Dear Diary Some Days In My Life Homeward Bound
The second I put the phone down, tears began to fill my eyes, pondering on my future. Here I was in Tenby with no money and nowhere to live. I'd told Maggie about my split from Geoff and how Chris had written me, so she knew the score. The heat inside that phone box intensified, as there was still no let up in the hot, clammy weather, that was to continue for months of that year. As I opened the big red door, Maggie stood waiting anxiously to hear what I had to say.
“So! How did it go? Will your Dad let you come home?” I think she knew the answer to that question already, knowing what my Dad was like and from the expression on my face.
Looking seriously at her and nodding, I replied. “Sadly no.” That's when I broke down, making my way over to a wall and sitting, sobbing into my hands.
“Isn't there anyone else you could phone? After all there must be other family members in Bristol who could help you out,” replied a concerned Maggie.
Getting a hankie from my rucksack and blowing my nose, I thought about this idea, but I hadn't been in touch with any aunts, uncles or cousins for years, we weren't that close a family, apart from sending Christmas cards.
Then an idea popped into my head! Chris said he wanted to be with me, even though I don't think living with him was quite what he had in mind, I wondered how he'd feel about helping me out.
Maggie said it was a good idea, if I didn't at least try, I'd never know. She was so helpful supplying me with more coins, of which she refused to let me pay her back. Coming to standing and clutching my hankie, leaving my ruck sack with Maggie, entering the phone box once again, taking out his letter, I dialled the number and waited. A voice answered that I didn't recognise. So I continued. “Oh...hello...Is Chris there?”
The voice on the other end of the phone came back. “Yeah! I'll just get him.” There was a wait. But It was a relief to know that Chris was there. I hated sounding desperate...needing to beg for help, but couldn't see any other way out of this situation. Finally Chris answered the phone. “Hello!”
“Hi!” I said, trying to sound cheerful. “It's Jenny...Geoff's ex girl friend, you wrote me a letter.” He never said a word at that moment, so I started to explain my situation. “So you see, I'm in desperate need of a place to stay.” There was still a silence. “Please say you'll help me, even if it's just till I find somewhere else.”
My money was running out, so I asked him if he'd phone me back? He agreed. I gave him my number and put the phone down, waiting for him to call back. To my great relief it rang out. “Thanks for phoning back Chris.”
“How come you phoned me?” He uttered, in a matter of fact way, it left me feeling uncomfortable. The tension continued as I carried on explaining. “Look...I'm really sorry to put you to any inconvenience, but my Dad won't let me come home, I don't know anyone else who can put me up at such short notice.” My emotions running high, I could feel the tears begin to well up in my eyes again.
There was another pause as I gritted my teeth, waiting for an answer. I could tell he was mulling it over, as I'd put him on the spot. It seemed to be quiet for ages, although it was only seconds, but the way I was feeling it could have been a lifetime, I was ready to break down if he said no.
Finally he spoke. “Well...my brother's away at Uni...so we do have some room, but if you stay, you'll have to pay your way...we could also do with someone cleaning and cooking.”
“Yes! Yes!” I replied. “Anything, that's fine...I'm just so grateful you didn't turn me down.” Turning around, I gave the thumbs up to Maggie.
Realising I was starting to sound like an excited school girl, toning down my voice I became more serious. “I'll be catching a train today, so if you could meet me at Temple Meads at 4 pm that would be great.”
His sombre voice came back. “I won't be able to pick you up, but if you look out for a blue van, my brother will come and meet you.”
“Okay! That's great,” I replied, “and thanks again.” I was just about to say bye, when the phone went dead, so I hung up, hoping he wasn't in a frame of mind to suddenly say no. I was just so pleased to be going back to Bristol and seeing the City I loved and knew so well.
Maggie was good enough to give me the train fare, I did offer to pay her back, but she wouldn't hear of it. Being a good friend, I think she felt kind of guilty for telling me about the nanny job that didn't work out. So with rucksack heaved onto my shoulders, I soldiered on to the train station. Maggie came with me and saw me off, I was so grateful as we said our goodbyes. That was the last I saw of her for many years to come.
Here I was thinking I'd never see Bristol again and now I was homeward bound, feeling a lot happier returning than when I left. Reaching Temple Meads I was drained, as I'd not slept very well the night before, in the girls chalet on the floor.
Wandering along the platform at Temple Meads, I showed my ticket as I went through the gate. Going outside and checking the big clock, it was nearly 4.10pm. Looking out for a blue van which hadn't turned up yet, I hoped Chris hadn't changed his mind. Becoming impatient and still having a few more coins left in my purse, I called his home, but nobody answered, so I went back outside to wait. At last I spied the van pulling up...thank goodness!
Mark his brother saw me, as I approached, winding down the window he said. “Are you Jenny?”
“Yes!” I said feeling so relieved to see him. It surprised me that he looked nothing like Chris, with his short dark hair, where as Chris was more of a straw blonde colour that had natural curls down to his shoulders. As I got into the van, I felt so relieved to be leaving all the bad karma of Tenby behind.
We drove across town, going along roads I'd never been before. It wasn't long till we were out in the countryside and I was enjoying the view of fields in the early afternoon sunshine.
Mark told me that it was just him and Chris at home, as their parents lived in Holland and had left the brothers to their own devices. He also had the radio on, it was good to hear music again. I'm a lover of music and it had been lacking in Tenby, due to the fact I'd failed to bring my tape machine with me when I left home.
I saw the sign for their street as we drove up, then we pulled into the driveway of a bungalow, It was awesome to see a Honda motor bike in the driveway, I had a feeling it belonged to Chris. Normality at last! Is how I felt.
It brought back memories of the Isle of Man TT Races and travelling overnight on the ferry. I don't remember if the ferry was packed, but we'd been kipping down below on the floor of the boat all night. I'd taken some seasick tablets before we left and they seemed to be doing the job, but then some people we'd got talking to as we boarded woke us up , “You have to come up top and see the sunrise.” They were so animated in their description, we couldn't wait. As we reached the deck, standing there gazing across the horizon, I can honestly say I've never seen a sky like it to this day, with its yellow – gold – orange – red and purple. For me it was like watching the Northern Lights, I was awe struck by the colours that were out of this world...it was a moment I shall never forget.
I cannot remember where we stayed, but I do remember the beauty of the Island. It was a good place to explore with its many nooks and crannies to investigate. We also went to see the Laxey Wheel, which I have vivid memories of. Hopping aboard the Snaefell Mountain train, it took us up to the highest point on the Island, where we had the best view of the TT race, although the low lying fog would come down, but then clear again, taking with it a damp mist. I seem to remember someone breaking the speed record, though I'm not sure which year it was we went. No diary was kept of this momentous holiday, so I can only go by what I remember.
There were small bridges crossing rivers, also miles of nothing but fields and trees with houses dotted here and there, some amazing countryside walks led us on...they seemed to go on forever. “What a place to live,” I said to my boyfriend.
The pubs down on the seafront were full to heaving with bikers, each one with a story to tell. Along the front were rows and rows of motor bikes, men and women talking and admiring the chrome and engines with pints in hand. I'd never seen so much leather. I was glad of my waxed, leather belstaff jacket, it could become quite cold and wet up on Snaefell. The evenings would get chilly too, but it made sitting in the pubs more cosier. This was my first true experience of real bikers and I felt right at home.
To be continued...