The life of a Yorkshire widow: Reflections of my younger days

05 Jun 2024 | Written by Marina O'Shea

In her latest installment of ‘The life of a Yorkshire widow’, Jan Dunbar’s protagonist shares her memories of a sneaky night away in the 1970’s…

After my weekend away in London with Abigail, I admit to feeling relieved that I can now bring some normality back into my life. It’s more than a year since Jack died and if I’m honest, it has been difficult but it’s time to move on and ‘get a life’ as my niece keeps telling me.

With that in mind, I telephoned George, my friend at the bowls club. We had a long chat, the culmination of which was that we would – rather belatedly – organise our first social function as a way of bringing a few of us oldies together and raising funds for a local charity. In the end, we plumped for a 70s night on the first Saturday of next month – free entry if you know all the words to Disco Duck and half price if you come in your 70s garb. Well who wouldn’t want to see all that long, shiny hair, flared trousers, enormous sunglasses and psychedelia, and that’s only the men!

 The early 70s was my favourite era, not only because I had the legs for hot pants, but also because I was allowed out until 11pm! The music of that time was even better than the fashion – we had everything from Jimmy Hendrix and T. Rex to Benny Hill and Little Jimmy Osmond. I remember going up to Newcastle in 1972 with my then boyfriend – whose name and face I can’t now recall – to see T. Rex. I was madly in love with Marc Bolan at the time, which didn’t go down well with the boyfriend who promptly left – with my return train ticket in his pocket. My dad had to drive up and collect me as I was too scared to hitch hike on my own. Boy, did I get a telling off when we got home! I also remember trying my first (and last) cigarette at that concert. I nearly choked and was violently ill, which put me off smoking for life! It also put me off Marc Bolan and I fell in love instead with David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust!

There was plenty going on in the world at that time and it seemed London was always at the centre of it. All of life was there and I really wanted to be part of it. But a young lass from Yorkshire didn’t often have the opportunity, except when she sneaked out and told her parents she was staying with a friend from college but in reality was on the first train south! I only did it once; it scared me witless! So many people and so many foreign languages. It was August and I really wanted to see Jesus Christ Superstar which was opening at the Palace Theatre in the West End. I couldn’t afford the ticket, of course, and I hung around at the stage door for hours trying to catch a glimpse of Paul Nicholas who was playing the lead role. But I was thwarted again; they do say the path of true love never runs smooth! However, I did bump into Ray Davies from The Kinks – literally. I was dashing to get off a tube train as I was on the wrong one, and he was getting on. I seem to remember he had very blue eyes.

I stayed overnight in the cheapest hotel I could find – my total savings of £20 wasn’t stretching very far. It was a small room, but very clean, looking out over the back of a Chinese restaurant – the smell first made me hungry and then made me nauseous, so I skipped tea but in the morning had breakfast in the café next door. It seemed full of old men drinking endless cups of tea and eating sausages. I thought to myself, well if you can’t beat them, join them so I had a plateful of sausage, egg and beans and a massive mug of tea to set me up for the journey home which, fortunately, was uneventful. I never did tell Dad where I’d been but my mother knew. She’d found the train ticket in the pocket of my jeans on wash day!

I wonder if I can still get into those hot pants?

Want to continue reading?

This piece is part of our exclusive articles for members. We post new interviews, features and stories every single day, so sign up to continue reading - today and every day!

Sign up and start your free trial today

Already a member? Log in to read the full post