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The move to Gosport was my chance for a new beginning. I had my own home at last and the opportunity to make something out of it. The house was in pretty good condition but obviously needed some internal decoration, so I spent most of my spare time making some changes to the place. The back garden needed a major face-lift and in the next six years that I was to stay there I did a lot of work, both to the house and to the garden, including building a new garage at the bottom of the garden.

About a month after I moved in, Allan drove up from Cornwall to stay with me for a couple of days. He persuaded me to spend my forthcoming summer holiday with him at his new home at St Austell.

I subsequently travelled down by train and stayed from the 2nd August 1969 until the 8th August; the fare from Fareham Station was £6.00 (€9.07) return. We had a good week, the weather was fine and his back garden benefited by the extra pair of hands working on it!

On the 20th September 1969 I had a surprise visit from Michael, he had cycled over from Portsmouth, via the ferry. I hadn’t seen him for about a year but we had kept in touch by letter. He had now turned 16 and his mother had decided he should be “doing his own thing” and had curtailed his periodical visits to me.
Mike says: again, I have a slightly different take on this. I don't remember my visits to my dad being curtailed, rather that I was being deeply brainwashed by the Jehovah's Witnesses and actively discouraged from meeting with him - i.e. it was my own "choice". However, I may still have been writing to him - don't recall that myself - and then only I knew what was going on in my head and the trouble brewing… Oh, teenagers!.

On the 24th January 1970, Allan and Sylvia travelled up from Cornwall. They had decided to migrate “up-country” and stayed with me for a few weeks until they found a new home in Gosport. Eventually, this they did and moved into Shaftesbury Road on 27th June 1970.

On 15th February 1971, Doctor Wilson of Gosport examined me and diagnosed high blood pressure. Mum was diagnosed with Glaucoma on 14th July 1971.

On the 2nd August 1971, mum and dad came up from London and we celebrated my fiftieth birthday, with several friends attended including Sylvia, Allan and their daughter Karen who was only 2 months old. I spent a lot of time with Sylvia and Allan and became almost a permanent baby-sitter to Karen; it was useful, living so near to them. We made our first trip to Singleton Open Air Museum, near Chichester, on 30th August 1971. I've been there many times since.

On 15th November 1971 I was upgraded at work to grade T2, Quality Examiner, with a salary of £1,520 (€2,2967) p.a.

I decided to have another go at driving lessons, so started with a Driving School in Lee-on-Solent on 31st July 1972. Steve Horne was the Instructor and I had a total of twenty-seven hours with him up to my first test in Portsmouth, on 6th March 1973, which I failed! The total cost this time was £40.50 (€61.19).

On the 8th August 1972, mum and dad, Valerie and John and family moved out of Wimbledon to their new home at Salisbury. Mum and dad stayed overnight with me at Gosport and I went with them to Salisbury to help with the move.

My fifteen years’ service with the Plessey Company on 26th August 1972 was… just another day.

On the 16th September 1972, Michael came over from Portsmouth on a prearranged visit to spend the day with me. I met him at Gosport Ferry but didn’t recognise him at first - it must have been the long hair!

Photograph of Mike at Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1972...
Here's a fabulous picture of me at Portsmouth School of Architecture, circa 1972, obviously studying hard. Make no comments please, about the Donny Osmond poster in the background…

On the 7th October 1972 , mum and dad had been visiting me with two friends, and the five of us were in Dad’s car returning to Salisbury via Southampton when we were involved in a car accident. We were taken to the South Hants Hospital Casualty Dept with minor injuries, and had to return to Salisbury by taxi. The car was a write-off!

On the 5th June 1973 I bought a 1966 Riley Car for £275.00 (€415.50) from a garage in Southsea and took some driving lessons in it, with Dad and with Allan. I restarted lessons again with Steve Horne and did another seven hours with him up to my second test on 23rd July 73, again at Southsea. I failed again and sold the car to a friend in August 1973.

I had my first telephone installed (Gosport 21647) on 10th October 1973. On the 24th April 1974 I had new tiles fitted to the roof.

On the 1st July 1974, the family moved from Salisbury to a house in Elgin Road, Sutton.

On the 26th July 1974, I met Joan for the first time. We had been corresponding by letter for some months, as she lived in Nottingham, but was visiting her son who lived in Gosport. After several more meetings, and many, many letters, we had met one another's families, both in Nottingham and in Sutton. In November 1974, Joan and her three youngest children moved down from Nottingham to a flat in Fareham.

On 16th July 1975, I moved out of my two-bedroom house at Woodstock Road, after 6 years there, and into a three-bedroom house nearby, at Elmhurst Road, Gosport. I moved in alone and completely redecorated the house; the place had been empty for a long time and there was plenty of work to be done.
Mike says: the significance of my dad selling his house and buying another, later to become his marital residence, is lost in how little he wrote in that paragraph, above. You'll see.

In the meantime, I had completely lost touch with Michael, who had apparently left home and was living with friends in Portsmouth. But unbeknown to me, Joan had managed to trace him and surprised me one evening, 10th September 1975, by bringing him round to see me at Elmhurst Road. We celebrated the occasion with a bottle of “Bubbly”.
Mike says: I've always wondered HOW Joan managed to locate me - I had left University and was living in a squat (yes it all sounds very "1970's"). But however it came about, this is when I re-established contact with my dad. Thanks for that, Joan.

On 25th October 1975, we all went to Sharon and Ray’s wedding at the Church of Ascension at Mitcham, Surrey.

Joan and I were married at the United Reform Church in Bury Road, Gosport, on 29th November 1975.
Mike says: I guess, therefore, this is about when Joan and her three youngest children moved into Alf’s home at Elmhurst Road.

On the 3rd April 1976 all the family joined Dorothy and Fred at North Cheam to celebrate their Silver Wedding Anniversary.

In the meantime, for the last four months, I had been building a double fitted wardrobe in the front bedroom of our home at Elmhurst Road; I finished it on 9th April 1976.

From 22nd to the 29th May 1976, we had a holiday at Butlin’s Holiday Camp at Bognor, shared with Joan’s family and some friends. Sometime during 1976, Joan and I, along with her son Brian and his wife Jackie, went to London to see a show at a theatre near Trafalgar Square, starring Richard Beckinsale. Richard was a family friend and had sent Joan the tickets for the show; he also invited us to his dressing room for a drink during the interval.

On Monday 3rd January 1977, Joan and Mandy flew to New Zealand for seven weeks holiday. I went with Brian and Jackie to see them off from Heathrow. On the way home the three of us visited Richard Beckinsale at his home nearby and met his wife, Judy Loe, and their daughter, Kate Beckinsale, who was about 3 years old at the time.

From 10th March to 16th April 1977 I was off sick from work with a virus and urine infection.

On the 28th June 1977 we went to Stokes Bay at Gosport to see the Fleet Review (part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations). It poured with rain all day…

On 28th September 1977, I was taken into Haslar Hospital suffering from a nervous breakdown, and was discharged on 10th October. I then had a week’s convalescence on Hayling Island, with Diane and Gordon, from 14th to 19th October 1977.
Mike says: In fact, my dad had taken an overdose of pills and was discovered at home by one of Joan’s children. His reasons, although he never quite admitted them, were to do with Joan’s determined plans to emigrate to Australia – or was it New Zealand? – to be with some of her older children from previous marriages. Alf was not happy to do this, but felt he couldn’t express this to her. OK, OK, I’m summarising and surmising all in one big leap. But he did talk about this to me between 1977 and 2001.

On 27th January 1978, after an absence of about 17 years, I rejoined the Royal British Legion, at their Gosport Branch.

On 25th February 1978 Joan and I separated; I moved into the spare bedroom. On 26th April I moved out of the house and into lodgings at Longfield Road, Fareham, where I was until 17th August.
Mike says: Now recall what I wrote, above, about my dad's purchase of the marital home...

On the 12th May 1978 my job at the Plessey Company was made redundant - that was my last working day with the firm! My salary, at that point, was £3,338 (€5,043) p.a. Reluctantly, I had to remind my employers that I would be eligible for my twenty-one year’s Long Service Award just three months after I left the firm, but the matter was left unresolved for some time. I did eventually receive a cheque from head office for £198.00 (almost €300) after tax.

While I was still living at Fareham, I treated myself to a Puch-Maxi moped with my redundancy money, and it came in very useful for job hunting, etc. I made about thirteen applications for other jobs before I was finally accepted by British Aerospace at Hamble; I started work there on 7th August 1978. By coincidence, this was the same firm that I applied to for a job in November 1960: I recognised the buildings straight away, but the name had changed; it had been Hawker Siddeley before.

Everything seemed to be happening at once: the pending divorce, the change of job and the moves from Gosport and Fareham to Southampton.

On 17th August 1978 I moved out of Longfield Road at Fareham to a flat at Greenlea Crescent, Swaything, Southampton. My furniture which had been in storage with Pickford's of Gosport was delivered to my new address on the day I moved.

I transferred my Royal British Legion membership to Manor Branch at Southampton on 18th October 1978 and was immediately elected on to the Branch Committee.

Yesterday was History,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
Today is a gift,
That's why we call it "the present"

Let you judge me not by what I've written but rather by what I've forgotten.

Mike says: And this is where it finishes. Well, not entirely, as I've written a few words about my dad's life post-1978 - swaything.htm
But this was where the written book, of which he made five copies, finished. Abruptly, almost. I don't know why the tale ceased so abruptly, and never thought to ask him.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Text by Alf Allen 1999. Edited and spell-checked by Mike Allen 2003.
Most photos taken by Alf and most illustrations drawn by him; scanned from his albums, etc., now in my possession and digitally edited 2003-2005.
Yes, yes, the photos and layout need updating - the website was first designed in "dial-up days", before any sort of broadband, and everything had to be small so it uploaded and downloaded fast. Work to do, I know.

Website produced 2003-2013 by Mike Allen - a fatuous platitudes production.

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