I thought I’d give you another little taster from my memoir ‘Waiting in the Wings’, which focuses on my often fraught relationship with my mother Dot. The book will be published at the end of November. This time it’s about the awkwardness of those terrible teenage years when my face would blush scarlet within a 50 yard proximity of anybody belonging to the male sex. I was a good example of what is called a ‘late developer’, as this excerpt from Chapter 15 shows…
“Not courting yet?”
I hated that phrase as a teenager, and still do. Aunt June has started asking this question every time I see her. I am 14, gauche, painfully shy, moody, and have a Busby on my head. What boy in his right mind is going to fancy me? My cousin Lyn is engaged to be married at the age of 17, but I cannot seem to look any boy in the eyes, so the one other occasion that Dot finds a friend for me is even worse than the time before.
I am an only child and attend an all-girls school. I cannot talk to a boy without blushing to the roots of my substantial curly hair. While on holiday that year at one of those 1970 holiday camps made famous in TV’s ‘Hi-de-hi’, I sit sipping my lemonade in the ballroom while Dot and John play bingo. The camp seems to consist mainly of middle-aged couples, but Dot finds the only teenage boy in the place when coming back from a trip to the toilet.
“See…there is somebody your age here!” Dot crows triumphantly. “And you said there wasn’t!”
Malcolm is skinny, spotty, and wears a three piece suit probably originally made for his father. He sports a bow tie to finish off this terrible ensemble, and I cringe inwardly.
“Hello.” Malcolm is ultra-polite. “Can I sit here please?”
He indicates towards an empty seat next to me, and Dot interrupts before I have a chance to speak.
“Of course! Stevie is fourteen. How about you?”
“I’m fifteen.” Malcolm’s voice is still rather high as he addresses me. “Where do you live?”
I cringe with embarrassment. My face is as red as a pillar-box, and all I want is to be left alone to drink my lemonade. Dot gives me a nudge, and I dig my elbow hard in her ribs in reply.
“Greenwich.” I hate to say the name Kidbrooke in case people think I live on the estate.
Malcolm gets nothing more out of me all night, and eventually disappears back to his parents. However, he returns the next night and the night after that, causing me to miss the evenings’ events in an effort to get rid of him. I am furious with Dot, who berates me for being so anti-social.
“Do you remember that awful boy at that holiday camp who wouldn’t leave me alone?”
I am looking through some old photos with Dot, who has perked up again no end as we wallow in the past.
“You were such a loner. Dad and I always thought you’d end up an old maid.”
“Cheers.” I sigh. “I just needed to make my own friends instead of you producing them out of nowhere.”
To this day Dot cannot understand that I still have loner tendencies, and have never been bored with my own company. I was also a late developer and needed time to banish my terrible shyness at meeting members of the opposite sex, which Dot was desperate for me to do.
My mother needs people around her to talk at, and sinks into melancholia if left on her own too long. When Sam goes away on business I stay at home quite happily on my own, and only ring my sons if there is an emergency. As usual Dot and I are like the proverbial chalk and cheese.
Do you remember any ‘awkward’ moments from your teenage years? I have many!