…Speech Day. Remembered
“Sandra K. Gorst” from Beechwood
When I was about ten my Dad used to take our Steve and me swimming on Sunday afternoons to a private school situated in spacious grounds with its main entrance just opposite our front gate—“Beechwood School and Kindergarten”—to its small indoor heated swimming pool. It was far more convenient than, say, Derby Baths in Blackpool, and the water was a lot warmer.
…Not really upset about loss of
Audrey tonight. I fancy Sandra Gorst.
I was quite impressed by her appearance and carriage; and this served from time to time (as for example on Wednesday 15 November 1967) to take my mind off its mourning the loss of Audrey Wood.
…On Sandra’s table. Hilarious time
On Sandra’s table again.…
On Wednesday 22 November it is recorded that I sat at Sandra’s table during school dinner, when I had a hilarious time messing about in company with one Michael Long. It seems that to begin with I was not on Sandra’s table every day, because on Monday 27 November I record that I was “on Sandra’s table again”, i.e. ?a second time. It was quite a coincidence that I should notice her for the first time in years, then 12 days later appear on her table.
Sandra. Not bad!
I spoke with her on Friday 24 November; under what circumstances, or about what, is not recorded. What is recorded, is that I thought, “Mmm! Not bad!” about her.
off Sandra’s table.…
Dancing. With Sandra 3 dances.
She picked me in Ladies’ choice!
Peter with her once. He fancies
her. I saw her first.
On Tuesday 5th December I was “chucked off Sandra’s table.” Presumably, then, in the week commencing 27 November (mentioned above) I had been on her table every day. Why I was “chucked off” I can’t remember: perhaps it was because someone had been absent from school, who had the place I occupied on the table, and who had now returned; perhaps it was to separate Michael Long and me, who, as we have seen, had a hilarious time together, probably to the disapproval of all who sat around us.
Went school. Wish
could go with Sandra (to dance?).…
Went B’pool. Sandra
there. Green suit—lovely! She says (dad said) I’m a
The following Friday [8 Dec. 1967] I was wishing that I was going out with Sandra, and thinking forward to the dance, wondered if I should ask her to go with me to it. But I didn’t ask her.
Sandra/me in ladies’ choice. Great
stuff (she is!)…
School. Talked with Long
Went school party. Sandra there.
Danced and hung around with
her. Promising moment (together
—rub noses). BUT she seemed
to be brushing me off. At end
School. Bit “fed up” ’cos
of last night. Hardly spoke to
her. Feel a bit of a failure in
this—I’m not chatty, and
other things, as I’d like to be.…
School. Talked to S.G.…
In next Wednesday’s dance-session [13 Dec. 1967], I was again favoured by Sandra in the “ladies’ choice”.
School. Gayle (Mm!) Sandra
…Ashamed at table.
Girl made remark about something
I’d said. (Sandra laughed at this.)…
After the Christmas holidays, I was back on her table again for school dinners [Mon. 8 Jan. 1968]. I said something that provoked a remark from one of the girls at table. I don’t know what I said, or what her comment was (it might have been something like: “That’s a fine thing for a Christian to say!”). Anyway, Sandra laughed at the comment, while I blushed with shame for saying what I did.
Talked to Sandra & friend. (She talked
about some boy being jealous.)
Four days later [Fri. 12 Jan. 1968], it is recorded that I spoke with “Sandra and friend” (presumably her rather plain friend she went around with). Sandra said something about some boy being jealous. What? I wonder now: jealous of Sandra and me? I wonder if I COULD have gone out with her if I’d asked her.
School. Dinner time—
learnt that salt cellar doesn’t float in
custard. (Big laugh all round.)…
The following Tuesday [16 Jan. 1968], Michael Long and I conducted an experiment to investigate whether a salt cellar would float in custard. He mounted the salt cellar on the end of a fork, and banged the other end, while I held up a jug of custard. The salt cellar rose into the air and, plop!, sank instantly. Whether Sandra was amused at this display of bad table manners, I cannot recall.
B’pool—Got mac—hair cut
—SAW SANDRA—but didn’t speak.…
That Saturday [20 Jan. 1968], I saw Sandra again in town, but we didn’t speak.
Went Salford Univ.
for tour of Elect. Eng. Dept. and inter-
Learnt that Sandra
said while I’m away—“detest him—
fancies me, fancies himself.”…
The Monday following [i.e. Mon. 22 Jan. 1968], I didn’t go to school as usual, but went to Salford University to see round the Electrical Engineering Department, where I had applied to do an Electrical Engineering course. This gave Sandra the opportunity to air her views about me. I learned the following day [Tue. 23 Jan. 1968] from ?Michael Long that she had said, “I detest him: he fancies me, and he fancies himself!” This was a bit unfair of her: the former, of course, was true, but as the reader can judge from my hesitancy at, say, the Christmas party, I could hardly have been accused of feeling I was “God’s gift to women”—or that particular woman at any rate. Unless, of course, my bravado, and antics with Michael Long at the dinner table were misconstrued as my fancying myself.
The only possible contact between Sandra and me involving water would be during school dinner. Whether she accidentally spilled the water or deliberately drenched me in playful spite is not remembered.
…School—Sandra drenched me with H₂O.…
It is not clear whether she also saw me; I assume not.
went… [to] Cleveleys, where,
after seeing but not speaking to Sandra Gorst,
bought braces [U.S.: suspenders].…
Since 1965 I had been part of the Full Gospel Church, Fleetwood, where abstinence from consuming alcohol, frequenting pubs and clubs, going to the cinema and theatre, etc., was all, explicitly or implicitly, part of the religious mores. Shortly before my 21st birthday, though, I met Steve Willingham, who persuaded me to go for a drink at the Gardener’s Arms pub to celebrate it. After that, Steve and I started going out drinking regularly together. Jean Coplin also was part of the Full Gospel Church, and that is why I “was surprised to see” her at this Folk Evening.
Instead of going to [the] Prayer Meeting, I
decided to go to [the] folk evening at [the] DHSS
Social Centre. So I arrived, had R[um] and G[reen] G[inger wine]—[I] was
surprised to see Jean Coplin arr[ive]. Steve and Janet
arr[ived a] few min[ute]s later. Quite enjoyable even[ing].
[It was a] good group [that played, but a] lousy audience: Much too
cold and staid; [it] wouldn’t participate. Steve [Willingham] and I
participated—very much so: At “Nay,
boys, never!” we went bang, bang, bang,
bang! on [the] table ([and I] bruised [my] thumb to prove it!),
whereupon the ashtray inverted! and
my rum glass shattered on the floor.
“That’s what I like to see, a little
enthusiasm,” said the singer, busting
his “G-string” (so he said).…
Steve Willingham, 1972 and 2005
The Gardener’s Arms, 1992
Jean Coplin, 30 May 1969
It appears from my diary entry for Tuesday 12 Oct. 1971, that I saw Sandra Gorst there, though I didn’t speak to her:
Friday 15th Oct. 1971:
…Steve and I…
went to [the] DHSS Social Club.
Mrs. Gorst [was] there, with Sandra. Sandra
had been for a time at the Folk
Evening last Thursday, when she had
awakened in my heart all those old
feelings from her at school. Well,
tonight I just wished I could contact
her: like, for example, she was sitting
at a table with her mum and some
oldish fellows, and I was wishing I
could find some way of attracting her
to our table. At one time she and her mother
[were] standing at [the] bar, so Steve and I walked over
to get a drink. [We] said hello to Mrs. [Gorst],
and she was about to introduce us
to Sandra, when she patronisingly
(a bit) stated she already knew me.
Unfortunately, conversation didn’t
blossom (maybe she hates me,
or despises, she was so untalkative! I
could have asked her about her college,
or explained what a “dirty drop out” I
am!!!)—I wonder what would have
happened if I had bought her a
drink. It is so frustrating.…
Wed. 20 Oct. 1971:
Mrs. Gorst came up to me at work, saying
she hadn’t recognised me, up till last
Tuesday at [the] Social Club. I am feeling
pretty enamoured of Sandra. Steve went
over to R516 ([to] Mrs. Gorst) to drop
some hints. I felt pretty embarrassed.
I hadn’t told him to go or anything.
Even[ing]: [I went to] Steve’s house. I decided for us
to go to Social Club on the off-chance
Sandra might go there with her mother.
So we walked there.…
Mrs. Gorst did turn up,
but not her gorgeous daughter!…
If ever the Full Gospel Church, Fleetwood, needed justification for the custom of abstinence from alcohol, this was it!
…Steve… came round and we went to the Social
Club.… Sandra and [her] mother arrived later, and
the way [the men] ogled and buzzed round
Sandra was very nauseating (or did it
just arouse jealousy, in that they were
in a position to buzz around, whereas I—?)
Anyway, being dizzy from beer and stuff, it
roused me on leaving to shout out
from [the] back of Steve’s bike before reaching
the DHSS gate, “Sandra is
a bitch, Sandra is a lousy
cow!” I regretted it later, of
course, and shuddered that they
might have heard. [I] also regretted
calling up Sandra’s number in
a phone box, then walking to
another to try again and see if
the number had been answered.
…Even[ing].: Steve called and we “tanked up”, for the
Norcross Players thing, at the Gardener’s [Arms].
A generous man—he was drunk, see—
bought us [a] half-pint each in addition to calling
me to Steve a socialist twat.
We arrived [at Thornton Lecture Hall] for the play “Waters of the Moon”
a few minutes late, and because of the beer
I had to excuse myself before the end of
the second scene. It was agony waiting even
that long: I thought I had damaged
A very well-performed play. The character
of Mrs. Lancaster, an interfering snob, was
so realistic that me and Steve were almost
ready to shout out with hate.
Of course Sandra won my heart; she looked
Afterwards we went to the Social Club,
where after a bit Sandra and [her] mum and [the] N[or]cross Players
came, and we had a few words w[ith]
I think that’s the last time I ever saw Sandra Gorst, though I have thought of her often over the intervening years. And in 2004 I heard from her once, but she didn’t continue the contact.
Thornton Lecture Hall, 1979
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