Mum swapped her one bedroom Berhampore flat, for a two bedrooms, at the Randwick Flats in Moera, going full circle back to the Hutt Valley. It was the first time since dad left, mum got to have her own room, and my sister and I shared the other. Mum was still working at the Grand Hotel and when she asked for a pay rise, Mrs Coltman’s son, who was now the new manager, refused. So she changed to working at the Griffins factory in Woburn packing biscuits, but Mrs Coltman, her old boss, sent a telegram, saying for her to come back to work and she could have her pay-rise.
After the move to Moera, I left the gummies line at Bata and changed to work at the Phillip’s electrical factory, in Naenae. This job was sitting on a line, soldering bits onto little transistor radios. I had to get out of bed, extra early, every morning, to catch the train from the Woburn station up to Naenae.
I met an older lady worker at the factory, who did ear piercing in the breaks, for a pound a pop. Nana had pierced ears and I had always admired all the pretty earrings she wore, so decided on my first payday to give it a go. Taking a friend for support, we all met up in the ladies loos at morning tea time.
After pocketing my quid, the lady piercer without any further ado pulled out an oversize darning needle and a cork. Sticking the cork behind my ear, she immediately stabbed the darning needle right through my ear and out the other side into the cork, repeating it again on the other side. My ears hurt like hell and I needed to put on my poker face. She then threaded in the gold sleeper earrings, I had brought along. By the next day, my ears had turned mucky with puss. The piercing lady said to wash them with iodine in water and after a while they did heal up.
I couldn’t understand why the other girls on the line kept gossiping about a girl working with us, behind her back, just because she wasn’t married, but had a baby. I thought they were just jealous because she was very beautiful and felt sorry for her having to leave the baby with her mother to look after, so she could work and get some money.