Thursday, November 18, 2010

51. Scampton and back to Bulawayo

The next posting was to Scampton in Lincolnshire. Jeni decided she did not want to go back to school, even though I made the idea financially attractive. Tommy, to our great sorrow, told us that he did not want to return to England, he had decided to live in Holland and pursue his music. We had been told years before that Tommy and Jeni were both University material, and now neither would have the advantage of that higher education. Why did my beautiful children have to grow up so fast? Everything seemed to be falling apart.

It was winter when we arrived in Scampton and moved into an ex officio quarter, where I thought we would stay for at least a couple of years. Jeni started working for an engineering company and was attending evening classes for further education. She went to work in the dark, spent the working hours under electric light and came home in the dark.

We had not been there long when Tom was promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to Air Ministry. Between married quarters again and without accommodation, Jeni and I flew to Bulawayo for a holiday so that she could meet her maternal relations, intending to return to England as soon as Tom was allocated a married quarter.

It was wonderful, being back in Bulawayo, and the family all fell in love with Jeni and she with them. She enjoyed being surrounded by other young people, went to parties and, being such a lovely girl, had suitors galore.  One suitor was a very good looking Irishman called Patrick. He played classical guitar beautifully and the music was very seductive. So was he.

The friends she made were all living in beautiful permanent homes; they had friends from schooldays, they had a history, they had a life. They were not gypsies like us, owning nothing and belonging nowhere, so when Tom wrote that he had been allocated a married quarter, it was no surprise when Jeni said that she did not want to return to England with me just now. And so, with a heavy heart, I agreed that she could stay, at least for the time being. My father and mother both adored her and, as Father seemed to have mellowed somewhat, I felt I could safely leave her with them. At the back of my mind was the unspoken thought that if she stayed, one day when Tom retired, we might move to Bulawayo and be a whole family for the first time.  And indeed I did return, but not under the circumstances I could have foreseen. How many more wrong doors was I to walk through?

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