Tuesday, June 3, 2014

TELLING IT ON TUESDAY (Part 21) 1965-1966

I told in Part 20 I had played quite a lot of 10 pin bowling, of holidays we'd had on Rottnest Island, how Steven had begun school (quite nervously) and mentioned things on the home front were anything but rosy.  This is going to be quite a long story with no photographs so if you don't get through it I will understand.  It's not a pretty story but, as promised, I intend to tell it as it was and I hope people will understand what finally happened.

Unfortunately nothing seemed to please Aub any more and he really did seem to only live for himself and was, in fact, a person who took advantage of others' good nature a wee but too much for my liking.  I remember one night wanting to pay a visit to Uncle Bert and Auntie Min but Aub's reaction was that he had nothing to see them about so why bother.  Now there is no way that I have ever been perfect and quite possibly have more faults than many other people but I've always thought there should be give and take all round regardless of who is who.  I must admit I was grossly disappointed at the way my husband had turned out.  Had I changed him perhaps and yet I couldn't see how.  Maybe he was just too young to have married at 21 and have two children by the time he was 25.   I have no idea but change he did.

It was at about this time I first met Phil who, as you know has been my husband since 1967.  One Sunday, the firm where he and Aub worked held a works picnic up at Yanchep National Park, a very beautiful place north of Perth.  We had taken Aub's mother with us this day and I was very ashamed at the way she had to witness her son's antics. He virtually ignored us and spent much of his time with others and in particular the sister of one of his workmates, a young woman much younger than him, and in full view of where we were.   His mum and I were sitting chatting in the car (I think Karen and Steven may have been playing nearby and I was hoping they weren't aware of where their father was) when this man came to the window and introduced himself as Phil, one of the men who worked in the office of Webster Motors where Aub worked as a sort of handyman doing structural work or making furniture as required.  Phil said he wasn't all that interested in being part of the main party and had brought his golf clubs with him as there was, and still is, a course up at Yanchep.  We spoke for a few minutes and off he went to play golf.

When it was time for us to go home Aub was so drunk that I had to drive and half way home had to stop the car so he could get out and be sick.  As you can imagine both his mum and I were both disgusted with him and I mentioned to her, as I was dropping her at her place, that I was worried about what to do with him when we arrived home.  Her response "Just leave him the car and if he gets cold then too bad.  He doesn't deserve to have you worry about him.  You and the kiddies go in and he'll get in when he eventually wakes up."  This is exactly what I did and later that evening I found him sitting on our back lawn feeling very sorry for himself.  Right at that time I felt not one ounce of sympathy for him.  As said before he seldom had a drink but once he'd got in with the fellows that went fishing and shooting he also began enjoying a drink a little too often for his own good.

I didn't see Phil again for quite a while except when he would pop in with meat that he'd bought at the butcher in Midland.  Aub used to buy meat from this butcher for our labrador, Jenny, and if he wasn't going to Midland that day he'd ask Phil to go fetch it for him.  Phil lived about a kilometre along Walcott Street from where our home was so it was reasonably convenient for him to do this for Aub.  Then we began to see more of Phil but not at my choosing.  I remember once we had promised to take my mum up to the hills to visit an elderly gentleman who had been a neighbour (with his brother) when mum and dad farmed down at Narrikup.  Mum had helped this chap get government help as he was legally blind and to say thank you he had asked us up to his home to have afternoon tea.  Aub had a better offer from his mates who were off shooting that weekend so he asked Phil if he would take us instead.  I was quite embarrassed by this but Phil was quite willing and we actually had a very pleasant afternoon, possibly more pleasant than had we gone with Aub who would have only taken us under sufferance.  The old chap had a very nice little cottage and an orchard and we all enjoyed wandering around among the trees and came home with some lovely fresh fruit.

Aub on a couple of other occasions would ask Phil to pop in on weekend when he (Aub) was going to be away either fishing or shooting which I felt rather unusual.  Was Aub trying to set something up here we wondered.  Anyway if Phil did come around he and I would quite often have a game of chess, not that I was every any good a the game but it passed the time.  On one occasion Phil asked me and the two children to go to his flat for a cooked dinner so we walked down there and it was a most enjoyable roast dinner which was much appreciated.

One day Aub told me he had bought me a car.  It had cost him all of  £10 and it was a 1936 Ford tourer.  The kids and I had a lot of fun in that little car and I remember one day when we had been to visit my friend Val in Wembley and we were returning home.  I was raining and all of a sudden Karen said the car was on fire.  I always had the children sit in the back seat as I felt it safer for them to do so.  I immediately pulled to the side of the road and realised what had happened.  We had gone through a puddle and the car having wooden floorboards with wee gaps between them allowed steam to come through from the hot exhaust pipe which of course looked just like smoke.  We had a good old laugh about it t the time and have often had a chuckle about it over the years.

Another time, also on the way home, I was pulled over by the police in Vincent Street just near Dr Wheeler's place.  The police checked the car over and told me I should get new number plates (nothing wrong with them but they were of the old type) and also the headlights needed something or other done to them (I did tell the coppers I didn't drive at night but that didn't hold water with them and they just smiled and said to get them changed anyway).  Then one of the policemen said he'd take the car around the block and the kiddies could stay in the back. They were back within a few minutes with the policeman looking quite bemused.  You see that car had mechanical brakes which never let you down and he hadn't realised so when he slammed on the brakes to test the brakes the children ended up on the floor and I was thankful they had been in the back.  Karen told me afterwards that the policeman had got a fright and said a RUDE word when the car stopped so suddenly.   I had the couple of little things fixed and took the car to be checked.  They put it over the pits and passed it as roadworthy so I was set again complete with new number plates.

On another occasion, when Aub was once again away somewhere, the children and I decided to go to the drive-in movies in Morley to see Cliff Richard in "Summer Holiday".  My car, like tourers in those days, had side curtains instead of windows.  On this particular night it came on to rain and I'd only put one of the side curtains in the car and it was the wrong one.  The light rain was coming from the left side of the car so Karen and I had to somehow get the right hand side curtain to fit in on the left side.  We eventually managed to do it and were then able to continue enjoying the movie. That car was very economical to run and I think it actually used more oil and water then petrol.

One day Aub came home and said there was a part-time job going where he worked if I wanted it.  It would fit in with school hours and now I had the little car I had transport so I accepted. I am not sure now but I think it was 3 days each week with the hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  It was quite a long trip to Midland but the little old car never let me down.  My main task was typing and I can't say I enjoyed it all that much but stuck it out as the extra cash was quite handy to have as we still always seemed to be behind the eight ball money-wise.  Strangely enough I don't think I saw Phil more than once or twice, if that, while I worked there as his office was across the street.

I still think at times that Aub was trying to work the oracle in some way as one night be brought up Phil's name for no reason.  We had been talking about something entirely different (it may have been the night he didn't want  us to visit his uncle and aunt) and I think I accused him of using people up.  I was actually thinking of how he would go out in Uncle Bert's boat but wouldn't bother paying him a casual visit at his home.  I know I then said how he used Phil up by having him fetching the meat for Jenny and asking him to take us out occasionally.   Aub flared up then and accused me of having an affair with Phil and nothing could have been further from the truth although I enoyed Phil's company.  I know Phil was too much of a gentleman to have every propositioned me and Aub's accusation was ridiculous to the extreme.  I was astonished but off Aub went to Phil's place but when the got there he was told by a neighbour that Phil had popped up to the Knutsford Arms to have a drink.   From what I could make out Aub then drove to the Knutsford, got Phil out of the bar and flung this accusation at him.  "You'd better come back with me and we'll have this out" was apparently what he said to Phil.  They arrived back at our place with Phil's neighbour in tow as well.  Phil and I of course told Aub he was talking out the back of his neck, or words to that effect as I doubt if Phil and I had ever even shaken hands.  I admired the stance Phil took that night but was somewhat surprised by his words.  He said to Aub "I like your wife very much but to me she is your wife.  If she wasn't then it may be a different story but while she is then that is it as far as I am concerned." 

There was no improvement in our life from then although at one stage Aub suggested we build a house.  I couldn't see how we would manage to do so as we had still had no money to speak of but he said he knew a chap that was selling some land cheaply and we could perhaps do a deal of some kind.  I asked where this land was and Aub told me it was somewhere 'up in the hills'.  It turned out to be a very isolated place and I could imagine living there when Aub would be off on one his jaunts and not being able to see anyone for possibly weeks or months on end and didn't even know if there was a school in that area.  I said a vehement no to this suggestion which of course didn't go down well.  I think I felt our marriage was going so badly that the idea of building and moving would be the last straw for both of us.  He would design the house and everything would be as he wanted it and no arguments no matter what ideas I may have.  I just knew it wasn't the thing to do at that time.

I know that Karen was still very unhappy and one night she and I went for a walk and she told me she wished the two of us could go away and leave her dad.  I asked her about her brother and she said he could stay with his dad.  There was nothing wrong with that suggestion from a lass of 11 who had always  being blamed for anything Steven did wrong and seemingly not being able to do anything right herself.   It saddened me to see how unhappy Karen was and gave me food for thought but I could never desert my son.  I have never blamed Karen for feeling the way she did about her brother and yet when they were younger they had played together very well.  I feel it was Aub's fault that the two siblings finally drifted apart and this saddened me and has done ever since.

One night things finally came to a head.  The children were asleep upstairs and I was doing some ironing downstairs.  Aub came up from the shed and started in on me about some probably quite trivial thing and went on and on about it.  I suddenly saw red and I knew if he didn't stop I'd quite likely throw the iron at him.  I knew this would be a stupid thing to so I just walked out.  Right out of the house and didn't look back.   Was I thinking straight?  I walked out and left my children behind!!  I spent the next couple of hours just walking and walking and if fate does take a hand in one's life perhaps it truly did this particular night.  It is something I often look back on and wonder about.  I was right up the other end of Walcott Street still walking blindly along when a car pulled up.  Who should it be other than Phil.  He had been to the movies in Perth to see Doctor Zhivago and was on his way home.  He insisted I get in the car and he would take me home.  I flatly refused to go back and all the coaxing in the world didn't make me change my mind.  We drove around for hours and finally ended up down in Mandurah.  Phil finally asked me what was I going to do and I decided to worry poor old mum again.   Phil drove me there and I explained to mum what I'd done and that there was no way I was going back.  She understood and I think she must have telephoned Aub and asked him to bring the children to her place.  At that particular time I was not thinking very clearly but just knew I had to have my two kiddies with me no matter what.   The only thing I knew was that Aub and I had come to the end of the road and this time there was no going back. 

Aub and I ended up sitting down to talk about the situation and his suggestion was that I could have Karen but he would keep Steven and have his mother look after him while he (Aub) was at work.  I of course said I wouldn't give him up and it worked out that I needn't have worried as Aub's mum refused point blank to look after Steven.  Once again the three of us settled down at Mum's home and managed as well as we could.   I of course didn't go back to my job at Midland nor did I keep my little car.  When I went around to collect our clothes and other items Aub told me I had to sign the car over to him.   When I asked why as it had only cost him £10 his reply was that if I wanted my handbag (I'd left it behind when I walked out that night) which I think contained about £50 (all the money I had) then I would sign the car over to him.  So, once again I was without wheels.  I had no choice as I needed to have some money for us to live on and child endowment back then was not very much at all.

One day when I had walked down to the Rosemount Bowl I met Phil who was at the laundromat nearby doing his laundry.  He asked me if he could 'phone me so I gave him mum's number.  Mum didn't think it quite right that I should be in contact with another man but didn't stop us talking.  Phil asked me if I'd like to go the pictures so mum said she'd mind the children but I could see she wasn't happy about me being alone with Phil, not even in a picture theatre.  I felt like I was 15 again and not 34 but that was my mum.  I guess she was only being protective and was also concerned about Karen and Steven.  Karen was quite delighted at us having left her father but Steven, being a boy, I doubt had even realised that things at home hadn't been as good as it could have been.  He didn't seem to miss his dad at all and yet I tried to make sure Aub saw his children as often as possible

I did apply for a couple of office jobs but unfortunately with mum also working I couldn't work the hours required but with the little money I'd saved, and the child endowment, I was able to manage reasonably well with mum's help.

Here we were once again sharing mum's hospitality but with the children now being much older than the first time we stayed with mum, Karen was 11 and Steven 9, it was a little more cramped and I was at a loss to know exactly what to do.  Fate once again took a hand in our life and what exactly happened will be told in part 22.

I hope the above doesn't sound too sordid but I said I would tell it as it was and I've tried to do exactly that.  Please don't get me wrong.  I am sure I was very much to blame for the break up of our marriage but it would have gone on like that forever if I'd not made the break and quite seriously, that night I walked out I did feel like murder and I hated that feeling as I am a pacifist by nature and abhor violence.  That just gives some idea at how bad things had become.


  1. It sounds to me like you've given a very fair account of things as they happened.... maybe a little harder on yourself than you should be.

    1. Hopefully I managed to keep to the truth and no, I was in no way perfect so must accept some of the blame. I perhaps just didn't kowtow enough to be acceptable to him.

  2. Hari OM
    Mimsie, the strength it took to realise your own 'volcano' status glows through here. Far too many women - particularly of this era - 'kept things together' in the mistaken idea that it was better for the children... which it rarely is.

    I read every word, my dear; for it takes the same courage to revisit it and share it like this. I know because I am doing something similar albeit in very different context. One thing I know for sure; no matter how we tell it, anyone who was present will have a differing version. This is what makes experience so personal. There can be no wrong version, just variation. What is important is that it is told, for posterity and catharsis.

    What a shame you couldn't keep the 'trusty steed' though!! YAM xx

    1. I was told by my lawyer (who later went on to be a Supreme Court judge) that adults are more severely affected by marriage breakups than are the children. I don't believe that is entirely true as Karen was better off but not sure Steven was. I actually felt very little, probably relief more than anything that it was over.
      I did miss the little car but Phil and I shared his Ford Escort without any argument so that was fine.

  3. Oh Mimsie. You have bent over backwards being as fair as possible to Aub in the whole sad and sorry saga. And I agree with Delores, you may have been too hard on yourself. And still are.
    And I love that out of the pain, grief and confusion you found Phil. Or more accurately that you found each other (thanks Aub).

    1. No, I wasn't too hard on myself in my own mind. I wasn't sufficient subservient so perhaps that was my main fault.
      When I think of all the chances of Phil and I meeting I feel fate certainly took a hand somewhere along the line. Am I a fatalist? Maybe I am after all.

  4. EC and Yam have penned many of my thoughts eloquently but further, I am most grateful that your mum was there Mimsie otherwise you may have stayed in an unhappy and unequal marriage that was going nowhere.
    So many women of the times did stay in atrocious marriages because it was what was the done thing, and many had absolutely nowhere to go!
    Well done Mimsie, you deserved your eventual happiness. I can only but imagine the courage it took you, I was in a toxic marriage for 8 years in modern times before I had what it took to leave.
    You have my respect and admiration dear girl.

    1. I think when the 'last straw' arrived then it was the time to get out in a hurry. Didn't even think about it....just did it, or else.
      We started well but when I think back there was little we had in common so marriage should have some basis to begin with and ours didn't.

  5. There's never any point in apportioning blame as to who broke up a marriage. There is always fault on both sides, but in your case I'd say there was definitely more fault in Aubrey than in you. You did the right thing by leaving as far as I'm concerned and the timing of the leaving doesn't matter one bit. In fact I'd say Aub goaded you by picking on some trivial thing that night you were ironing.
    None of this is even half as sordid as what we see on TV these days.

    1. You are so right. All of these happenings pale into insignificance compared with modern day television. lol
      It wasn't really sordid, but just very unfortunate but I did have two lovely children so something good came out if it except Steven is a little too much like his dad, more's the pity.