In June 1964 a group of us Belfast grammar school boys crossed the sea to Liverpool and took the long coach journey south to spend the school summer vacation working in the Bournemouth beach cafes.
Three of us shared a bedroom at Pat and Alvin's, a short bus ride from the town centre. Our "digs" cost just £1.10s a week each, out of a wage of £5 at the beach cafes. The cafe provided lunch and in the evening we dined at the Golden Griddle in the Square. We all smoked in those days and were able to buy clothes out of our pay packets:the fashions that summer were bell-bottom jeans, pink shirts and grey crewnecks. We grew our school regulation short-back-and sides down to our shoulders.
In the two months we stayed in Bournemouth it rained one afternoon, that was all. Of course we were incarcerated in the dark steamy wash-ups of the cafe during the blazing daytime hours. But the evenings were mellow and divine; we seemed to float in the softness, between the pier and the gardens. Bournemouth had a continental feeling about it. We sang Irish folk songs, sitting on the grass, as the light slowly failed. We would visit the bowling alley and eat chips before getting back to bed by about half-past-ten.
Later there was llght-hearted flirtation and romance with a group of local girls. Whatever became of little blonde Carol, I wonder? It was one of those summers of youth to last forever as a glow of enchantment in the memory. I was 16 then and will be 60 next year.
When we got home to Belfast our long hair and pink shirts caused heads to turn along Royal Avenue. We came back feeling like a pop group.
A memory shared byon Sep 21st, 2007.
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