Sunday, 29 January 2012

Reminiscing About Days Gone By

The Tams - Hey Girl Don't Bother Me played on the radio this morning and it took me back to 1972 and a boy called Steve Crane. He was one of those cool guys that people looked up to and knew very little about. He was too old for me at 17. He lived three roads up from me in Withington, Manchester, and he had a younger brother called Jack. Both of them were good looking boys and Jack was too young for me, so they were just friends.

Steve, with his fair curly hair and easy smile, was always friendly. He used to do this little dance with his hands as he sang Hey Girl Don't Bother Me. A bit like the Tommy Cooper gesture now I come to think about it. Back then though, it was cool and I liked him because he would come and chat to me.

When the song came on the radio this morning, I thought of him. He would be 57 now and his brother about 50, they'd be middle aged guys, someone's husband, someone's dad and strangely enough they could even be granddad's too. Youth served them well, and I couldn't help but wonder what middle age had done to them. There again, I'm a long way from that 14 year old who used to wear red hot pants and think she was cool!

From this thought process, I went off on another trail and my first boyfriend came to mine. I was only 8 years old.

As children we moved around a lot. My dad was a police officer stationed at Bootle Street in the centre of town. In those days the police provided officers with houses, which were rented to them. My mum, who was always a bit of a wander-lust regularly asked for the list and chose a different house and off we went again.

We moved into a semi-detached in Wellington Road, Whalley Range. All the rest of the houses were large Victorian ones, so it was easy to spot ours amongst them. Next door  to us was another policeman, Jack McNeil, his wife Maryl, and daughter, Karen, a year younger than me. We became friends, and used to play with our Sindy Dolls. I had Paul, Sindy's boyfriend and Karen had Patch, Sindy's her sister. I also had a Sindy wardrobe and Karen, or it could have been me, had the the car, a flash red sporty one. For Christmas, I asked mum for Sindy's horse and instead she bought me a black and white stallion with a cowboy saddle. I was so disappointed, but funnily it is the only thing I still have left from my childhood. It sits on a cupboard in the hall. (Much to the disgust of my husband who thinks it just a plastic horse!) Karen and I were also in love with Davy Jones from the Monkees and hearing Daydream Believer takes me back to that happy times.

With my brother, sister and some friends, we played in the garden of a house at the end of the road. It had foundation dug for a building that was never built. It made a great place to play as we chasing each other from one end to the next. One day a man came and asked if he could take our photograph. He let us have a copy and to this day I don't know who he was, or if he ever used it.

That's me in the middle.

I digress, as we were talking about boyfriends. Yes, I was 8 and his name was Hughie Brock. A blond haired boy and all we did was occasionally hold hands.

He used to stand at the end of our drive with his mate, Terry Hayes, with their bicycles, waiting for me to come out to play. Mum said they were always standing together at the end of the drive, just waiting. I used to go to Hughie's house, he lived in a large Victorian houses in the next road.

This is our house in Wellington Road, looking pretty much as it did in the 1960s.

Someone in Hughie's house loved train sets, as I remember waiting in the top attic for him to have his tea. I was surrounded by model railways, with real looking stations and hills, and those little people that enthusiast put with them. Once Hughie had finished eating, we would go off out to play on our bikes with Terry in tow.

Terry was a cute and he had the same short hair with a full fringe that was the fashion in the late 60s. He was a little bit chubby with freckles all over his face. Sometimes if Hughie wasn't playing out, I played with Terry. He had a den in his back garden that had an upstairs that was pitch black inside. I even used to bring my big doll, Belinda to play there, too. One day I forgot her and fretted all night that she was alone in the dark. I had to wait until after tea the next day to go and get her. It was pretty traumatic stuff then.

In the years before Facebook, remember those? I frequented Friends Reunited. I met Karen MacNeil again, now Karen Blinko and we see each other most days on Facebook. I also met Terry Hayes on Friends Reunited and we chatted. I've thought of Hughie and the cute Terry over the years, wondering what became of them. I imagined, particularly Hughie, living his life somewhere, much the same as I me. What he married, children?

Terry told me that he went in the army for a while and I ask if he kept in touch with Hughie. He said that as a teenager, Hughie and his friend, took a car and drove to Blackpool, it crashed it and he was killed. How tragic is that? I was so sad. As for Terry, well, funnily enough he told me he had a crush on a certain little girl who lived in Wellington Road.

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