I was still dancing with Fred but I only had the social club on Fridays and netball or tennis on Saturday. Dance practice was on Monday and Wednesday. I had dropped gym as my feet became so tired. Soaking them in Epsom Salts helped. However I still played netball. A tough game in those days believe me. I gave and received many a bloody nose. Once I had three fingers put out of joint but our tough old sports mistress just said look away and pulled them back into place and I went on playing. There would be screams these days.
I met a girl from my old school, she was two years older than myself so I had not really known her at school, but we seemed to hit it off very well. She persuaded me to go to ice skating.
I asked Fred to make our practice night different as my friend could only go on the Wednesday evening. Well, did that bring a storm of words. We had a schedule and must stick to it or our rhythm would be destroyed. What a lot of nonsense. I offered to make it the Thursday but no that was out of the question. Then he said “Suppose you twist your ankle or break it?” That was when I knew what he was really afraid of.
I laughed and shrugged it off but he grabbed my arm and said that he decided what was best and I would do as I was told. That was a red rag to a bull. “Get your hands off me and don’t ever touch me again. Go get yourself another slave because this one doesn’t bow to anyone.” I stalked off in steaming temper. Even if he had gone on bended knees I would not have stayed.
I went ice skating and Chris, my friend, advised me which boots and skates to hire and then supported me to the middle of the ice. Reaching there she suddenly darted off saying she had to speak to someone and would be back in a second. Standing there like a fool I saw Chris go into the tearoom with two people. I was incensed and took off around the ice until I reached the steps out. Seeing her sitting talking to her friends I walked up to her and said “Hey! What about me?” She jumped up and saying “Sorry! Sorry! I forgot about you”, she looked around and blurted out “how did you get here? You can’t skate”. As I said, I could then. We went back on the ice and I really could skate. Chris was amazed but it just felt right to me. The next thing was to dance on the ice. Chris was willing to try and lo and behold we danced a waltz. I was over the moon. I not only skated but had my dancing as well.
The skating meant wearing skirts equal to the miniskirts of today. I wore them quite happily after office hours and didn’t care that I was called fast and other names. I just went on my own way.
Because I was quite happy to flout convention and the nagging oldies, I was soon popular as a partner with the male fraternity. Johnny was an ice hockey player and taught me to speed skate. That was exhilarating. I really enjoyed flying around and around. Then there was George. He was great but the same old trouble. He introduced me to his two sisters as his girlfriend and they invited me to their home. Itplaced me in an awkward position and I had to explain to George that it was skating only. After him came Sam. Sam always wore dark glasses and seeing I was mystified explained he was an albino. I could see he was uncomfortable with my knowing but I reassured him that it made no difference. Then he said that people seemed to be frightened of albinism as if it was a contact disease. He assured me he would never get married so that the disease would not be carried on. Such a pity as he would have been a prize for someone. He was big and strong and as I was still only under seven stone he could toss me over his head or swing me around and between his feet. We made quite a show on the ice. I even won a medal.
My mother decided at this time that she wanted to go on a holiday but not on her own. Falling in with her idea I agreed and she booked us into “Butlin’s Holiday Camp” at Beer, our home stamping ground in Devon.
That first evening was a welcome dance for newcomers. It was only a short while and a young man was asking me for a date for the next day. We danced all evening and then he saw me back to my chalet. Passing another chalet I heard a voice, a truly sexy voice. He was swearing, which I normally couldn’t accept but this sounded different. My partner of the evening passed it off as a friend of his that he shared the chalet with carrying on because he couldn’t find the key. That was funny as George, my evening partner, had it in his pocket. Saying goodnight quickly and reminding me of our date next day he ran back.
The next morning, after breakfast, we went fishing. We soon had a string of fish and George suggested we return and go with his friend and his girl for a ride on his motorbike. Actually he had a motorbike and sidecar. We went on the outing and George made my hair stand on end. When he cornered he lifted the sidecar wheel off the ground and cornered in a tight angle. Add to this he had a lazy eye and when he looked down at me one eye staid looking down while the other looked ahead. It adjusted in seconds but was frightening. Then the radiator. He had a Scott bike, the only one with a radiator, it sprung a leak and I had brown rust freckles all over me. He was chewing gum and just pushed it into the leak and it stopped.
We reached a field where some men were making hayricks. Being a Devon girl it wasn’t new to me but the two boys and the other girl, their names were Ted and Vera, wanted to help throw the hay up onto the growing rick. That was fine until George decided to do the same. When the farm men offered cider to the group I was the only one to refuse. I knew what rough cider could do. Worse than whisky. Ted only had a sip because he found it too tart. After a good laugh he quietly suggested that he and I leave the other two and head off together. Not wanting to suffer a driver mad enough to use two wheels to corner when sober I eagerly agreed. Anyway he was the owner of the interesting voice and it really attracted me. Off we drove and it was a thrill being on two wheels and speeding along. Of course on those country roads we were not really speeding but it felt like it.
George and Vera arrived home much later as Vera had been too squiffy to leave right away. Ted and George had a row but settled down after a while. They appeared as two girls in the evening funny show and did a song and dance. Very good too. They won the evening prize. I stayed with George as my partner for the rest of the week until his stay was finished. We had another week and I enjoyed the time with various people.
I had given my address to George and as my mother and I went every Thursday night to the Speedway meetings, my mother was so keen on this sport, I said I would see him at a certain bay at the next meeting. He sent a message that he couldn’t be there so mother and I went on our own.
It was a special night and when we arrived all the bays were full. We went from bay to bay but everything was overflowing. Suddenly my mother said “That gate is open. They must have opened more bays because of the crowd. Come on let’s get a good view before others find it.” In we went and had a good view without any bother. It was just at the end of the meeting when something went “Swoosh” behind us. Before we could move other things were swooshing and banging and sparks and flames were all around us. A man appeared at the top of the steps and directed us out. Outside he wanted to know how we arrived in that bay. Mother explained about the gate being open and thinking extra bays had been opened. He was so cross. The bay had been set up with the evening fireworks display. He was furious that we had come through the gate but as we said “Shut the gate and keep it shut.”
George rang me and arranged to meet me the next Thursday at the same bay. As it turned out he had to cancel once again and so I went to the meeting with my friend Chris. Soon after arriving I spotted a figure standing down near the front and recognised Ted from the holiday. Grabbing Chris’s hand I said “See that man down there in the black leather coat. Well I am going to marry him.” She laughed and thought I was mad. However the figure turned and walked back to us. It was indeed Ted from the holiday and my fate was sealed.
Little did I know how fate would deal with us.
Enough for now. I will soon be eighteen and into my next phase of life.