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Thursday 20 October 2011

Longings and Chips

I remember
Those heady Friday nights.  After Girl Guides,
When my friend, Shell, who led the Oak Patrol,
And I, her seconder,
Had helped The Little Ones
Work on their badges,
We had one joyful hour, all to ourselves,
Before our strict curfew.

I recall the chill, salt spume upon our cheeks,
While wind-whipped, white-crested breakers
Rolled heavily ashore, and angrily
Out-roared the winter gales.

Six penn’orth each of chips,
Wrapped in a greaseproof screw,
Were heaven in a bite:
The brief resistance of the deep-fried coat,
Then soft and hot potato,
Salt-sharp and tart with vinegar,
Melting along the tongue,
Repelled the raw and penetrating damp.

Laughing, we’d dash between the waves
Which burst across the prom
Lashing our feet,
Though sea stains on our navy gabardines
Would mean all hell to pay
When we got home.

To fan this risk,
The stars which lit our path,
Would cock a snook and disappear
Behind swift-racing clouds,
Leaving us darkly guessing at the tide.

On those rough nights,
We longed to see
Our second favourite heart throb.
(Elvis was first but sadly, he
Was local only in our secret dreams.)
We yearned for Fred – or sometimes Rich – imagined
How we’d meet and talk, hold hands perhaps,
Or even, kiss.

They never came.
What self-respecting boy
Would venture out in bitter wind and storm
To date two giggly school-girls,
Clad in wet macs, knee-socks and laced up brogues?

No matter.  The next day
We’d struggle with the household chores
And errands, Virgil, quadratics,
The mysterious working of a dynamo
And other impositions, deemed to be
Good for our young souls.

But for that single hour, on Friday nights,
We were as free and wild and loud
As the sea that raged around us.
© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved

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