15th August 1951


It’s 2am and I can’t sleep. It’s been such an eventful day I should be tired out, but my mind is buzzing.

We got back around midnight and George went straight up to bed without a word. I took my time getting undressed and decided I didn’t want to sleep yet, well I just knew I couldn’t.

I’ll write until I start to get tired. I hope I’ll begin to nod off sooner or later.

It all began around lunchtime. I’d spent the morning shopping and came back in time to make our lunches. That’s when George is usually at his most happy, and I thought, the perfect time to subtly drop my plans into our conversation.

Saturday’s have become something of a routine now, shopping in the morning for me, a walk to the corner to collect the papers for him. He usually potters about until I get back but today, or yesterday I should say, he lay in bed till well past eleven which is most unusual for him.

Lunch was the usual cold meat and salad and we ate mostly in silence, George hardly spoke at all, and when I tried to make conversation all I got were one word answers. I was quite put out but judging by his moods lately not entirely surprised, so I put my plans on hold until he seemed more cheerful.

We normally spend the afternoon sitting together in the front room. I like to flick through the new issue of Home Notes or Picture Post or Vogue when I can get it, whilst George reads his papers. However yesterday was different what with the re-opening of the Theatre Royal in the evening. I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks. So I decided to take a bath and spend the rest of the day getting ready.

I was so excited about my outfit, and I spent a good deal of time arranging my hair like one of the photos I’d seen of Sally Gray and I have to admit the end result was lovely! What with my new frock, jewellery and glittery shoes I felt fantastic and I have to admit I looked it too!

Later when I met George downstairs I could tell he was impressed, he smiled to himself as he looked me over but his eyes quickly clouded and he brusquely put my stole over my shoulders and we left.

There were such crowds at the Royal when we got there, I swear I’ve never seen so many people in one place, and everyone was so dressed up, I couldn’t stop staring. We were quickly met by George’s boss the ever boring Mr Shafer and his wife. They both exclaimed over my appearance (Mrs Shafer couldn’t stop asking about my dress and was impressed when I told her I’d added the pink satin myself) George looked pleased about that.

The Theatre Royal is beautiful inside. It was always nice before the fire, but I suppose I was too young to notice it then. It fairly glitters now! It’s been decorated in deep red and gold and has a very modern ceiling which Mr Shafer told me was designed to hide the lighting. I like the stage best; it has a lovely patterned surround and looks very grand.
Once we’d taken our seats in the circle, the lights dimmed, there was a fanfare and the audience hushed. It felt very exciting to be there at that point, I craned my neck to look down into the stalls and I caught George smiling at me from the corner of my eye. But when I looked at him he was already looking at the man who had appeared in a spotlight in the middle of the stage.

It was the Mayor all got up in his chain of office, he introduced the Lieutenant of Stafford, a funny looking little man in glasses with a bald head who began by thanking us all for coming and then proceeded to blather on and on about the theatre and its importance to the people of Stoke. I started to glaze over until he read out some messages of goodwill from some famous theatre types; Gracie Fields and Gerite Gitana (who I remembered because Mother likes her.)

We all clapped and then the show started. It was Annie Get you Gun, and it was very good. I liked watching the dancing girls and boys and the songs were catchy. The costumes were very good but you wouldn’t catch me dead in a fringed dress.
During the interval we went to the new mezzanine bar and George insisted on buying Mr and Mrs Shafer a drink. It was so noisy I could hardly hear what we chatted about and I kept getting bumped into which annoyed me a lot as I didn’t want to get wine down my dress.

George seemed to be thawing a bit so I gave him a friendly pat on the arm and he put his hand over mine as he talked to Mr Shafer. On the way back to our seats he asked if I was enjoying myself and I said yes.

The rest of the show was wonderful and I still have the tune to The Girl That I Marry going through my head even now. I saw the cast being photographed after the show with the mayor and then we made our way out to the street which was no easy task I can tell you!

Outside we said our good byes to the Shafer’s and then decided to stroll home as it was a mild night and after the crowds it was nice to get some air. We walked arm in arm and George was humming to himself. I thought he seemed recovered from his earlier grumpiness so I took a deep breath and decided to tell him my news.

‘George?’ I said, he seemed miles away and answered with an ‘hmmm?’
‘George, you know how I like to sew?’ He smiled absently at me then pointed to my dress saying ‘Of course, you’re very talented’
That gave me even more courage so I carried on, ‘well you also know how I love fashion?’ to which he nodded again.
‘Well, I’ve seen that they’re advertising for girls to make frocks and things at Longton. It’s very high class stuff’ I added quickly.
George didn’t say anything so I just hurried on, ‘So I was thinking that it would be a good opportunity for me, a kind of start into the fashion world. It’s very well paid and you get trained by skilled tutors’, I said remembering the advert I’d seen.

He didn’t say anything for a while and I was holding my breath. Usually I could ask George for anything and he’s so easy going normally that it’s never a problem. But over the past few weeks he’s become so bad tempered and picky that I felt almost afraid to bring my decision up with him. It wasn’t that I was asking for his permission, this was something I’d wanted to do for a long time and I wanted him to approve of it as much as I was excited about it.

Finally he let out a long sigh and said,’ No, I can’t let you do that.’
I was so shocked I almost tripped over. ‘What? But why? It wouldn’t affect you, and I’d be making money for myself, and you know that all I’ve ever dreamed of was a career in fashion!’

‘No. I can’t say I have always known that.’ He said and then went on, ‘Look, I know you’re still young and have this obsessive fixation with the cinema’. Here he held up his hand to quiet me before I could protest. ‘But we’ve been married for a long time now and quite frankly I think it’s time you started to settle down.’

I was stunned into silence. He continued ‘There’s also been some talk about you, I don’t want to go into it, because I don’t want to cheapen the evening, but I’ve decided you need to calm down, take more interest in the house, and who knows’, he paused, ‘maybe we should start a family’.

I gasped, ripped my arm from his and walked on faster. I was about to cross the road to take a different route, anything to get away from him at that moment when he caught up with me, took my arm again and basically frogmarched me the rest of the way home! I was shocked at being manhandled in this way and by George of all people.

We didn’t say anything after that, I was too angry and appalled and George always goes quiet when he’s upset about something. I’m so upset I can’t even cry. What does he mean, I need to settle down? And what does he mean about there being talk about me? I can only think of one thing but I daren’t put it into words. Oh if only I could go to sleep, I’m sure this would all seem less awful in the morning. But I’m so angry, how could George talk to me like that?