We're now in that fag end time of the year when if like me, you get no enjoyment out of all this Christmas stuff, life can get a tad tedious.. What's more, the weather tends to be cold and miry making most activities outside quite unattractive. I spent some of the time this last few days improving a 40-odd page document that I wrote a few years ago that detailed the daily life of myself and my friends during 1965 to 1968.
It is entitled "In the beginning - out of the shadows," because having experienced an unhappy childhood and a boring early teenage spell, it documents my discovery of a group of people of similar age and interests. I've always felt that my real life only begun it's life long trail from then on and many of the friendships still endue to this current day. To give you a flavour let's start at the start of that document:-
In the beginning, early 1965, there were two thirteen year old schoolgirls walking along Rose Street on their way home from school and as my workmates and I drove by there was something about one of them that made me take a longer look. It was her hair that stood out - later, it was always her hair - it was long and it tumbled in waves and curls down on to her young shoulders in the most wonderful deep, gingery red colour that flashed fire in the sun. Other than that she was just a skinny young schoolgirl and it was only a moment and then, still chattering to each other the two girls were gone. I guess that in that moment, although I wasn't aware of it at the time, my dice were thrown but the gamble still had to be made.
Shortly after that I stumbled on the group of people that I've mentioned, we all worked conventionly five days a week but we were folk music fans and so in the evenings, the weekends and holidays, we drifted around out town as it's resident hippies, long-haired and scruffy. It continued in that way for the next year, we drank too much, smoked pot, played guitars, we slept rough, had a few girlfriends and we hitch-hiked to London for long weekends. Fast forward to June 2nd 1966, I'd packed in my job because three of us were due to spend some time hitch-hiking between London and the south coast. That day was hot and sunny and a gang of us, including some old girlfriends, were sitting in a local park alongside the sea front sea wall. Because of the weather the sea front was very busy with people in swimming and suchlike and as we chatted, I casually looked along the people sheltering out of a slight breeze behind the sea wall. I was suddenly struck by the fact that of two young girls busy drying themselves, one was the gingery-haired girl that had caught my eye the previous year. Intrigued and attracted to her, I left my friends and walked over to the girls, who of course had no idea who I was but long-haired and dressed in denim I had some romantic notion that she might be awed by my appearance. What could I say by way of introduction and so I mumbled something about "I'd like a swim, could I borrow your towel to dry off after," to which she agreed and so in my jeans I had a quick dip and sat alongside them drying myself off. We chatted for some time, I told her about my plans to go hitch-hiking in a couple of days, my music interests, my friends and she told me that her name was Christine and she's had her fourteenth birthday just a few days previously. There was me, a month short of my nineteenth birthday becoming infatuated by the minute in this rather young looking girl with the ginger hair and we agreed to meet again the following day. Those moments by that sea wall saw our lives change directions from wherever they were naturally going, I went hitch-king, I came back, we re-connected, she grew up, we fell in love and four years later we got married.