Early times for a married man

Throughout the early months of 1955, with my new wife already pregnant we stayed with my sister Shirley and her husband. We shared their rented farmworkers cottage in the village of Moulton, which sits close by the eastern edge of Newmarket Heath. I had bought a used bicycle for my daily commute the 14 miles into Cambridge and the 14 miles back . Flat country, big winds, hard miles to work at a Builders Merchant where I had secured a job as warehouseman. It took all my youthful strength and energy toting lead pipe and sheet, baths and sanitary ware, tiled fire surrounds, asbestos corrugated, copper pipe and fittings etc, etc.

On August 31st I received telephoned news that Joan was in labour in the maternity ward of Newmarket General hospital. My boss, (it has to be said with some reluctance), gave me permission to leave early. I pushed myself to the limit riding into a head wind - at one stage beyond the limit in fact, for Joan always told people of how I arrived just after the birth, hot and sweaty and with trousers out at the knee where I had fallen off my bike. It mattered not, for I was a somewhat bemused - if very proud 20 years old father to a rather beautiful baby girl. I made Karen Jane's cot out of an orange box and the remnants of some worn out curtains.

Early mornings on weekends and holidays I / we would scour Newmarket Heath for luscious field mushrooms and raid the late summer hedges for blackberries, and I shot many a pigeon, using my brother-in-law's twelve bore. Also sometimes a rabbit or two. I recall how I would not pull the trigger unless the shot was a dead certainty, for cartridges cost money that I could only afford if the result was a meal for Joan and myself and my sister and brother in law. Of course, on occasion a clucking, strutting cock pheasant would accidentally get in the way of my shot!

This was my introduction to a farming village life now long gone. Everyone seemed to know everyone and therefore everyone else's business - albeit none of what went on behind closed doors! All our foodstuffs were bought at a general store about the size of your living room. Tthe church and the village pub were the twin centres of our little Suffolk metropolis.

However I was well aware that we were living on borrowed time in cloud cuckoo land with my sister in Moulton, and that I would soon have to seek our own accomodation. The obvious place was Cambridge, as close to my place of work as possible. So before the year was out I found us a bedsitter there, Cherryhinton Road in fact. Just myself and Joan and a suitcase full of clothes and a few more bits and pieces along with our happy little baby in her brand new Silver Cross perambulator, (a gift from a distant  father who on rare occasions came down from Olympus into contact).  Oh, and my Aunt Kay's present of an Olivetti portable typewriter, birthplace of my very first short story. 

But that's another story.

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