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Chapter 8. Lecturing

In those days if you moved from one government department to another you took your pension rights with you. I had been fortunate that I was an established civil servant. After about 1939 all the people taken on were temporaries but I was an established one, I got less money because my pension was being built up but, of course, it did mean that I took all the pension rights to my new appointment. I began by teaching microbiology. I had some practical experience of dispensing medicines and this was the time that penicillin injections became common place. At that time, penicillin wasn't in a form suitable to be taken by mouth so always had to be given by injection. Quite a large number of injections had to be prepared each day and obviously you had to do it pretty carefully, so I took over the aseptic laboratory at Haslar and worked at it. I also worked at the production unit. We rigged up a sort of automatic store of solvents and the penicillin was in rubber capped bottles and we ran the required amount of solvent into it and poured it over the needle. We put up quite a lot of these in sterile conditions and there was the remains of a sort of factory that was used to prepare naval medical supplies, with a tablet machine and an ointment mixer. It wasn't worthwhile trying to repair the tablet machine because tablets could be bought so cheaply but there were a lot of skin conditions in the hospital which required ointments and so we got the ointment mixer running. That saved a lot of time in the dispensary.

What was then the Portsmouth Municipal College School of Pharmacy and Physiology decided I was good enough to be a senior lecturer, so I swatted up microbiology. After I'd been there a year or perhaps a bit more the Pharmaceutical Society decided to inspect the college to see if the teaching was of high enough standard to produce good pharmacists. They felt that I'd had insufficient teaching experience but the principal of the Municipal College and the head of the department was satisfied with what I did. The compromise was that I should go to Chelsea Polytechnic for a term and join the research projects and the teaching of the advanced students and get that extra experience they thought I needed. I thought they were right actually. Anyway, I learnt a lot at Chelsea, it was quite fun. I stayed in London during the week and came home each Friday evening for the weekend. I caught an early train back on Sunday. I was staying in digs in London. It was a bit tough on Mavis. I did this for the spring term for three months. She was always pleased to see me when I came home and sorry to see me go when I went back on Sunday. I think I worked quite hard there. I worked in the library until 9 o'clock each night.

We had decided to have another child and hoped it would be a girl. We had this car accident and Mavis miscarried which was very unfortunate. Mavis never seemed to pick up after the accident and the miscarriage. The doctor said you ought to have another baby and that was Gordon but I suppose it was her brain tumor beginning to make itself felt, all that time. The brain tumor was diagnosed at St. Mary's when Gordon was being born, as Mavis had a seizure.† He was very early, a premature baby, so they took Mavis round to St. Mary's in an ambulance to save the baby, which they did. St. Mary's is on the far side of Portsmouth. Mavis was whisked off to hospital in London which specialized in brain matters. They decided there was nothing they could do, so she came back to St. Maryís hospital. The doctors here at Lee were all prostrate with grief. They'd missed the diagnosis and felt that had they found it in time they might have been able to do something. They were really very sorry. Then one of them got one of the surgeons at St. Thomas's Hospital in London interested. I don't know what sort of fiddle they worked but we had to go and arrive at St. Thomas's hospital as casualties to the Casualty dept. But although Mavis was admitted the operation wasn't successful. She died of a haemorrhage.

Gordon stayed in the isolation unit, every baby had a room to itself. There were glass partitions so you could see what was going on. He was about 5 pounds when he was born. Gordon was in the hospital a long time, they were very kind, they kept him there as long as they possibly could and then the social services found a very good foster mother for him. We all used to go and see him on Friday evenings. I'd pick up the kids here and we all went to see him at the Morbys, that was the name of the people. They were very kind and hospitable to us. The Morbys lived in Gosport so it wasn't a long journey to see Gordon. On the way home we used to pick up fish and chips -- chuckle, chuckle. My parents came and lived here during the week to look after the boys and then went back home at the weekends. That was very hard on them. We had some help to do the heavy cleaning. I was still teaching at the Poly.

Harry enjoyed his Meccano but none of the others played with it. My father bought him the Meccano set then we added to it. I canít remember any of the models he made. Harry was a great reader too. Even before he could really read, he used to know his books off by heart. One would think he was reading. Sometimes he would appear to be reading but he wasnít on the right page but he very soon got on to reading all sorts and Andrew likewise.

I donít think either thought much of Martin. They tolerated Martin but he was a bit of a millstone they thought.

Careers the boys wanted to follow -- Harry always wanted to go to University, there was no question about that. Andrew, he felt it wasnít really worthwhile. Jerry said Andrew will be the businessman and he was about right and Harry would be an academic. Martin wasnít very old and I donít remember his speaking of his career. Martin was always a bit of a scallywag.


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