Chapter 6

6.1 Wedding preparations

Joyce met me at Plymouth and we travelled by train to London. The Guard must have been observant, or suspicious, for, although it was broad daylight, he pulled down the blinds in our compartment, ensuring we could have an uninterrupted chance to talk. I was in a generous mood and his thoughtfulness cost me two shillings.

I forgot to mention that, as I had sailed for Africa twice, each time in the month of September, I had no warm clothing with me, so Joyce had posted out a warm, but rather large tweed overcoat. I did appreciate this on those March days on board ship, but I also knew it could have been a better fit. On arrival at Paddington, her brother met us in the family car and dropped us in Piccadilly where our first call was to Simpsons or Austin Reeds. I bought a compete new outfit including an overcoat. That evening, when the brother, Charles came in he obviously described me to his fiancé as having red hair and that she was not marrying him for his good looks. Her later reply to him (nice girl) was that I had not got red hair and I was quite good looking. To this Charles said “well he’s not the same man she had with her when I met them at Paddington”. Despite this, Charles and I have remained good friends through the years.

After a couple of days in London where evidently I had been accepted, I went to Dublin, where Joyce joined me, feeling like something ‘on approval’. She knew of the hundreds of relations in the Ludlow clan, but of course had time to meet only a score or so. All got on happily together.

In London, at the family church we were married on 12th April. My brother, Day married us and one of our presents was a cine film of the occasion. We later brought a 16mm camera and a Kodak ‘E’ type projector so that we could see the wedding film and the many others we were to take. This projector had two drives. One, electric mains with a transformer when we used a 100 volt lamp, the other, a 12 volt lamp, when we turned the handle for showing when a 12 volt battery was our only source of power. This was to be of very great value during the following years, as will be recorded.

6.2 Honeymoon

We had decided to spend our honeymoon in Switzerland but this, including the fact that we would catch the 4.15 from Writham, Kent, was all hush hush. There appears, on such occasions, to be a determination in some next of kin to follow the newly weds. Thus it was that having changed into less formal garb, we set off in one of McCullaugh’s cars (a local firm) with McCullaugh himself driving. We were closely followed by Joyce’s two brothers and my own, who had married us. In his effort to shake them off, McCullaugh twisted and turned through a maze of suburban London roads and streets, new to us but our driver was familiar with them all, that is, except the last one. It was a cul-de-sac. We came to an embarrassing halt, whereupon the kindly gentlemen in a car behind us emerged, still in very fine clothing, obviously they have been to a wedding, and, doffing their grey silk toppers, enquired if they could help us.

Risking further interception, McCullaugh stopped at a telephone box and gave instructions to one of his drivers to proceed at once to a certain station and await us there at the arrival side for trains from London. Our followers, like us, were unaware of the conversation the driver had held. So the two cars moved off again. We arrived at Hither Green station, but at the entrance to the platform for passengers London bound. Clever old McCullaugh, had remembered that this entrance was also a cul-de-sac. Carrying our suitcases, he triumphantly led us through the connecting passage under the railway lines, “Pedestrians Only”. By the time our followers had got round to the other side, we were already in a fine new car, no confetti, and on our way to the next station, where we joined our train to Folkestone.

Our hotel had a garden, at the end of which there must be a road, for we faced a large advertisement showing a large tin of baked beans and the caption, “The joy of living - 4d a day”. Our honeymoon in Switzerland was a package, for which I had fully paid. We could have saved such a lot if I had known of this joy of living on 4d a day.

Our tour operators, the Polytechnic, offered a choice of two hotels in Lucerne. We did not want the attraction of the bigger, with its swimming pool, dance band and late hours, so we chose the smaller, lakeside abode at Hermitage. We were pleased to find that only two other members of the party also chose the smaller hotel. From Calais we journeyed by train to Paris and by coach to our one night stop-over. This hotel was very clean and good, but it was also very quaint. We had a Louis XIV four poster bed with heavy red curtains and a very puffed up duvet. Fortunately the mattress was post 1643-1715, possible Louis XV or even from the ill fated XVI years. Early next morning we were collected and got a train through to Lucerne.

At the Hermitage, we had a lovely room overlooking the Lake and Mt Pilatus with its snow-cap right across the lake. Lucerne is indeed a beautiful place with so much to interest visitors. Buildings ancient and modern, streets wide and narrow and still, in those days, an abundance of horse drawn vehicles. We enjoyed sitting in the grounds of the Kursaal, listening to an orchestra as they performed in the open air.

As the waters of the lake narrowed into the Reuss, there stands the mid-river tower, adding its assistance in supporting the medieval-roofed wooden footbridge. This does not follow the usual way of bridges, giving the shortest and quickest passage from one side to the other, it is enhanced by having angular turns. With surely millions of other sightseers, we took snapshots of the bridge, and crossed it many times. Then there was the constant music of the lapping water in then lake as the busy ferryboats, so clean and brightly painted, darted hither and thither collecting and depositing their passengers.

Cuckoo clocks, musical boxes of all descriptions, carved fruit dishes, which played simple melodies as one lifted the dish and kept it aloft until the end of the tune or tunes. They made no sound of tin or tinkle but were surprisingly resonant and pleasing. We have one still in use and still playing after half a century. Then, of course, Swiss watches abounded, my wife gave me a present of a Rolex Oyster. It has been under water and stood up to tropical heat and intense cold, but still ticks. It is nice to see carved items which, unlike very many souvenirs, have not been exalted to the attic, but still give us thankfulness for beauty as well as happy memories. Much of this handiwork was patiently undertaken by folk confined to their chalets and snowbound through much of the winter.

On Sunday, morning and evening, we made our way to the English speaking church where I was glad to be of use in a musical capacity.

We did not sign up for day-tours with the Polytechnic crowd but much preferred to explore on our own. A visit to the Altdorf Valley and the William Tell country with its statues of the probably mythical archer and the apple. We booked for a coach tour to Grindelwald, but we never got there to see the glaciers and “one of the most beautiful scenes of the Bernese Oberland”. I will explain why not.

We arrived in time but found that the coach would not depart because we were the only passengers. Instead we were to travel in the owner’s private Cadillac, with a liveried chauffeur. We set off in great style. The snow was deep as we crossed high ground. We stopped at a Café to have some tea. This was served in glass tumblers, a tea bag in each and filled with hot water, definitely off the boil. However, because of the cold, we consumed the pale amber liquid and continued our journey. In Interlaken, as we progressed along a main road, there suddenly emerged from a minor road a large limousine, which could not stop in time and bashed our running board and doors. Our driver and I were on the off side, Joyce on the on side got the fuller effect of the impact and was thrown to the floor. The battery, carried on the running board, was ripped open. Helpful residents rushed out to see what they could do and very soon, coffee was served on a tray. The car at fault had three or four very official looking gentlemen. They were very full of apologies and intent on seeing that Joyce was comfortable in the taxi they called. We were driven to a luxurious hotel for a clean-up and an excellent lunch and later driven to the railway station where we were given first class tickets to Lucerne. This was the first cog-wheel train we had travelled in. We scaled the highest parts of the journey without danger of slipping back on the rails, which were thickly covered with snow. At Lucerne, we were met by the owner of the Cadillac and driven to our Hotel. Apart from being somewhat shaken, we were little the worse for the experience. The tour proprietor asked if we would be willing to give evidence in court. He fetched us and we each got the equivalent of 5 pounds for our appearance. For the rest of that day, we were his guests. He took us anywhere we wished to go. We didn’t see Grindelwald, but we felt we had not been unfairly treated.

We joined a three country tour Switzerland, Germany and France. We went round Lake Constance and stopped at Friederichshafen with its two huge hangers at Graf Zeppelin works. One zeppelin was moored to its tall mast. Its passenger gondola was so small in proportion to the huge fabric covered construction of the dirigible.

I mentioned that two other members of the Polytechnic holiday folk stayed at the smaller hotel. They were school teachers and both spinsters. They joined all the outings with the group from the bigger hotel and we often did not see them apart from breakfast. I also have mentioned that Joyce and I had very similar homes and background. We had both been in the USA. My tour is already recorded and she, as a young doctor, had gone out with her parents, her mother having had a big operation recently. They were glad to have an informed companion. Her father held a high office in the Good Templar movement and they were attending a conference in Philadelphia. Another point which must be explained. When we were arranging details for our return to Nigeria as man and wife, we had agreed that we would retain the services of my cook, Ajayi, being the better of the two, but her steward Stephen would be retained for the same reason. They were both glad to receive a retainer fee during our absence on leave.

Well, the night before the Polytechnic holiday ended, the two ladies were at home for dinner and we, with the very charming hotel manageress sat around and joined in conversation. We talked of our experiences, of our treks to Africa, of our large mud house in Ilesha and of our cook and Stephen. We also spoke of our American travels, omitting the fact that our visits were a year apart, but we had followed much of the same trail, Washington, New York, Niagara, Toronto etc. We spoke not one untrue word. The ladies were astonished and obviously embarrassed as they confessed that they had decided we were on our honeymoon. Oh, said one of us, I wonder what gave you that impression.

Next morning we confided in the manageress that we were honeymooners and explained how all the otherwise compromising things we had said, were absolutely true.

6.3 On ‘leave’

Absence from the West Coast for six months, after eighteen months of work suggests a very generous holiday. Not so, for the principal reason was to get out of the tropics and to recuperate. Then, with the sea passages taking over two weeks each way, the total time at home was much less. Another very big factor is that the Missionary Society was always in great need to meet requests for visits from live missionaries for at least a Sunday or a weeknight meeting. Then, we were sent on ‘deputation’ tours, lasting a week or more. This would mean going to speak at afternoon or evening meetings from Monday to Friday with probably three Services to conduct on Sundays and a big Rally at a central church on Saturday evenings. This was always very interesting, meeting with so many different people as well as seeing various parts of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We had, in addition, two very happy visits to the Channel Isles, one in our French speaking Circuit and the other in the English work.

There had to be time given to buying in wholesale supplies of food for the next eighteen months. Plans and discussions on aid for future schemes had to be submitted to the authorities, these sometimes got ready backing but others met with a request for caution.

Health checks were a regular procedure and often were followed by treatment. Lots of injections were required. We went to the Burroughs Welcome Institute in London to have Yellow Fever inoculations. This was a very unpleasant session, we understood, consisting of a large injection in the stomach and the necessity of swallowing quantities of glucose liquid and tablets or sweets in preparation. We received what we thought was a preliminary shot in the arm, and, when we asked how long we would have to wait for the big injection, were informed that that was all. The latest achievement in research had resulted in a new treatment; in other words we were guinea pigs. Anyhow, we thankfully added to the success list and never had any trouble with the dreaded yellow fever.

The above paragraphs will show that the luxury of a whole free week during our leave, was never guaranteed. Apart from official arrangements, there were numerous invitations to address meetings organised by friends, or friends of friends. So, from the day of our return from our Swiss honeymoon, our time was not our own. There was an additional cause for concern. As recorded, Joyce had started her leave in January but I had not started mine until March. She was therefore under contract to be back in Nigeria in July. I could not get permission to cut short my leave, so we must sail back separately and endure separation for at least eight weeks.

6.4 Return to Nigeria

However, the eight weeks did pass, the slowest eight weeks on record. During the afternoon of the day, which I sailed from Liverpool, I went to a restaurant for tea. A young man came to share my table. During our conversation I told him that I would be sailing for West Africa in a couple of hours. He was very kind and regretted he could not come to see me off. I think he felt I must be lonely and would appreciate company. Incidentally the instrumental trio played “My future’s just passed” but I did not disclose my real joy in getting on the boat. My future now more than ever before was to be in Africa.

I will not write more of the voyage, the arrival in Nigeria and our re-union. Then came the unpacking of the dozens of boxes of wedding presents and purchases. I will comment on one of these cases. Woolworths had an export drive. Anyone going overseas, who spent over 5 pounds could have their purchases packed and delivered on board ship at no extra cost. It was amazing what one could buy for 5 pounds, as nothing above sixpence was sold in Woolworths. This resulted in an array of at least two hundred items. We bought a great variety of glass pieces, tumblers, bowls, jogs, dishes, crockery, sundae glasses galore, even though we could not enjoy any iced sweets. We knew that the hospital folk would welcome any surplus goods we exported. Eventually we unpacked Woolworths’ case. There was not one single article cracked nor broken. There is no doubt the Woolworth family had their millionaires, but I do not know how they did it.

The unpacking of wedding presents gave special joy. Friends had gone to a lot of trouble in selecting their gifts and we rejoiced in thermos flasks, they keep fluids cool as well as hot, richly coloured bowls, pots and vases added so much to the everlasting green of our forest surroundings. Tightly fitting lids to jars defeated the attempts of tropical insects to taste the contents. Our shop, in other words our food store that looked like a corner shop, was filled and kept under lock and key. The empty cases and boxes were in great demand by our carpenter although their life would not be long in a land inhabited by so many termites.