Ronald Basil Girdler
After I had been at Johnson's for some months Alex suggested that I should have another go at the Intermediate B.Sc. exams at evening classes. He was doing an external B,Sc. degree at Birkbeck College in Holborn, and he persuaded me to apply there to re-
This was an entirely new venture for me and I approached the first term with some apprehension. However I soon settled in and I even began to enjoy Maths for we had a very good lecturer and interesting company. I remember the Physics lecturer particularly. He was a man in his seventies with years of experience and tremendous enthusiasm for his subject.
In March 1948 a young man started work in the lab with me. He was 23 years old, had just been demobbed from the R.A.F. and was filling in time till October when he was to start working for a Chemistry degree at Imperial College. At lunch time on his first day at work the girls from other labs at Johnson's asked me what the "new boy" was like. I told them that he seemed very nice "but too keen on sport for my liking!" His name was Ron Girdler. We had worked together for some months when, in June, the British Industries Fair took place in Earls Court and Johnson's took a stand there. "Fanny" Wright had two tickets for the exhibition and asked us if we'd like to go on her behalf. We went on the Saturday, but I have to admit that I can't remember much about the exhibition. It was a fine day and we walked through the streets of London in a state of some excitement, At some point we approached a narrow street which had a row of bollards at it's entrance and Ron vaulted over them. I was very impressed by his athleticism. He hasn't changed much! I had hoped that he would ask me to spend the evening with him in London, perhaps for a meal or a visit to the cinema, and was very disappointed when he casually told me that he was taking his girl friend to a dance. I returned home feeling rejected and doubly so when Mum said that she hadn't expected me home so early.
During the summer of that year we began to go out together, and I found Ron very resourceful when it came to ideas for places to go. Of course we went to the cinema quite often but also we took long walks. This was something unusual for me in those days and it wasn't too easy to find places to go to, considering that we lived in the suburbs and had no car. However we used the buses and trains and went quite far afield. Ron managed to persuade me to ride on his tandem (I had never ridden a bike before and I certainly would not ride one now through present day traffic) and I sat on the back and did as little work as I could. On one occasion, perhaps during the following year, for it was cherry time, we went with two other young men from Johnson's, Pete and Eddie, to Maidenhead by train, where we hired a dinghy and rowed up river. I wore a pair of burgundy trousers which I thought were most appropriate for the occasion but the boys thought I was very daring as very few women wore trousers then. I sat in the back of the boat throwing cherries at the boys which they caught in their mouths whilst they took it in turns to do the rowing, The weather was glorious and it was a great day out.
At work we got on very well together, and we began to find that we had a lot in common. One morning whilst we were doing some titrations at the bench, Ron started singing to himself and when I realised he was humming the second movement of Beethoven's 7th, Symphony I Joined in with the second theme. Ever since then this has been "our tune". We also agreed on politics, both feeling that Socialism and later, Communism, are the only fair and just systems. Imagine our delight when a Labour government was elected in 1945, following the end of the war!
In September 1948 Ron left Johnson's to prepare for his University course, We met on Sundays only as he was working at his studies the rest of the time. His parents had no telephone so we were unable even to communicate during the week. He used to cycle to South Kensington to Imperial College every day a distance of about 10 miles. He wore a flat cap while cycling and he had to pass the School where Linda was a pupil. On one occasion he had to stop for the children to cross the road and Linda called out to him “Oh, Ron, you do look awfully silly!” an expression we have never forgotten.
In the meantime a new young man took his place at Johnson's by the name of Terry, who was also studying at Birkbeck College so we used to travel up to London together. At Birkbeck I met a chap who worked in a Hospital Lab. and it was he who introduced me to the idea of applying for a Job at the Belsize Park laboratories of the N.W. London Group Hospital Labs. I had by this time (1949) realised that there was no progress to be made at Johnson's, and I had to make a change.
In October 1948 Ron started his Chemistry B.Sc, course at Imperial College in South Kensington. I remained working at Johnson's and saw him only on Sundays. He was not on the telephone so we had no way of communicating with one another from one Sunday to the next. I had passed my Inter Bsc, at long last in the June of that year, having been unable to complete the examination the previous year owing to an attack of chicken-