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The Day Before Yesterday: 40 – Beginning To Make Plans

...We were always together at this time of our lives and no one existed but ourselves. We would make our plans and daydream of a future together, not realising the world was about to change dramatically...

Gladys Schofield and her boyfriend are both 18, intending to marry. but war is just around the corner.

To read earlier chapters of Gladys’s story please click on

Cliff and I became inseparable at this time and didn't want to miss an evening together. My Aunty Miriam changed houses again and hoped Cliff would still stay with them, as she had grown quite fond of him. They moved to a home near the main road, yet just a small distance and you were back in the countryside again.

Cliff always took the tandem home at night. To get to Aunty's new place he had to climb two hills. I never saw anyone who was able to ride to the top of the second one on a bike, but Cliff rode the tandem up. Each night he went home, even when we decided to spend an evening apart, we would end up together before the evening was finished.

We were always together at this time of our lives and no one existed but ourselves. We would make our plans and daydream of a future together, not realising the world was about to change dramatically. We had already taken the step too far and knew there was no going back, and my mother's words worried me so much. Would she really send me to the workhouse if I had a baby.

My Romeo assured me we would get married. We were only eighteen, but with the responsibility we both had encountered in our lives and the pending war that was around the corner, we felt older than our years.

I had reached the limit in wages for a winder and knew I must get a better job if I wanted more money for myself. Weaving didn't appeal to me at all, but I was determined to do something.

Then one day walking through another part of the mill, I passed a young lady I had not seen since my schooldays. It's not surprising really with so many different departments scattered around. She said she was just learning a new job. They worked two to a table and she needed a partner. I had mentioned I was wanting more money, and this prompted her to say, "Why don't you come and see the boss and give it a try?"

This certainly would be something different. She was a Greasy Mender. It was quite a skilled job. My school friend was only as old as me, so if she could do it why couldn't I? The pay was better but I would have to move to the other end of the mill and lose the friends I had grown so used to, all this time. The thought of being able to sit down to work sounded lovely, after standing all day as we did.

I talked it over at home that night and everyone agreed it was worth a try, so I went in to see Barbara's boss the following morning and he agreed to give me a trial. Knowing my partner was a great advantage. We got on well together. I must have mastered the new job because he kept me on.

We had to follow the weave of the cloth so that you couldn't see where it had been mended when it was finished. We were always a little scared of the men who inspected our work, in case we had missed something, but we didn't have any trouble.

This was before the Japanese got into textiles by walking around our mills and copying our patterns. They sold textiles themselves after the war so cheap that we couldn't compete, and it ruined England's textile trade.

I now started a bottom drawer, buying little items of linen, cutlery or anything of use to us to start a new home. We got quite a lot this way and soon things were stored under the bed as well as the bottom drawer.

My new partner and I went up the dusty road in our dinner break one day to take a look at the old school. It was four years since we had left and didn't seem to have changed a bit.

As we drew near, we could see someone attending a small plot of land between two playgrounds, so small you could have easily missed it had we not known it was there. The person straightened up from her task when she heard footsteps. It was Miss Moorhouse, still at the school and still caring for all around her. She was pleased to see us and was eager to know how we were getting on with life. I was rather shy to let her know I had a boyfriend, but I need not have worried as Barbara was already telling her about our tandem and Cliff. She smiled at me and said how pleased she was for me, and I realised just how much I had to thank that lady for.

My Romeo was quite impatient at times. He knew he was fast at his job and he needed more work and decided to try for a job advertised at another textile firm. It also was on the main bus route, quite close to where I had visited my Gran so many years earlier. He had no problem getting this job, as his skill was already getting to be known around the neighbourhood and the other Twister-in was about to retire. This pleased Cliff. No competition, he was more or less his own boss and could work overtime to finish a job if needed.


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