Mr Marks came to see me and asked if I would go back to work, said it would be better to be with folk. So I started down the hall again. I used to look at the lawns and think of when Ern used to do all the mowing. If only we could turn back the clock.
I didn’t tell you this, when Ern was about seventeen he used to work in the hall big generator house (which gave all the light to the hall) well one Boxing Night he locked all up and when he got back to the lodge he looked and saw flames shooting up in the sky. They called the fire brigade but the whole place went. All burnt away. It was a big worry for Ern, they said it must have been a fault of some sort, mind you, it was years old. It was a shame because it was next to the big old clock which used to chime. Mind you later years they did their best to make it like it was. It was up in what they called the square, it was very pretty. When I first worked down there it had a lovely pond with fish in and weeping cherry trees with bright pink blossom all around it. It used to look gorgeous with all the daffs planted in the grass surrounding.
Lord Darnley had a Rolls Royce he used to go to the House of Lords on a Tuesday so at least we knew where he was on one day at of the week !
We used to get some funny people to work with down in the kitchens. Some hadn’t a clue. One girl was told to wash the lettuce, she did it really clean, under the hot tap with suds coming out!
Another time Rene had to thicken up eight pints of cream, she put the machine on top speed, in a matter of a minute it had turned to butter so she threw the whole lot in the pig bin. Rene was my very good friend but she could be so dopey at times. Another time we were all ready to go home she went prancing through the kitchen, her apron caught a huge gallon drum of cooking oil, it went everywhere. We spent ages trying to clean it up, it went all under the gas cookers, we used soda but it didn’t help a lot. When the kitchen did dry out it was all white, it looked awful.
One Sunday morning while at work Bessie, a lady that worked on the washing up machine came in very late. She used to drink a lot, well she seemed to me still drunk, she said she didn’t feel well. She was Roy Parker’s wife so she lived down the hall in the caretakers flat. After a while she went down home. Well she didn’t come back. In the meantime the Bursar came in and asked me what I thought was wrong with her. Well I didn’t want to get her into trouble so I just said she had a very bad headache. Next thing they had an ambulance to take her into hospital, I was so worried I thought I should have said she had been drinking. Anyhow she died soon after getting her into hospital, it was awful. She had always been good fun. One time she came into the Guilt Hall still drunk and sat down at the Grand Piano and played ‘let’s all go down the strand’. She could play really well but we were afraid she might be caught. She just laughed and said I’ll play some of Cliff Richard’s songs and she did. After we finally got her away from it she just kept saying don’t worry they can’t shoot me for it. I really missed her after she died.
Now I am a firm believer in fate. When I was first working on Lawrence farm and my mum had come to live with me and Ern and I never seemed to get ill. Well one morning I was busy doing the washing, I started to get the most awful pains in my tummy, it was worse than giving birth. My mum said it sounds like appendix to me. I was scared stiff of the thought of going into hospital but eventually we had to get the doctor in. He said you will have to go straight into hospital I think it is your appendix. So I was packed off into hospital, they were not too sure but they got me all prepared in case I had to have an operation. Well I nearly died I had never been away from Ern, ever. I was so worried. They asked if I thought I was pregnant. I said I wish I was but no it wasn’t a baby. Next day I saw Mr Chester one of the top ones. He gave me a right going over, he said you have a very large cyst on the ovaries I will have to remove it but I said the pain has gone away at the moment. He explained the cyst was on a stem like a mushroom when it twisted it gave me pain, when I vomited it righted itself. Anyway he said go home, when the pain comes back, which it will, you must come straight back into hospital and I will remove it. So I came back home, on the Friday it was back again so Ern took me into hospital. They operated straight away and Mr Chester said it was as big as a grapefruit. I had to stay in for ten days. I hated it. I was really homesick.
Well back to fate. One morning I was coming home (I’ve told you my dear brother was in Joyce Green for two years) well I asked the nurse if I could go and see my brother before I went home. It was in the morning so it wasn’t visiting time. Anyhow she said yes so I went to find Fred, he was so pleased to see me but he looked so very ill. I just wanted to cry. I didn’t stay long he looked so tired. I looked back at him when I was leaving the ward, he called out ‘Goodbye Blue’ bless him. I hadn’t been indoors long when they phoned and said he had died. Now I was the last one to see him alive and it would never have happened if I hadn’t been in hospital at that time. So now you know why I believe in fate.
Fred was such a good man. He came over to cement all our paths and runway for the car, he loved to go down into the cherry orchards with Ern and Dixie our dog. He used to say to me you are so lucky girl. I never felt so at the time.
We used to have some lovely times all of us together. Lena, Len and Les were much like one big family.
When I worked with Babs on English’s farm we had so many laughs. One day we were having our lunch break, Babs and I were discussing what each person looked like. Mrs Dray was very fat and always wore cut off trousers to look like shorts. Mrs Day was like a pole with a mac and hat on. Mrs Claydon was getting a real hump on her back. We had spoken of this to each other and all of a sudden Mrs Claydon said ‘I went up to the market on Saturday and bought a really lovely camel coat’. Well we didn’t know how to stop laughing. Wicked we were.
Another time it was Joyce Barden’s birthday so we took some drink in for her to have at dinner time. Well after dinner it was Joyce’s time to walk behind the potato machine and pick up the loose ones that were left. Well we were on the machine when we looked back Joyce was lying on the ground laughing her head off. Len her husband was not amused, he had a right old moan.
When we were down the Hall working (Babs and I) Mr Marks was the manager over us all, he was a very funny man with a wicked sense of humour. One day he was bragging as usual and he said ‘I bet you would all like to see me in my underpants and look at my bulge’ so Babs piped up with ‘why have you got a boil on your bum’ he went down like a popped balloon. It was silly things like that we used to laugh at.
Another time we were picking up potatos and a chap called Michael (he was very shy and used to go very red when we spoke to him) used to stop the tractor every so often to put the odd potato in the truck where we were. Well Babs had this big stick and whenever he popped his head over the side of the truck Babs would tap him on the head and say in a very funny voice ‘That’s the way to do it’ like Punch and Judy. In the end he said ‘Put that bloody stick down Babs’ I think he was getting a headache, he took it all in fun.
This is the end of my years on the farm. It was hard but so carefree and happy.
The end of my years with Ern and happy times.