Back on Track
William made a complete recovery from his heart attack, went back to work and apart from all of us taking his health more seriously life went on as before. He did all the right things as far as diet and exercise were concerned and even did a little therapeutic baking. ‘Dad’s rock cakes’ were famous. William had always been a lark –
‘I’ll bid you goodnight.’ he would say after dinner, sounding just like his mother Dodie. In contrast I was the owl so it was no hardship for me to wait up until the growing boys got in at night.
At the station they were being guarded by a police dog and the bullies lost their cool. They were prosecuted for stealing drink from an off- licence, so my son and friends didn’t have to go to court.
I was often out alone at night. As the shop got busier there was more book work and I quite enjoyed going to the shop and working in peace and quiet. Every article we sold had to be entered up on the client’s card and in the busy times it was impossible to do this during the day. Once a year Mary and I had to go through each client’s card and with the aid of an adding machine add up the amounts owing to customers. This was demanded by Dave our accountant and was a mammoth task. We would set aside a Sunday, take a picnic lunch and be there all day - at the end of which we would creep exhausted into the nearest pub and thank heaven it was over for another year. Our lives would have been transformed by today’s computers.
I still spent a lot of time at the theatre club and joined in with some of the back stage staff giving the club a face lift. One night I got carried away painting the ceiling and it was after mid-night when I left. Driving up the hill out of town my car ran out of petrol. I ran to the nearest telephone booth (before mobile phones) and phoned William. The phone rang and rang and rang but all three slept the sleep of the dead and were always oblivious of anything that happened once they closed their eyes. I ran down to the railway station with the idea of picking up a taxi to take me to a petrol station - I needed the car to get into the shop the next day. Alas it was too late – all the taxis had gone home. The Police Station was close by so I asked the duty sergeant if he could give me some taxi numbers. He was horrid and said they weren’t a taxi service. I couldn’t believe it. I was used to being treated as a respected member of the community. Then I remembered I was still in paint- spattered old clothes, my hair – long and blonde - was all over the place and I had smudges on my face. Also it was very late. I managed to find a number in the malodorous telephone booth and got a taxi from my village to come and pick me up. The taxi driver told me to stand in the road by the car so he could spot me easily. Whilst I was waiting for him two cars stopped with lewd suggestions which made me feel even worse.
At last he turned up and I asked him to siphon some petrol into my tank (fortunately I had plenty of cash with me) whereupon he told me his taxi ran on diesel. Seeing my despair he said there was an all night petrol station in Sevenoaks, he would drive me there, I could buy some petrol and then he would bring me back to the car.
Back we drove to my car and the taxi-driver kindly waited until I got started and I paid him an enormous amount of money. As I expected all was quiet when I finally got home – everyone was fast asleep. When I told friends about my experience they all, without exception, said I should have phoned them – they would have come to my rescue, but it was my mess and I felt I couldn’t phone someone in the wee small hours. There are quite a few morals arising from this story but the most important one I learned was to work on the top end of the petrol tank