Saturday, February 20, 2010
Growing up in Wolverton - Part IV
A further chapter in David Marks' memoir
Naturally since the school was mixed it wasn’t very long before most of us started to develop an interest in the fair sex. I have to admit that even in those far off days of innocence I was about as successful in this direction as I was in games.
I did manage to date one girl who lived in Olney and who attended the grammar school (then located in Moon street) I had met her through her friend whose parents kept the grocers shop at the end of Green Lane and just opposite our back gate. The shop was Mitchell’s and I was the grocery boy who trundled around the district delivering boxes of Groceries. Hence I knew the daughter of the household (Diane) quite well and hence got introduced to her friend Jane. Due to pathological shyness on the part of yours truly (honestly!) the relationship went absolutely nowhere but it did lead to a very embarrassing experience. I used to cycle over to Olney to see her and on this particular occasion we took a packed lunch with us and set off for a country walk up from Moors Hill. Not far up the road we went into a field with a haystack and sat down beside it to eat our lunch (I told you I was an innocent). Anyway during the course of the lunch a small green caterpillar appeared adjacent to my sandwiches and I flicked it out of the way, squashing it in the process. A few minutes later I started to feel a severe prickling sensation all over my face and Jane rather alarmed informed me that I had broken out in a rash of small livid red spots. We packed up our picnic and headed for home but by the time we reached her house the rash had entirely disappeared and been replaced by what appeared to be a seriously black eye ! It had puffed up and completely closed with a myriad of purplish red colours all around .. a real classic shiner ! You can well imagine the interpretation that was put on this phenomena … Chance would have been a fine thing.
I wasn’t aware of the cause myself until whilst being quizzed by the local doctor, the caterpillar incident was revealed as the almost certain cause. This ill fated relationship caused me one further embarrassment before it finally fizzled out. I had taken to the (as it turned out) extremely unwise habit of sending notes to her via the grocery shop. As notes go they were scarcely torrid tales of passion but they were struggling to express the feelings of a timid and rather daft little boy. I still clearly remember after all these the horror I felt when I was advised one Friday night after school by another friend that my most recent epistle had fallen into the hands of the enemy. The enemy in this case was John Smith, grammar school pupil, confident extrovert and most likely of anyone in the Wolverton Urban district to make damn good use of it.
I spent a very uneasy weekend,to say the least of it trying to remember what I had written and wondering what was going to happen to it. I didn’t have to wait long to find out ! When the time came for English with Joe Richards he flourished my note and stated that a interesting epistle had fallen into his hands that very morning. Turning in my general direction he beamed as I tried to crawl under my desk and then delivered a critique of the English used. At least he didn’t read the whole damn thing out so it could have been worse. All the same it was bad enough and certainly brought my note writing career to an end.
My next attempt at romance was initiated by offering to take Kathleen to the station to catch her train ( I certainly new how to treat a girl). To my surprise I was advised the following morning that she had “Packed me in”, to use the vernacular and that my presence on further exciting visits to the station would not be required.
Eventually I achieved what (to me at least) was the ultimate success. I had got to know another girl (relatively new to the district) to whom I was greatly attracted but who was, unfortunately going out with another local lad .. general good egg, all round sportsman etc. (You get the drift …). Although by dint of carefully contrived lurking on my bike along her homeward route I managed a few hesitant words here and there, the future didn’t look too rosy. Then one Friday night after school (Why did things always happen on Friday nights ?) I had lurked myself subtly (I told myself) into her path home and was immediately advised by her that she had “packed in “ the sporting superman. Well, perhaps surprisingly, the wimp turned and in a totally unparalleled burst of reckless courage asked her for the pleasure of her company at the local cinema (the Empire to be precise) where the horror film “King Kong” was showing. Actually the invitation was perhaps a tad less polished than I describe more of an incoherent, red faced mumbling in truth, but it had the desired effect and off we went to see King Kong. Perhaps it would be fair to reveal my simple strategy, such as it was. The idea was that the sheer terror induced by King Kong would drive her into the arms of her shining knight in the back row of the local fleapit and I must say it seemed to work. We went out together for some months, covering the period from just before finishing school for the last time and leaving in the September to take up an apprenticeship in electronics at EMI at Hayes in Middlesex.
It was an idyllic summer albeit one of complete innocence and soon after I left for Hayes the great romance ended. Lessons were learned however and some year later when I met my dear wife Rosi in the lake at Battersea Park (Yes I did say in the lake … more about that anon) the first date I suggested was a trip to the fleapit on Clapham Common to see ….. wait for it …. The Hound of the Baskervilles ……. Nuff said !!