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As Time Goes By: Notes From My 1975 Diary

Eileen Perrin recorded the good, the bad and the ugly in the pages of her 1975 diary.

To read earlier chapters of Eileen's life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/as_time_goes_by/

For the second time since it was declared a Bank Holiday in 1974, we did not have to go to work on New Year’s Day, January, 1st 1975.

In the Spring term I joined a Welfare Counselling course in addition to the other two courses I attended which were still running. I had an idea that I would change my job to one of Careers Advisor one day.

On February 28th a tube train crashed at Moorgate in the rush hour at 8.57 am killing twenty. People began ringing the City Police to offer to give blood. There was a queue of 800 volunteers outside St. Bartholomew’s hospital. It was the worst crash since the Harrow Weald disaster involving three trains in 1952, when 112 people lost their lives.

In March 1975 the Americans airlifted children from Vietnam and brought them to Heathrow.

April the thirtieth marked the end of war in Vietnam, when the Communists seized Saigon and took control of the country. At the end of over thirty years war in Vietnam from the very start in 1940, when the Communists fought the French Colonial power and defeated them in 1954, it was estimated that four million civilians had been killed and over a million of the Communist fighters. After the American intervention from 1965, it was recorded that up to 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers and 58,000 American troops were killed.

On Grand National Day an I.R.A. bomb exploded in a Belfast pub killing six.

Films of that year included ‘Jaws’ and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ with Jack Nicholson. We went to the Old Vic to see Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’ starring John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.

Khoka our Nepalese friend who had been scraping a living from performing magic shows, also studying form and placing bets on horses – not that we ever heard of any ‘wins’, - was now employed in the offices of the Ealing Parks department. We were surprised to hear he had bought the house next door to ours and then moved into the upstairs flat and rented out downstairs. He bought a car and concreted over his front garden to stand it on. Funnily enough this move cooled our friendship somewhat and we did not see so much of him for the future.

It was the hottest summer since the 1920’s and Les and I had a holiday in Holland. We drove to Dover where we stayed overnight in order to catch an early morning ferry to Calais. From there we drove up the French coast to Ostend and then by motorway to Antwerp and on to stay in Maastricht, where there was a marvellous travelling fair. We went on to Amsterdam and stayed in a guest house, where they marvelled at Leslie’s command of the Dutch language. We visited the Van Gogh museum and the huge and wonderful Rijksmuseum, then went to a carnival day at Eisden in the country, with stalls lining each side of the road, and a pig roast in a nearby field.

Cathy left Harrow Housebound Readers’ Service and took a job at Heston library which involved a long drive each day. By this time she was engaged to Geoff.

At this time Val and Anne Marie, having left the Grenfell Mission station at Port Saunders in Newfoundland, were driving across Canada from east to west. We received cards from Saskatchewan and then from Dawson City in the Yukon. We heard that when they were camping in the forests of British Columbia off the Alaskan Highway a black bear had broken into their car.

Cathy and Geoff were looking for a house and eventually decided on one at North Harrow, a ten minute drive from our place. She was still renting a room in the South Ealing flat and calling in to see us almost every day for a cup of tea and cake after work. Most days she met me at Perivale station and drove me over Horsenden Hill, which saved me a twenty minute walk to home.

In October Geoff moved into the newly-acquired house and they managed to do some painting at a great cost to their energy and spare time, and began to gather some furniture, a lot of it second hand, and Khoka gave her some dining room chairs which Cathy refurbished, with the help of Les. We re-arranged our bedrooms, as Val and his wife were to stay with us while they sought new jobs after working in Newfoundland for a year, and before her wedding in November, Cathy came back home too.

Val had scores of photos of their past year and the travel back across Canada. He had always loved photography ever since his grandmother Lily had given him a camera for one of his pre-teen birthdays.

I always remember him rushing up and down the stairs while developing film in our bath.
In November there was another bomb in a Mayfair restaurant and 16 were injured.

Cathy and Geoff were married on November 15th 1975 at Harrow Registry Office and Judith Shaw was a witness. The reception was in the Cumberland hotel in Harrow. They had a pink wedding cake and the food and service there was excellent. They went off to stay overnight in a Windsor hotel before going on to Midhurst in Sussex where they stayed in the Spread Eagle hotel, an old hostelry dating back to the 1300’s.

Val searched many months in the pages of the British Postgraduate Medical Journal for a suitable job as he did not want to work in a London hospital, but found nothing. Came the time when he signed on the dole, which was quite upsetting.

Then he saw advertised a post in a group practice in Cambridge for which he applied, and was invited with his wife to take Sunday lunch with the doctor who ran the practice. Having accepted the position on the thirtieth of November, they bought a house and moved to Impington, a mile or so outside Cambridge.

In December at college we were threatened with a student demonstration by the Communist element, and were sent home early to come back later the following day. Not much had been disrupted.

On December 12th four I.R.A. gunmen who had held a 50 year old couple hostage in their Marylebone flat for six days, gave themselves up.


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