Volume 2 – A new life begins – chapter 5 – early marriage – part 3 – we have a baby – post 56 on 29/03/12
Being such a large organisation the De Havilland Company appeared impersonal and distant giving a feeling that you were a very small cog in a very large machine. They had very little interest in their numerous little cogs, they cared about their specialists but for people such as me the hope that one might get ahead was a forlorn hope. If you had something to offer expense was no object, like the young man who worked at the next desk to me, who had qualifications. He was given the job of coordinating the needs of production both at our factory and the main establishment at Stevenage in the South of England. Each morning he would arrive at work, gather his work things, and stroll out to the Dove aircraft that commuted daily between the factories, in the afternoon he would catch the return flight and be back in the office in time to go home. They could afford to fly this chap the length of the country every day to correlate a few figures, but they had no interest in training or offering opportunities to people like me. Having made my critical comment I have to say that there were worse places to work; my colleagues were a reasonable bunch, and the work was certainly a challenge
Thinking of my uncle and knowing that he was not happy in the job he had, I decided to tell him about my place of work, which I thought might suit him better. When I did he was very interested and liked the idea of accompanying me to work one day to make enquiries at the personnel office. With his background of engineering at Rolls Royce they snapped him up immediately and he began work in the machine shop, operating a particularly complex milling machine. Uncle Bill was much happier in his new job, and kept it from approximately the end of 1956 until he set out for pastures new early in 1960 when they decided to emigrate to New Zealand. Aunt and Uncle had looked like a success story in the early years of their marriage, then it all went wrong and I have to say that to a large degree their problems had been of their own making. Before they were on a really sound financial footing they had begun to lead the high life, spending their money in a rather reckless fashion. With no financial buffer or reserve when problems arose they were unable to save their boat when it began to sink. Aunt blamed Uncle for their misfortunes and she never ceased admonishing him for it, she made the poor fellow suffer for his mistakes every waking hour of every day. With the sort of life she was giving him he became bitter and even more unreliable than he had already been. Instead of the easy going, friendly, generous sort of man he had been, he became devious, dishonest, and in short, not a man you could trust.
Having once had the good life my aunt and uncle could never reconcile themselves to a less attractive situation; with their most recent venture going downhill they looked for another opportunity to become a financial success. Eventually they concluded that the UK had nothing to offer, so they listened to friends who had left for NZ several years before, and decided to do the same. If their friends were to be believed they had found a land of opportunity and they were enjoying every minute of it. Better weather, wonderful people, and best of all, every chance to improve ones situation and make a better life.
For us life had settled into a pattern, with me earning enough to pay the bills, and the in-laws providing some pleasure at the weekends. We were all happy with the way things were, Jackie and I were getting some enjoyment out of life that we could not have afforded ourselves, and the Grants were able to stay close to their daughter and still have an influence in her life. Although thinking was changing and women were going out to work more frequently as time passed, for those who could afford it a married woman still remained at home. For anyone who aspired to a higher social standing the thought that a man’s wife might go out to work was unthinkable; my in-laws certainly thought this and of course the idea suited them. There was nothing we could do to improve our financial situation because we agreed with them; I accepted that it was my duty to put food on the table.
The sightseeing trips with Len continued and being something of a history buff, numerous visits to historic houses and other sites were always included.
We did not go on every outing with the Grants, they still attended social events on their own, and they were still very active members of the golf club, the country club, and other social organisations which we could not afford and so were not privy to. They also continued to take expensive holidays, mostly to Europe, but in addition they made every effort to retain Jacqueline in their lives, though it now meant they had to include me as well.
We all try and make things happen in the way we want them to, but the unexpected is always around the corner. At this time I was thinking maybe I can get ahead at Broughton, after all it is a massive place with a large work force, there is bound to be opportunities though it was going to take time. Do I have a workable plan? No I do not, because the unexpected began to happen. It began with the discovery that Jackie was pregnant, a most unexpected event due to our inexperience in sexual matters; it was not planned though not unwelcome. Our problem was being able to afford to have a family, we wanted to be better prepared before we did; but Len was highly delighted he really wanted a grandchild to spoil.