Volume 2 – chapter 4 – part 2 - post 50
In more recent times I put together pictures of Jacqueline with a written description and I feel that they also deserve to be included in these pages. She was about nineteen which would have been in 1954 and these were particular favourites of mine.
Very much a lady Jackie is seen here ready for town; her mother spared no expense to ensure that she had a daughter she was proud to be seen with.
Jacqueline Grant, the daughter of a Post Office Engineer. In retrospect it now appears to me that my life included loving women who made my life tolerable, interspersed with disastrous events that made the presence of such ladies essential.
The onset of the Second World War threw the lives of most of those involved into turmoil. For my father it initially appeared to be a stroke of fortune, he had spent almost twenty years rising through the ranks of the army reaching the highest non commissioned rank of Warrant Officer First Class. In a peace time army it was rare for a soldier from the ranks to achieve a commission, and without doubt it was the outbreak of war in 1939 that brought about the promotions that saw my father rise to become a Major in the next six years. On the other hand the war burnt him out, and destroyed the life we had known; it cast us all adrift with no chart to navigate by.
My father had been without a sense of direction after the First World War, and had joined the army as a result. There was of course some family tradition involved, which may have had a bearing on his decision, but there seemed to be very few prospects in civilian life at the time. History often repeats itself, and so it was that I followed in my father’s footsteps for much the same reasons. For my father the decision to join the army proved a step in the right direction, for me it was a disastrous mistake. In just under two years I found myself discharged on medical grounds, with the only asset I had destroyed, which was my health and strength.
Having set the scene I can now continue with the purpose of this commentary; I can describe the second Mrs. Bishop (the first being my mother,) and with the help of pictures show the person she was. In 1955 I was again without a sense of direction, with no future to look forward to. My plan to transfer to the SIB (Secret Investigation Branch) of the Royal Military Police, and eventually to leave the army and join the CID, was now just a pile of ashes. In the three years 1952 to 1954 I spent just two weeks short of a year in sanatoria and hospital. The impression I was given at the time was how miraculous it was that I was still alive, and when truthful with people around me, found myself being treated like a leper.
In 1955 I devised a plan to disappear to New Zealand and so put my name on the waiting list for a paid passage. That summer I went to stay with my aunt who lived at Rhyl, and it was at that time that fate decided I should meet Jacqueline. My plan to emigrate went out of the window when I met her and fell in love.
Her father Len Grant was a Birmingham man, who had been promoted to assistant engineer and now carried out his job in the North Wales area. This made him one of the few people who could afford to own and run a car, and he took advantage of this; eventually there were very few corners of North Wales he had not investigated. After I arrived on the scene I also shared in his travels, providing some company for him to begin with, but later I became his driver. We got on well together and I had no trouble showing him the respect I considered he was entitled to. He was a kind and considerate man, though I was never in any doubt that he and his wife called the shots, they always had and as far as they were concerned they always would. In time I was to find this dominating influence hard to endure; I was my own man and was not prepared to have my independence taken from me. However, for the time being this was something I had to live with and as they say: ‘Needs must when the devil drives.’ Eventually my attitude rubbed off on Jackie and she also showed a desire to be independent, not that it was my influence entirely. She had been under her mother’s thumb all her life, and though she appreciated everything her parents had provided, including lots of love, she yearned to be free and go her own way. When she met me she got the chance, though it took time to break away from the controlling influence of her parents.
The regional PO was at Chester; Len had his office there, next to the drawing office where Jackie worked as a tracer, later qualifying to become a draughtswomen. The next picture shows the ladies of the drawing office with Jackie third from the left in a dark coat.
Inevitably my holiday disappeared like a puff of smoke and I found myself back at work. The only thing I could think of was returning to Rhyl as soon as possible, which I did as often as I could; this proved to be the week-ends. For the remainder of the time that I spent in the Potteries I left work on a Friday afternoon catching the train at Longton station, and arriving for a late tea, more often than not with the Grant family. Early on a Monday morning I would catch the train to Derby which got me back to Longton about 8.30am; I would be walking through the door at work about 8.40am which did not make me popular. I was arriving about 40 minutes late every Monday, and leaving that much early on a Friday. This went on for some months well into 1956 and nothing was said to me in that time; I was expecting to be called into the office, and cou-ld not wait for it to happen. I shall never know why they never chastised me for my poor time keeping but I suspect that they were well aware that I had grievances; they had no intention of giving me a chance to air them. When you think about it what was an hour or so of my time when they had me for a whole week for half the salary they would have been paying someone else.
Meantime I had never been so happy; my life had been grim to say the least for several years, and now life had never been so good. It was hard to believe that this lovely girl with everything she could want, actually wanted me and that was hard to comprehend. Over the first few weeks we spent together we opened our hearts to each other, telling all with a strong desire to have no secrets. For my part I fully expected a cooling of interest from Jackie once she realised how little I had to offer, but it is said that love is blind and never a truer word was spoken when that was said. For something like nine months we grew closer our relationship getting stronger all the time, but while this was so, the more serious we became the less enthusiastic the Grants became. They liked me well enough, and Len never showed any opposition, but Ethel began to realise that I was not exactly a good catch for her wonderful daughter. The more she learned about me the more she cooled to the idea that I might marry her, she did not show a determined resistance, but she did let me know that if I cared about Jackie I would not burden her with an unpromising future. In conversation she stressed the fact that there were other more promising young men that had shown an interest in Jacqueline; included in her list of prospects were a couple of professional men, one of whom was a doctor. I knew what she was saying and agreed with her view of the situation, but I just could not help myself, I was in love and was being born along on the tide of emotion that had me in its sway.
In the summer visits to the beach were high on their list of destinations, and the next picture I show is Jackie (everyone called her by this shortened anglicised version of her name,) on the beach