Una's Memoirs - 1940s - 4
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On the off chance that there would be vacancies at Boots area offices, I called and asked if I could apply. I was interviewed by a woman who asked me to give her details of my past employment and why I was unemployed. I am sure that she did not believe anything I said, and I did not like her attitude. I left there knowing that I had failed.

I decided that I would now seek advice from the Labour Exchange. Unlike the Job Centres of later years, these were formidable places where the unemployed formed large queues until they reached a booth, where a clerk would take details, and with luck give details of work available. After queuing for some time I was told that I was in the wrong queue. I was so tired and hungry so I made my way home.

Three days later I saw an advertisement in the Nottingham Evening Post. It was a vacancy for an office worker at Bitterlings, a company which dealt in animal by-products. I went for an interview at their offices in Meadow Lane. The chief clerk said I had the job and I could start the next working day.

At Bitterlings I had a room to myself. I was warned that I might hear strange noises from behind the wood panelling that covered two walls of the room. While I quietly worked, checking invoices against the ledgers, I could hear paper rustling and squeaks but I never saw the rats or mice that shared the room with me! I never went into the main factory which handled the carcases. This was between the offices and the River Trent. Some of the offal, tripe, pig's trotters and cow heel was 'pickled' in a number of large vats in the corridor between my room and the other offices. The smell when one passed them was very, very unpleasant.

Most days, at midmorning, I would cross the road to the firm's canteen and order my lunch. My choice was always eggs, chips, bread and butter. I would collect my lunch at one o'clock and carry it back to my room. In the draw of my desk I had serviettes, salt, pepper, and a small bottle of brown sauce. Occasionally I was able to take home tripe for my Mum and Dad and they loved it, but I loathed it!

Me in a punt, Roland Avenue, Wilford. February 1946. A DUKW in Roland Avenue. Feb 1946.
Me in a punt during the flood, Roland Avenue, Wilford. February 1946.
A DUKW delivering milk, food and letters in Roland Avenue. 1946.

In early February 1946 the River Trent flooded. My parent's house in Roland Avenue, Wilford, where I was living, was badly affected. Mum was at home alone when the waters rose and I rushed home from work when I heard the news. Some of the way home I had to wade through the water but the last part of the journey down Roland Avenue was in a punt. When I got home I helped to move upstairs food, pots and pans, and buckets of coal. The two large bedrooms had fireplaces. We ate, lived and slept together in Mum's south facing bedroom at the back of the house. In my little bedroom at the front we stored the food and everything else went into the large bedroom at the front. We had to leave the large furniture downstairs and I can remember the sounds of some items scraping against the walls as they slipped below the water. We listened to hear the clock on the wall strike each half-hour. The water rose six feet in the downstairs living room. That room itself was above a seven foot high basement which opened out at ground level into our rear garden.

My parents in Skegness, 1946. My mother and friend Mrs Draper, Mablethorpe c1949.
George and Elsie Briggs, my parents, in Skegness. April 1946.
My mother Elsie and Mrs Draper, a dear Wilford friend. Mablethorpe c1949.

Bob came home on leave in April 1946. Eva, Leonard and the boys were in Skegness for a long holiday, now that Leonard had been demobbed, and Bob and I were able to join them. Bob's next leave was in July and we spent it in Wilford and Watford.

In September 1946 Bob finally left the Army. As planned, we would live with Bob's Mum and Dad, at 74 Bushey Mill Crescent in Watford, until we got a house for ourselves. Lots of other couples were in the same situation because of the acute shortage of accommodation. Very little building was done in the war years, and many houses had been destroyed in the air raids.

Bob and me in Watford 1946 Bob and me in Watford 1946
Bob with me, 74 Bushey Mill Crescent, Watford. 1946.

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