Monday 24th October
It didn’t take long for June to hook him, though maybe in his understated way he hooked her too. He was so shy that she had to take the lead; if she’d waited for him they’d have still been politely chatting months later. As his train for home pulled in and he looked plaintively and apologetically at her, she suddenly grabbed his head, pulled him down and gave him such a long and lingering kiss that he only just jumped aboard before the guards whistle. He was hanging out of the window and waving his big white hanky frantically until his carriage curved out of sight.
June walked down the platform with her heart thumping, it had worked, and he was actually a good kisser too, better than she had expected. It was going to be okay, with Phil it was going to be alright, because she was more than a bit scared that it wouldn’t be as good as she remembered it being that first time. She’d had a few ‘fellas’ since then, well, boyfriends, but she never went the whole way with any of them. She never felt it deep down, that feeling that she just had to. They were just ‘fellas’, and none of them lasted long – besides in her job behind the counter she was always getting asked out, and not only by the customers either. But none of them had meant anything, she’d never felt like that again until she met Phil, so she knew from that first kiss at Ipswich station that she wanted him, she only had to wait till he was back in Cambridge and it would happen, sure as eggs were eggs.
* * *
He’d only been back at College a week when June wrote saying she wanted to come up for a weekend to see him. ‘A weekend? Christ, what did that mean?’ he thought, ‘She hadn’t said for a Sunday, but a weekend, that meant at least two days – and crucially, a night in between. Where was she going to stay? I mean she couldn’t stay with him in his digs; his landlady wouldn’t stand for it.’ “You can have female visitors but not after nine in the evening. You do understand Mr. Wilkinson, I have certain standards to keep up and tongues will wag, you know.” And tapping a finger on her nose repeated with a knowing look, “Tongues will wag.”
He had actually had Joyce round loads of times, but that was different; he hadn’t wanted Joyce to stay the night, and was quite relieved when she would glance at the clock at a quarter to nine, put her coat on and without a word expect to be walked round to her college. Sometimes she would stand outside the gate and blink up at him through those big horn-rimmed glasses, and Phil knew that this was his cue to give her a hug and a peck on the cheeks. But sometimes she just cheerily said ‘Bye then, see you tomorrow I suppose.’ And with a resigned shrug she would turn on her heel and slip through the gate. And Phil would nod his silent yes back to her, inwardly thankful to have avoided the embarrassing hug. I mean it was never going to lead to anything so why torture himself by getting even the tiniest bit aroused, even if through duffle coats and scarves that might have been remotely possible.
But now June was talking about coming up for a weekend. In her next letter she asked him to find her a hotel or boarding-house as near to his digs as possible and to let her know how much it would cost. He found a small family run place and pretended that June was his sister coming over from Norwich to visit him, so he told her she would have to be June Wilkinson for the weekend. As he met her from the train, and helped with her case he repeated that she had to remember to be his sister, she was to call herself June Wilkinson for the whole weekend. “Oh, I do like the sound of that. June Wilkinson” she said, “I could get used to that.”
Well he needn’t have worried about the nine o’clock rule, or the subterfuge of her being his sister at all. She got off the train at twelve and after dropping off her case she insisted on seeing his college and his digs. By two he was making tea for them on his one ring Belling electric hob, and by three they were under the sheets in his bed.