MEET THE FOLKS
During our enforced wait in the sleazy area, I explained to William that if he had resisted the urge to condemn the bus conductor’s rabbits to an early death, we would now be on the bus and halfway home. William, in his wroth had not noticed the conductor’s face soften, nor yet his proffered arm to help me up. He listened, a little abashed and apologised. I thought it ironic that his stammer didn’t prevent the snappy crack that would be better left unsaid.
There was a warm welcome and one of Mum’s special high teas waiting for us and William relished both. After tea I went into the kitchen with Mum to wash up and let the men get on with the business of ‘permission to marry.’ Before we’d even started the cutlery, Dad appeared with a big grin on his face.
‘What happened Dad?’
‘Well t’lad couldn’t get it out and I knew what he wanted to say so I said it were alright and you could get married!’
You would think they were glad to get rid of me.
‘When were you thinking of?’
‘July – as soon as I have finished my Finals.’
‘Eeh Pat! Couldn’t you wait a year? We’ve just bought a three-piece suite.’
Mum caught sight of my face and said.
‘Never mind we can manage it.’ Good old Mum! Well, she held the purse strings so she should know.
Over the week-end we discussed the arrangements and William suggested we got married at sea where, as long as you were three miles out, the captain could marry you.
I said I wanted to be married by our minister. He and his wife had been kind, helpful and supportive during my teen-age years and when William saw the simple church (alas no more) he agreed. It was a shame that Gran would be in the States, Maddie and family in Africa and William’s brother and family in Malta.
William sent off for an engagement ring that he had seen in a catalogue. When Vanessa saw it she said she had never seen such a tiny diamond and you could get really good sized zircons for the same money. I forgave her and asked her to be bridesmaid. I also asked Annie, my old friend from the Convalescent Home. We all met in Manchester and as often happens when you introduce your special friends to each other it didn’t go well. Vanessa had a vision of them wearing striped creations in yellow and black.
‘We’ll both look like bloody big wasps!’ moaned Annie.
There was so much to think about and Finals were looming which was giving me nightmares. William’s father had a heart attack and when he was convalescing his mother wrote how she was pushing his bed out onto the veranda every day so he could enjoy the spring sunshine. This worried William and his brother as she was no spring chicken and had angina. And then a bombshell!
William met me one evening looking desperately worried. He had been called up.
‘Not another bloody war!’ I screeched. Apparently when he left the Navy he was given the option of signing on as a Reservist. This meant he would get an income of 1s 1d a day (about 14p but it went much further then) and as he was going to University he jumped at the chance. Now however the Korean War had broken out; conflict between the Communist North and the American occupied Republic of South Korea. I couldn’t understand why the British Navy had to be involved. Maybe now history is repeating itself. I wondered if someone was trying to tell me something.
William was insistent that we should bring the wedding forward – even if it meant we had to get married in a registry office, he just wanted to be married. He was going off to war – anything could happen – I had to agree. I went to see Matron and explained what had happened. She was very sympathetic and said I could have some leave to get married and would then return to take my Finals and make up the time off after then. There were a few tears shed. Most of my close friends had left so the people who didn’t know me very well, assumed I was pregnant and had to get married. I was so sick of wars.