All the same, they were great fun and she reminisced with pleasure about the social life at the weekends. If it gives a flavour of the innocence, she said they particularly enjoyed walking home through a ploughed field, one foot in the furrow and the other on the ridge, bobbing up and down until they almost fell over with laughter.
The farmer was a young man called Bobby, who had inherited the farm from his father – mother was still fit and well and ran the house and farmyard. Bobby would have volunteered, but had poor sight and was more use to the war effort where he was. Jane and Bobby were good friends, but there was nothing else between them and I don’t think that she would have got on with his mother, who was tough and unsentimental – it was she who wouldn’t give her an alternative to bacon.
There was a dreadful accident once, when there was a young woman staying on the farm. I can’t remember why, because I seem to recollect she was American and I can’t think how she’d have come to be in England at that time. She was lovely apparently, a pretty, laughing girl, and she loved riding. But one day, out for a ride with Bobby, she fell off her horse. She landed hard and Bobby was concerned and said they should turn back and wanted to walk back with her, but she laughed and remounted and said she was fine. But she wasn’t. She fell again. “I have hurt myself this time”, she said, and she fainted. Bobby had to leave her on the ground and galloped back for help. She died in hospital later.
The coroner was critical of Bobby, who blamed himself too, but there wasn’t much he could have done. He could have left her after the first fall and gone for help, but she insisted she was fine. I’m not sure whether it was a fractured skull or a subarachnoid haemorrhage, but it’s quite likely it would have killed her, whatever he’d done. To make things as much worse as they could possibly be, she had been an only child.
Although Jane was strong, she wasn’t that robust, because she suffered badly from migraines. She wouldn’t often have been given time off for a ‘sick headache’ though, she remembered being literally sick with pain and then carrying on with her work again. There were several hot summers in the 1940s and she wasn’t good in the sun, she had a fair skin and didn’t do well in the heat. But she was immensely stoical and had a high pain threshold, so just kept going.