It is January 1981 and David and I have been married for six weeks. Winter had settled in for the duration in our Welsh home of Dolgellau and we moved from our first holiday flat downstairs to a small cottage attached to the farmhouse. Cold is not a word that I would use to describe the inside of our little stone love-nest! David was out all day as he was conducting trials on optical fibres underwater at the time and spent his time up at Lake Tal-ly-llyn. He would arrive home hungry and I did my best with our limited budget to keep him fed sufficiently.
I would start the week with a big pot of stew with steak and kidney in it and then by Wednesday I would throw in some extra veg and it saw us through to Friday when it was Fish ‘n’ chips and a couple of half pints in the Red Lion. We would then walk up the steep road leading to the farm and snuggle down under piles of blankets to watch our black and white television with a metal coat hanger stuck in the socket as an aerial.
I was not working and money was tight so I had approached our landlady, at the beginning of December, who ran the farm with her husband. This lovely lady had only known me in my role as assistant manager, wearing my long skirts and high heels whilst I swished around the dining room at the hotel.
She was duly taken aback when I asked if there was any work on the farm that I might do in exchange for part of the rent on the cottage. But, she kindly offered me a few hours a day to help out with the flock of sheep on Cader Idris currently being given TLC by several lusty rams. This was in lieu of paying rent enabling us to save.
Each day we would head over to the hill farm and take feed up the mountain as far as we could by landrover. Locating the flock was easy in the snow as they had a very old and very effective beacon… The black sheep was the matriach and the flock seldom drifted far from her. Ever since then I have outmost respect for those who are labelled the black sheep in the family.. They have a very important role to play.
This led to a very interesting few months including through the lambing season and I have plenty of stories about my experiences that I have included in the background to the novel Just an Odd Job Girl
Following the optical fibre trials, David was ready to return to Liverpool and we had some bad news about his current flat. Despite being a terrific tenant, his landlady decided that she did not want a married couple living there and gave him notice to quit. Probably thought we would produce children in rapid succession. This meant a couple of weekends driving up from Wales to look at alternatives. Money was still tight and we wanted to save for our own house. This led us to a flat in a slightly worn part of Liverpool called Tuebrook. The Chinese landlady met us at a three storey Victorian property and led us up rather tacky flights of stairs to the ‘penthouse’. An astute business woman, she owned a number of properties in the area and was very persuasive.
She also had a hands on approach to her business and collected the rents herself every Friday in the evening; when she also emptied the ravenous electric metre that swallowed coins at an alarming rate! We always knew she was on her way up the stairs because, bless her heart, she had a wooden leg!
Having hung up my wellies, I applied for and got the job as manager of the Eastex and Dereta department (still going strong, fashion for the more mature, shorter lady) in Owen & Owen department store in the centre of Liverpool. As those of you who have read my memories to date, I had spent some time working in a store in Portsmouth and my management training since then qualified me for the post.
Again there would be various adventures in my position which you will find in the posts Department Store Manager, of which there were a number of. However, this job came with a significant management discount throughout the store which came in very useful the following January when we bought our first home in Southport.. More about that next week.
That leads me to the music of 1981. Especially when David was away and when not watching our small television, I would listen to the radio. I was a fan of most of those bands and solo artists in the top twenty and I was not disappointed in 1981 with their music. I loved dancing so enjoyed most of Shakin’ Stevens records and it was a good year for him with three top chart hits including This Ole House, Green Door and You Drive Me Crazy. Adam & the Ants with Stand and Deliver and Prince Charming. John Lennon with Imagine and Woman, Bucks Fizz of course had won the Eurovision Song contest with Making Your Mind Up, Queen joined forces with David Bowie for Under Pressure and Diana Ross with Why Do Fools Fall in Love. If I was going to be particularly irritating I would have chosen The Tweets with The Birdie Song as my featured track but I chose . Green Door by Shakin’ Stevens for you to bop to and for dessert Diana Ross.
Buy Shakin’ Stevens music: Amazon
Buy music by Diana Ross: Amazon
I have hope you have enjoyed today’s selection…. have a good weekend.. Sally