Excerpt for A Love Remembered by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Copyright © 2017 by Lizzie Thomas

Lizzie Thomas has asserted her right under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

This book is a work of fiction and except in the case of historical fact any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Published by Mereo

Mereo is an imprint of Memoirs Publishing

25 Market Place, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 2NX, England

Tel: 01285 640485, Email: or

Read all about us at

See more about book writing on our blog

Follow us on books


Join us on


A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover, other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

ISBN: 978-1-86151-726-5

Chapter 1

Life On An Island

It was the summer of ’67, and the sixties were in full swing. The whole of Britain was crackling with an air of excitement; new possibilities were opening for the youth of the country on an almost daily basis and a new lifestyle was rapidly emerging. It was a lifestyle that was totally different from anything that had gone before, and one that was in so many ways alien to an older generation that had endured a harder, more disciplined and principled upbringing in the years following the war. The rules for living had changed dramatically for modern teenagers and, in their minds, there was to be no going back to the old ways. Life was for living, with a sense of freedom and excitement, and it was definitely meant to be lived in the fast lane.

All over the mainland, from Glasgow to London, teenagers were waking almost daily to the sounds of the new bands, new music, ever-changing fashions and new dance crazes that were sweeping the country. Liverpool prided itself on being at the epicentre of the new pop culture, with new bands seemingly forming on every street, performing in local clubs before being spotted by hungry talent scouts and launching their songs on an excited and eager audience through radio and television. Channels were rapidly gearing their programming to the wishes and demands of their growing band of avid young listeners. Top of the Pops and Radio 1 ruled, OK? Schools across the land were filled with the buzz of teenagers competing daily to be the first to have heard the latest releases from the bands of the day, show off their new hairstyles or be the first to discover and announce the latest fashion trends. GCEs? Who needed them when you had The Beatles or The Stones to feast on?

Boutiques were springing up on almost every street corner. You wanted fashion? Head for London, where the bowler-hat brigade had been rapidly consumed and outnumbered by the jeans and mini skirt contingent. Carnaby Street was the envy of every city throughout the land and beyond, with trendsetters flocking from far and wide to savour its groovy new world dedicated to wild, wonderful and frequently outlandish fashion.

A mood of optimism engulfed the country, aided and abetted by a glorious combination of bright lights, heaving pubs and clubs in every town and city offering a heady combination of loud music and alcohol-fuelled dancing for young men and women with money in their pockets, energy to burn and a seemingly endless range of freely-available talent to die for.

Against such a backdrop it would be easy for the casual observer to think how dull life must have seemed for young people growing up in such exciting times yet seemingly stranded on a small island bang in the middle of the Irish Sea. For that island was a four-hour boat trip on a good day from Liverpool; their Mecca, the city where they knew it was all happening, so near and yet so far away.

But how wrong the casual observer would be, for in so many ways life on that rock was just as exciting as it would have been in mainland Britain at that time, if not more so. In fact, life on that relatively small island, far from being boring, offered many opportunities for teenagers to grow and develop their personalities and to satisfy their eagerness to take on all things new and modern in what, in reality, was a wonderfully free and easy-going environment.

Strange as it may seem, the Island lifestyle enjoyed by the teenagers of the day was in almost every respect freer and more relaxed than that on offer to their counterparts on the mainland, yet so different and just as new and exciting. Perhaps without conscious effort on their part, the relaxed attitude of the islanders themselves afforded the ideal environment for young people and young minds to flourish. It was a natural environment where life was more free and open, where the locals were easy-going and so much more accepting of the need for the youth of the day to find their feet in the adult world in which they were living.

Since Victorian times the island had been a vital and thriving holiday destination for thousands upon thousands of visitors. Eager holidaymakers were drawn to its shores by its well-deserved reputation for all the varied holiday pursuits it had on offer for those seeking the chance to soak up its wonderful, bustling atmosphere and benefit from a hard-earned and welcome release from the boredom of their everyday lives.

Indeed, throughout the sixties the Island maintained its reputation as a destination of choice for many thousands of fun seekers just bursting to spend their hard-earned savings on their annual two-week summer break from the tedium of their working lives. Many of the visitors were teenagers who were yet to experience the wonder and excitement of continental travel, charter flights and low-cost package holidays, which were still in their infancy. Spain and all it had to offer with its guaranteed sunshine, sand, sea, sangria and excitement was still a pipedream for the majority of working people on mainland Britain, but there was always that little island off the coast, ready and waiting to welcome visitors to its beautiful shores, relaxing way of life and entertainment aplenty.

In the long summer months, the island would teem with visitors, filling the pubs, clubs, dance halls, theatres, promenades, and walkways with bustling activity. Week by week the two splendid ballrooms in the island’s capital would heave and rock to the sounds of groups such as The Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Animals, The Bee Gees, Manfred Mann, Pink Floyd, all the great bands of the day, almost without exception, queuing up to take the opportunity of showcasing their latest wares in ballrooms which then provided big paydays in large venues thronged with young admirers only too eager to soak up the music generated by their heroes and to revel in the heady atmosphere. It was the precursor to music festivals and stadium concerts, and young locals and visitors alike seized greedily upon the opportunity to become part of the scene, to experience the excitement and sheer joy of feeling alive. It was a feeling of belonging in an almost tribal way with all those around you; of revelling in a loss of inhibitions and a freedom to express yourself, fuelled by alcohol and the adrenaline buzz created by the throbbing music and the excitement generated by the horde of enthusiastic fans, swaying in time as one with the pounding, rhythmical beat of that music.

Often described affectionately as 70,000 alcoholics clinging to a rock in the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man’s inhabitants undoubtedly benefited from living in an environment and culture which was both tolerant and easy-going. The pace of life was slower and more relaxed than that on mainland Britain. ‘Never do today what can be put off until tomorrow’ was a creed and attitude adopted and accepted to a greater or lesser degree by the vast majority of the locals, and it served well to illustrate their approach to life in general. Life was there to be lived and enjoyed, and other pressing issues, which were often deemed to be an unnecessary interruption to this laid-back lifestyle, could quite readily be put on the back burner, or mentally filed under pending further attention when the need arose; after all, the problem would still be there tomorrow.

But in the summer months all this changed, as the Island burst into life with the huge influx of visitors, young and old, who turned it into a bustling community, and at the same time brought a welcome injection of cash into the local economy. This was the time when the locals emerged from their winter hibernation and entered fully into the annual burst of activity required to take advantage of the chance to swell their coffers. During these months, the normally sleepy Island awoke and the creed the people normally lived by swiftly reverted to one of ‘never put off until tomorrow what you can do today’. In the overall scheme of things, it was only for five or six months of the year, wasn’t it? To the locals benefiting from the tourist trade, this was clearly deemed to be bearable, even in Island terms, for the winter was long and the rewards of those glorious summers were considerable.

For the Island’s younger generation, and teenagers in particular, the long summer months afforded an almost never-ending production line of talent to satiate their teenage lust, passion and sense of excitement. Teenage boys especially were renowned for having winter girlfriends who suddenly became jilted as the winter months drew to a close and the summer months loomed into view, signalling the opportunity to seek out new and exciting holiday relationships on a seemingly rolling two-week rota throughout the season. Fickle? Thoughtless? Most definitely. Understandable and justifiable? In male teenage terms and minds? No question whatsoever. What self-respecting, red-blooded teenage boy could possibly turn his nose up at the opportunity of seeking out new and exciting relationships and possible conquests when they were dangled in front of him with such regularity?

In truth, the same opportunities were on offer to the girls too, but they were frequently either less inclined to seek out such relationships or possibly sought more permanency in their lives. However, when the opportunity arose, who were they to turn their backs and walk away from new experiences and the undoubted thrill of a holiday romance?

Though the crowds diminished and life inevitably slowed down again for the locals during the winter months, there were still plenty of activities to occupy the minds and free time for local youths, with local bands taking over where the rock and pop stars left off. The venues may have been smaller, but they offered the same heady mix of booze, music and young thrill seekers, dedicated followers of fashion, eager to taste the excitement of those thrills and emotional highs. They wanted to experience romance, even love occasionally, and they were only too ready and willing to take advantage of all that was on offer to them.

The Island comprised a mix of large towns, smaller towns and villages, all of which were fairly close-knit communities where the local police had very few major issues to deal with. Local bobbies generally had a close relationship with the general public, with whom they were fairly familiar, often having grown up in those communities themselves. For minor misdemeanours, young children and teenagers would be sent on their way with a good ticking off; people found drunk driving, unless paralytic, would also be sent on their way with a warning to take it easy on their way home, or advised to get a taxi for the rest of their journey. On the odd occasion, they might even benefit from a lift home from their friendly local bobby, especially if they were well known to each other, or possibly grew up in the same neighbourhood.

In truth, the Island afforded a truly idyllic lifestyle for all of its proud and contented inhabitants, and young children and the youth of the day in particular, offering as it did a genuinely carefree and safe haven in which children could develop their instincts, personalities and independence to the full. From a very early age, children benefited from the safety and freedom to grow up in an environment which allowed them to develop in a relatively uninhibited manner. Untroubled by the need to be pampered and cosseted by their parents, they could roam freely, enjoy themselves and develop an innate sense of adventure through taking advantage of the many and varied opportunities for fun and pastimes on offer, from numerous safe beaches and beautiful seaside ports and harbours all around the Island’s coast through to glorious country pursuits inland.

And the same freedoms existed for teenagers. Whilst licensing laws were fairly strict and appeared on the surface at least to be well policed, a good but unspoken understanding existed between the local bobbies and the landlords. In many cases those same bobbies would even be present during after-hours lock ins, just so they could keep a watchful eye on things whilst enjoying a pint or two of the local brew themselves. Nowadays, such dedication would no doubt be classed as community policing, so in that respect the Island’s police force was years ahead of its time. It’s true that the police carried out regular formal visits to the local pubs in their area, but invariably the landlords either knew where they were on the visiting list or were tipped a quiet nod beforehand. Strangely enough, on those nights the licensing laws were always seen to be strictly adhered to.

In such circumstances, landlords were happy to turn a blind eye to under-age drinking, happy in the knowledge that the police would probably take the same even-handed, if somewhat blinkered, approach during their visits, even if the odd teen, or group of teenagers, happened to appear in the wrong place at the wrong time. After all, what self-respecting, dedicated and hard-working copper could possibly justify all that unnecessary paperwork and unwarranted hassle for all concerned, especially when they were on night duty?

One thing the police adopted a firm stance on, however, was violence of any kind, though they did so in an extremely civilised manner, being careful to adopt a fair and even policy of standing outside pubs and waiting patiently, and with remarkable reserve, for any fights which had erupted to peter out before calmly taking control of the situation and considerately mopping up the bodies without adding to the violence themselves.

Police cars were few and far between at the time, as indeed were cars and other traffic generally. The Island roads had no need for traffic lights or dual carriageways, and there was not so much as a traffic roundabout in sight, as halt signs and the odd give-way sign at junctions seemed to do the job of controlling traffic quite nicely. The driving age for youngsters was officially sixteen, but many teenagers, with the total disregard of youth, simply ignored the laws of the land and took advantage of the relevant freedom of movement afforded to them to ride motorbikes or scooters and drive cars unlicensed and uninsured from a much younger age.

Against such a backdrop, and in such a free and easy-going environment, it’s little wonder that the youth of that seemingly isolated backwater of a rock in the Irish Sea actually enjoyed a lifestyle that would have been the envy of their peers on the mainland –or at least it would have been if only they’d known how thrilling and expansive life could be away from the restrictions of large town and city living. And what an environment it truly was to grow up in for those privileged enough to live through those wonderfully exciting and carefree teenage years, and to fully embrace the joy of living, laughing and loving, in equally unrestrained measures.

For two teenagers in particular, Mitch and Melanie, that summer of 1967 would turn out to be the most eventful and wonderful summer of their young lives to date. Both were fun-loving individuals, rebellious by nature, full of life and enthusiasm, blessed with the excitement of youth and the newness of everything unfolding before them and ready to embrace all that was on offer to them in that carefree environment that the lifestyle of the times had engendered.

Although alike in so many ways, their lives and upbringing were almost complete opposites. Mitch was born and brought up on the lower, tougher side of town and came from humble beginnings, whereas Melanie had led a somewhat sheltered life, living in the more sophisticated upper end of town and attending public school.

In many ways both were products of their environment; Mitch ebullient and outgoing by nature, coarse at times even, whereas Melanie was refined, shy, sensitive, more reserved. To the outside observer theirs would not, at first sight maybe, appear to be a relationship made in heaven, but love has a mysterious habit of casting its magic spell in wondrous ways, often in the strangest and unlikeliest of circumstances.

Chapter 2

The Group of Four’s big night out

One evening early in the summer season of 1967, still in term time, young Mitch and his sidekick, Tony, set off for the local pub they’d been frequenting for the last year or more. As was their normal routine on such nights, they were off to down a couple of swift pints of the local brew at the Woody before heading off to sink a few more bevvies and check out the talent on view at that night’s dance at the Palace, at the time the biggest dance hall in Europe.

Age was no deterrent for teenagers wishing to gain access to the heady delights of the Palace, since the bar was upstairs and across the large foyer from the ballroom itself, which was, at face value, an alcohol-free zone. As it happened, both the management and the local constabulary were extremely lax in their own interpretation and application of the Island’s licensing laws, so thankfully for teenagers of the day, age was no barrier to their gaining access to the bar. As can be imagined, they were only too happy to take advantage of this.

Having traded light-hearted banter with some of the locals over a couple of pints and a game of darts at the Woodbourne pub, Mitch and Tony set off on their quest to end the evening in style, fuelled with the confidence gained from the early flush of alcohol and armed with the sense of bravado that comes with it. Not lacking in either looks or charm, and their pockets filled with cash they’d earned from their weekend jobs, the two young chancers set off on their evening talent-spotting mission filled with expectancy.

Earlier that evening, in a more upmarket part of town, a group of four excited young girls had gathered in the Jackson household to make themselves ready for their big night out of the week. The group had congregated early in Melanie’s bedroom, where Sammy, Shirley and Anna had joined her in the frenzied bustle of getting ready. Sammy and Melanie, the wild cards of the pack, shared a cigarette held out of the bedroom window and started the process of demolishing a half-bottle of vodka which one of Melanie’s older male friends, Mark, had bought on their behalf.

Sammy, being the most daring, was the first to savour the delights of the neat vodka. “Here, Anna!” she shouted across the room. “Weren’t you supposed to bring a bottle of lemonade or something to go with this?”

“Oops, sorry Sam, so I was,” came the reply. “It just completely slipped my mind with all the other things I had to organise, shoes, makeup, clothes. I’ve brought three skirts and three tops. You know how it is, all the important stuff a girl needs if she wants to make a good impression. Frankly, lemonade was the last thing on my mind.”

Anna posed, twirled, and pouted in front of the full-length mirror on which her full attention was focused. “Just hold your nose and swallow quickly, you’ll be fine, I’m sure. Do you think I look better in this purple skirt, or should I go for the yellow one, maybe?”

The other three looked at each other, rolled their eyes, and almost without thinking chorused as one: “Oh no, that purple one looks gorgeous on you.”

“Mmm, I thought so too, but I just wasn’t sure,” Anna murmured to nobody in particular, which was a good job, because the other three weren’t listening anyway.

Back at the window, Sammy took a deep breath, raised the bottle to her unsuspecting lips and savoured her first taste of neat vodka. Perhaps ‘savoured’ would not have been her description of the experience as it turned out, since the fiery liquid seared her mouth and engulfed her unsuspecting throat like a lava burst, leaving her gasping for breath, coughing and spluttering uncontrollably and in need of a serious mascara revamp. Melanie and Shirley dissolved into fits of laughter at their friend’s predicament, whilst Anna remained blissfully unaware of what was going on around her as she continued to admire herself in that beloved mirror.

Melanie was undeterred by Sammy’s experience and, determined to show the others she was made of sterner stuff, she leaned elegantly across to where the bottle was resting so innocently, raised it gracefully in the air and, with a hearty “Cheers everyone!” tilted her head backwards and took a healthy swig from the bottle.

Less than fifteen seconds later she began to realise the error of her ways. As the full impact of the liquor struck her airways, she clung desperately to her senses and used what little breath seemed to be left in her body to blurt out “Us Jacksons always take our spirits neat” before turning back to the open window, sticking her head out and furiously gasping in lungfuls of the night air. She did manage to cling on to her dignity, just, and she had managed to uphold the family tradition, something her dad would have been proud of, if only he’d known.

Throughout this process Shirley, ever mindful of her sense of responsibility, had stood behind the two girls, dutifully wafting a bath towel to and fro at full tilt to ensure that the last vestiges of smoke were forced through the open window and out into the night air. Just as Sammy and Melanie were about to turn their heads back into the room, having regained their composure, they were met with Shirley’s plaintiff voice.

“Can I stop waving this flipping towel now? My arms are killing me.”

On hearing this, the two girls turned back towards her, saw the look on her face, and all three collapsed into a fit of the giggles, following which Anna conceded “Of course you can Shirley, it’s your turn for the vodka now anyway.”

Upon hearing those words a little shiver ran down Shirley’s spine, for this was the moment she’d been secretly dreading. Drinking neat vodka was something which didn’t appeal in the slightest to her sense of decorum, and yet at the same time she was conscious of not wanting to be the odd one out.

As she grasped the bottle gingerly in her hand, however, she hit on a great idea. She put on a good front, raised the bottle to her lips and, when she tilted her head back, swiftly forced her tongue into the neck of the bottle so as not to have to swallow any of the nasty stuff. She lowered the bottle to the accompaniment of appreciative nods from her friends. True, she did have a disgusting taste on her tongue, but she smiled happily, basking in the knowledge that she’d not only saved face but gained the respect of her chums, albeit with just a hint of deception. Mission accomplished, and the subsequent warm glow that spread over her had nothing whatsoever to do with the vodka.

Shirley beamed with pride as she passed the bottle to Anna, whose eyes never left the mirror as she downed an unseemly quantity of the contents without so much as batting an eyelid, for she was still fascinated by her own image beaming back at her. The others waited, and looked quizzically from one to the other, until Sammy’s impatience finally got the better of her.

“Well, what was the vodka like then Anna?” she barked across the room.

Anna somewhat reluctantly removed her gaze from the mirror and casually replied over her shoulder “The vodka? Oh, it was OK I suppose. Do you really think I should wear this purple one?”

“Oh, shut up!” came the joint response.

Upon hearing their disapproving chorus, Anna turned briefly towards them, a slightly chastened look on her face, which quickly faded as she saw the laughter on their faces. “Oh, you lot!” she said. “It’s just that I quite like the yellow one, it goes so well with my other top.”

She had to duck quickly to avoid the cushion that whistled past her ear and thudded softly against the wall behind her. This did the trick, as she couldn’t help but join in the laughter ringing around the room. With a shrug, she finally gave in.

“OK, you win, the purple one it is,” she conceded as she moved to join in with the others, but not before taking one quick look back, just to be sure.

With Anna’s outfit finally having been resolved, the other girls were able to concentrate on their own preparations for the evening. Accompanied by the Beatles’ latest album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the activities and preparations commenced in earnest. They all busied themselves parading around the room in their latest gear before concentrating on the serious business of making sure the chosen makeup, mascara, lipstick, and nail varnish were all applied and colour co-ordinated, not only to their satisfaction but also to that of their friends, the ultimate arbiters of fashion and taste in their young minds.

Sammy was first up on the catwalk. She sashayed up and down the room in her brand-new bell-bottoms.

“Oh Sammy, they’re simply gorgeous and you look so good in them,” cried Melanie. “Don’t you just love the way they float around as you walk? I wish I had a pair like them. Can I borrow them next week? I won’t look as good as you in them but they’re just simply fab. Where’s your top, hurry up, which top are you going to wear with them?”

Sammy soaked up the compliments with obvious delight, and a big smile spread over her face, which was by now glowing with the effects of the alcohol.

“Aha” she said. “That’s the best bit. I’ve got a little turquoise top to go with them. But guess what? I’ve got turquoise eye shadow to go with my top. You just add water to it and literally paint it on!”

There were squeals of delight from the others. “Wow, I didn’t even know you could get turquoise eye shadow. How simply fab is that!” said Anna, with just a hint of jealousy in her voice. “I really must be reading the wrong magazines” she added, a touch dejectedly.

Shirley had already arrived in her clothes for the night, a sleeveless, ribbed beige jumper with a black skirt, short, but not as short as Melanie’s, as she was soon to discover. She looked comfortable with what she was wearing, but she did have a couple of surprises up her sleeve.

“Come on Shirley, what have you got in that bag?” the cry went out.

Shirley, blushing slightly, made her way to her bag in the corner and delved inside, hastily shouting over her shoulder as she did so, “Don’t look, don’t look you lot, not until I tell you I’m ready. Promise?”

“Yes, we promise” came the reply as they all shut their eyes and waited in expectation.

As Shirley donned the rest of her outfit there came good-hearted encouragement. “Come on Shirley, hurry up, the suspense is killing us. How long are you going to be, for heaven’s sake? We’re meant to be going out tonight you know, not tomorrow.”

Shirley was not to be rushed, but when she was satisfied everything was hunky dory, she had a quick look in the mirror, shook her hair back into place, turned to the girls, took up her best model pose and put them out of their misery. “OK you lot, you can open your eyes now, I’m ready” she announced. She felt some trepidation, which proved to be totally unwarranted as it turned out, as she was met with a communal “Wow!” from all three of her pals. For Shirley, their quiet, reserved, and normally conservatively-dressed chum, had teamed her outfit with a vivid red necklace down to her waist, a matching red shoulder bag and bright red platform shoes. No, they weren’t seeing things. Shirley was indeed wearing bright red platforms.

Silence reigned for a brief moment before mild pandemonium broke out. All three of her pals clamoured to heap compliments on her.

“Gosh, you look fabulous!”

“What a stunning outfit!”

“Where did you get those shoes? They’re just so trendy!” “Have you got a hot date lined up tonight? You’ll slay him in that outfit.”

Poor Shirley was overcome with joy as the questions piled in from her chums, and she blushed profusely. She quickly diverted their attention in the direction of Melanie. “Come on Melanie, you’re up next, hurry up and show them how hot you look, and I just love what you’ve done to your hair.”

Melanie, having experimented earlier with putting tiny plaits either side of her hair and adding a flower, had liked the look and decided to keep it that way. She was quietly confident that the brand-new orange mini – skirt she’d persuaded her mother to buy for her would have the desired effect on her friends. She’d fallen in love with it herself the minute she’d tried it on in the shop, and her taste in clothes had never been called into question by anyone in the group, not even by Anna, the self-appointed queen of fashion. This confidence wasn’t derived from arrogance or any hint of self-esteem; she was simply comfortable in her own skin, and blessed with a natural instinct for sensing what looked good on her and what didn’t.

She slipped across the room, opened her wardrobe and turned back to reveal a trendy new orange mini-skirt, to further giggles of delight from her fellow fashion devotees. “Wow and wow again!” yelped Sammy.

“How bright is that? Nobody’s going to miss you in that, and it’s just so you,” chirruped Shirley, shaking her head. “Only you could get away with that Melanie, only you. Quick, put it on, let’s see it on.”

Even Anna was impressed. “It’s gorgeous Melanie, really gorgeous. I just love it, and orange is so in now.”

Anna did indeed love it, and her compliments were genuine, but even whilst she was saying it she was thinking to herself, “I wonder if I should wear that yellow skirt after all?”

Encouraged by the others, Melanie slipped off her jeans and wriggled deftly into the tight-fitting skirt to reveal it in all its glory, which once again brought squeals of delight from her friends.

“It looks fabulous Melanie, it just looks so good on you and it’s so short as well, it’s nearly up to your bum for heaven’s sake!”

“And you’ve got such lovely legs, you can really carry it off,” said Sammy as she ran across the room and gave her pal a big hug, then stepped back to admire the skirt again.

“Shirley’s right” she said. “It is ever so short. It’s simply stunning and the colour really suits you. Where did you get it, and when? Tell me, tell me, I need to know.”

“Oh, my mother bought it for me. She was in a good mood, so after we’d finished playing tennis at the club the other day she took me down to that new boutique in town and she treated me. If I want a treat I always let her win, it never fails. I just hope she doesn’t twig. We should all go there, they’ve got loads of fab new gear, but this one just caught my eye, and I simply couldn’t resist it.”

This information brought a gasp of astonishment from Sammy. “Your mother bought it for you? It’s so short, I’m surprised she would approve of that, though she’s much more relaxed about these things than mine is. I’m surprised she even let you look at it, let alone buy it for you.”

At this a grin lit up Melanie’s face. “Ah well” she said, “it isn’t exactly the same skirt that she bought me.”

A quizzical look crossed Sammy’s face. “I don’t understand. What do you mean it isn’t the same skirt?”

“Well, it was quite a bit longer than this when she bought it, but I took the hem up last night by a good three inches. All I’ve got to do now is to sneak past her somehow on the way out without her noticing or I’ll be grounded again. And I don’t fancy having to climb out of that window in this mini-skirt!”

At this point all four of them descended into laughter again. When it eventually subsided, and the fun was over, Melanie quietly crossed to the wardrobe and slipped on the rest of her ensemble, which consisted of a simple black sleeveless top with cutaway shoulders, which not only complimented her new skirt but also served to show off her recently-acquired early summer tan, and some black patent leather sandals which she knew she would be taking off at the first opportunity. She hated dancing in shoes. Her whole outfit was quickly put together, and after putting her small collection of beads and bells over her head and taking a quick glance in the mirror, she rejoined the others, for the serious business of applying their makeup was about to commence.

Sammy and Melanie painted the turquoise shadow onto and under their eyelids, but it was too bold for Shirley, and Anna had already spent most of the afternoon getting her make-up right, so she wasn’t going to change it now, however much she fancied a go with the new product.

“Do you think this eye shadow looks OK, or is it a bit much? I just can’t make my mind up” Melanie asked Anna. “You’ve always had a natural flair for these things.”

“I know, some of us have it, and some don’t,” Anna laughed. After a brief inspection she reassured her, “No, I think you’ve got it spot on. It’s just the right shade and depth and it highlights those eyes of yours perfectly. I’ve always said your eyes are your best feature, haven’t I? And they’re simply sparkling tonight.”

As a final touch, they all applied dark eyeliner and the palest of lipstick, which were the ultimate fashion statements of the day. Then they were ready.

All the while this was going on there was a constant stream of excited chatter about anything and everything that entered their minds, mainly boys, the pop scene, the latest fashion trends and all the latest gossip that Anna had picked up in passing.

“Did you see Top of The Pops this week?” Sammy asked.

“Oh yes,” said Anna. “The Hollies are my favourite band, and isn’t their latest single just fab? And that Allan Clarke is to die for, isn’t he? What I wouldn’t give to go out with him.”

Sammy thought for a moment, then responded, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think they’re anything special really. But The Who? Now that’s my kind of band. Their music’s just so alive and original. I just love them.”

“Me too” said Melanie. “And that Roger Daltrey’s got to be some kind of sex god.”

Sammy and Melanie had different tastes when it came to the opposite sex so, forceful as ever, Sammy jumped in. “Daltrey? A sex god? Really Melanie, what’s happened to your taste in men? Moony’s much better looking, and he’s so cute. Don’t you just want to hug him?”

“Is that Keith Moon you’re talking about, the drummer?” Shirley piped up.

“Yes, that’s him, why?”

“Well he’s like some kind of wild man apparently. I read somewhere he takes drugs and smashes up hotel rooms wherever he goes. I hardly think you could call that cute, or cuddly even come to think of it.”

“Oh, they all take drugs and smash things up Shirley. It doesn’t stop Moony from being cute though, and I’d cuddle him any time given half the chance. And you never know your luck, do you? They’re playing at the Palace later on this summer. We’ve just got to get tickets for that one. I’ve heard they’re fabulous live. And Moony had better look out if I chance upon him, that’s all I can say. Who’s playing tonight anyway girls?”

“Nobody special I don’t think,” said Anna. “But Sounds

Incorporated are the resident band this summer. They’re supposed to be really good, and I hear they start with a fab version of Sergeant Pepper, so it should be a great night.”

Suddenly, they heard Melanie’s mother’s unmistakable voice drifting up from below. “Come on you girls. Stop messing around up there and get yourselves down here. Your father’s ready to give you a lift and you don’t want to keep him waiting Melanie.”

“Shit!” Melanie said. “Come on, sort yourselves out you lot. And splash some more perfume on before we go down. We don’t want mother smelling smoke or booze on us or we’ll never get out. And whatever you do, crowd around me and keep her occupied. I don’t want her seeing this skirt.”

They all made their way quietly down the stairs, but when they reached the bottom of the staircase, Melanie’s mother Julia was looming there waiting to check on the girls before saying goodbye and wishing them a great evening. The girls did their very best to hide Melanie from the closest of inspections as she flew past her mother as swiftly as she deemed acceptable in an attempt to avoid too close a scrutiny.

Melanie initially thought she had succeeded in avoiding her mother’s attention, but she failed to spot her mother’s raised eyebrow as she passed her by. In fact, Julia had been well aware of Melanie’s alterations, but she discreetly chose to say nothing on this occasion. As Melanie disappeared through the front door though she heard her mother’s voice shouting instructions to her father James, who was the chauffeur for the evening and already on his way to his car. “Jim, she’s wearing far too much eye makeup. Tell her to tone it down a bit.”

Paying little heed to her mother’s comments and dismissing her with a backward wave, Melanie continued blithely on her way and piled into the car alongside her dad, who simply turned towards her, smiled and said, “Just ignore your mother, you look gorgeous”. A beaming smile lit up her young face. Julia knew just how pretty her daughter looked and she knew short skirts and lots of make-up were in fashion, but she felt she had to at least outwardly make signs of disapproval, so she merely smiled inwardly to herself as she watched them go.

As they drove down to the Palace, James sat back and closed his mind to all the excited small talk from the four girls. He was happy with his own thoughts and content to let the girls relax and be themselves in the knowledge that he wasn’t keeping an eye on them or interfering. But he couldn’t help thinking to himself how different and exciting life was for young people nowadays, and how dull and innocent his own formative years seemed now in comparison.

As James drove, his mind wandered to his own thoughts about his wonderful young daughter, who he loved and adored, and the special relationship they had with each other, one which he cherished and never wanted to lose. He thought about how much she’d changed over the last twelve months, and how proud he was to see her becoming more independent in her thinking and actions as she started her journey towards her adult life. Teenage years were difficult to come to terms with, that he knew, and he was happy for his daughter to enjoy some lifting of the parental restraints of childhood and enjoy the time ahead of her.

James had always been aware of how intelligent, sensitive, and thoughtful his young daughter was, but now she had grown in confidence. She had her own views and opinions, and she wasn’t afraid of expressing them, forthrightly and constructively. She was even developing an interest in politics, and he enjoyed sitting in the house of an evening discussing the events of the day with her if her mother had retired to bed early. He couldn’t explain how, or why, there’d been such a change in her, but he welcomed, embraced and encouraged it, for he got so much pleasure from watching his only daughter blossom and grow into both her body and her mind.

Yes, his lovable daughter had become a bit rebellious, a bit of a tomboy, a daredevil even; but he knew that was only to be expected when children entered their teenage years. And he still remembered how he’d experienced those feelings himself, not all that many years ago, it seemed to him. But at heart she was still the same old Melanie when it came to her dad, and he loved the fact that they were so close.

He also knew that her mother was struggling to come to terms with the new Melanie. He was only too well aware how their relationship was changing; she was striving for freedom whilst her mother remained somewhat protective, which Melanie just saw as a constraint on her wilder instincts. James knew this to be difficult for each of them, as they were both strong-willed individuals, and he had to play the role of diplomat from time to time to ensure a happy household was maintained. A wry smile crossed his face as he thought what a good job it was that Julia didn’t know the half of what her daughter got up to when she was let loose with her friends… or did she?

In his heart, James somehow knew that wherever life took her, Melanie would always need him, and he was determined that he would always be there for her, her rock, the one she knew she could always rely on if the going got tough.

On reaching the Palace, James emerged from his reverie, eased to a halt on the promenade and kept the engine running while the four girls disembarked.

“Have a good time, you lot. And are you sure you’ll be all right getting home afterwards? Because I’d be happy to give you a lift. And don’t forget to be home by eleven, Melanie. We wouldn’t want to go upsetting your mother again, would we?”

Having received the necessary reassurances, he sat back with a smile on his face. Being a relatively young man still himself, and fairly open-minded, he knew that you had to give your children some slack at times, afford them a degree of trust and freedom and just hope that trust was justified. He watched Melanie and the girls tottering their way up the slipway, and Melanie especially, in that ridiculously short mini-skirt she was wearing, and felt a sense of pride in his girl. She was beautiful, headstrong, and everything he could have wished for in a daughter. The last thing in his mind as he slipped the car into gear and eased his way into the evening traffic was ‘She’ll be fine. I know she will. Hopefully.’

It wasn’t long until he relaxed comfortably back into his seat again, confidence restored, and a smile back on his proud face as he whistled quietly to himself on his journey back home. Yes, he did know his girl, and he also knew she would indeed be fine.

Chapter 3

Mitch and Tony’s Palace Evening

As it happened, as James made his way homeward along the prom he passed young Mitch and Tony, heading in the opposite direction towards the Palace, where their night on the town was about to begin in earnest.

They were decent lads at heart, both well-mannered and well brought up, as indeed were the rest of their bunch. But, as with most young lads of their age, when they were alone together, be it in a group of boys, socialising with other men in bars, or wherever for that matter, they tended to be uncouth, coarse, often foul-mouthed, and always disrespectful to their mates, ribbing each other unmercifully. For that was simply the way it was, what it took to be seen as one of the boys; to be accepted and respected in the circles in which they moved, where they felt at home, where they wanted to be. But when they were on their own, or alone in the company of girlfriends, freed from the pressures and the need to conform to the stereotypical male image, they could be so different: charming, attentive, receptive to those around them and totally accepting the need to show some respect and, occasionally, even love and affection.

And so it was that during the course of their journey, for no other reason than to pass the time of day, they slipped easily into their normal, joking and mickey-taking mode, fondly hurling abuse, oaths and insults to and fro en route to the Palace, all in good fun.

“How’d you get on with that Jennifer bird the other night, To? Did you get anywhere then?” was Mitch’s opening gambit in the verbal jousting.

With his usual air of resignation Tony responded “Nah! Tight as a duck’s arse she was, wasn’t she? Easier to break into Fort Knox than her knickers mate, I’ll tell you.”

Mitch raised his eyebrows at this as he looked scathingly at his pal. “She’s a lucky girl then matey” he said, leaving the statement hanging teasingly in the air for Tony to stew on, which he duly did.

“Lucky? What the hell are you on about, dipshit?” “Well, you’d have been a big disappointment to her wouldn’t you mate?” Mitch replied before lapsing into silence once more.

Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-21 show above.)