It wasn’t all a bowl of cherries, I missed my girl friends and the fun we had. Dodie came over each week on her day off and she and William decided to teach me bridge. This was a pity - card games were very much part of leisure in the fifties and I enjoyed playing (MTL refuses to play Rummy with me anymore as I always win) but William and Dodie managed to put me off bridge for life.
I used to escape into books and still remember some of the horror of ’Oil’ by Upton Sinclair, during an American novel phase, when babies were thrown into boiling water. Mary Webb made for lighter reading with her ‘he threw her into the bracken’ and both ‘Three Men in a Boat’ and ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ with sexy Seth and the old woman who had seen ‘something nasty in the wood shed’ were a delight.
Tennis was an absorbing interest – much more enthralling than watching on television was to hang on the words of Max Robertson’s radio commentaries. Wimbledon was more exciting with characters like Louise Brough, (’Oh she’s thrown the ball up wrong again!’ Max would groan.) Gorgeous Gussie with her gold lame panties and lovely Jaroslav Drobny – a late bloomer who saved five match points in a 58 game match, finally defeating Ken Rosewall at the age of 32.
I must have been a bit of a pain with my flights of fancy, creative urges and general silliness and William seemed to regard his role in life was to bring me down to earth and put a damper on my enthusiasms. When we were on a boat – we became a couple but on land it was different. He could be quite cutting and although I could give as good as I got, it was a downer and I felt my confidence being eroded. I couldn’t believe it when a friend said how proud William was of me. Sadly I was unaware of it.
With hindsight I think I should have been more economical with the truth when I told him how I felt about Jamie. Jamie was never mentioned and I didn’t consciously think of him but I had a recurring dream where I was walking along the bank of a wide river. In the distance on the opposite bank I saw Jamie walking towards me. As he got closer I stopped to see what he would do but he just walked on past ignoring me
I made two new girl friends who both worked in shops. Lily who worked in her father’s newsagent’s shop was pretty, bubbly and a bit ditsy. Her fiancée was an undergrad at Oxford which stirred a few memories. I really enjoyed being silly and light hearted with her. Carol was more serious and managed an antique shop. She had worked on the bow-fronted chest of drawers that Dodie had given us. She was boyish, very practical and a gifted furniture restorer and had made a great job of the drawers – repairing some damage, polishing the mahogany and fitting elegant brass handles. She also guided me through the tricky business of making pelmets with velvet, buckram and gold bobbles.
They both helped me get over my occasional down times. I saw Lily most days when I picked up a newspaper. At the end of the summer she said she was thinking of joining the S.A.P.S – The Sale Amateur Players and was I interested? They were about to produce a play by Somerset Maugham ‘Before the Party’ and would I like to go with her to the audition next week. Would I? Just try stopping me!