A final summer

Studying at home and spending more time, whenever possible, at the newspaper office strengthened my interest in becoming a reporter day by day.

More than anything I developed a love for the structure and development of language and the written word.

I know my photographer colleagues believe their pictures are worth a thousand words but a good journalist can tell the story of that picture in 100 words and that would save space.

I followed the timetable of my correspondence course to the letter and the closer it came to the GCE examinations the less concern I felt.

Without the rigid schooling I had been subjected to in my four years at grammar school I had been able to get my studies done and also take them above and beyond what my friends were doing.

My reading took in many writers new to me and often unknown to even my more literary-inclined schoolfriends.

I am not suggesting I was better than them, just that I had greater freedom to explore.

By the time it came to sit the examinations I felt cool, calm and collected. Even more so that I did not have to stifle my body in a school uniform and was free to wear the 60s fashions that had slowly arrived in North Wales.

The greatest pleasure at that time was after each examination I could join my friends and discuss what we had just been through and compare notes.

That was what I had missed most. The companionship of my friends.

By now, of course, I had turned 16 and was legally permitted to smoke, although I had been introduced to cigarettes well before this by my brother.

Strolling down the school drive with friends and casually lighting up while still on school premises foolishly made me feel more grown up.

It would be many years before I realised how foolish I was but at that time smoking and drinking were considered to be perfectly normal. I was 38 when I finally stubbed out my last cigarette. That DID make me feel like a grownup.

There was a long wait for the results but during that time my parents and I discussed the best way forward.

We still worked on the basis that I must have some worthwhile qualifications before taking my first strides into the world of adults.

We finally agreed that I should enrol at Kelsterton College of Technology on a commercial course. This involved maths as it applied to the commercial world as well as shorthand, typing, office practice and English yet again.

Meanwhile I had a summer of freedom ahead of me before I re-entered an educational institution. This time, however, I would be treated as an adult and not as a child.

That summer was one of the best I had ever had.

Along with varied companions Roger and I saw Rhyl as our world and that world as our oyster.

At times we strolled the length of the promenade and back eying up the girls and debating on which ones were worth our attention (teenage boys can be so cocky at times).

Sometimes we did pluck up the courage to approach them and now and again we had the pleasure of their company acting like holidaymakers, eating ice cream, trying the penny arcades and enjoying rides on some of the better fairground attractions.

At other times we would leave Rhyl behind us, get on our bikes with suitable provisions to see us through the day, and head out into the Clwydian countryside.

We were still young enough to enjoy the idea of adventure.

I also had the companionship of my friends at the theatre, a world which Roger did not feel at ease with.

He and I did have the yacht club to fall back on and the joys of sailing beyond the crowded beaches with the full freedom of the sea around us.

There was also the pleasure of a pint at the yacht club bar on Sunday lunchtimes or Friday evenings. It was too soon to try our luck in the pubs.

All in all that summer provided many happy memories. Happy days that were soon to be curtailed as further education loomed.

For me that was going to provide a somewhat pleasant surprise.

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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