Kathy Martin’s life story (10)
By Kathy Martin…
My life story continues
In 1982, Alistair had a visit at Gatwick from Eduardo, the Spanish Dan Air manager at Alicante airport. He asked Alistair why he had never been to Spain and Alistair explained our lack of funds.
Eduardo said that he had a flat that he had sold, but would not be handed over to the new owners for a month or so, and that we were welcome to use it for free.
This was our first experience of Spain and we fell in love with it. We flew to Alicante and were staying in Villa de Josa, a very Spanish village. The first thing we did was to buy a Spanish/English phrase book and started to learn Spanish. The locals were very helpful with pronunciations etc and we enjoyed the fact we could take Sasha with us into a bar for an evening meal and she was welcomed.
At this time, in UK, you couldn’t take children under 14 into a pub.
- There was a café at the bottom of the block of flats, and once we had been there a few days we said to Sasha that is where we would be for our evening drinks and if she needed us to come down in the lift; which she did, to the amusement of the bar owner, in her baby-doll nightie.
- At a local market we bought loads of things, so much so that we had to buy a basket to put them in; despite this, we brought back nearly half the money we had taken with us. Spain was very cheap then for meals out e.g. the three of us could have a meal, with drinks for about £5.
Back in Capel, I was not happy living in the little house and found myself wishing that something could happen to change things.
What happened was definitely not my wish, but on Tuesday, 7 December 1983 the phone rang at about 7.30 a.m. and Daddy told me that Mummy had died the previous evening. He had been out at a Catenian (catholic society that he belonged to) meeting and got home to find that Prince (their dog, a mongrel, possibly Labrador cross) was not shut up in the kitchen. Mummy slept in a large bedroom above the sitting room and the lights were on, he found Mummy half in and half out of bed, she had had a massive heart attack.
Apparently, he called the ambulance and the priest, sat up all night waiting until it was a reasonable time to call me. My first reaction was not to believe what he was saying, after all, I had my normal weekly phone call with her on Monday (the night before) in which she had told me, in great detail, what she had bought everyone for Christmas; a great help when it came to me to wrap them all up and give them to the right people. Sometimes have wondered if fate had stepped in and made her tell me?
Remember going into Mrs Crow and calmly telling her that I had to go to my father, as my mother had died! Went on the train leaving Sasha with Alistair and as it was a Wednesday and she (Mummy) always went to the hairdressers in Kings Road, got off the train at Warrior Square station, close by, so that I could cancel her hair appointment!
Stayed in Pett with Daddy, helping him to arrange the funeral etc, Sasha stayed with May, whilst Alistair came to Pett. Mummy had a full catholic requiem mass, followed by a cremation. Daddy said one of the readings, but don’t remember much of this other than a great sense of loss and regret that Mummy and I had not really “known” each other very well! Her ashes are buried in the catholic part of Fairlight church cemetery (Daddy’s ashes were added to the grave, obviously, once he had died in 2001!)
We had a discussion with the whole family about what to do and as Daddy did not want to sell Watermill Lane Cottage, it seemed to make sense (at the time) for us to leave Capel and come and live with him.
In a weird way it seemed the answer to my dream of getting out of Capel, but turned into a nightmare, especially for Alistair, as my father treated him very badly. Remember Peter Bowen (Bridget’s husband) warning us that this may not be the best thing to do, how right he was!
Angela became very resentful over this decision, as she felt it made more sense for her to move in with Daddy, but as their relationship was even worse that hers and mine was, this was out of the question.
So, in January 1984, we left Capel and moved to Pett. Tony and Sue Cowper, Alistair’s ex-boss in Air Rhodesia, helped us. We had made contact with the Cowpers, through David Oliver, as ex-Air Rhodesia. In fact, as I said earlier, through our friendship with David over the thirty or so years we have known him, we ended up living in Cyprus.
Sasha started off at the Sacred Heart School (being catholic); joined the PTA, as a way to make friends. During this time had my first experience of a computer with very basic Locoscript.
We, the PTA, were successful at getting an extension to the playing fields. However, after four terms (Sasha started just before Easter 1984), we realised that this was not a very good school and transferred her to the village school in Guestling, next village to Pett. She was much happier there and did very well.
Once Sasha had started school, we found that to take “stand-by” tickets (as Alistair worked for Dan-Air, we were entitled to a free standby-by ticket every year) in holiday time would have been difficult to use, so we tended to go to Spain in the 2nd or 3rd week in September (the law was not so strict about not allowing children out of school for holidays).
There was a member of Dan Air, whose mother owned a flat near Nerja, so we flew to Malaga and went on the bus to the flat. We used this for three consecutive years. The first time we went there, we were told to get off the bus when we saw “Toto”, what we hadn’t appreciated was that this was the name of a building company and there were loads of Toto signs! We ended up getting a taxi to the flat the first time.
One year, when Alistair and I were returning from the shops, we heard a lot of commotion and found that Sasha, who had stayed behind in the flat, and had been reading on the veranda, had shut the French window and couldn’t open it, she was crying and was causing great concern to the locals. After a lot of sign language and stilted Spanish, we managed to break the door down, this cost us £80 to replace, which we paid to Jane, once we were back in England.
The first time we went there, it was a lovely little Spanish seaside village, however, the following year the Germans had started to invade and by the third year nearly all the restaurants only sold German type food! However, we did manage to find some lovely little places to eat and on one occasion visited the caves in Nerja, which had the stalagmites and stalactites illuminated – very impressive.
The local bar, near the flats, had a vicious looking black dog, called Diablo (the devil), but he was a real softie and Sasha was greatly taken by him.
Found myself with more time on my hands and started to work in schools, as a dinner lady/kitchen hand; like Alistair when he was at Lignacite, found myself out of my class and had very little in common with the other ladies. Daddy, who was a snob, used to say I was a supply teacher!
I answered an advert for hand-knitters and little did I realise at the time that this would take me to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka, Germany and Italy!
The first time I received a bag of wool, with a few basic instructions and a piece of squared paper with a design, it was brought by a man, later I discovered this was Andy Bannister, Viv’s husband.
Really enjoyed this way of working with a pattern and finished it in double quick time. When I rang to say it was done and I’d love another one, Viv Bannister was delighted that I’d finished it so quickly and when she had a chance to examine it and was very pleased with the result, so was given more. In time, she started to give me her first samples to knit and relished the challenge.
As time went by, earned more from the knitting and Viv, who had become a friend by now, knew how much I hated having to work in the schools, asked if I would like to take over from Andy and deliver the knitting around to the knitters, for a small fee. Leapt at the chance and so began my life as a knitting business woman!