The girls I have loved and lost

The Sixties is a country far, far away. It is a land where once we lived and loved, danced and sang, dined and drank.

I certainly remember a lot of dancing and drinking, girls and music. Different music for different girls.

Hazel was the Troggs – Hi hi hi Hazel, although any Troggs number will still remind me of those few weeks in 1968.

She was 16 at the time and I was still heading for my 18th birthday. That didn’t stop us having a drink at in the local pubs.

Our dates could be a real mix and match. I remember the time we needed some new roofing sheets for the Yacht Club building.

One of the senior club members had an open back truck and arranged to pick up some secondhand sheets from a place outside Chester, Roger, myself and two or three other youngsters from the club went along to help load.

On the Saturday night I told Hazel what we were doing the next day and she asked if she could join us for the ride.

We had a few old blankets in the back of the truck. One of the others decided to ride in the cab leaving four of us in the back. Hazel and I had our backs to the cab while Roger and Tom, I think, leant against the nearside panel.

We had a transistor radio with us and if we turned it up loud enough we could hear the music over the sound of the traffic.

On the way back the roofing sheets were laid against the cab providing a sort of shelter for Hazel and myself. Roger and Tom took the two rear corners having made sure the tailgate was firmly latched.

It was a very pleasant journey back to the club and after all the work we were happy to sink a few pints before heading home.

A day or so later I had an itch – an itch that was all over. Only then did I think about the roofing sheets, they were fibre glass.

I called Hazel, then Roger and Tom and all had the itch as well. Hazel was not very happy with me. It was a few weeks before my 18th birthday.

I had a few evening jobs over the next couple of weeks and Hazel and I didn’t see much of each other.

Two days before my 18th birthday she told me it was all over. I was gutted.

In fact I was so cut up that on the night of my birthday party, with a lounge full of friends and plenty of drink and music I got totally hammered.

Hearing the Troggs and Hi hi hi Hazel was the final straw. I told Roger I was going for a walk – at least that is certainly what I meant to say and was sure I did say but I didn’t bother checking that he understood.

I walked up to the promenade, it was around midnight, and then I just started running, and running and running.

I was more than halfway to the harbour when I stopped and went down some steps to the beach. The tide was out and I leant against the sea wall and started punching it in anger and sorrow.

That’s when Roger put his arm over my shoulder and said: “Come on mate, time to get back to the party.”

He had followed me all the way and ran when I ran.

That’s what friends are for.

When we did get back my mother was in the hall. Many of the guests were still there.

She took one look at me and said to Roger: “You”d better take him up to his bed. He’ll never make it on his own.”

With the help of Roger Jennings he got me upstairs and they literally tossed me on the bed.

The following day I was fine, not even a sore head. I did have a very sore right hand with grazed knuckles from hitting the wall.

Dilys, was always Myfanwy, not that she broke my heart but more because she reminded me of the Wales I was separated from for so much of my life.

She was a girl friend rather than a girlfriend. Because she worked in Holywell we sometimes met for a coffee and a chat. If the chat lead to a story then I could always claim the coffee on expenses.

That particular Monday, when we met for coffee, she asked about the knuckles and the whole story flooded out.

Dilys was always a good listener.

I met Jenny at a disco and the DJ was playing Jennifer Eccles by the Hollies. It sort of stuck for a while. I walked her home and we arranged to meet again at the disco at the Marine Hotel.

That date led to a few enjoyable weeks. We also had a second song for ourselves as Donovan’s Jennifer Juniper was also on the DJ’s repertoire.

One weekend she invited me over to her house on the Saturday night. Her parents were having a night out and she had offered to babysit her younger brother.

It was the first time I had been called on to cope with a girlfriend’s younger sibling.

He was a monster.

It was only later I realised that with a four-year age gap I must have been just as annoying to my brother when he had a girlfriend over and was having a snog on the sofa.

That little liaison didn’t last more than a couple of months but at least it ended amicably and we both blamed the little brother.

After the break-up I happened to mention her to my sister, who is 18 months older than me, and it turned out they had been in the same year group at school.

There was a girlfriend in between Hazel and Jenny, a sweet girl called Rosemary and the music that reminds me of her is anything by Mozart.

She was a cello player and as it happened Holywell was staging a music festival that year.

The programme for the fortnight was wide ranging with choirs; orchestras, folk musicians and an evening with the Allegri quartet at Mostyn Hall.

The quartet was world-famous and, with obvious changes of personnel, is still going strong.

When I asked Rosemary if she would like me to take her to see them it was as though all her Christmases had come at once.

The evening was very successful and I was a complete gentleman when I drove her home and didn’t even suggest we stop in a layby on the way back.

I was not so gentlemanly a few weeks later when I called an end to our relationship.

I had been thinking for a while about a parting of the ways and the kindest thing would have been to take her out for a coffee and break it gently.

Instead I took her to a party and then spent most of the night ignoring her. I realised what a pig I had been when my brother cornered me and said I should take her home. He had found her sitting on the stairs, crying.

That is the only time I ever treated anyone in such a callous manner.

I parked for a while in order to try and make amends and to apologise. I didn’t deserve anything but she was so good about it when I told her I wanted to break it off and gave me a friendly kiss on the cheek.

I then drove her home and walked her to the door before heading back to the car. I really couldn’t face her parents.

I still feel ashamed to this day.

There were others in my teens and very early 20s.

There were two Susans, or rather a Sue and a Suzie.

Sue was tall with flaming red hair and with her it was folk music. Joan Baez was a musical love we shared. We spent many a happy evening in the back room at the Bee.

Suzie, on the other hand, just about came up to my chin.

The Everley Brothers’ Wake up little Suzie will always bring her to mind even though we did not fall asleep at the cinema.

There was a Chris who always dressed in white – jeans and tight sweater, or a floaty white summer dress – and she did to me what I had once done to Rosemary. Sorrow by the Everley Brothers reminds me not to be a rotten bastard.

There are many lovely girls in my past, although for the past almost 50 years there have been only three and two of those are my daughters. The first of the three is my sweet wife Marion and we share a love of music which covers a wide range even taking in Jake Thackeray.

My main problem in my teens was trying to keep my father on track with any change in my romantic partners. At least twice he called one girlfriend by another’s name.

Very embarrassing.

PS: Winter Wonderland brings me happy memories of one very special girl who shall remain nameless.

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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