Ruby started going out with an American sailor called Mike. We thought he was wonderful. He used to bring part of his rations each month to our house. One delicacy that particularly springs to mind was chocolate fudge. Because they were rationed, we had very few sweets, and certainly not chocolate. This naval ration fudge came in tins. I don’t mean tins that you could open and close, but tins that had to be opened at each end with a can opener, just like tins of corned beef. The fudge was then pushed out of the tin, and emerged in a solid roll. Mike would cut it into cubes and share it amongst us. The smell and taste of it was something not to be forgotten.
Having a real, live, American sailor around the house was to us young girls almost like living with a film star in our midst. At the tender age of twelve or thirteen, any one who had a genuine American accent was only one step removed from Clark Gable. The only time we ever heard an American accent was when it came from the silver screen. This one was actually in our house!
To add to his magical charm, Mike had told us that his sister was married to the singer/ film star Dick Haymes. He was a teenage idol (a bit like Cliff Richards was in his younger days). Mike promised us that he would get his sister to send us Dick Haymes’ autograph, but it never arrived. In retrospect, I think it was just a sailor spinning a line to impress us all. He probably didn’t even have a sister.
My last six months at school were great fun; at thirteen-and-a-half I was beginning to grow up, and the boys were starting to notice me. The main reason for this was, to my great embarrassment, because the first bra that I ever owned was a size thirty-four! Most of my friends had no boobs at all. The rest of me was quite slim and here was I, bustin’ out all over!
One of my out-of-school friends was Judy. She lived in the house opposite ours and I admired her very much. She was pretty and had a trim figure; her hair was long (which mine never was) and blonde, and curly. We used to ‘swoon’ over the same spotty, little boys, and go all wobbly when we listened to Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto on the radio. She was a great drama-queen and knew just how to play for effect. Once she ‘twisted’ her ankle while we were out with the boys. They and I had to support her on all sides, whilst she hobbled home in ‘agony’ all the time whimpering and almost collapsing in a faint from the pain! Strangely enough, she was quite recovered by the next day, and I realised that it was all done for to gain the attention of the two lads we were with.
We had a sort of eternal triangle syndrome. I had a crush on Colin, Colin had a crush on Judy, and Judy had a crush on Judy too! Such is youth. Colin’s dad died, and the family immigrated to Australia, and Judy’s family just moved away one day. I often wonder what became of her. She probably became an actress!
To be continued…