Summertime and the lovin’ is …. not that easy

In 1965 in the UK Harold Wilson was Prime Minister; wartime PM Winston Churchill was given a state funeral; Liverpool won the FA Cup for the first time; Ian Smith was preparing to declare UDI in Rhodesia; the Beatles first film ‘Help” was released; capital punishment was ended; Kenneth Tynan was the first person to use the “f” word on British television.

Meanwhile in Rhyl my friends and I were making the most of a mediocre summer.

I truly intended to make the most of what might be my last summer of freedom. After all if you don’t go to school you don’t get school holidays.

The amusement arcades and the theatre were not my only source of enjoyment.

In later years, when we had our own motorised transport, we could travel far afield but that summer we relied on our bikes or just walked.

It wasn’t far from the town centre to the harbour or the Marine Lake and at that end of town Rhyl had not one but two funfairs.

Although they were technically two separate fairs the Marine Lake Fun Fair and the Ocean Beach were one great homogenous, flashy, brightly-lit and loud source of fun.

Sometimes we would go down in the daytime but the real fun was to be had at night when all the stalls and rides were garishly lit with multi-coloured bulbs; the stallholders and barkers shouted out the delights of their offerings; and holidaymakers screamed and shouted on rides such as the Caterpillar, or the Mad Mouse rollercoaster; or the carousel.

The Big Wheel, from the top of which you got a view of the Clwydian Range in one direction or out to sea the other, and the Mad Mouse, a rollercoaster ride which left your stomach behind as it dropped from the heights, or had you scared it would come off the tracks on corners.

At ground level the fair seemed to go on and on with hoop-la stalls, coconut shies, roll-a-penny pitches, even a rifle range with real rifles, Winchesters, and real bullets, just as the cowboys used at the Saturday morning pictures.

At 15 (going on 16) we were aware of the opposite sex. Not that sex was really on the cards with local girls where you were more likely to get a slap wthout even the slightest tickle.

Holidaymakers were a different matter.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that these girls were ‘easy’. Far from it. Yet wandering hands might get a bit further when the girl knew she was unlikely to see you ever again once the holiday was over.

When the cover went over the carriages on the Caterpillar the shrieks weren’t all from girls scared of the dark.

Not that local boys had the pick of the girls at the fair. That ‘honour’ was more likely to benefit the lads on the dodgem cars who would jump from car to car as they collected the money.

Dodgem cars at Rhyl were holidaymakers were an easy target for the lads who collected the fares.

If you did find a girl at the fair you were best advised to take her round some of the sideshows first to win her a cuddly toy by hitting the Ace of Spades with three darts; or flicking a wooden ring over a post with a prize on top. Trying to impress her with the ‘Test Your Strength’ machine was not a good idea.

A couple of prizes, a candy floss or hot dog followed by a ride on the carousel was the perfect prelude to a trip on the Ghost Train where you had a good chance of your partner clinging to you in fright at the luminous skeletons and giant spiders.

An offer to walk her back to her digs was a further chance of intimacy as you slipped an arm around her waist and, if you were really lucky, you might get a five-minute midnight smooch on the doorstep.

There are probably numerous boys who went back to school after that summer and told their pals of the fun they had under the pier with a different girl every night.

In reality the closest they would have got to the birds and the bees was in a biology lesson.

Philip Larkin claimed in his poem Annus Mirabilis that sex was invented in 1963 – he may have been right but it didn’t reach North Wales for quite a few years after that.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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