During this period of my life, I was getting very frustrated at work and wanted to become a full time telephonist; not just a relief operator to stand in when Molly wanted to go to lunch or to the loo. At the time, this seemed a big decision to take and I was rather scared. But I went for it, and changed my job.
My new position was with a company called Williams Bros. They were very big in those days, rather like the Co-op. They had stores all over London and the Home Counties and owned chains of butcher’s shops, greengrocers, florists, grocers and furniture stores.
I was employed by them as a telephonist/receptionist, and loved being in charge of the switchboard all day. The pay was three pounds five shillings (£3.25), ten shillings (50p) more than my last job. Now that Dad was working and I didn’t have to give the whole of my wage packet to Mum, I felt quite rich. Each morning I would by a daily paper on the way to work, and each evening buy the Evening Standard to read on the bus journey home. This really was the working girl’s world!
Payday was always the day that I loved because it was on that day that I could buy Mummy and the children their weekly treats. The ritual was always the same, every Friday night, until I left home.
Firstly, I would go into the local cake-shop and buy Mummy two ‘Melting Moments’. These were little cakes in paper cases that truly did melt in your mouth as you ate them, and Mum loved them. Then, I would make my way to the sweetshop and buy an assortment of sweets, so that each of my brothers and sisters received a collection of sweets for themselve I don’t recollect Dougie or Billy’s reactions, but I can still picture Sandie, Tina and Babs jumping up and down with excitement, hands flapping at their sides, as they shouted ‘Treat day! Treat day! when I walked through the kitchen doorway.
They are all middle-aged ladies now, but I bet that they too can still remember those Fridays.
It was about this time that I gave up my amateur dramatics. Although I still enjoyed my hobby, my life was getting busier and I had lots of other things to occupy my time, such as going to Maurice Jay’s School of Dancing twice a week. No time for learning lines and dress rehearsals now!
I loved my job, loved my new dancing classes, and loved my new- found dreamboat.
CUPID TAKES AIM
When each Saturday night came around, I would curl my hair with dozens of small metal ‘Dinky’ hair-curlers (rollers hadn’t been invented yet), put on my ‘war-paint’ and, don my three inch, high-heeled, silver, dancing shoes and catch the trolley-bus to Maurice Jay’s School of Dancing in Wood Green.
One of the hit records of the time was by a band (the word ‘group’ would not be invented until years later) called Pee-Wee Hunt, and was entitled ‘Twelfth Street Rag’. This was our favourite record for dancing the quickstep to. Although we weren’t yet officially going steady, no matter who we were dancing with, Arthur and I would always get together as soon as this tune came on. Before I became Arthur’s girl, I went out and bought ‘Twelfth-Street Rag’ so that I could play it at home and dream about him. I still have this same original 78rpm recording that I purchased sixty-one years ago! It’s one of my most treasured mementoes.
By the time we left Maurice Jay’s, the last bus had usually departed. Arthur, myself and another girl called Jean would start the long trek home on foot. I lived the nearest, so Arthur and Jean would bid be farewell at the bottom of my road and the two of them would continue on until he dropped Jean off at her house.
I was still working hard to get him to myself, and was now halfway there. After a couple of weeks, I successfully persuaded him that two was company and three a crowd! From then on, he only took me home. This was wonderful as we then had plenty of time to talk. I would walk along beside him, my arm tucked lightly through his, his hand deep in his raincoat pocket. How I longed for him to hold my hand, but he didn’t. One evening, I linked arms with him as usual, and then decided to take the initiative. I let my hand slowly drift down his sleeve and into his hand. I was home and dry! He didn’t say anything and neither did I, but I felt that this was going to be ‘the start of something big’
To be cont…