As my story approaches its mature years, so of course does this writer. Like many other people who still see all the wisdom of the good that there is in our present world, with the vast increases in technology and just the sheer speed of life today, we also yearn for the ‘good old days'. I can recall the early 1950’s as if was yesterday. The sounds, news and sights of those days are still vivid to me. Some might say that I am still stuck in the past but I would disagree with that judgement. It is a true fact that as most people get older their memory will diminish a little but they will also find that they will still have fond memories from events they have lived through.
The trick to remember is that the lessons they have learned from those far off days, both good and bad can be passed on to help establish future decisions. Sadly, in some cases, we charge forward and make the bad mistakes again just in a more modern variation. I have always found humour in many things, especially in times of trouble and hardship preferring to laugh a little at what life throws at me and remember the lyrics of the song ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ and ‘Count your blessings’.
As I sum up the last part of my story, it seems to have passed so quickly. The mid 1980s to the present day are not in the realm of my heyday so, although more recent, they are perhaps harder for me to recall.
But I can recall the year 1989 for the following reasons. This was the time when Kathy and I decided it was time for us to retire. We both had worked hard all of our lives. Kathy from a student nurse to an SRN, to a part Midwife and finally to the role of an Occupational Health Nursing Sister in a factory in Basingstoke. My working life started when I left school aged 14 and started work assembling furniture in a factory which I didn’t like and left after a week. This was followed by being trained as cobbler which lasted for four years. I then served my two years National Service in the Royal Air Force where I was drafted into the signals section and trained as a telegraphist. The knowledge gained there stood me in good stead which after demobilisation led to me getting a job in the Communications Department of the American Embassy in London. This, in turn, led to me joining Shell in 1952 where I continued plying my RAF communications expertise for the next 36 years starting as a Telex/Teletype operator moving up to a supervisor position and finally retiring from Shell as a unit head of the communications telex department.
So Kathy and I decided this was the time for us to retire and after careful study and discussions we resigned from our posts and moved from Church Crookham Hampshire to rural Somerset settling in the old market town of Chard where we ran a small farm food shop at the Cricket St. Thomas Wildlife Park for a couple of years, (also the filming location for the BBC series “To the Manor Born”). Naturally being in Somerset the shop sold cider, wines, cheeses, local fudge, biscuits and cakes as well as various items of other Somerset ware tea towels and trinkets. We were lucky in so much as we had a local cider maker named Perrys who kept us well supplied with his cider. Amongst the many other makes of cider we stocked were two others with names which always amused the customers when they read the names on the bottle i.e. one was called ‘Merry Legs’ and the other one was ‘Cripple cock’.(which had a logo of a chicken on crutches). Many bought these two choices and walked off with their merry legs and a merry smile on their faces. Kathy and I really enjoyed our time meeting the many holidaymakers and day-trippers with their varied personalities proved very entertaining and for us, it was a world away from commuting daily to the hustle and bustle of smoky crowded London for me and also a relief for Kathy who drove daily to Basingstoke to carry out her work and face the ever-present big responsibility as the occupational health nursing sister in a factory.
Whilst we were working at the farm shop, we had a bit of a mishap! I made us a lovely cup of tea, which we enjoyed with the usual satisfaction a classic British cuppa brings. Sadly, I unplugged the freezer instead of the kettle, after the beverage festivities had concluded. The freezer was full of Ice cream. You can imagine the sight the next day when we opened the shop for a new day. We had to pour it all down the outside drain, and what a frothy mess it was. It would have made a good backdrop for a 1950s science fiction film “Ice cream Invaders from Mars” anyway in due course it was all eventually washed down the drain. Another of life’s lessons learned.
We loved the slower pace of Somerset taking to the locals and their wonderful west country expressions. For instance, If you find something which someone is looking for, you don’t say ‘Here it is’ you say ‘YER TIZ’.
Another one refers to reversing your car which comes out as ‘You gotta back backwards’ and the final one you’ll note is that many Somerset men refer to their wives as ‘My little maid’. Another aspect of Chard was they had a light operatic society which I, although not an operatic singer, I joined and performed in productions such as HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, Oklahoma and other popular ‘Old Time Musicals’. Whilst I was doing this Kathy joined the local W.I. and made many friends by doing so. It gave her a lot of satisfaction including going on spring and summer holidays which I, along with other husbands accompanied them.
End of part fifty-three