By BILL DELANYIt all began one rainy day inLondon five years ago when IvyJones sat in a bus going to work ascook-manageress for a catering firm.THE day, she knew,would be just like anyother day: she wouldspend the morning cooking for an outside functionand the afternoon supervising the party; and atthe day's, end she wouldreturn to her home atWoolwich, a crowdedThames-side suburb.Hers had been a life restricted by environment andcircunistance since her husband's death in the early wartime years. She had left London only a few times, and onlythen to see her children, whohad been evacuated to Waleswith the threat of German invasion and the danger of German bombs.She felt no conscious compulsion to widen her horizons.She was happy with her job,her family, and her "telly."How it beganBut in that London bus hereyes idly met an "advert" fora New Zealand shipping line?and that night she wrote tothe company seeking a jobas a cook."I didn't even know thatshipping lines employed onlymale cooks. But I got a letterback asking me if I'd be willing to sign on as a laundresson a ship," she says.That night she phoned hermarried son."If you want to see me before a few months' time, you'dbetter come over before Friday. I am going away on Saturday," she told him."Going away? Where to?"asked her son. "Bournemouth?""To New Zealand and Australia and . . ." her voicetrailed away. They were theonly countries she knew wereon the ship's itinerary, and shedidn't know very well wherethey were.The son arrived at herhome with her marrieddaughter in a state of highalarm. Why was she goingaway? Had they made herfeel unwanted?"I want a change, that'sall."It was as simple as that.And within a week Ivy Jones,grandmother, was on her way.Recently, when the ShawSavill liner Southern Crossdocked at Sydney, Ivy sat behind a counter in the ship'snone HelpPVRSERETTES Barbara ISaylor (left) andl"*! i?nd' Barbara on<* worked at Queensland University. Lorna was a secretary.none HelpIVY JONES at work in the ship's laundry. Life at sea began whenshe answered an "advert!" she saw in a London bus.laundry and talked about herjob in a voice that was sheerLondon.The Southern Cross is aone-class ship with wonderfulamenities and its Australiabound passengers were mainlymiddle-aged people doing aworld cruise, and youthfulAussies coming home afterworking holidays in Britain?all in all a friendly ship intowhich Ivy fitted perfectly."They're lovely, my passengers," she said fondly, slightlypossessively. And broke offto say to a young mother whoentered the laundry: "Comefor your nappies, love?"Ivy is one of those peoplewho can call passengers?andhigh-rating ship's officers?"love" and "dearie" andmake them like it. It's asnatural to her as the repeatedbursts of laughter that punctuate her conversation.She once asked the ship'sdoctor what he was doingwhen he got ashore andadded that if he couldn't findanyone else for company she'dbe glad to do the town withhim. The doctor replied thathe couldn't ask for bettercompany, but . . .\appies first"Nappies are first priority,"she told the young mother. "Ishould know?I was one of 11myself."Where were we, love?Passengers? They're lovely.You strike a nark now andthen, but you go along withhim and by the end of thetrip he's giving you his address and telling you to comeand see him."How much laundry did sheput through the ship's twobig dryers every day?"About 10001b. This tripwe've got a lot of youngmarried couples with babies.and nappies get first priority."She stopped to pick out afrock from one of the clothesracks in the laundry andhanded it to a passenger. Ivyneeds hardly a';glance at dockets to identify her customers'garments?and the ship wascarrying over a thousand passengers.She told the passenger:"Have fun while you'reashore. Don't do anything Iwouldn't do and you'll havelots of fun."40 years henceHow long did she expect tostay at sea?That's what her son anddaughter are always askingher. She tells them she'llcome home to stay in another40 years or so if she gets thesack?"and you can't walk offthe job in a huff when you'reat sea." . .