Memory Fourteen

search It was 1954 already and I was in the final stages of my post-grad work and had started copying notes, drawings, graphs and tables. My pregnant wife, Doris was busy in her spare time and at weekends typing my thesis on her little non-electric typewriter. She was still going to work at the BBC and was beginning to show signs of pregnancy, but felt well and happy.

NHS.svgDoris joined a National Health program for first-time mothers at Parsons Green Hospital. She imgrescame home with orange juice, cod liver oil and all sorts of supplemental vitamins and literature. In early April, Doris resigned from her job, after ten years, with the Overseas Division of the BBC. There were several office parties and a lot of farewell lunches. It was nice to have her home with me where I was doing most of my writing.

At the lab, I still had to make two or three more runs, gathering data and confirming some of the statements I had made in my thesis. I found out the procedure for submitting a thesis and arranged for three copies to be bound if it was approved and accepted. My work had to satisfy Professor Newitt as my internal examiner and Martin Ruheman, my external examiner. Dr. Ruheman was the author of the only book I have ever seen on “The Separation of Gases.” He had also designed the only plant in England that was making gasoline from coal.

I had kept British Oxygen Company advised of my schedule and I met with one of their officers to discuss employment. This resulted in an offer to be a Senior Research Engineer with an annual salary of seven hundred pounds. I was too shortly be without money and with an unemployed wife and baby, my estimate of what I would need to start my family came to a much higher figure. I had no idea of the going rate for a Ph.D. graduate with little industrial experience, so I started trying to find out.

About the 17th of May, my typist started having baby pains and we went to Parsons Green Hospital and got her checked in and settled. The next three days were agony for me because I could not get information from the hospital and I could only visit for a half hour in the evening. Having a baby under National Health rules means you have no control whatsoever. There was no way to discuss what was or was not happening. All I could do was shut up and wait. (This is exactly what one nurse told me to do.)

I had another problem. Dr. Hunt wanted to go on a tour for a week to some golf courses in France, Belgium and Switzerland and wanted me to drive him and be a golf partner. We had been told that Doris would be in the hospital for two weeks after the baby was born. Doris knew how badly I wanted to go and she said I could go as soon as the baby was found to be with no problems. I was not particularly proud of myself, but I told Dr. Hunt I would go as long as the baby was all right. I am sure all who read this, will agree it was a rotten thing to do, but I did it.

Our baby finally came on the 20th of May (Eliza Doolittle  day in “My Fair Lady”).  I got a call from the hospital telling me that we had a girl. I was a bit disappointed but I set to work phoning everyone on a list that Doris had given me. This took a half hour and as I finished, the phone rang and it was a nurse saying she had made a mistake and we had a boy. I happily called all Doris’ list again. Doris had heard the nurse telling me it was a girl and she had been shouting at her, but too late.

Through college contacts and with my friend, Roger Sargent, who was working for L’Air Liquide in Paris, I was able to have an interview with their English representative. At the same time, Douglas Eyre, another post-grad in our cryogenic group was also expecting to get his Ph.D. and was looking for a position. Eventually, we went together to be interviewed by L’Air Liquide. They were ready to offer us employment in Paris, but wanted us both to spend six months in their Canadian subsidiary’s office in Montreal. We would both be Senior Process Engineers at a Canadian salary of 5,700 dollars per year. Without knowing anything about the cost, or the standard, of living in Canada, we both thought this was better than we could do in England, and we agreed to go.

After I had seen our baby boy, Nigel Kenneth, I made sure all was well with the baby and Doris, and I took off for Peterborough to get Dr.Hunt and his new Buick car. We crossed from Dover to Calais and played golf at Waterloo, St. Cloud in Paris, Mont Agel above Monte Carlo, Lake Como and Crans-sur-Sierre near Geneva. We were back home in eight days and I found that Doris’ cousin Frank had got Doris and baby Nigel out of the hospital and comfortably at her mother’s home. Her mother did not want us to take the baby away to our flat, but we did and were soon settled into a new routine. I continued working on my thesis, staying up all night one night. Doris remembers sitting on the bed, nursing Nigel while she proof read some of my pages.

We had already got plane reservations to leave London on August 7th and we still had quite a bit to finish. We still had enough time to do everything for my thesis and to also decide what we were going to take to Canada. On the morning of August 7th, I took my thesis copies to Professor Newitt and was told I would be advised if I had my degree in about six weeks. I also learned that I would be awarded the Diploma of the Imperial College, D.I.C. I liked the sound of Kenneth Glover, Ph.D., B.Sc., D.I.C., A.C.G.I. The last one, ACGI, is Associate of the City and Guilds Institute and comes automatically with a B.Sc.

We were taking two suit cases, a carry-cot with a 12 week old baby and 600 Canadian dollars into a new life, in a new country and we nervously wondered if we were doing the right thing. The answer is another memory for another day.

One thought on “Memory Fourteen

  1. Pingback: Guest Memory Two: Nigel Glover | Texas Limey

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