Another new start?
Morrie was a practical man and we got on well as we worked together on cleaning up and decorating the rooms of the house. What I lacked in experience I made up for in enthusiasm, and when school was finally over I started working 7 mornings a week. In the afternoons, Morrie liked to concentrate on what he called his “hobby” of horse racing. What this actually entailed was going to the betting shop and talking with the other men there, placing bets and, typically, losing all his spare cash by the end of the day. Having the afternoons to myself, I took to swinging over to the beach and helped out with Uncle Jake. He didn’t need any actual help, but he seemed happy enough for me to drop my and serve customers while he sat outside with a cup of tea and a cigarette.
Dad was not a smoker, and I’d not been one of the boys to be fond smoking behind the bike sheds at school, bit something about the way they seemed to relax Jake attracted me. Soon I was cadging a smoke or two from Jake before he told me to stop being so stingy and go buy my own. When I admitted, I didn’t have any money, just a few bob I got from Mother every week he looked more kindly at me, and let me have a whole packet.
The next time I went there, he greeted me excitedly. “Have you seen the sign up in the Harbour Inn?” I told him I hadn’t, so he said that they were looking for a potman. “You know what that is, don’t you?” he asked.
“It’s someone who goes round collecting the glasses,” I said.
“Yea,” Jake replied ‘but not just that, he does the cleaning up and changes the barrels, all the hard work so the barmaids can go on looking sweet and serving the punters.” He went on “If you’re interested, go and ask for Graham, and tell him you’re a friend of mine. Just one thing,” he lowered his voice “you have to be over 18 to work there, so be sure you remember that, if you get my drift.”
I did indeed and went straight over to the Harbour Inn and talked to Graham. When he asked my age, I said I had just turned 18 earlier that year. “Were you that kid in the paper that had run away from home?” he asked me. I thought it likely he already knew the answer, so I admitted it was me. “If I remember correctly, they said you were 15 then, so how come you aged 3 years in the meantime?”
Without pausing for breath, I said, “Yea I saw they got that wrong in the paper, you can’t trust these journalists can you?” He looked skeptically at me but then seemed to make up his mind. “Well if Jake Smith vouches for you I guess I’ll give you a try. Can you start Saturday?”
So I added a paid job to my list of activities, and the summer rolled by in a pleasant haze of hard work, with the highlights being my time with Ruby.
Ruby was taking a course at the local college which kept her busy with school work, but she was also looking for a part time job too When one of Graham’s barmaids handed in her notice I suggested Ruby give it a shot. She got the job, and so we were able to spend time together as we worked. When the pub shut for the evening, I would usually walk her to the bus station to get her back to Lynn, but sometimes Ma Smith would allow her to stay over at Morie’s house, where we would sneak into my bedroom and spend a night wrapped in each others arms.
Whenever we could get away, Ruby and I would head for the beach or the open countryside. I showed her the beach huts where I had found shelter from the rain, and we found sand dunes where we could shed our clothes and enjoy the sun on our bodies. We found beautiful woodland trails where we would walk hand in hand and talk about our future.
They say that first love is special. As we explored each other’s bodies and minds on those warm summer days and nights, I felt as though there was nothing better, and no greater way to live.