Part Forty-Five 

   I shall now move on to some of the events which occurred during the 1970s. These included such varied things as the 4,000 people who died of an outbreak of Asian Flu throughout the U.K. in the week ending January 2nd 1970. In London Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate cemetery was desecrated by having swastikas painted on it and also damaged in an attempt to blow it up. 

 Aviation History was made when a Boeing 747 aircraft (which because of their sheer size were called Jumbo’s arrived in Britain). It was three hours late touching down at Heathrow due to engine trouble en route. 
  February 15th 1970 was the day when Britain lost a man to whom the whole country owes a huge debt of gratitude. I am referring to Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding (later 1st Baron Dowding GCB GCVO CMG) who died on that day. He was the man in charge of the R.A.F.’s Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. 

Talking of Aircraft, Concorde made its first Supersonic Flight in this decade. 

 The voting age within the UK was lowered from 21 to 18. The average house price was around £4,900. On the music scene, Record Players and Cassette Players were very popular. The Isle of Wight held its biggest Rock Music Festival when 600,000 people attended.  In April 1970 many were surprised to hear that the Beatles broke up. 

 On the religious side, another surprise came when the Methodists announced that women could become full Ministers in its Church. Some male cynics quipped that women had been preaching for years without many methods but remember this was before the eventual successful enlightened days of Liberation and rights for women came into being. 

 In the Queen’s birthday honours list Sir Laurence Olivier, in recognition of his vast contribution to the world of Theatre was the first actor to be given a life peerage and became Lord Olivier. 

 Sad to record that the decade of the 1970s was one of the breakdowns of Industrial Relations throughout the country. There were so many strikes starting with the British Miners after refusing a £2 a week pay rise from the National Coal Board went on strike on January 9th. Power stations were closed and Electricity supplies rationed. 

To make matters worse, the Postmen on January 20th, decided, for the first time in their history to also go on strike. 

 The troubles in Northern Ireland were still ranging. The Army used rubber bullets for the first time in both Belfast and Londonderry as well as CS gas in an effort to quell stone-throwing rioters in the Bogside. Sunday, January 30th saw a conflict which killed thirteen men and youths with seventeen more wounded. This battle is forever remembered as ‘Bloody Sunday’
 One of the biggest changes we witnessed in the UK in 1971 was when the country said goodbye to centuries of dealing in Pounds, Shillings and Pence and we all tried to understand the new decimal coinage imposed upon us. There were worries that in the confusion some shops and businesses would be marking up their prices, which many did. Older people were hit the hardest trying to adjust to this dramatic change. Many were reluctant to lose the Tanner (sixpence), Bob (1 shilling), the thruppny bit (a three-penny piece) and the Half-crown (two shillings and sixpence). Thinking back to it now I must admit that when I remember the sheer size and weight of the old one penny coins and consider there were 240 of them to each one pound you soon realise why we used to get holes in our trouser pockets!

 Whilst all of the UK troubles and changes were going on, Kathy and I continued our interest in Caravanning and joined the Caravan Club. This National organisation was open to any caravan owners to join. It is split into county areas throughout the UK. As we lived in the east part of Hampshire, we became members of the East Hants Branch. Joining this was one of the best decisions we ever made. Every weekend members of the many county branches would meet up for a Friday-Sunday Rally which would be held at a locally convenient site i.e. a Farmers field, a Village hall or School playgrounds to that area.  

  Every Saturday evening there would be some entertainment which varied from such diverse options as Dances in the village or school hall, Barbecues on a summer evening when I, along with my guitar, aided and abetted by another caravaner who played the piano accordion, would lead everyone in a sing-a-long session. Another activity which provided much laughter, was for participants to visit other designated vans and play a hand or two of cards whilst enjoying a glass (or two?) of Sherry with the owners of that van. When suitably refreshed we would then move on to the next 

Participating couple’s van where we would repeat the same act of playing another hand of cards whilst partaking of more Sherry. You can imagine what mayhem sometimes occurred if someone had too many glasses of the Amber Nectar. The result would be that the individual concerned would be so muddled that he (or she) would not only have no idea what trumps were but by this time couldn’t care less anyway. 

  We looked forward to every Friday when we would hitch up our caravan and head off to the designated Rally site for that weekend. These weekend breaks were viewed as a welcome rest and a chance to recharge our batteries for the return to work on Monday morning. Chris and Martin were at an age when our caravanning escapades were not for them, so we trusted them to stay at home and not indulge in any wild parties to annoy our neighbours. There were some occasions they would pay us a quick visit on their motorbikes.   

 It was also around this time in our lives when Kathy and I decided to try a holiday on a cruise liner. Kathy’s father had spent a large part of his life at sea. He served as a Merchant Seaman, a Royal Marine and finally in the Royal Navy in which he served as a Chief Petty Officer during the Second World War. It was only natural that Kathy was interested in all things naval and very keen to try life on the Ocean Wave even if it was only a holiday cruise. 

 We took the ‘plunge’ by booking a six-day trip on a small ship called the Eagle which acted as a car ferry as well as a cruise ship. The cost of the cruise passage for us was only £45 each for a four-berth cabin on a return trip from Southampton visiting Lisbon, (Portugal), Algeciras (Spain), Tangiers (Morocco), back to Lisbon before returning to Southampton. 

 The whole experience was great value for the money. Even though Chris and Martin did sometimes prefer to stay on board in the swimming pool rather than go ashore on an excursion it was a big success for Kathy and I and the beginning of a love affair with cruising which we carried on for many years including celebrating our Silver/Golden and Diamond Wedding Anniversaries on different ships and visiting different countries around the world.

 Two ships we fondly remember are P and O’s Canberra and the Royal Princess. We cruised on the Canberra and I remember one sunny afternoon in the Mediterranean when the Captain told all passengers he had received a message that there was a bomb on board the ship and all passengers were to return to their cabins, search thoroughly and to report to a ship's officer if they found any suspicious items. This episode came during the height of the troubles in Ireland. We did as we were instructed, found nothing untoward until the Captain announced that nothing had been found and we could all return to our cabins which we did. No sooner did we do this when there was a very loud bang akin to a bomb blast. Fortunately, the Captain came back on the Tannoy and allayed any fears by informing us that the bang was not a bomb but the sound of Concorde breaking the sound barrier as she raced across the sky above our ship. You can imagine what a relief that was.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

-End of Part Forty-Five- 

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