Kathy Martin’s life story (5)
By Kathy Martin…
My life story continues!
Alistair went to Salisbury first and found us a house, in Waterfalls; he was very pleased with his find, as it had a trip switch box! Apparently this was a good thing, however, the house had other peculiarities, which obviously had not occurred to him i.e. the main bedroom was on the veranda and to get to the bathroom, you had to go outside, through the sitting room, kitchen etc to reach it, but it was our first house together!
In Bulawayo, we had acquired a cross Alsatian/Great Dane puppy, who we called Streak and he and my two cats tolerated each other!
Alistair had an Austin Metropolitan (nicknamed Noddy, as it was red and white). We drove up to Salisbury together and luckily Avis were able to give me a job at the airport, not usually done, but someone had just resigned!
First met May Weddell Martin (born 23 December 1914), my mother-in-law-to-be at our new house. Despite the fact we were going to be “living in sin”, she was a “canny” Scot and agreed that to rent two places would be very uneconomical. She turned up with a flask of milky coffee and was mortified when I said I preferred it black! She sat and hemmed our curtains to the right length for the new windows!
Alistair had to go into the army for his call-ups, at the beginning of the escalation of troubles; it was home for eight weeks in army for four, by the end it was four weeks in and four weeks out. May worked in the tax office and at her recommendation, we decided to get married on the last Saturday in March (i.e. 27 March 1976), this would entitle Alistair to a full year’s tax rebate, as a married man! This helped pay for our honeymoon, more of that later. We managed to find a house, to buy, fairly near the airport, it was an “amortisation” (basically we paid the interest on the mortgage) mortgage, which meant when we decided to leave Rhodesia, we were able to get out of it, quite easily.
We had two African boys, brothers called Victor (16) and Washington(18), working for us and they lived in the kia (a small hut) at the back of the garden.
Here are two examples that show the simplistic way they lived their lives:
- Victor was in charge of the gardening and one of his duties was to water the garden at 17:00 every day, once we got home (just after 5pm) in the rain, to find him out in the garden watering it! Well, we had said he had to do it every day!!
- Another occasion when we asked if they needed any more food (we supplied their tea, sugar, meat and sudza (a cereal type product that they dipped into their meat stews). The next day, one of them came to us to say they’d run out of sugar, “but yesterday Madam, we had sugar”, a teaspoon or so!
Unfortunately, a large dog living next door to us attacked Samson and we found him dead outside our bedroom window. I was very upset about this, as of the two cats, he was my favourite. Sheba missed him, so we got ourselves another male cat, white and very fluffy, that we called Kanga, because as a kitten he would jump like a kangaroo.
There was an airways club that we often used to frequent after a night shift and this is where I drank
my first, and last, yard of ale, I was very ill! We had some good times in Salisbury and when we chose to get married in Bulawayo, a few of them came down for the wedding, including Ron Mitchell, who stepped in at the last minute to give me away, as
Ted Demilta, the old security man from Bulawayo had a heart attack and was unable to perform this act for me.
Sarah and George Pollitt invited us to use their garden for the wedding reception and Anna-Marie and Barbara, the town (i.e. she didn’t work at the airport) Avis girl, were my bridesmaids.
Had a cream wedding dress and a yellow net hat; my bridesmaids wore full-length chocolate brown evening dresses.
I had hand drawn all the wedding invitations (shame I didn’t get to keep one!) and May, Sheila, Peter and Karen came down from Salisbury. We were married at the Roman Catholic cathedral, in Bulawayo, Alistair and I had to attend “classes” in Salisbury, at which he had to promise to allow me to bring our children up as Catholics! Alistair had some family friends who were Presbyterian and were horrified that May was allowing her son to marry a Papist i.e. a Roman Catholic!
We had about forty guests, after Ron and Alistair had made their speeches, I said a few words to thank George and Sarah for being such good friends and allowing us to use their garden.
On our way back to the airport, we stopped off to give Ted and his wife a piece of wedding cake and so that they could see us in our wedding clothes.
Obviously, as we both had worked at Bulawayo airport, we were looked after very well and we could see that the other passengers were bemused! That was nothing compared to our arrival at Salisbury, where the shift (including David Oliver, we have remained friends with him ever since and he invited us to TRNC) had decked out a baggage trolley with balloons and streamers and we were towed into the airport.
Our car was brought to the front and as I was slightly more sober than Alistair, I got into the driver’s seat, they had removed the rotor arm, so after many comments about women
drivers etc, they replaced it and we drove away, with tin cans rattling along behind us and “Just Married” in white on the back window!
When we got home, Alistair tried to carry me over the threshold! Well, a combination of my weight, narrow French window doorway and alcohol meant that I ended up with my left elbow through the glass window. So, still in my wedding dress, now covered in blood, Alistair drove me (tin cans and all) to the casualty department. Once the staff found out that not only had we been to a wedding (the confetti and wedding dress probably gave it away), but that it was our wedding, we were rushed through and I was given a few stitches in my arm!
The following day we flew to Johannesburg to get our 10% flight to UK on TAP (as Alistair worked for Air Rhodesia, all staff were entitled to discount flights), via Lisbon, there was a mass exodus of refugees from Mozambique, but once the girls on the check-in realised we were on our honeymoon, they made sure we got on the plane (we sent them some Interflora flowers, once we got to Hastings). We touched down in Luanda (Angola) and for the hour we were on board, they ran out of all drinks, other than Cointreau, but no ice!
There was a young child standing in the seats in front of us and he spent most of the time dribbling chocolate onto our laps! When we arrived at London Heathrow, we hired a car from Avis (with my staff discount) and drove to see my parents. They were a trifle concerned what Alistair had been doing to me, as my left arm was in a bandage!
We spent a few days with them, whilst I showed Alistair around the Hastings area. Angela, my sister, rubbed us up the wrong way on our visit to her grotty flat in Hastings. She said (and these were her first words to us) “I don’t agree with the way you treat the blacks in Rhodesia”. We pointed out to her that we did not have apartheid in Rhodesia, she was presumably referring to South Africa! My relationship with her has never been good and this didn’t help!
We took a trip to London and stayed with my youngest sister, Bridget, in her flat. That evening we went and had supper with Aunt Amicia (my mother’s eldest sister) and my cousin, Simon. An interesting time, Alistair was asked if he wanted some more wine and so (to be polite) he said, “just a drop, please”, that’s what he got! Also the main dish was strange, rabbit in chocolate gravy!