Lynn, Kathy, and Brian leave school and start work. Retro fiction.
Locksford Cheshire. 1963.
Lynn and her mother went into town together. Lynn was starting her first full-time job as a typist and office assistant at the insurance offices. As they walked into the shop frontage the receptionist looked up. "Can I help you?"
"I'm Lynn McLean, I am to start work here today."
"And I'm her mother and I'm here to renew our home insurance."
"Her mother, you look more like sisters," the receptionist said. "Oh, sorry, Lynn."
"That's all right," Lynn said and gave a laugh. "It happens all the time."
The receptionist stood up and called out behind the screen. "Janice, your new helper, Lynn is here. Can you show her around?" She sat back at her desk. "Right, Mrs McLean, I'll sort out your renewal."
Janice came in to take Lynn through. She seemed a friendly girl but obviously a few years older than Lynn and she appeared to be very pleased to see a new employee in the office.
The large open area at the back had half a dozen desks and most were occupied by people who greeted her with welcoming smiles. "Do I have my own desk?" Lynn asked.
"Don't worry about that for now. I'll show you where the kitchen is, you can take over making the tea and coffee from me. That will take up a lot of your time, plus running errands to the shops and the post-office."
Lynn smiled but was very disappointed, being a servant was not in the job description when she had the interview. But she would give it a bit of time and maybe things would get better. Kathy was starting at the local bakery factory and Lynn wondered how she was doing on her first day. She wondered if perhaps she should have gone against her parents' wishes and gone to work with Kathy.
Lynn settled in and despite her disappointment at not being given much typing to do she got on well with all the staff there. After a few weeks though she realised that Kathy was earning a lot more money than her and she wondered if there was any future for her at the offices or should she just go to work at the factory.
She finished work and called at Kathy's house, knowing Kathy finished work and got home before her. She knocked on the door and Kathy's mother opened. "Kathy, Lynn's here," she called. "She's upstairs Lynn, just go up."
Kathy was lying on her bed reading a magazine. "Did you ask about that office job, Kathy?"
"They said to call in and have a chat with them. So when can you go? It'll be dead good if we work at the same place."
"I only work half a day on Wednesday so I can call there in the afternoon."
Kathy arranged the interview for her and Lynn asked about a job as a typist. Although she was asked to do a typing test, she was told there were no office vacancies at that time. They said they would take her details and if a vacancy came up they would definitely get in touch. They also said there were always vacancies in the bakery and she could work there until something came up in the offices if she wanted to. She thanked them for the offer and said she would give it some thought but was a bit undecided in case her parents disapproved.
Lynn had a date with Derek, an old classmate and they went to a Coffee Bar in Middlefield unaware that the buses finished early on that route. They had to walk back to Locksford and she knew it would be very late when she got home.
"Why didn't you check the bus times, Derek, you idiot?" Lynn said.
"I didn't think I needed to. How was I to know the buses stopped at ten o'clock on a Sunday?"
"My Dad will kill me when I get home and you as well if you're with me."
It took an hour to get to Locksford and they still had to walk up to Meadowview. They stopped on the corner of the housing estate after Lynn said she didn't want to risk running into her dad while Derek was with her. Derek started to kiss her and she responded to his kisses feeling thrilled by the attention. But when he sucked on her neck she found it funny not thrilling and she pulled away from him. "What are you a vampire or something?" She started to laugh but he stopped her by kissing her again. He put a hand on one of her breasts and she pushed him away quite forcefully. "Come on, Derek, I don't have time for messing about. I better get home." Derek was noticeably disappointed as Lynn left him and set off on the last part of her journey.
She was hoping to see her house in darkness but all the downstairs lights were on. She slid the key in the lock, opened the door quietly and walked in. Just seconds later her dad came storming out from the kitchen and her mother from the living room.
"Where the hell have you been until this time?" her father shouted. "I was just getting ready to go and phone the police."
"Sorry, we missed the bus."
"We. Who's we? You weren't with Kathy. I've been to her house and she's in bed."
"A mate from school. I've said I'm sorry, can I go to bed?"
He grabbed hold of her shoulder. "What the hell is that on your neck?"
"What?" she said, unaware of the huge mark. She moved away from her father and looked into the hall mirror and was shocked to see the huge love bite. "We were only messing about; I don't know how that happened."
"I bloody do," her father shouted. Get up those stairs to bed and out of my sight. You are not leaving this house until that has gone from your neck."
"I've got work tomorrow."
"Oh, no you haven't, not until that's gone. You have let me down, Lynn. Remember you're only fifteen, you are not too old to get your arse smacked."
Teardrops began to form in Lynn's eyes as she looked towards her mother, noticing her disappointed look.
"All right leave it now, Martyn." her mother said. "Lynn, will get yourself up to bed, please?"
* * * * *
The next day on the other side of town, Brian Conway turned up for his first day of work at the locomotive depot. He reported to the office where he was signed in and briefed. There were three large locomotives in steam at different points outside the shed and another two out of steam inside the shed. Labourers were shovelling the old ashes out of the pit and onto the trackside and he could hear the cleaners shouting and laughing as they worked on one of the locomotives inside the shed. He was told to report to the clothing store which was in an old converted wheel-less carriage.
"Full name and number, lad?"
"Yeah, your paycheck number, given to you in the office. You won't get paid if you don't remember your number."
"Oh, sorry, 237." Brian was given two bib and brace overalls with jackets, a coat and the vinyl-topped hat."
"What about the big overcoat thing?" Brian said.
"You'll get that when you're a passed cleaner." He put a small can of Swarfega on top of the uniform pile. "When it's empty fetch it to me and I'll refill it. No can, no refill. Here is a key for your locker, the number is on the tag. The cleaners will be having their break soon so you might as well wait in the restroom and go out with them after dinner."
Brian found his locker in the back room, put his overalls on and put his surplus items in the locker. He walked through to the main restroom. There was a solitary fireman in there reading the Daily Mirror.
Brian sat at the next table and the fireman looked over at him. "You're the new engine cleaner then. Have you brought your bag in?"
"Sandwiches, billy-can, tea and that."
"I didn't know."
The fireman poured some tea into the lid of his can. "Here," he said, "Have some tea and take this sandwich, I'm off duty in ten minutes."
Brian gratefully took the tea and cheese and onion sandwich. "Thanks," he said. "I'm Brian by the way. So how long till I get to be a fireman?"
"All depends on how quick the vacancies come up. It can be pretty quick if we gain a lot of extra work but worse ways you will be at the firing school in Liverpool within six months."
Brian finished his tea and the fireman tipped the remains of tea from his billy-can down the sink. "The cleaners will be in soon. They are a rowdy lot so watch out or they will try to bully you. If they do, just tell them you're a good mate of Tommy Hutchins. Then they'll leave you alone."