Her mother, Lily Hind, had, like Arthur left school at 13. She had to leave her secretarial job the moment she married Arthur, in 1931, which was usual for married women at the time. Their first child, Gordon, born in 1932, was six years older than Margaret; the youngest, Pauline (‘Pud’), was born in 1942, four years after Margaret.
I first went out with Margaret properly in 1956, although I had been rebuffed twice in the previous year or so. I was at the University of Durham, aged 20, and she had just turned 18. One evening in June, or possibly July, 1956, I happened to be passing the City Picture House in Carlisle.
At the front of the queue I noticed Margaret and her best friend, Margaret Crosthwaite (‘M’ in the diary), whom I also knew, with two boys who were friends of mine. I barged into the queue, pretending they had kept my place, and sat behind them in the cinema, making silly comments about the film.
Later I found myself asking Margaret if I could walk her home. I did not know where she lived or anything about her family, so I was pleased to discover that she lived on a council estate similar to my own, only at the other end of the town. That evening she was demob happy: she had just finished sitting her A levels.
For once her mind was not filled with schoolwork, so she weakened and agreed I could take her home. We talked all the way to her house – and that was it. Our non-stop conversation lasted for the next 60 years. In January 1954, when Margaret began the diary from which these extracts are taken, her family were living at 180 Richardson Street, opposite Carlisle Cemetery. She was 15, but would turn 16 in May.