Thursday 27th April

Phil was quite worried about the girls sometimes, but then the times were changing so fast.  In his day he never really went out in the evenings at all; well not while he was still at school.  There had been a couple of church run youth clubs, but he had no close friends to go with.  He used to sit in his room reading detective stories mostly, he loved Agatha Christie and then got into Simenon, and all those Maigret stories.  He wouldn’t have dreamed of going into a pub, especially on his own.  He supposed he must have been a bit of a swat, but actually he was just a bit scared, lacking in enough self-confidence to get into any sort of trouble.  Not that that was any sort of a problem for the girls, especially Harriet, she was so sure of herself everyone just assumed she must be older than her years.

Phil knew that a few people were amazed when he said that she was only sixteen.  The thing about Harriet was that she was everything Phil had never been, good looking, clever, confidant and great company, and Phil just let her live her life; live her youth for him in a way too.  He was determined not to be the repressive father his had been to him, and maybe in this rebelling against the way he was brought up he gave her a bit too much freedom.  But with Harriet he knew if he had tried to be stricter she would have just laughed in his face.  She knew she could win any argument with him with a smile anyway.  So all in all he probably did indulge her a bit too much.  So much about his own life was unsatisfactory, he was drowning in debt, and doing ever more stupid deals to try and rescue the situation that he sometimes felt that Harriet, and Jane too of course, were the only rays of sunshine on a cloudy day.

*  * *

But through it all, like a vein of metal ore through stone was the Music, the Music called and the girls followed; parties was where they heard new Music, new Albums that they hadn’t heard of, ‘B’ sides of the hits they heard on the radio and people who had never been on the radio, and never would be.   Harriet was so precocious that she was simply accepted by people, even in their early twenties – when it was almost universal for teenagers to be ignored by grown-ups.

Harriet’s sparkling personality got them accepted everywhere and they really grew up and appeared far older than their years.  They hung out with a really with-it crowd, well what passed for with-it in Suffolk; they all had money, or came from families with money, but in a rebellious way were really open and accepting of everyone.  After all the Music had come from the disadvantaged and working classes not the idle rich.  So while happy to spend their parent’s money like water, and always expecting it to be there for them, they were perfectly happy to talk about Socialism, and the coming revolution.

*  * *

Harriet thought there was a lot of nonsense talked about politics and social change, all that Harold Wilson stuff, but she supposed there had to be a sop to the poor people, to keep them happy.  But their lives were far better than their parents could ever have hoped for, they had television and package holidays to Spain were becoming affordable for factory workers now, so all in all they couldn’t really complain.  Unlike Jane, she just knew that money would always win out, and talk about Socialism and rebellion all you like but those with money and power will never give it up without a fight.  Harriet said that ‘you only had to look at these flabby middle aged Labour politicians to know they would never have the guts to really change anything.  No, money was where it was at, it always had been and it always would be.’

*  * *

At last after nearly a year Ted and June snatched a moment together.  She had been going frantic, and at last cornered him.   She drove up Spikes lane, almost up to Turner’s farm and parked the Morris by the side of the road and went looking for him.  God knows what story she would have come up with if she had met anyone else.  She crept cautiously into the farmyard and started looking in the barns and cowsheds, and then she saw him, pitchfork in hand, shoveling stinky straw into a wheelbarrow.  In the half-light and the air all full of motes of straw and flies she watched him, bent over and shoving the fork hard into the compacted straw, heaving it up, his muscles swelling with the weight, and then with a slight shake of his wrists sliding it off the tines of the fork and into the wheelbarrow.  She waited until the barrow was full and as he grabbed the handles to take it outside she quietly walked over and tapped him on the shoulder.  He spun round looking quite scared, then dropped the handles of the barrow which made a heavy clunking noise as it toppled over spilling straw and shit over the barn floor.

‘My God Julie, what are you doing here?  You scared me half to death, creeping up on me like that.’   He said, grabbing her by the shoulders, and giving her a little shake.  Oh, to feel his hands on her again was wonderful.

‘I just had to see you Ted, don’t be angry with me, please.  I just wanted to see you, it’s been so long since you last saw me, I thought you didn’t want to see me again.’ Her eyes, filling with tears, tears of happiness maybe but they were desperately seeking an answer, trying to find out if he still wanted her, if he still needed her.

He slowly relaxed his grip, ‘No love, it was never that, it’s been difficult that’s all, what with Julie all moody like.’ He shook his head, pulled out a large white hanky and said, ‘Now, dry those tears there’s a love and don’t be make a scene out of it.’  And he still had his large hands on her shoulders,  but rubbing them now, stroking them, petting her and she was sobbing, sobbing tears of relief, both at seeing him and being held and oh, just for the bloody stupidity of it all,

‘Oh Ted, if you only knew how I’ve been going out of my mind, I thought you didn’t care anymore.’  She blurted out, smothering her tear-welling eyes in his big hanky.

‘Now now June, you knows’ I care, don’t you.  I was thinking myself it’s been a long time and we should see each other again soon.’

And he calmed her down and she collected herself and they sat on a bale of straw and kissed a couple of times and talked.  He said he would make sure he saw her again soon, next month, before the school holidays began, and that was a promise.   She realized she had made a bit of a fool of herself, and returned a bit shamefaced to her car and drove quietly back with the promise of Ted’s next visit to console myself.  But somewhere in the back of her mind was the niggling doubt that if she hadn’t confronted him things would have just carried on with no resolution.