A Teenager in Love
Stormy times ahead
The journey begins
The day we moved from Ringmer village to Newhaven town in the beautiful county of Sussex in England, is the day I left my childhood behind. The following seven years of my life were an emotional rollercoaster. Well, I wouldn't have been a normal teenager if it wasn't, would I? The trouble was that teenagers were not recognised as such back in the 1950s, we were little models of our mother or father, in my case, my mum. However, my genes did not dictate that I acted like her, so I had a difficult time being understood. I knew what I wanted but they didn't!
I wanted to be liked and I wanted to do well at school - the second one I achieved. It was normal to leave school aged fifteen in those days but Newhaven County Secondary School had the foresight to select certain pupils to stay on a year and take National exams. Wow, I was going to sit exams and gain certificates, bring it on!
My father agreed to keep me for another year, instead of my having to leave school and get a job in the local Parker Pen factory, which many of my classmates did. I enjoyed my final year of school, our select group felt all grown-up and special, we did not have to wear school uniform any more so we invented fashions of our own. One of which was to wear our dad's socks as knee-highs that winter and Dad bought me a duffle coat with a hood and toggles so I felt like a real geek and loved wearing it swinging along the road with the Grammar school boy I fancied. We walked from Mount Pleasant, where we both lived, to the station to catch his train to Lewes. Then my solitary walk on to my school took me along the harbourside, across the Recreation Ground and up Gibbon Road, which took me about another half an hour.
Left-handed me studying in needlework class
First job and first love
In the summer of 1959 I proudly left school with some GCE's, several RSA's and the Certificates to prove it. Now to look for a job. My father kindly said I could spend all what would have been the school holidays to look for one. He brought home the Evening Argus newspaper every day for me to read, sitting in his self-built office attached to the garage, where I has spent many hours doing my homework and revising. Also, I started typing his letters for him as he was a self-employed builder, and a good one - he would use 4" x 3" instead of 3" x 2" for wood supports. But I diverse...I found a job I fancied, telephoned to make an appointment and Dad drove me to the interview. My first ever interview and I got the job. Piece of cake in those days! But I think my certificates swung it really.
I was now a junior receptionist at the doctors' surgery in Seaford. How I loved that job. Being a Virgo I liked to be of service to others, which stood me in good stead later in life when I got married and had five children - but that is another story. I also liked the routine, the paperwork, and the evening shifts being the slightly OCD night owl that I still am today.
I bought myself a monthly bus pass to get to work and back and could use it in the evenings as well so this led me to new friends and my first boyfriend whom I fell deeply in love with. I loved him for four years but the trouble was he didn't love me back. He was the older brother of one of my friends, twelve years older than me and going through a divorce, my dad didn't approve and wouldn't let him in the house, so our dates were clandestine and all the more romantic because of that. My mum didn't seem to have an opinion so I was on my own arguing with my dad nearly every night about him. "Where have you been? What time do you call this?" *sigh* Dad never let me have a front door key either, that was because you didn't come of age until your twenty-first birthday back then or he didn't trust me - both reasons I suspect!
The problem finally sorted itself out because he dumped me, went off and married another woman. She was older and more wordly-wise than me *sigh* I never was any good at womanly wiles. However, that episode led me into more teenage trouble!
Our house with office behind garage where I spent many hours
View from my bedroom window, the school was on the skyline
Onwards and err downwards
One day at work a bloke came in with a bleeding head escorted by a chap asking if his workman could be fitted in to see a doctor. "Of course" said I, seeing the state of him, so In no time he was patched up and they went on their grateful way. The next day the chap came in to thank me and to cut a long story short, we hit it off and he asked me out. Yay, I was happy again! Not for long though as er um it turned out that he was... (taboo word coming up)...married...* sigh*.
Anyway, I sort of ignored that problem because I wasn't married so it was okay, I decided. My dad thought differently! Well he would, wouldn't he? Dads are a pain in the backside sometimes. I carried on seeing him and we had enjoyable summer evenings together. We went for long drives and lovely walks around the Sussex countryside. We went for drinks in country pubs, (I was eighteen by then), a favourite place was the old Inn in Alfriston. We went to the Wrestling in Brighton - that was great fun - I used to jump up and down shouting at the wrestlers much to my boyfriend's amusement.
I got a bit squiffy one night and decided to climb into my bedroom window when he dropped me off, instead of ringing the front doorbell and getting my dad out of bed to let me in. There was a double extension ladder in our back garden so I extended it and put it up against my window. I climbed all the way up only to find my window was closed. So I could not get in. Back down the ladder in my high heeled shoes, put the ladder away, tottered round to the front door and rang the doorbell. Dad let me in without a word and off I crept up to bed. Much later, I realised I was even later home because of my escapade and I must have been drunk, not just squiffy. Could have broken my neck too. But I was never late for work so that must be good, musn't it?
I think that was the final straw, my dad decided he couldn't handle me anymore. He had a word with my doctors at work, he telephoned my aunt and uncle in Devon, he bought me a train ticket (I still don't remember to this day if it was a single or return - but probably a single!) and the following Monday morning I walked out of my house with a suitcase of clothes, down the road to the station and reluctantly boarded the steam train. So here I am, still living in Devon, fifty three years later. C'est la vie!
Babbacombe Downs Torquay ~ Sussex is over there somewhere!
Do you think teenagers are misunderstood?
© 2015 Bren Hall