Today is my birthday and I turn thirty-nine. Staring down the slippery slope to forty, the Nemesis in a woman’s life, as my mother used to say. It is a year since Mother’s been gone, but I still miss her. What a cosy time we had together for a few years after Dad died. Saturday nights at the pictures, a pie for lunch on Sunday, instead of the eternal roast. Now he was no longer controlling the purse strings I had access to my salary and we seemed to have money to burn. Not that we weren’t careful, but even with our treats the money in our bank accounts steadily grew. Now it’s all mine and it seems a bit flavourless without someone to share it with. Still, Happy Birthday to me, Rose Turner. Tonight I will drink a tiny bottle of champagne. I will buy it at David Jones and I might even get a prawn and avocado sandwich to go with it. What a treat!
A new woman in our section. I do feel a bit put out. I am used to being the only female and the gents have always treated me with respect. We are only eight behind the tall row of filing cabinets. The afternoon sun warms us through the dirty wired glass and we sometimes nod off for a while (especially Ernie and Des who are Returned Servicemen and always under the weather after lunch.) The staff in the outer office call our nook Sleepy Hollow, but we do the pays and, thanks to me and Gerry, they have very little to complain about. Why then do we need a ninth person? We don’t need her. I have heard she is Mr Campion’s niece, so there is very little we can do about it. But I think a see-through blouse with black underwear is highly unsuitable for office wear.
Easter next week and I will be glad of the break. As I feared, things at work are changing and I now go off each morning with a nervous fluttering in my stomach that causes me to visit the toilet many times a day. That girl, Sophie, is ingratiating herself with the men. It’s all “Soph,” and “Ern,” and “Des”. Most unsuitable for an eighteen year old. When I came to work here it took me several years to move from “Miss Turner”. I still remember the day I said, “Please call me Rose.”
Easter seemed long this year. The leaves hung on the trees to the very last minute. One golden poignant day followed another. On Easter Sunday I went to Mass at the Cathedral and walked through the gardens kicking up the yellow gold treasure where it lay in piles. Oh what a time of yearning this is. But yearning for what? I don’t even know what to yearn for. I am fed, clothed, housed, many are worse off than me. I remember our cleaning-lady Mrs Dusting used to say, “No good a-growling.” And she was right. What good does it do, and who wants to hear you?
That Sophie is still trying to ingratiate herself with me. The last day before the holiday she left a tiny gold Easter egg with a little yellow feather on it on each desk. Who does she think she is? Junior staff earning a pittance trying to impress the senior staff. The gents laughed and said, “Cheers, Soph,” and ripped off the paper and tossed it down in a second. I said “Thank you” quite civilly and put mine in my handbag. I am ashamed to say that the next night, Good Friday, I had rather tough boiled cod for tea and my mind went to the little golden egg. After a short internal struggle I got it out, peeled off the paper and nibbled it slowly (my favourite way to eat chocolate). I’m sorry to have to say it was delicious and I made it last as long as possible
…to be continued