Tuesday, July 12, 2011
We Met on the Bus...part two. (The ups and downs of a design career)
We Met On the Bus… Part Two
My new job is a turn for the worse!
While things were going smoothly, well smoothly in relative terms, with my new boyfriend (I’ll give him the name of John) whom I met on the bus, it was a different story with my new job. I recall a college lecturer saying, “They’ll exploit you, if they can,” and how true this turned out to be.
I had been taken on as an assistant designer but in actual fact they were short of cutters. That is where I was needed and that is where I stayed — cutting samples, plus garments for production. Eventually I was given a chance to do a couple of designs but I knew it was just a sop to keep me there. Their main production was in sloppy sweaters made in a type of brushed nylon popular at that time, and that is not enough work even for one designer. But the designer turned out her seasonal samples and I had the job of cutting a number of each them. Some were totally impractical for mass production — lines and checks having to match at every meeting point. The costing was way out and if I had been on piece rates I would have been looking sick by the end of the week! So said the manager who was not pleased with my output. I started looking for other jobs.
Just seeing John once a week to visit a local cinema did not exactly fill my evenings. My best friend, whom I had known since we were at junior school together, agreed for us to go to the Nottingham Palais for square dancing once a week. We had always been fond of music and dancing, visiting the Nottingham theatre when we could afford a seat in the gods. We also enjoyed plays at the Nottingham Playhouse. In our younger days we put on concerts in the attic of her big house. Keen on designing, I made the costumes when necessary. We both found square dancing fun.
It wasn’t long before a boy named David had me as his constant dancing partner, which was just as well because I really needed someone to prompt me during the sequences. After some weeks he asked me if I would help him out. He was a church youth-group leader and wanted to introduce dance into their programme. For this, he needed a partner for a course on leading country dancing. Most of my evenings being free, I accepted although it meant meeting him in town straight from work.
I met David the following Monday. He insisted on paying for my coffee and bun at a café before going on to a hall a bus ride away. Fair enough, after all I was there for his benefit and I would not get home until quite late
Unknown to me, it reached David’s ears, through a lad in his youth group, that I was seeing a boyfriend every Friday. My dancer was not happy and arranged a meeting with John that lunchtime to see what was going on. Not pleased, that evening David told me all about the meeting. I said that John had no serious intentions, we only went to the cinema together once a week. Since I was only David’s dance partner what was the problem?
Evidently David saw things differently. There may have been no cuddling, no kissing, no sweet talk but this guy had intentions of marriage! But I had never seen him in that light. What’s more John had told David that he intended to marry me! I can’t say that I was pleased that I had been the object of such a discussion. I had already been told by someone who knew John that he was not the marrying kind, and had already upset a hopeful lass back home.
From then on, David stopped paying for my tea. I guess it was a sign of a break-up of something that never was. The night he told me, John was waiting for me at the bus stop where I caught the bus home. He was not pleased. It came out that he was truly serious about our relationship. Before long he stopped going home every weekend so we could have more time together. After all, his evenings were taken up with night classes and study. So we sorted drifted into marriage — one year to the day that we first went out together.
I found a designing job but they only took me on for a two weeks trial. I first got their block patterns corrected and then turned out ten designs in the first week. I was told at the end of the week that they really wanted an overlooker, rather than a designer but they would give me an excellent reference for my abilities. I chose not to stay for the second week. The girl who sewed the samples told me they all knew I would not get the job. ‘Miss Smith will not allow someone much better than her to take over her job.’
Out of work. I took on a job as a cutter for a few months. Then a letter arrived quite unexpectedly. Four or five months earlier I had applied for a job as a designer but had not received a reply. Now I was being offered an interview. I got the job, worked hard and before long had a rise to a magnificent sum of £8 a week. This was in the days of poor pay for women and I was getting not much less than my husband received in his new job in Research and Development. Of course by this time I had given up dancing. My hubby has no sense of rhythm, apart from being born with two left feet! Ah, such is love!
The photographs: The electric iron I bought just before our marriage in 1953 and, with some new parts, still doing excellent service. Plus a photograph of a table cloth I bought and embroidered before and after our marriage. The cloth was bought with a £1 note, a reward for handing in a gold watch I had found by the factory I was working in at the time of the above events. In the party photograph I am with a workmate and her boyfriend. It was when I was working there that I met John on the bus. At the next party I was wearing my own designed dress and my hubby was my partner.
More to come…