Life With Mabel: Part Twelve

This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 730 words.

Reg was patient. He waited six weeks before resuming the Saturday night conjugals. After the tearful funeral, Denise wasn’t mentioned. In those days, everyone was used to losing babies, even older children. It was just accepted as the way of things.

When she didn’t fall pregnant again, Mabel knew that it was Reg who was not able to father children. For his part, he never asked, and may have thought that her birth problems might be involved. It was something else that was never discussed, not even by her parents or the in-laws.

Something else came along to change their life. They were intending to electrify the railways on the lines through Cambridge to London, and Reg was offered a course to learn the system. He was going to be away for a month, staying at a bed and breakfast near Cambridge. Mabel had gone back to work long before then, ignoring the averted eyes of her colleagues, who never mentioned the baby.

When Reg came home, she had never seen him so excited.

“It’s the future, Mabel love. And you should see the area around Cambridge. Clean air, lots of countryside, and lovely small towns and villages. New Cross doesn’t compare, believe me. They have offered me a start on the first of the month. I will be based in Cambridge, and the pay rise is almost double what I get now. We can afford to live somewhere nice, even buy our own home. The prices there are half what they cost in London. There’s a lovely little town, Huntingdon. We can buy a place there for the same rent we pay for this awful place. And they have a Woolworth’s, so I reckon you could get a job there. I am going to buy a motorbike and sidecar to get to work. It will be cheaper than a car, and enough for us”.

Mabel had never heard of Huntingdon, so asked him how far it was. “Just seventy-seven miles from here, love. But another world. Your mum and dad can come up on the train if they want, it doesn’t take long. Even quicker once we get started on the electrification. Honest, Mabel, it’s lovely up there, you are going to love it. It’s only twenty miles from where I will be based, so less than half an hour on the motorbike”.

Not knowing what to say, she just nodded. Men made the decisions, and wives didn’t question them. So she was moving to Cambridgeshire, like it or not. And very soon too.

It was surprisingly easy to get a transfer to the Woolworth’s there. Her boss helped, as she knew he would. “They will be lucky to have you, Mabel. It’s much quieter there, and your experience will be invaluable. I’m so sorry to see you go, but I reckon it’s a good move for you, and I am sure you will be happy”. Her parents were also surprisingly positive, urging her to go with no regrets.

A month later, Reg came back from Cambridge on his new motorcycle and sidecar. He told her he had bought a two-bedroom house in Huntingdon, using up every pound of their savings. They would have to buy all the furniture, and everything else that made a home, but he had signed up for three years of hire purchase to cover everything. All they had to pack were their clothes, and he had paid one of his colleagues to take them up to the new house in his small van.

Every decision had been made for her. They would move there on a Saturday, and she would start work in the small town on the Monday. For Mabel, the worst part of it was having to sit on the back of the motorbike all the way.The sidecar was full of stuff they would need until Reg’s mate turned up on Sunday with their personal things. On the Friday, she said goodbye to her parents, acting as if she was going to Australia. Her dad just laughed.

“We will be up to see you, and now you have a spare room to put us up in. I hope Reg finds a decent pub in the town, one within walking distance”.

She couldn’t feel excited about a place she had never even seen. But she knew her life was going to change beyond recognition.

30 thoughts on “Life With Mabel: Part Twelve

  1. (1) When passenger trains experienced a dip in public usage, Reginald assumed that berth problems might be involved.
    (2) When Reg came home, Mabel had never seen him so excited. Not even on their wedding night. (Especially not on their wedding night.)
    (3) Mabel was not very satisfied with her marriage. When first asked if she would be willing to leave New Cross for Cambridge if Reg got a job there, she said, “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” (Now that she’s come to the bridge, she’s agreed to cross it.)
    (4) Do they give you a discount on camcorders in Cambridge? (And how do they reconcile the difference in the pronunciation of cam-?)
    (5) I’ve been hunting for an answer to this question: Are residents of Huntingdon called Huns? I’m asking because the husbands and wives there are always addressing each other as Huns.
    Husband: “Hun, what’s for dinner?”
    Wife: “Hun, I told you this morning! We’re having leftover hunny baked ham!”
    (6) “For Mabel, the worst part of it was having to sit on the back of the motorbike all the way.” She thought about those western movies where women rode with a cowboy on the back of a horse. How come they never got saddle sore?
    (7) When it comes to pubs in Huntingdon, Reg will at first be torn between The White Horse and the Black Bull, but he will eventually settle for The Falcon, where birds of a feather flock together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You had some fun with Huntingdon.
      Cambridge is on the River Cam, hence the name. The river is pronounced the same way as in Camcorder, but the city is always called Cam(e)bridge. I have no idea why. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel sorry for Mabel, having such a controlling husband, but here’s hoping life will get better for her after the move, especially since Reg seems excited, for once. Still, I don’t understand how she can tolerate that passionless existence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s hard to imagine now, not having a say in your own life. I’m not sure my grandmother (mum’s side) ever left Wiltshire. These days we live on a much smaller planet, but much more diverse. You have captured a great little capsule.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Carolyn. Even when my mum and dad bought their first house as late as 1967, only my dad was shown on the deeds as the owner. The struggle still continues today.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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