Kathy Martin’s life story (3)
By Kathy Martin…
My life story continues!
In 1968 Daddy was transferred back to Kampala, Uganda, East Africa, as Chairman of East African UAC (United Africa Company division of Unilever). We lived at 21 Kyadondo Road. Really loved Kampala and had some very close friends, namely Mimi Boshoff (unfortunately she died early this century), Roy Hoarau (who moved to Perth, Australia and keeps in contact with me over Facebook).
My first real boyfriend was Chris Radford. Chris went to university in Newcastle, to do Town Planning and spent a couple of weekends in 1972 with him. On one occasion in a taxi in Newcastle, the driver, spoke with such a strong accent that I couldn’t understand a word he said!
Learnt to drive in Mummy’s mini and she used to take me up to an old airstrip to drive around, there was a slight incline, which allowed for hill starts! Also, would reverse park the car between two large breadfruit trees, much to the consternation of the gardener. Whilst in my last term at school, I successfully passed my test 4 weeks after my 17th birthday. Only had a few lessons, as I knew “how” to drive, just had to learn how to drive with other vehicles on the road! Remember having to drive MMP (our headmistress) over to Hellingly, a mental hospital, to visit a Ugandan girl (Imelda Kiwanuka, I think) who had a breakdown after Idi Amin imprisoned, tortured and killed her father.
As I couldn’t enter Nursery Nursing College until I was 18 (still wanted to be a nanny on board a liner) spent the year in Kampala.
In January 1971, aged 17, whilst at a party, Patrick, a coloured boy, raped me. It was a very frightening experience and gave me a scary week or so when thought maybe pregnant and remember vividly when my period arrived, running full pelt for the Grand Hotel (about a mile or so) to tell Mimi and Roy that it was fine.
Also, that month, Idi Amin Dada, “father of the people”, mounted a coup against Milton Obote.
We were all confined to our houses, all day, the radio station only had a limited number of records, one of which was “My Boy Lollipop”, by Millie, which was played incessantly all day, as we awaited news of what was happening. About 16:00, Idi Amin came on the radio and said that he had taken over the government and had “freed us from the oppressors”.
There was a group of us who would go around in three minis! Kevin, me and Jan and we would cram as many people as possible into them!
- Once drove with me doing the accelerator/brake, someone else doing the clutch and gear stick; not to be recommended. Had 8 or 9 in the mini that day (4 in the front and 4 or 5 in the back!)
- We would go to the local market, by the bus station, and buy a bag of fifty “joints, ready rolled” for 50 cents; it was cheaper than alcohol or cigarettes!
We would then go to “Freddie’s Place” on the hillside overlooking Lake Victoria to smoke etc. Freddie’s place was not a house, not really sure why it was called by this name!
- The only effect achieved from smoking marijuana was to get the “munchies” or get sleepy. It did not make me want to try harder drugs, other than LSD, which I only took once, on my 18th birthday, along with Mimi; Roy acted as our “caretaker” making sure we came to no harm
My 18th birthday (1971) started with me taking LSD (it was a small drop on a piece of paper, that a friend from England had brought out with him over the Easter holidays). Drove to the Grand Hotel to pick up Mimi and Roy, as I got there, the drug began to “kick” in and found the journey home very scary, They both kept reassuring me! We had arranged to spend the day across the road from my house, in the Rietdijk’s garage (this was actually Jan’s bedroom and had loads of “cool” posters etc). I have a B&W photo taken that day of a rainbow in a drainpipe; obviously this is not clear in B&W! Also, I must have been fascinated by the lichen on the branch of a tree, as there is a close up of that, as well!
That evening, we went back to my house, where Mummy and Daddy had arranged a take away Chinese meal (delivered by the restaurant, along with the heaters to keep the food hot). At the time, I was going out with an Asian guy, called Amin, and he and Daddy had a long conversation about the International Monetary Fund, as Amin was at university in UK studying economics. Remember, we were going to the cinema one night, when Amin realised he had left his wallet at his house, I had to hide in the front foot well, of his car, as his mother and family would have never allowed him to go out with a white girl, and yet my parents and friends had no problem with his colour/race.
Whilst spending my year in Kampala, from September to December, took secretarial lessons from Lady Macadam, who had a house overlooking Lake Victoria and we (about 5 of us) sat on her veranda for our lessons. Managed to pass my typing and Pitman shorthand exams and then after Christmas, got a job at the Medical Illustration department of the University of Kampala. My boss was a lovely African man, but his English was not very good, so he spoke very slowly, as a consequence, never used my shorthand and so forgot it! Have a photo taken by the trainee photographers, as I was blond and white, asked to wear a white cardigan, so they could get the tones correct.
UAC (Daddy’s company) had a house at Nyali beach, Mombasa and so we would spend a couple of weeks there each year.
- Daddy sitting with the 4 of us on the beach, round a fire, when for the only time (to me anyway) he spoke of his time in the Burmese war. He had a scar on his forehead that as young children we had believed was from an enemy bayonet, but he told us that it was in fact as a result of him running into a clump of bamboo!
A man coming to the house with live lobsters and the sound of them “screaming” as they were plunged into the boiling water!
The house was a short distance along the coast from the Nyali Beach Hotel and years later, Bridget (my youngest sister) was staying in the area and she tried to find the rocky steps that led to our house, but failed.
In June 1971 left Kampala for the UK. The change to decimal currency had occurred in spring that year and so by the time of my arrival in UK everyone was familiar with it, found it taking some getting used to! A distinct memory is that Mars bars used to be 4d and they rose to 4p (9½d).
When Mummy and Daddy returned to England in the summer, 1971, they put 27 Filsham Road on the market (they paid £6,500 for it in 1963 and sold it for £16,500).
They bought Watermill Lane Cottage, Pett, for £17,500 and after replacing the wooden beams in the two main downstairs rooms, moved in autumn 1971. When we sold it, after Daddy died in 2001, it sold for £149,000; just under the £150,000 sales tax threshold.
Bridget was still at the convent and Michael at Redrice. They remained as boarders. Angela, in the meantime, was living in various flats around Hastings and got into trouble over “pot”.
- Drove to Redrice on New Year’s day (1972) to get Michael’s trunk, I never saw the school, as there was a very thick fog!
On 1 September 1971 started at St Christopher’s Nursery Nursing College in Tunbridge Wells. It was attached to a Dr Barnardo’s home. We (about 25 girls) lived in Michael Tetley Hall and had individual rooms. Was a bit of a loner, but good friend’s with Helen. She lived near Bristol and years later, Alistair and I, with an 18 month old Sasha, went to stay with her and her Paul, childhood sweetheart (they had been together from the age of 13 or 14). Remember their daughter, nicknamed “Treasure” was a really delicate little thing and found our “tomboy” quite an eye-opener. Sasha had a terrible earache that night and kept the whole house awake – Certain they were glad to see us go!