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The Day Before Yesterday: 87 - An Infectious Laugh

...Women were still the little lady at home, some jobs plainly marked as 'women's work' - the caring of children, cooking, cleaning and in my case, making the money spin out. The man earned the money and that was that. Cliff still handed me the wage packet after taking just enough for his personal requirements. He had always enjoyed a cigarette but was not too keen on drink. A shandy wouid satisfy him throughout the evening, he was more fond of tea...

Gladys Schofielld recalls the days when women were required to "know their place''.

To read earlier chapters of Gladys's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_day_before_yesterday/

Things went fine for a while. Cliff's mum kept the house tidy and I did the cooking as I seemed to be better at that.

Rod was doing much better at school now. In fact both boys were very bright but he troubled me in another way. He developed a nervous twitch and there seemed no reason for it. He said everything was fine at school, then one day Alan complained to me saying "Grandma will only let us have two slices of bread for breakfast.'' As he didn't like cereal, I would let them eat as much as they wanted. I asked his mum about this and she said "Two slices is enough for anyone," but I pointed out Alan was growing fast and needed to fill himself.

I was grateful for the help she gave me, although she had never really taken to me, thinking I had stolen her son though that was far from the truth, but she was the children's grandma and I didn't want any ill will in the family. After this discussion things settled down once more.

Cliff had turned out to be a strong man of principles and was all for the rights of the working class. He supported his union and could be a good friend or your worst enemy, depending on whether your thoughts were different to his. Everything was black or white, with no shades of grey to his thinking, so he would always make a debate of any subject close to his heart.

He was the life and soul of any group of his friends and his infectious laugh could be so loud it would trigger everyone off. Working with a crowd of like men for so many years during the war had certainly cultivated the man he was today.

He respected me and was proud of what I did as a wife and mother but he was a man of few words on this subject at home, although he could talk openly to people outside the home environment and would never show any emotion outside the bedroom door, so it was very hard to read this man's thoughts.

Women were still the little lady at home, some jobs plainly marked as 'women's work' - the caring of children, cooking, cleaning and in my case, making the money spin out. The man earned the money and that was that. Cliff still handed me the wage packet after taking just enough for his personal requirements. He had always enjoyed a cigarette but was not too keen on drink. A shandy wouid satisfy him throughout the evening, he was more fond of tea.

Sport was turning out to be his number one favourite. He would back the horses whenever he had the chance but would only put the minimum on this as his main interest was to better himself.

He sometimes worked overtime in the evening and on this occasion his mum was out too, when we got a visitor. The boys were playing in the street outside and I had just got David ready for bed, when a friend of Cliff's breezed into the house. This man through the years had boasted about his conquests and thought all women were for the taking. He had often flattered me and told me he fancied me and by the way he talked, he made it appear I was the only one who had turned him down. Men often talked this way when their wives were not around but this man seemed more persistent. He also had a wife and I wondered if she knew what sort of a man she had married. He knew I was on my own and tried all ways to get me to go upstairs with him. It must have really bothered him that I wasn't attracted to him in the least.

I could see by the look in his eyes he meant business and was relieved my boys walked into the room where we were at that moment. They just stared at this man, talking so intently to their mother. He knew he was getting nowhere again as I said "You are no friend of my husband. I think you had better leave.''

He was angry now and as he walked to the door, his parting shot was "What do you think Cliff is doing when he's not at home?" The children were old enough to know something was amiss but watched him go, as I did.

I told Cliff what had happened when we were alone that night and he said "He must have just been teasing you," and didn't mention it again.

One good thing happened, that man never came to our house again.

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