radio messages to the U.S. via the Moon. Back on earth, the Queen journeyed to Canada, and along with America’s President Eisenhower, inaugurated the St. Lawrence Seaway. Barclays Bank became the first British Bank to order the new-fangled gadget called a ‘computer’ that’s when all our troubles started, ‘Sorry sir, it’s the computer error’ etc
 
Cinemas throughout Britain were closing at a rapid rate as television took over as the main provider for mass entertainment.  In October the country held a General Election when the Conservative party led by Harold Macmillan won by the massive majority of 365 seats to Labour’s 258. The Prime Minister, with a wonderful example of British understatement, summed up his big victory with the words, ‘it has gone off rather well’ Among the nine new women MP’s elected was one Margaret Thatcher, who twenty years later in 1979, made history as Britain’s first Women Prime Minister and served for 11years 209 days.
 
British rule over the island of Cyprus ended after 80 years when an agreement was signed in London handing over independence to the Cypriots but Britain still retained her two military bases on the Island.
On a lighter note, the latest rave was the new Transistor radio which only cost £23 and was displayed at the Earls Court Exhibition. In addition to the arrival of the Mini, there was also the Rolls Royce Phantom V which could be yours for a ‘mere’ £8,905. I
Considered buying one but it didn’t have one of the new Transistor radios so I didn’t bother!
 
At this point in my story, I would like to tell you that for many years I have considered the 1950’s, were what I can only describe as ‘My Defining Years’.  The changes I encountered, good and sadly one tragically bad, were to change my life forever.
 
 It all started in March 1950 when I was called up for National Service in The Royal Air Force. I can truthfully say that I enjoyed my two years service. It held no worries for me. I was used to mixing with other boys throughout my days with the Boys Brigade. I was also lucky that the BB taught me how to march and perform all the drill movements required in the RAF. I also learned how to handle a Rifle, even becoming a Marksman. A requirement thankfully not required in the BB.
 
The big difference between us was that the boys I mixed within the BB were mainly local boys I knew, some from the same school as me whereas the boys (and girls) I met in the RAF were from all corners of the UK, many with different accents, outlooks, and upbringing. There is no doubt that experiencing this change is a great learning curve and an education in itself.
 
I am always grateful to the RAF for the training I received in Signal Communications through my service. The training, knowledge, and experience I gained was put to good use when I was demobbed. It eventually gave me a good rewarding career throughout my 36 years using this knowledge in civilian life. This started when in June 1952 I joined the American Embassy in London. This was an interesting and eye-opening period of my life applying my Telegraphic skills with Americans who were very pleasant and generous people.
 
Whilst I was working at the Embassy, I heard there were similar work openings in the Telecommunications field at the Shell Petroleum Company also in London. In addition, I also learned that Shell offered a very generous Life Pension Scheme. Whilst I enjoyed my days at the Embassy, I decided to apply to Shell offering my services.
I was successful in my application and joined Shell in December 1952, staying with them until my retirement in December 1989. 
 
The death of my mother in January 1956 was, alas, a very bittersweet definitive heartbreaking moment and one that can never be forgotten. The pain was somewhat eased three years later by my meeting Kathy in June 1958 and marrying her six months later in December 1958. As a result of our liaison there was another, and wonderful, Definitive Moment when on October 24th, 1959 our first child, Chris, was born.
 
So, taking all the experiences, knowledge and advancement I lived through, as described above, is it any wonder I call this decade ‘My Defining Years’?
 
---End of Part Thirty-Nine—