Jackie had stayed at our home with the children.
The next few years saw me trying to settle somewhere in which I could accommodate the three children at weekends and holiday periods. Michael stayed with his stepmother until there was no hope of reconciliation. First I visited them and took them out.
From Lolesworth Buildings I moved for a few more months to stay with Jill in Blackheath. I remember the flat, at the top of Shooters Hill, but forget the address. The sequence and chronology of the next few months is a bit hazy, as was I, but I had a fortnight in a flat in West London belonging to a work colleague in Southwark Social Services Department and a month or so once again with Tony in Gillespie Road, near Arsenal’s former football ground in North London. A period of stability sharing Giles’ basement flat in Pimlico lasted a bit more than a year.
After spending some time with friends Tony and Madeleine, Jill, a work colleague, gave me the Blackheath room. It was spacious and could accommodate a thick piece of foam rubber measuring 6’6″ x 5’6″ that I had tailor made so that Michael, Matthew, and Becky could share it with me at the weekends – two of us at the top and two at the bottom. That makeshift mattress was to serve for another 34 years. When I set up home with Jessica I had a wooden bed built around it. Only when I left Lindum House and returned to London, where it was too large to fit into the Hyde Park Square flat, was it replaced.
I was to be even more grateful for the Blackheath room and that mattress before I moved on, because for period of six weeks I suffered my one and only bout of bronchitis and hardly left it for a month.
During the time at Blackheath the children and I visited that village where donkey rides and Guinness were sampled.
Sometimes we went down to the Thames waterfront at Greenwich, which would be unrecognisable today. Smoke still billowed from Battersea Power Station and cranes were still in service.
As all my readers will know, music is a powerful trigger for joy or sadness. Jackie and I were fans of Tom Paxton whose Croydon performances we attended. From the day of our parting I was never able to listen to the singer/songwriter until we were reunited. One real tear-jerker was “About the Children”. It is perhaps just as well that the video of this was unavailable for me to add to this post.