Kathy Martin’s life story (9)
By Kathy Martin…
My life story continues
Alistair in the meantime had got himself a job with Dan Air, as an operations man and he worked in Concord House, which was attached to the airport.
I worked three mornings a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) in Mrs Crow’s house, cleaning etc.
Also, if the Crows were away, was responsible for mucking out the three horses’ stables. Never told Mrs Crow, at the interview, I was frightened of horses, just told her that Alistair had worked with the Police horses in Rhodesia. They had a largish brown horse that Nicky rode and two small white ponies (Pip and Puff) for Sarah and Tracey (the youngest 2 girls). Lawrence, the son, was away at boarding school, so did not have a pony.
Puff could be very bad tempered and on one occasion, the ponies were in the field next to their stables and Sasha toddled into the field, whilst I was mucking out, she was still in nappies and when I looked up saw her flying through the air, as Puff had kicked her! Luckily the nappy absorbed the kick and she did not even get a bruise and was giggling! But both of us were VERY cautious of Puff after that!
We would drive down and spend a weekend in Pett, with Mummy and Daddy, every 6-8 weeks. We often stopped at a Chinese takeaway in Heathfield and got some Prawn Crackers, tasty good! When she was young, Sasha would invariable fall asleep, just as we were driving down into Pett! Sasha called Mummy “Najit”, but never found out why! Daddy was called “Poppa”, which is what we all called him up until his death in 2001.
September 1979, enrolled Sasha into the local playgroup, but as she was only just over two, could not leave her there and so used my NNEB training and became an official helper. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we would go up to the village for playgroup. Sasha became very friendly with Ben, the youngest son of the local farmer, and often, in the afternoons, I would accompany them as they played around the farm; on the hay bales etc! Ben’s mother, Margaret, had gone white very young, when she had lost a baby daughter at birth. She was friendly, but I wouldn’t say we were the best of friends, as our backgrounds were so different!
Summer 1980, we went down to stay with my great-aunt Peggy, a wonderful woman, full of life and stories (as mentioned in our honeymoon). We has a great time seeing Cheddar Gorge, Longleat (which Sasha loved, as in later years did her son, Alex!) and the Minehead steam railway, something Alistair never grew out of, i.e. his love of steam trains!
On our return, I began to worry about my weight and went to our GP, who prescribed one month of an appetite suppressant, however, I only took them on days that I thought I’d have a problem with food, as a consequence, made myself very ill and whilst on holiday in early summer 1981 (once again with Aunty Peggy) my “mind broke” i.e. I had a breakdown and Alistair had to drive me back to Capel, all the way I was waving out of the window, as if I was royalty!
May had arrived back from Zimbabwe, as a refugee and we had managed to get her a room as a companion to a rich old lady in the village, Mrs Bampton, she (May) was with us on holiday and have sometimes wondered if knowing that May would be around to help Alistair with Sasha was what made me feel it was “safe” to get ill; not sure at all about this!
Anyway, have vague memories of the GP asking me various questions and him telling Alistair that it would probably be best for me to go into Netherne (a mental health hospital) for a short time. I was a voluntary patient and, as such, could leave whenever I wanted to!
However, to start with, felt very safe. I was suffering from Hypermania-Anorexia Nervosa and weighed 6st 13lbs when I went into hospital. They gave me injections to make me eat properly and had various counselling sessions. One of my favourite activities was to go into the art room and “lose” myself in art.
Alistair was an incredibly strong support, despite it being miles from home and Gatwick, he would always come and see me every day, either before his shifts or after.
Few very strong memories of this time:
- Alistair brought Sasha to see me and I got it into my head that the Social Services were going to take her away from me and I ran off into the gardens with her; luckily, as she was not quite 4, she doesn’t remember this, as it must have frightened her a lot as she had to be pulled away from me, whilst I was screaming like a mad woman!
- I decided to “run away” and got into a taxi and went back to Capel, as a voluntary patient, the staff had no right to stop me. However, it gave May a helluva shock when I turned up and the taxi fare was VERY EXPENSIVE. Alistair had to take me back, when he got home from work.
- Diana Spencer married Prince Charles at the end of July 1981 and clearly remember watching it and telling everyone that he was going to marry me, but I was already married to Alistair, one of my mad moments!
- In August Netherne had a summer fete and a helicopter came to give people rides – my mad head reckoned it had come to take me away!
- When Alistair took me out from the home we would visit a local Happy Eater restaurant, anything to get me eating food again!
- At end of August, I was allowed home for a weekend and we went to the local Capel flower show and was paranoid that everyone was talking about me and laughing at me, not a pleasant experience!
- However, by mid-September, it was decided that I was okay to go home and thanks to May, who had cleaned the Crow’s house for me, we had not lost our home.
Promised Alistair that I would not diet again and resigned to be happy with my weight as it was.
Life in Capel resumed as normal i.e. me cleaning the Crow’s house on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and taking Sasha to playgroup on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In Surrey in 1982, Sasha had to wait until she was five to start school, by which time she was very frustrated with playgroup and had already started to read in a basic way, count to ten and write her name.
In October 1981, after I had returned home to Capel from Netherne, Alistair managed to get us a week’s holiday in Tunisia (apparently I kept saying I wanted to go back to Africa). We thought it was a 75% discount B&B holiday, but to our horror when we arrived found that they wanted us to pay 75%. This meant that we had VERY little spending money and found it hard to explain to Sasha, 4, that she could either have a coke or an ice-cream once a day! Also, we could only afford to have one drink in the bar each evening.
- Despite the monetary constraints we enjoyed the holiday and managed to make a good deal in the local souk (market) by swapping several of Sasha’s clothes (most of which were jumble sale ones in the first place) for a Tunisian trouser outfit for her and me!
- Went for a long walk along the sandy beach and made a sand hole to lie in the sun out of the cold wind.