Coral and Gordon

Like the Jones’s, Gordon’s family had moved out to the Berwick Hills Estate, adjacent to Brambles Farm. None of our parents ever bothered with parties or birthday celebrations, so we arranged them ourselves – 18th’s and 21st’s included.

Gordon’s ‘new’ house was the best venue. His dad was elderly and deaf and went to bed very early. His mam was happy to be given a couple of bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale and leave us in peace and she always left a good supper on the table for us.

A crate of Newcastle Brown and two or three bottles of sparkling were the provisions for the night. Everyone brought their favourite 45’s and LP’s. We always had rock ‘n roll to start the night and slow romantic tunes, with the lights down low, to finish off with.

At fifteen, Coral had just left school and started her first job. Now she was an ‘adult’ she was impatient to sample the offerings of the wider world. She saw me out dancing on Saturday nights, enjoying the freedom of a teenager with money in my pocket for the first time in my life. One evening, I came down the stairs to catch part of a conversation.

“You’re a bit young to be going out dancing and coming home late,” commented Mam.

“Our Ray will look after me and bring me home safely,” Coral pleaded.

I was heading out the door on my way to my night class at the college.

“I’m happy to let her come. Thez four of us lads to keep an eye on her. What’s the harm?”

Dad entered the discussion: “I’m sure she’ll be alright,” he offered.

Eventually Mam relented: “You have to come home with our Ray, or that’ll be the finish,” was the stern warning.

The first night I took Coral to the St Phil’s Dance, Gordon Patterson picked her as his dance partner and they soon were the star bop duo on the dance floor. As far as Gordon was concerned, it was a great arrangement. Coral met us outside the dance and I paid for her to get in!

Inevitably they started to get serious about each other. Walking home from the Territorial Army Depot on a Thursday night, I gave Gordon a bit of advice:

“I’m keeping my eye on you, so you’d better look after our Coral. You know she’s only fifteen.”

Gordon reassured me that he had honourable intentions and it so happened that was the start of a life-long loving relationship.

Next: A revisit

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