She Wore a Yellow Dress:
Five years in the writing, this is an account of two young people from very different backgrounds who find love and affection together, despite jealousies and self-interest. They must cope with the social chaos created in Britain during the 60s and 70s by governments, trade unions and businesses.
An awkward Yorkshire farm boy (as described in the separate novel Unplanned), with few prospects and a sophisticated town girl from Manchester meet for the first time during their final undergraduate year at Hull University on Bonfire Night (5th November) in 1965. The relationship develops and this coming-of-age story goes well beyond the wedding where the curtain often drops in other stories.
As a young adult, John is preoccupied with building a career at Ford of Britain whereas Jean-Louise teaches and expects to receive his dedicated attention, spontaneous affection and unquestioning loyalty because of the sacrifices she has made for him. When that does not happen, she seeks help from elsewhere.
The challenges of cohabitation extend well beyond their domestic disagreements thanks to the national upheavals that take place in Britain during this period. The couple struggles to adjust financially and socially, not helped by their different political values. Examples of their challenges include:
- UK general elections 1966, 1970, 2/1974 and 10/1974
- The 1968 Ford Dagenham sewing machinists’ strike for Equal Pay
- Efforts to control the trade unions through In Place of Strife, 1969 and the Tories Industrial Relations Act, 1971
- New decimal coinage introduced February 1971
- Britain taking up membership in the European Common Market at the start of January 1973
- The national 3-day working week 1Q1974 caused by the miners’ dispute
Ever since his childhood, John has held a passionate interest in bird watching and Jean-Louise encourages the hobby throughout their relationship. As the years go by, John realizes that, as well as serendipity and the help from others, his career and social life has advanced as a result of the skills acquired from his hobby of birding. Each chapter ends with an illustration and a description of a bird species of Britain that reflects the theme of bird watching throughout the book, and mirrors the characters’ development at each stage of the story.
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Content for She Wore a Yellow Dress comes from the author’s experience at Ford of Britain from August 1966 to the end of the story. However, it must be stressed that the novel is not intended to be an exposition on the company. The author thoroughly enjoyed his time at Ford, learned a great deal, and used that knowledge to launch his career, which eventually brought him to the United States. It was a turbulent period for Ford’s industrial relations and there was always hope that the company’s relationships with its workforce and trade unions would improve. The novel illustrates what actually happened.
Ford of Europe, founded in 1967, was established to take charge of all of Ford’s European businesses and have its subsidiaries work together rather that compete with one another. However, as company-wide stoppages affected Ford of Britain during 1968, 1969, 1971 and 1974, manufacturing and vehicle assembly began to shift overseas to where output was more reliable, product quality greater, and costs were competitive with Britain. Left-hand driving in Britain versus the rest of Europe (except Sweden before September 1967) appeared not to present an obstacle to this shift. The numbers below show how Ford of Britain’s assembly numbers declined during the years represented by this book. Admittedly there was increasing competition from imports, especially Japan, a country that also drove on the left side of the road. As with the UK, the practice dated back to the Edu period (1603-1867) when the Samurai ruled and, as with British swordsmen, needed to have their right hand close to their opponent for attack.
Ford OF Britain Annual Car Production
|Ford Cortina||242, 300||261,700||182,200||140,350|
Note: For the five years after 1975, annual car production in Britain averaged 378, 200 units; for the three years before 1966, production averaged 511,750.
Ford Britain Car Model Line Up 1966-1975
The list of models below are those that were being assembled by Ford of Britain when the author joined the company, plus the Capri. They were the last generation of vehicles to be principally assembled in Britain.
ANGLIA Introduced September 1959 and succeeded in 1968 by the Ford Escort 1968-2003
CORSAIR Introduced October 1963 and succeeded in 1970 by the Mark 111 Cortina
CAPRI Introduced November 1968 as Ford’s performance and sporting representative; ended assembly 1986
CORTINA Mark I launched 1962 and the last Mark V built July 1982
ZEPHYR/ZODIAC Mark IV launched 1966; succeeded by the Consul/Granada during 1972