Saturday, 21 January 2012

Bill and Marlis Bates

One of the regular callers at South Street was a chap called Les Horton. Les worked in general wedding photography and lived in Basingstoke, Hampshire. He was a bit obnoxious and rough around the edges but in the main acceptable. Personally I would not trust him more than I could have thrown him, but for some reason Bill made time for him and had helped him get some additional work.
Every time Les met up with Bill or popped in to see us, he kept going on at Bill to find a new lady to settle down with. Bill always maintained he was, “Too old and set in his ways for all that at his time of life”. I think Bill was just in his fifties at the time. Anyway, Les was persistent if nothing else and after months of trying he got Bill to meet a lady acquaintance of his called Marlis.
Marlis was born in Düsseldorf, Germany and had moved to England after the World War 2 and had settled in Basing Village near Basingstoke in Hampshire. She was divorced many years earlier and had worked hard all her life as a nurse at the Basingstoke hospital. By the time Bill was introduced to her, Marlis had recently retired and they hit it off.
Some while later Bill mentioned Marlis to me and I knew it was difficult for him to speak of his personal happiness. He eventually got matters out in the open and I was absolutely delighted for him. He took me down to meet Marlis one day and I thought them a great match. Obviously things had moved on faster than I realised as both Bill and Marlis were talking of moving in together and getting married. This was the best personal news I had heard regarding Bill since I had known him.
Bill started to look at the practicalities of his business and talking about commuting between Basing and Isleworth. We talked and I said could I take a look in the loft area of Marlis bungalow? I got a ladder from the garage and armed with a torch, took a look around and I knew this space would suffice. It did not make sense to me for Bill to commute to and from Isleworth, so I suggested we build a darkroom up there in the loft area and for Bill to give up the lease on the shop at Harper’s Yard.
Marlis had a large bungalow and after some investigation, I drafted Bob Grafham in to get his views. Bill had one view on things, but Bob and I wanted to do things right and said we could build him a darkroom, office and storage area with all the facilities he needed. Eventually after much discussion, Bill and Marlis agreed to a watered down set of our plans and Bob and I set to work.
We floored the main attic area and then put up studded walls and added electrics, water pipes, sink units with hot and cold running water and spent a long time making the darkroom light tight.
Bill gave Porsche Cars Great Britain notice on the shop on the side of Harper’s Yard, and we moved most of the equipment from South Street to Basing and soon had Bill up and running, working from home.
A new chapter was starting and an old one closing.

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