I have made it through my first week of blogging, and my first time participating in the Write 31 Day challenge!
Each time I write it is a release, and I am loving it. As I said on my first blog day, I am hopeful that some of my words may help someone reading out there, but I am rejoicing that I am being helped in the process. A dear friend told me today to live in the moment, write in peace, let the words escape as it is meant for freedom. And yes, I am and I will.
So today a small glimpse into my college and brief working life in England’s capital. 20 minutes north of central London, I fell in love with the Hampstead and Belsize Park area immediately and would spend the next 3 years there, first completing a Liberal Arts and Secretarial Course and then working. I loved the green Hampstead Heath and the feel that I was in the country, yet so close to the centre of London. I loved the High Street with the posh shops and a few affordable ones, the Coffee Cup where lots of students congregated, and the Victorian homes and cobbled lanes and wooded areas. I made friends with a precious day student from Grenada who had just moved to England, and she welcomed me into her family like I was her own sister. During class she used to write lots of letters on shorthand pads to her granny and friends back in the Caribbean. Students were from a range of countries from Cypress to Saudia Arabia, and most of them were much more sophisticated than my friend and I. Our main classes were Shorthand, typewriting and related secretarial topics, a series of lectures for young ladies and weekly visits to museums and places of interest. I loved the culture of London, and in my spare time I would often go to an art gallery or visit an old stately home. We would have daily drills in Shorthand, having to write symbols for words and sentences. It was practically another language, and many hours were spent scribbling in shorthand notebooks and practicing, but I would leave college a competent secretary with 150 words per minute in Shorthand and 50 words per minute in Typewriting, and feeling of great independence. Unfortunately, my timing was just a little off, and the first computers were introduced to the college just after I left.
After college I was fortunate to find a room to let in the Belsize Park area, in the home of an amazing couple who would become close lifelong friends. I was able to get a series of temporary jobs, before I landed a longer contract at a firm of engineers. It is worth mentioning that my very first job was a week at a small office near Oxford Circus. On my second day my elderly boss took me out for lunch and after a failed attempt at seducing me I was not called back for a second week. It was a welcome change to be in a large office, and there was me among a large team of friendly and easy-going engineers. Those were the days when men opened doors for women and let them go first. I am glad I got to experience those days. The firm was located on the top of the underground map, far north of the city, but in order to get there I would have to go south on the tube train to change and pick up the upward train. That was when I got to know the inner workings of the London Underground. I allowed an hour to get to work and I was never late, even during the winter when I would be up before sunrise, and return home when it was dark. The short winter days never bothered me – I was working, earning my own money, and I had a great group of friends that I went out with regularly. Life was great!
My boss was a laid back middle-aged man who never got angry. I reported to the chief engineers and I enjoyed the work on the project. On Fridays a few of the engineers would take me out for lunch and they would ask me about Barbados and I got to know them well. In a firm full of males I was never hassled, and only once asked out on a date, and when I declined he begged me not to tell anyone in the office. When I eventually left to return to Barbados I was given some special leaving gifts and taken out for a meal. I was sorry to leave them.
When I returned home to Barbados and back to live with my parents it took me time to adjust to the way my life had become smaller, and to build my friendships up again. I would pine for London for quite some time. But I never expected I would meet and fall in love with a Londoner right where I was in Barbados, and while I was at work …