|Slow on the Uptake
At Sydney Place we Graphics bods also met people from other departments as there were painting classes there too. One girl in particular stands out in my mind. Her name was Heather Bedford and we got to know each other quite well over our years at BAA. She lived in digs somewhere down in the direction of the railway line at Corsham and I often ran into her on my way home in the evenings. She was a bit afraid of the dark and welcomed the company. We had long chats on the way and had several mutual friends. Heather was extremely nice but there was never any romantic involvement. On the other hand, looking back on it, I do believe that she had some sort of crush on me. But I was usually Ďotherwise engagedí and never realized what she was up to. Somehow never got the message. Always been a bit slow on the uptake. Sorry Heather, if you ever get to read this!
Then there was Patsy, an American girl in Pre-Dip painting, whom I met at Sydney Place. I was hanging around in one of the painting studios one day looking at what people were doing and not understanding much. Patsy was from New Hampshire and I was from 'Old Hampshire' so that was how we got chatting. I happened to remark that I quite liked Patsyís painting. It was a sort of expressionist rendering that reminded me of foliage, probably really not very good but the colours seemed o.k. Patsy was 'mega-chuffed' and for a long time afterwards she seemed to have the hots on for me as a sort of mark of her appreciation for my polite remarks. I repelled all advances in a noncommittal sort of way. Poor old Patsy just never realized that I didnít fancy her. She never made it through Pre-Dip.
A Night (or two) to Remember
Occasionally I held parties up at Neston. It was always an open-house affair and bring-your-own-booze, though I always bought a few crates of beer to be on the safe side. My parents usually went down to Milford at weekends, so I was trusted to look after the cottage and no questions asked afterwards. They realized that living at home cramped my style a bit, having been at boarding school since I was eight, so there were no problems from that direction.
The most noteworthy of these parties was in the summer of í66 when I was still in Pre-Dip. It was a two-day affair! The Saturday was o.k., a good time was had by all and by me too because I got it going with a girl whom I shall call Daisy, though that wasn't her real name. She had taken a lift up to Neston along with some other people. She was in Pre-Dip painting (I had bumped into her before at Sydney Place and spoken to her several times). A big buxom blonde from Stoke-on-Trent with everything sticking out in all the right places! She lived at 44 High Street and shared a room with Carol Kirschner, a pretty little American girl with long blonde hair who was in Graphics with me. I got teased a bit when the news got out, through Carol, that I had got it going with Daisy. I didnít meet her again until several days after the party. I had hesitated because I wasnít quite sure if it was a good idea, but various people that knew Daisy encouraged me to keep up the good work and invite her out again! Daisy was a bit too good to be true and I donít think we ever had anything much in common. But a roll in the hay with her was an experience not easily forgotten and of course ample peace and quiet for that sort of thing at weekends up at Neston! She once came with me to watch the rowing at Henley Regatta where I also met up with some old friends from school. (I used to row at school and enjoyed the company of the rowing fraternity.) I noticed that envious eyes were busy checking her out! And at the Oak of a disco night I sometimes heard remarks like, ďThaaís a nuys bit íeís gaat!Ē Very nice while it lasted, but Daisy got chucked out at the end of the Pre-Dip year. And I havenít heard from her since.
Anyway, more about the famous party. Ken arrived on his own (he was later Maria Simonds-Goodingís bloke, although this was long before they met each other). Stoned as usual and after a wee while he was fighting drunk as well. Ken got rather unpleasant with the booze and I didnít like him much. He was once very rude to Lord Methuen (a dear old boy) for no apparent reason and in front of witnesses. The old man tried to humour Ken but was obviously taken aback. I got some people to help me manhandle Ken outside when he threatened to overturn the stove in the kitchen. We opened the manhole cover over the well outside the back door and held him by the heels with his head under water until he went limp. No more trouble from Ken that night! Afterwards, when everyone had gone home except me and Daisy and a couple who owned a car, I went down to 44 High Street to continue exploring Daisy. One had to sneak past the Craig-Martins in those days when there were wardens in the hostels and had to make arrangements to ensure that room-mates were bedded down elsewhere for the night. Carol had no objection!
The following evening things started up again! Quite a lot of the same crowd and some others that hadnít been there the night before. No Daisy, she couldnít make it or maybe she had a hangover! It went well to begin with, people were very well-behaved and all that, but the weather took a turn for the worse. It rained. And it rained. And before long the floor was a sea of mud because people were going in and out all the time. The weather also started to have a dampening effect on the party and most people went home early except for a few hangers-on who were exchanging stories over the remains of the beer. NoŽlle Stewart was one of them. I didnít know her very well but no-one could avoid noticing her. She was a very loud girl in Graphics from the year before who always made her entry like a battleship under full sail and had a tendency to manipulate the drift of the conversation by her mere presence. Anyway, when everyone else had gone home, NoŽlle very kindly offered to help me clean up the mess. I was really rather amazed but somehow didnít quite like to accept the offer. (Might have got stuck with her and I didnít dare do that!) Told her to consider herself kissed, but thanks all the same. NoŽlle rose considerably in my esteem because of the incident and we were always on good speaking terms after that. She was really very nice despite her slightly overpowering manner. As for Mumís polished floor it took several days to get it right again and I got some funny looks when my parents got back from Milford!