We met at College. Well, I was. He was at University in the same city. I was training to teach, and he was training to be a chemical engineer. It was a strange world that I was inhabiting then. So different to the world that I had left. Life in Halls was strange, but nice in an odd kind of a way. One thing was, you were never alone in Halls. There was always someone’s door to go knocking on, and someone always knocking on your door. It kind of made me feel safe and secure. I was surrounded by friends, and there was always something to do. It was the end of the sixties era, and College students certainly lived it up, and made the most of it. I would say it was a great time in many ways but a confusing one in others. One of my more vivid memories is of a pile of us girls all being in one room drinking, and for some reason, just for the hell of it, I mixed pale ale, sherry and cider in one big drink. There we all were, piled one on top of the other on the bed, and I was the one on top of the pile, so I was the one to fall off onto the floor. I then got up and opened the window and yelled at the top of my voice to the whole world. They would not let me forget it the next morning! It was a good time though.
He belonged to my best friend actually. Well, kind of! Barbara. They were always together. They boasted about having been to a Joan Baez concert. Both of them smoked, and both were trying, without much success, to stop smoking. I am not sure they really wanted to anyway! There was a fair bit of ribbing going on!
There didn’t seem to be much softness or gentleness between them – in fact Barbara didn’t seem to really like him that much. I reckoned she was just using him as someone to go out and have a good time with. One night, there were a few of us all in a room in Halls together, and there was some joking going on. I looked at him and he looked at me, and we both knew it – there was something there for each other. I jokingly went and sat on his knee. Barbara wasn’t bothered at all. It was almost Christmas, and Barbara gave him to me as a Christmas present! Problem was, we all had to go home for Christmas then, so we didn’t see each other for a while. When we got back to College and University however, we went on a twenty mile night hike. I figured that if we could stand doing that together we could stand anything. Except that Anne got in the way. We went to an event together and he spent the whole time with Anne! I have to admit she wore a shorter skirt than me – but not much! However, he repented and came back to me, tail between legs. I never did understand what went on that day, but he never strayed again.
He was on what was called a Sandwich Course, which meant he was six months at the University and six months working in industry. So off he went, and every day we wrote each other a love letter! I still have some of those letters, only I can’t see them now. He was an expert at the flattering and romantic phrase or sentence, and I fell for him big time. He asked me to marry him, and of course I said “Yes” immediately. I went with him to meet his parents and his brother and sister, and I remember to this day them warning me about his temper, and that he was stubborn. I made nothing of it however. It hadn’t been a problem between us so I ignored it. We planned a conventional wedding back in my home town, but we toyed with the idea of running away to Gretna Green to wed, just for the hell of it. He was not yet 21 anyway, and in those days you needed your parents’ consent below the age of 21, except in Gretna Green! I still regret not doing that, as it was in the end a tense, miserable day, partly courtesy of my mother and partly because I hate being on show and being stared at. I remember at the rehearsal the night before being told,
“Whatever you do, don’t look down when you are walking down the aisle at the end.” So what did I do? I looked down! It was a terrible day to me and I wondered why we had to go through all that palava! All that I wanted to do was sign a bit of paper and have done with it! What we did do was go down to London on the train afterwards. We only stayed one night as it was all we could afford, and spent just one day looking round London, mostly trying to find food!