New friends

When we first moved to Greenock, Annabel went right away to the High School and within a week had loads of pals and, before long, her first boy-friend. She was a live-wire and liked to be out and about. They were all nice girls and I can picture a good number of them now and even remember some of their names. On the contrary, I hadn’t much opportunity to meet people. I had a weekly visit to the pictures with Marjory who was the older sister of one of Annabel’s friends. There were about six cinemas then, so plenty of films to choose from. Marion Kerr and I travelled together to our respective banks in Kilmacolm and became good friends. Her Dad had died and she lived with her Mum and younger brother Hugh, first in Fox Street and later in Campbell Street. The Fox Street house may have been a bank house as Mr Kerr had been a Royal Bank Manager. I really liked Mrs Kerr and Hugh, and enjoyed going to their house – she and Hugh were so welcoming. Marion and I still keep in touch. She married later than us and is a widow now and lives in Arran.

I did have a couple of dates in my late teens with a Bank Clerk called John. He was a nice lad with a good sense of humour and liked football. Our first outing was to a cup tie between Aberdeen and Rangers. Before or since I’ve never really had much interest in football: when John, my husband has it on TV, I usually take my hearing aid out and read or do something on the iPad. However I did enjoy that game, but more for the crowd than the football. I wish I could remember all the things people shouted, mainly at the Referee, such as Dig a hole for him! or He would kill his Granny! And some using language I wouldn’t want to repeat. It was exciting to be part of such a huge crowd. On the way home, Ibrox Station was totally crowded with mainly men and we were more or less shoved on to the train. I don’t remember any drunks or bad behaviour, it was all friendly. Our second outing was to a party at his Church which was so memorable that I can’t remember a thing about it! I didn’t feel any growing affection and made up my mind that if he suggested another outing to say I would rather not. He didn’t, so I was saved the embarrassment of declining! We were still friendly though.


Sheina and friend

Sheina (front) and friend

Then I met Sheina and Lily McKelvie one Saturday evening and was introduced to the Roxburgh Street Methodist Youth Club. There were probably around forty members when all were present. It was friendly, happy and in no time I was part of it all. I think most would be seventeen upwards so I was probably the oldest. There were people in charge in a relaxed way and there was always harmony. The Minister, who was then a bachelor, often dropped in and even joined in the kissing games which happened now and then! So I now had not only Marjorie and Marion but also Sheina and Lily, plus a lot of casual friends. The two girls lived with their younger brother, Colin, having lost both parents, so Sheina was head of the household. Their older brother was in the Merchant Navy and seldom home. He settled in New Zealand. Sheina was a Bank Clerk and, whether helped by her brother and /or the Bank who employed her I don’t know, she found a Bank position in New Zealand and emigrated along with Colin. Lily followed not long afterwards and worked in child care. We lost touch then.

Colin, his wife and daughter; Sheina; Lily carrying Sheina's daughter

Colin with his wife and daughter; Sheina; Lily carrying Sheina’s daughter

In 1972 we lived in Newcastle. It was the time of the three-day week and we had only candlelight and torches when electrical supplies were curtailed. One day in May, I answered the phone to a voice which I thought I knew but couldn’t place! She said Hello Chris, it’s Lily. I said Are you speaking from New Zealand? She said, No, I’m in Newcastle! After all the years it was great to meet again. She was here courtesy of the New Zealand Government to learn more about autism having become a ‘high up’ official in child care. We had a large manse, so no problem about spare bedrooms, and she spent most of her free time with us. She was one of us for about three months. We were able to show her the lovely places all round us as well as doing a lot of reminiscing. The candle light provoked some merriment but torches were best for getting up half asleep during the night.

It was such a pleasure for us to have Lily with us, and we missed her a great deal when she finished her work here and said goodbye again. We kept in touch until 78/79 when we had fewer letters. We lived in Consett in County Durham and in November 1979 I answered the doorbell one afternoon to a young woman who had the biggest rucksack on her back that I had ever seen. It was about a foot above the top of her head, and I found out how heavy it was when I helped her to get it off! She introduced herself as Lorraine Sutherland from New Zealand and said Lily had told her she’d be sure to find a warm welcome and hospitality at Chris and John’s place! As it happened I was alone – John was away at some meeting or other until the next day and our daughters were away working or studying, so there was plenty of space for a visitor. She was a lovely girl and stayed for two nights. I never discovered her itinerary but it was obviously extensive. She was able to tell us that Lily had been very ill and was to have a major operation. I wrote to Lily several more times but we had no replies. None of her family got in touch with us, so it has always been a rather sad memory in that respect – but overlaid with the hilarious times we spent with her in 1972.


5 thoughts on “New friends

  1. Funny how those reconnections happen; now with social media and mobiles it seems easier than before. I recall a knock at the front door in the early 1970s and I answered. ‘Hi. Are your mum or dad in? Tell them Bert’s here.’ This chap was my dad’s best pal while in the forces from 1944 to1948 when they were demobbed. They did their first parachute drop together, equally terrified as 18 year olds in October 1944. I too remember the gales of laughter and embarrassed silences when one or other realised the story they were reminiscing about wasn’t appropriate for my 13 or 14 year old ears.
    I also recall the candles – my brother revised for his O levels at the time. I can remember dad being furious when the cut came about five minutes before a game of rugby he was watching ended. Looking back I suspect he did well not to swear. He never had much fondness for Arthur Scargill after that. Lovely memories again. Say thanks to your mum.

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  2. Dear Chris,You & I get more alike as I read your blog,I dont like football either,but our daughter Anne, was as keen as her dad,they never missed a match in Darlington,before Fred went in the Ministry…Not like Arnold Wright John?
    After I was married about 1970 a man & his wife were stood on my step..They had come to visit me,from Dorset..It turned out he was a milkman owning his own business,so he decided to come north for a holiday,as he was stationed in Barnard Castle,being a Garrison town..They had been to my mums in Barnard Castle looking for me,as mum used to ask a lot of service men home for a cup of tea after church.he was one of them.I asked them in made them a drink,& they were still there when Fred came home..from work.SO…. I asked them to stay for dinner if they had the time.They jumped at the invitation.we had our dinner & then they left to go further on their journey,As they were leaving the wife said,”Roy has your picture up on our mantle piece,its been there ever since we married,has pride of place” After they went you can imagine what Fred said..He said Roy must have been a boy friend of mine,which was far from the truth,as I first got to know Roy in the hospital where I worked..He came in because ..wait for it ..he had shot himself in the foot!! Knowing I went to church he then came to church after he was discharged,thats how he got to know my mam.I have no idea where he got my picture from..After this visit.Fred used to refer to him .as “The fastest milkman in the west”…He was a nice lad,but not my type really,to be a boyfriend..I still felt glad he had looked us up,even though Fred thought he had been a boyfriend..Love to you BOTH..Marion xx


  3. Hello Marion. Enjoyed your romantic wee story. Wonder if the shot on the foot was an accident or the proverbial way of getting back to Blighty!! Thanks for all your Emails. Love, Chris.


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