” It’s strange – even though we’ve been married a long time, every time I saw her away or we went shopping together and she went and did her bit and I went and did my bit and we’d agree to meet – I used to see her sitting there or waiting there – she always used to be in front before I got there. I would always think, I must get to her, you know, I liked it, being with her it was just like meeting her for the first time again and again.”
G: Where did you and Ann meet?
F: We met in a dance hall that was over a cinema in Wealdstone, in London, West London. That’s where we first met and I used to go out with Ann for a while but she actually had her eye on another fella before I came along. But he left and didn’t come back so they didn’t connect. So, I started to go out with her and he came back. So, she said, ‘would you mind if we split up?’, and I thought well, I don’t mind if we weren’t really right together. My friend told me that the fella had gone again so I thought, ‘Oh, I think I’ll go back’.
I went back and I liked Ann straight away, there was a feeling of happy, content, being contented being with her all the time, and I think she had the same feeling.
We went out for about two years with one another and then we got married. We got married in 1964 and then we were together all the time. Also, what was good was, we did everything together and we only liked being with one another. For instance, when we moved to our new home in Eastbourne, it needed some work done and plumbing, and we did that together!
G: So, Ann was quite a handywoman?
F: Yes, she was very good! What it was – she had this thing where she was frightened to go out – came on all of a sudden. So, when we went to Eastbourne she couldn’t really go out. So I said, if we can manage on my money, because I was only a van driver, I’ve not had any good jobs except for the BT – I worked for BT in London. We tried for six months and it worked out alright, Ann was happy to be at home and I was happy for Ann to be at home because when I came home at lunch times all the meals were ready, the tea was ready everything was ready. We got on like that together. Ann was a very good manager of money and everything. I used to just get my wages and used to give it to her and she dealt with it.
G: That’s great, that’s like teamwork in that you work to each other’s strengths?
F: Yes, and we just liked doing things together.
G: You liked each other’s company?
F: Yes, even if someone else wanted to come and help I’d say, No I’m alright, Ann and I can do it, we’ll do it!
F: I mean, we used to have arguments every now and again.
G: That’s normal, isn’t it, would you say?
F: Yes, we never really fell out for more than an hour with one another, you know, we were like that. But I know on three occasions unfortunately, I have a sharp tongue sometimes, you know, I have a short temper and I made her cry three times, I always felt sorry about that. But that only lasted about an hour.
G: We all say things that we regret, don’t we, in the heat of the moment?
F: Yeah well, she didn’t often cry you see, and I mean, I didn’t lose my temper that often but it was just sometimes it was a bit sharp. But on three occasions, I remember because I felt so sorry afterwards! You know, you say these things and you regret it and I used to stamp off in the other room and then I might come back and things, ‘oh sorry, I shouldn’t have said that and she’d be crying.
But, on the other hand she used to keep me in my place!
G: Three times!? And how long were you married?
F: 42 years!
G: 42 years! That’s not so bad is it?
F: No well we would still be married but she had this heart condition. Her valves were leaking and she had one valve put in, a mechanical one. But they couldn’t do anymore, they said it was too risky, and that’s what she died of, heart disease.
G: How would you describe Ann?
F: Oh well, Ann was very jolly. She was a bubbly, outgoing person and she never put on any airs and graces, she was always friendly. She was very easy going. She was good with the money, as I say and she wouldn’t spend because we had a mortgage at the time. Once that was paid for things got easier. All I did was go to work, give her the wages and she was very good. She used to arrange for holidays – if we did have a holiday – sometimes we didn’t go on holiday because of course, you know, we couldn’t’ actually afford to go away. She used to book all those things! I was terrible because she would say, ‘where do you want to go?’ and I would say, ‘Oh I don’t mind! Anywhere really!’ And once she said, ‘oh you leave it all to me! Why don’t you say where you want to go?’
G: Well, you’re very easy-going as well so that probably helped things?
F: Yes, that’s right. And we were both friendly!
G: You got married at The Holy Trinity Church. Tell us about the morning of your wedding.
F: Right, well, I didn’t have a bachelor party.
G: You didn’t do that back then?
F: I think we did but I didn’t because I was working!
G: So, you didn’t have a bachelor party!?
F: No because I never thought about it, and I’ve never had a great many friends really, ‘cause I’m just one-to-oners, really! So, anyway I came home from work and did the usual things, went to bed, got up and dressed the next morning, Saturday and then went to the church!
G: So, did you live by yourself or with family?
F: No, I’ve always been with me mum and dad and sister.
G: Did you all leave the house together all dressed up?
F: Yes, that’s right I had a suit on and dad had his suit on. I’ve got photos in the wedding photographs.
G: How did that feel on your wedding morning?
F: I tell you what, it’s a bit hard to believe, but I kept thinking it was more like a film, it was in a film because, I just went through the actions. I knew I was getting married; you know that’s what I’m doing, I’m getting married but when we were walking down the church, in the aisle, especially coming back, I was thinking, ‘oh this is just like I’ve seen on the films, this!’ Walking with Ann, you know.
So, what did I feel about the wedding? Well, I think it’s just something you do… I think, to tell you the truth which I’ve never told anybody, but I thought about getting married for one reason: I didn’t want to be home when my mum died. That’s a funny reason for getting married – isn’t it strange? I didn’t want to see her dead, and I would have done if I’d been at home. And as it turned out, I didn’t because they moved to Reading and Frances, my sister, she looked after them all the time. They died of natural causes, and I only saw mum a week before she died and then at the funeral. So that’s why I think I started to think about getting married. ‘Cause I was alright at home, thirty-one and didn’t have anything to do, messing about, yeah, food provided for me! It turned out to be the best thing for me because it made a man out of me. Once I got married, I had to start doing things for myself. Ann was good as well so we learned together.
On the church, that was nice, it was a sunny day, the people were there.
G: So, you remember the weather?
F: Yeah! It was lovely! Oh it was a lovely day and then we went round to, I think, The Belmont for the reception. And then we left there, and her Uncle took us in his car to the station. We went to Devon where we had our honeymoon. Torquay.
G: Did you exchange rings at the church?
F: No, I don’t think we did. We put a ring on, the usual, I can’t remember exchanging rings.
G: Yes, that’s what it’s called!
F: Oh, is it? Well we did that, yes! Yeah everything you see on the film, we did! That’s right, yes put the ring on, yeah, we did that. And we cut the cake, signed the registry and all that, you know. The usual things, really.
G: And what did Ann wear?
F: She had white, straight sort of dress. A veil, and a crown thing, you’ll see in the photos – yes, that’s right, coronette kind of thing, what they have Bridesmaids, not Bridesmaids, Brides with the veil!
G: Did you wait at the front of the church and wait for her to walk up?
F: Quite right, yes, we did. I was with Dave, who was my best man. We went in and we waited for Ann to come down. Yes, exactly like you see on the film it was. I think that’s why I think I thought it was a film. Yes, we did all that.
G: And do you remember looking back at her or was it a bit of a blur?
F: It was a bit of a blur; I might have looked around to see if she was coming but I couldn’t say definitely.
G: And what were your wedding bands like?
F: They were just really plain gold.
G: Did you have a photographer for your wedding day?
F: Yes, he did all the photographs in the album. The usual, the running up doing the group photographs, individual ones, two together and things like that.
G: What kind of camera did he have, do you remember?
F: It was quite a biggish one. They’re all black and white or monochrome so they didn’t have thecolour in those days.
G: Can you tell us, what is the secret to a happy marriage?
F: I think just jogging along not trying to be boss. I mean Ann and I we sort of just got on together, neither of us tried to boss it over to give way, we used to talk things over.
I’m fairly easy-going so if Ann wanted to do that I was okay and she was the same if I wanted to go somewhere or do anything. So, we used to talk it out. She was very sensible. The main thing was, of course, could we afford things? Because, as I say she wasn’t working. So that was it we didn’t try to boss one another about.
G: Do you think that’s the key?
F: Yes, we worked together with it. I mean, we didn’t like the same things for instance, Ann would like things like Coronation Street and the other one, EastEnders. And she also used to like gameshows. Which, I’m not so keen on soap operas. I used to do other things, amuse myself really. But we liked walking together, we liked going out together and things like this so it wasn’t a problem. She had a television here and I had a television in the back so we didn’t argue!
G: So that’s the solution!? Have TVs in separate rooms!
F: Yes, that’s right.
G: Frank, what is your favourite memory of you both throughout your married life?
F: Well, she had this heart problem and she couldn’t walk so well. But when she had this one put in, the mechanical one, she was back like a seven-year-old. We went to Devon that time and it was the first time we thought we’d go First Class on the train and everything went lovely! It was a lovely train ride in summer! And she got around, we were walking about, everything, just like we were young so that, I always remember. Gradually, of course her other valves went and so she couldn’t do so much. But, yeah, that was the outstanding one and I suppose getting married – I remember that alright. And I always remembered her birthday, yeah, I was good at that!
G: That’s a big tick isn’t it!
F: Yeah, so…but I must admit, it doesn’t matter when I saw Ann, ‘cause when I was working for the laundry, some weeks I had to work Saturday morning if we had like a holiday we were a day behind. So, I always used to meet Ann in Eastbourne and we used to go and have fish and chips. But Ann was always there, I never had to wait, she was always sitting where she said she was waiting. And, honestly, I used to see her and I thought, oh there she is and sometimes, I felt if I could run to her! And then we’d go off together – fish and chips.
It’s strange – even though we’ve been married a long time, every time I saw her away or we went shopping together and she went and did her bit and I went and did my bit and we’d agree to meet – I used to see her sitting there or waiting there – she always used to be in front before I got there. I would always think, I must get to her, you know, I liked it, being with her it was just like meeting her for the first time again and again.
G: That’s wonderful!
F: Well, you know we just kept together.
G: If you were to get married today, to Ann. What kind of wedding would you have?
F: I think we would go for a registry rather than a church because we’re not religious, really. I mean, we just got married because that was the sort of thing you did and Ann liked it. If we got married again today, I think we would both agree to go to a registry office, you know.
G: Would you have a honeymoon?
F: Yes, somewhere hot probably, get away!
G: And what do you think of the wedding fashion today?
F: I suppose the young ones have different ideas. As I said earlier, I think in our time, people used to get married in church because they felt ‘more married’. But I have an idea today they’re merely putting on a show they, want to show it out to their friends or something. I mean, some of them obviously they believe in all that but I think some of them like the show. I don’t know for sure, but I know young people have different ideas.
G: Do you have any advice for a Groom on the morning of his wedding?
F: Oh, I would probably say, well if he looks a bit worried, I’d say, ‘don’t worry, you know, it’ll come out alright and everything goes to plan, people lead you through, anyway, if you’re going a bit wrong. You’ll be alright, don’t worry. But if he was alright, I’d say, ‘good luck to you! You’re doing the right thing!’…. I think!
G: What do you remember the most from your wedding day?
F: What do I remember? I think…going to the reception afterwards and looking round seeing the people there. Well, of course walking back from being married, walking down the aisle. That stands out in my memories because that’s when I was thinking, ‘it’s like a film, this!’ And that’s me.
G: It feels very surreal doesn’t it? You see it happen to everyone else and then it’s your turn.
F: That’s right, exactly. You’re doing it!
G: What would you say to yourself the night before your wedding, knowing what you know now.
F: Oh, I’d say yes, go through with it. Oh, yes. I’d be alright. I mean, I’d marry Ann again.
F: Bonus for me maybe, don’t know about her!
G: Frank, this is the last question. You’ve been fantastic, really. It’s been good fun, hasn’t it?
F: Yes… better than I thought!
G: Could you describe for us, the one quality or value that you held on tightly to, throughout your marriage?
F: Well, we’ve always been honest with one another. Always. I was always faithful to her and she always knew where I was – in the back room, messing about!
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