Sunday, 21 February 2010

Saturday Nights

Every Saturday I came home from work, ate the warmed up meal that my family had eaten for lunch, and got ready for my Saturday night out. I went out every Saturday whether I had a boyfriend or not. Well, how was I going to get another one if I didn't go out? There was one time my father told me "You I can't go out wearing that." I couldn't see the problem so I'm glad I had a father who cared enough to put his foot down.

Someone in my town of Aylesbury was very enterprising and booked up-and-coming bands to play every other Saturday night at the Assembly Rooms and this event was called Friars. He would book the band before they were famous, so they were cheap, and by the time they played, they'd sometimes have their first record out and be on TV. It was very popular and I attended each fortnight. Whilst I was still too young to go, my brother went to see David Bowie. My mother was disgusted that my brother would want to go see a man who wore makeup. I remember seeing Wizard (a few times) and Mot the Hoople, but I can't remember the names of others although I think I saw the group that Brian Ferry was in (or was that Mot the Hoople?)

It was the sort of small town venue where, each time you went you saw many of the people you knew, so the times when I was boy-friendless, I would just go on my own. When I got to know some of the lads from the boys' school at our after-school ballroom dancing lessons, I would do some ballroom dancing with them at Friars for a laugh. I went out with a guy who created the posters for a while. They were hippy-like and very curly black and white line drawings and just the right style for the time. I don't know whether he got paid (he was still at school) but he got free tickets.

The entrance fee was 50 pence and bus fare about 20p, so I didn't have much money to buy drinks. I would buy a drink called Bitter Lemon and that would last me all night, but I would ask people if I could taste their drinks, so I got quite merry. I would always have to leave before the end, because my last bus went at about 11:30 pm.

On the Saturdays when Friars wasn't on, the only places to go were the pubs or an occasional disco at the Methodist youth club. I have a feeling the actual youth club night was not a Saturday. I went there a few times.

One of the misfits I went around with at school sometimes, was called Heather. She was the ugliest girl I've ever seen, but she wasn't one of those people who were ugly on the outside but beautiful inside. No, she wasn't particularly nice there either. I was a little reticent to walk outside of school with her but I consoled myself with the thought that by contrast to her I must look lovely.

She went to the youth club and met up with Graham who went to the boy's school. He was the ugliest boy I'd ever seen and they started going out with each other. They were so happy together and I was glad she had found someone, if a little incredulous. They soon got engaged and I wonder what their children look like.

I enjoyed the discos. They were much more fun than going to a night-club because we knew many of the people there.

There were two pubs that I frequented in Aylesbury. One was the Bell. Like all the pubs around the market square, it was old with a black-and-white exterior and low beams inside. I enjoyed going to that place with a group of people but it wasn't a place I felt comfortable going to on my own because as well as us school kids there were older people. However, I felt very at home at the Dark Lantern. It wasn't as plush as the Bell as it had wooden benches and stone flagged floors, but the atmosphere was friendly. The barmaid was the mother of the boy who created the posters for Friars and so I was careful to stick to buying just bitter lemon drinks. Looking back I am amazed I liked the place because it was a centre for drug dealing and many of the people there were stoned. I was very exuberant at that time, and would dance (on my own, with no-one else dancing) to the music. I didn't feel shy. It was amazing that all the times I frequented that place, no-one ever approached me to sell me drugs. I was a little miffed that I couldn't put into practice saying 'No'.

I sometimes went to the Dark Lantern during lunchtimes. When someone in my group at school said they were going up to the library we would say. "Are you going to the library or the 'library'?" The 'library', of course, was the Dark Lantern.

Those were the happy Saturday nights, but there were a few unhappy ones as I recall. The ones when I didn't have a boyfriend but all the girls I knew did. The ones where I walked the streets, not the pavements, but the middle of the road, feeling self pity and fed up with being alone. Each Sunday morning my mother always asked how I had enjoyed myself and I snapped at her because of course I hadn't enjoyed myself at all and felt bad because I didn't want to admit t to her.

Going to sleep on Saturday night was usually painful. I mean physically painful, whether or not I'd had a good time. This was because on closing my eyes the residue from the cigarette smoke that was stuck to my eyeballs stung my eyelids. However sometimes I didn't notice because as soon as I sat on my bed I fell asleep and woke up a few hours later still in my clothes with dirty teeth. Today in Britain the pubs are all smoke free by law but I never go into them now.