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As Time Goes By: Events Of 1976

...In June with temperatures over 95 degrees F. for four consecutive days a heat-wave began. On a Bakerloo train, delayed under the ground outside Baker Street station for an hour and a half, frantic passengers stripped off much of their clothing and smashed the train windows...

Eileen Perrin recalls the long hot summer of 1076. To read more of Eileen's life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/as_time_goes_by/

On January 21st the first commercial flight of Concorde from London to Bahrain, seven years after its first flight from Toulouse to the U.K. in March 1969.

In February 1976 Les moved to his new office near Waterloo station, on the 27th floor of Kings Reach Tower in Blackfriars, looking down on the river Thames.

I was still working in the General Office at Kingsway College where consistent absentees and those frequently off sick, meant we always had a staff shortage.

In March there were more I.R.A. bombs in Covent Garden and Cannon Street, but no one was hurt. Oxford Circus underground trains were disrupted for several days when bomb scares were frequent. Trains were either going through without stopping, or if stopping, when police cleared the platforms, pushing everyone on the train even if it wasn’t for their destination.

On March 15th a bomb exploded on a tube train at West Ham. Several passengers were hurt, and the West Indian driver got down and chased the bomber along the open track, and was shot dead. The bomber then turned the gun on himself, but he did not die. Next day another bomb went off in a Wood Green train. None were hurt.

Aged 60, the Prime Minister Harold Wilson resigned his post.
On March 24th came news that General Bernard Montgomery (Monty) had died. In World War 2 in 1942 he had led the 8th Army to victory at El Alamein in the desert.

On April 5th James Callaghan won the U.K.election.

In June with temperatures over 95 degrees F. for four consecutive days a heat-wave began. On a Bakerloo train, delayed under the ground outside Baker Street station for an hour and a half, frantic passengers stripped off much of their clothing and smashed the train windows.

It was 85 degrees or more in our college and in the exams some of the Chinese boys were using large Chinese fans in an effort to keep cool. Some exams were cancelled.

It was affecting work in the office. and I was going through menopause with hot flushes and headaches and couldn’t think properly, and I recall apologising to one Nigerian student named Nwokenna that I was no good at remembering names.
Wanting to cheer me up he replied ’Oh no, you are too far from good.’

The heat-wave continued and in July in our office it was still 82 F. At home we were watering the garden with re-used bath and laundry water.

The Water Board erected standpipes in some streets. Having had over 13 consecutive days with temperatures over 90 it was declared the hottest spell this century, and the driest summer since 1727.

We read that in Essex the end of Southend pier had been destroyed by fire.

We finally had some heavy rain on July 15th.

At Sudbury Hill many tall elm trees had died with elm disease and were cut down. This was general throughout the country and now it is rare to see elms.

I began to take an interest in graphology, which I thought tied up with psychology and might help me with a better understanding of people.

Now that both our children had left home, we decided it would be a good idea to move after 28 years in North Greenford, and began talking about where we should go.

On our summer holiday that year we took the car and drove first to Oundle in Leicestershire, visiting Fotheringay Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was once imprisoned. Then we went on to Tenbury Wells, in Herefordshire for a few days. Leaving there we drove across the Severn Bridge into Wales, and all the way to Cardigan. We visited Fishguard and the rocky coast at St. David's Head. In the cathedral there the aisle still slopes up from east to west after an earthquake in the 1300’s.

We had noticed that it wasn’t always easy to find our way, as signposts in English had been torn down and destroyed by Welsh Nationalists. We went on to Brecon where we saw little coracle boats on the river Teify. Then on through Worcester to Stratford-on-Avon, where we stayed for a few days, before leaving for Abingdon and Didcot in Oxfordshire, then on to High Wycombe in Bucks, and home.

My mother Kitty came to stay with us for a fortnight after a second cataract operation.

Inflation was up by 16.5 %. In August prices of goods were on the increase: shopping at West Ealing - potatoes had gone up from 6p to 10p a pound, cabbage was 8p a pound, melons were 30p. each, 2lb. of pears were 20p, 5 peaches sold for 20p, sweet corn cobs were 6p each. Butter 42p.per pound, back rib of beef was one pound and ninepence per lb, an 8oz jar of coffee was £1.16p, a pint of milk was ninepence halfpenny, and Sainsbury’s Red Label tea had gone up to tenpence halfpenny a quarter.

The bus from Greenford into Wembley was now two shillings where once it had been threepence in the 1950’s, and my quarterly season ticket to Kings Cross was now £58.15. I bought a summer dress for £4.95. Writing this in 2009 those prices seem ridiculously cheap.
The long hot summer continued: no rain fell after July 15th and there was a severe water shortage. The Welsh Water Authority bought £50,000 of water from Ireland to be brought in by tanker, and then to be purified.

Rain fell at last on August 27th and later, on September 11th Yorkshire had four inches of rain, the highest rainfall in one day for 25 years. There were five foot deep floods in some places there, and 90 m.p.h. gales.

That autumn I joined Social Anthropology afternoon classes at the City Lit. off Drury Lane, as I finished work in time to get round there. The lectures were on peoples in remote parts of the world, like the bushmen of the Kalahari, and the Tobrian islanders.

After that I used to go to the nearby Y.M.C.A. for a sandwich and a cup of tea before walking to Great Russell Street near the British Museum for a cookery evening class.
In South Africa, there were riots in Soweto marking the beginning of the end to apartheid.

In November Jimmy Carter was declared the new president of America.


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