I enjoyed working at the Bargain Centre, I would get a few tips as well, which mum said I could keep—once I was given nine pence from one house! On this day I was late getting back to the shop and Mr Perring was waiting to lock up. I thought I would be told off, but instead he said I had worked very hard, and he gave me a pack of dates, they looked like a pack of jelly. These dates were really meant for cooking, the shop had a very large box delivered by mistake, so Mr Perring would just give them away to his regular customers, The ladies who worked for Mr Perring in the shop would eat them like sweets—so did I when no one was looking.
He said I could take the bike home as he had already locked the shop up. It’s been one of the hottest days of the year and still very warm, so I thought instead of going straight home I would use the delivery bike and ride up to Chertsey Bridge and have a swim to cool down. There were lots of people at the Bathing Pavilion, and because I had no cozzy I went in the river up near the pylon where no-one was about.
Afterwards as I was riding back along the towpath, and I saw Sheila, a girl from my class. I offered her a lift home in the bike’s basket, she just laughed at the very thought of it. So, I just walked along with her. We stopped and sat on the bank to watch a tugboat go by and were chatting quite nicely. Now, I’m not very good at talking to girls and I was soon wishing we would get up and go home, but then, without any warning she grabbed my arm and said.
“I bet I can beat you at arm wrestling, I always win with my brother”.
I have to say this gave me quite a start, and before I could say anything, she was bending my arm back and winning every time. It was really too hot for all this and after a while we just lay back in the long grass, when she got up and said.
” I’m so hot, I’m going in for another swim”.
Now what can I do, I had no swimming costume, so I just sat still.
“Come on then”, she said.
And started to undress in front of me, I tried to look the other way and although I turned my head away, my eyes stayed where they were. She stood up and luckily, she still had her swimming costume on under her dress, then she ran into the river.
I waited till she was out of sight and quickly jumped in holding my bits so as not to embarrass her if she looked up, she didn’t worry about me though, she shouted for me to come in. She was a good swimmer and could stay under the water for ages, I never knew where she would come up. Sometimes she nearly lifted me clear out of the water. Finally, we climbed out and lay down again in the long grass. She let me use her towel to wrap round me and to dry myself, but once again I didn’t know what to say.
Luckily, I remembered Mr. Perring giving me the dates.
“Would you like a date, Sheila” I said.”
She smiled in a sort of coy way, which I thought was a bit odd.
“That would nice Alan, I would really like that, when are you thinking of”
“Well… now”. I said— still a bit mystified by the funny way she was looking at me, they are only dates for cooking after all, but still quite nice to eat I suppose, and I started to unwrap the packet of dates, they are a bit sticky though.
Her mood, which a few moments ago was gay and abandoned, had now turned quite grumpy, and with what I can only say, was a withering look, she stood up and started to get dressed in a very animated way, she grabbed the towel from me and. shoved it violently into her bag and said.
“Alan Waglin, you are bloody unbelievable, no, I wouldn’t want any of your bloody dates”.
Then she stomped off without saying goodbye or anything. I just sat there, not believing how quickly her mood had changed, perhaps I’ve said something to irritate her.
I don’t know what went wrong that afternoon—I thought everybody liked dates.