Next morning. A tap on the door awakened us. Into the room came Arthur’s mum, carrying two cups of tea. Because all our new furniture was still stacked up around the room, there was no space for a bedside table, and Mum Chapman stood holding the cups while we sat up to take them from her. It was obvious that I had no nightdress on and I felt so silly. To give her her due, she never batted an eyelid, but I don’t suppose Dad Chapman had ever seen her running around starkers!
After some tea and cornflakes we caught a bus to the railway station, and it was Eastbourne here we come! We soon discovered that we had a lengthy wait for the train, so decided to stand in the street and take in the beautiful sunshine while we killed time. There we stood looking every inch newly weds. Me in my white, flowery hat, silver grey dress and shoes, and long, white gloves, and still wearing a spray of flowers; Arthur so smart in his white shirt and new suit. Even our suitcase was new.
We stood there, observing a ‘spiv’ who looked like a role model for George Cole in his St Trinian films. He was gliding in and out of the crowds, tapping people on the arm, trying to sell them something on the black market: probably, nylon stockings. We were fascinated, as we’d never seen a real spiv at work before.
In due course, we caught our train and arrived at Aunt Beat’s house. She showed us up to our room. We unpacked before going downstairs to the dining room, where tea and sandwiches had been prepared for us. She told us what time dinner would be served, and off we went to explore Eastbourne. As I said earlier, we had very little money to spend, just the remains of our wages, and Dumpy’s cheque (which made up the lions share of our cash).
The weather was wonderful and we spent dreamy days lying on the beach, gazing into each other’s eyes and whispering sweet nothings. We decided that it would save money if we had fish and chips for lunch each day, and so we would sit on the sea wall or in the Botanical Gardens, eating them out of steaming vinegary newspaper. Absolute heaven!
One night after our evening meal, we decided to treat ourselves by booking seats at the theatre. We chose a show called ‘Goodbye Boys, Hello Girls! It was advertised as the show where you could ‘Come and see Betty Grable, Dorothy Lamour, and Bette Davies in the flesh’. We couldn’t imagine how this was going to be achieved and, intrigued, thought we’d go along and find out. Of course, it turned out to be a drag show! We had never seen anything like this before (drag wasn’t commonplace, as it is now) and we were enthralled. So much so, that we booked seats for later in the week and went a second time!
It was on a hot, sunny day towards the end of our honeymoon, when Arthur said he would take me out on the sea in a rowing boat. Because I didn’t own a watch, and Arthur’s was ‘on loan’ to
raise extra money for our honeymoon, we didn’t know how we were going to keep check on the rental time. We couldn’t afford more than one hour and since we would be out at sea and not
near any clocks, this was a bit of a problem.
Suddenly, Arthur had a brainwave! We hurried back to the digs, where we borrowed Aunt Beat’s alarm clock from our bedroom, smuggling it out of the house and taking it to sea with us. Arthur set it for one hour and carefully placed it in the bottom of the rowingboat. Problem solved.