Sunday 18 December 2011

Take three girls

My two longest-standing friends and I try to meet up a couple of times a year and last week was one of those occasions.  We’ve known each other since the age of eleven, when we started at the same school, our home town’s equivalent of a 1970s St Trinian’s – all hockey sticks and Latin lessons.  We went through the same humiliation of wearing the awful brown uniform (which, for the first two years was a shapeless tunic because, the school’s Ministry of Uniform dictated, “we don’t offer the option of a skirt to the younger years because they haven’t yet developed waists”.)  Our bond of friendship helped to get us through all those awkward moments of adolescence, comparing notes on buying our first bra and fancying boys.  And developing waists, amongst other things.

We pooled our pocket money to buy Cadbury’s chunky chocolate bars from the tuck shop to share at break times and some years later upgraded this to the occasional Benson & Hedges, ten in a pack from a slot machine in town, having meticulously planned our movements well in advance to avoid being seen by grown-ups.  We’d sneak them into school and find a quiet corner of the playing field to try a furtive puff or two.  I’m pretty sure no actual inhalation ever took place.

By the age of 14 we were also into punk together.  We’d invade the local record shop on a Saturday afternoon and pore over the album covers, longing for the day when we’d saved up enough to buy one.  (see 'The first album you ever bought...?') We also made forays into the local hardware stores – rummaging through trays of bulldog clips and sink chains and any other strange looking metal fasteners or hooks we could find with which to accessorise our DIY clothes.  On the last day of term in 1978 when the school finally allowed a ‘no uniform’ day, we all got into trouble together.  It was our one chance to ditch the brown uniform and proudly wear our bulldog clips and Sex Pistols badges on our DIY clothes into school.  That afternoon we were called in by a teacher and given a stern talking-to; there had been complaints at our apparent lack of respect.  We could not have been awarded a better compliment.

We left school and went to different colleges, got jobs, got married, moved house a few times, but always kept in touch.  Now in our late forties, we meet when we can for lunch in our old home-town, our old stomping-ground, where none of us live any more.  And now our bond of friendship helps to get us through all these awkward moments of middle-age – comparing notes on a whole new set of life experiences.

As I sat there with my two lovely friends last Friday, and we reminisced about the time we had tried to write dirty stories in the school lunch-hour, only to be so mortified at the thought of them being found by a teacher that we tried, unsuccessfully, to flush the offending pages of our exercise books down the toilets, it seemed impossible that 37 years have passed since we first met. 


  1. How wonderful that you can still meet up and have things in common to talk and laugh about. Don't think I have any really old friends (from schooldays anyway).

    Ah, Take Three Girls - that was Pentangle I'm sure you know. I once sat next to Liza Goddard in McDonalds on Shaftesbury Avenue. She was with her young daughter and looked quite grumpy :-( ...

  2. The bit about the tunics and skirts just kills's hard to argue with the logic I reckon. :)

    It's great that y'all can still get together like that. One thing about the space over here...sometimes when people move it's a couple of time zones away. It can be hard to get everybody in the same place at once.

  3. We too had those tunics (though in racy navy blue.). They were guaranteed to make anyone who wore them look like a flour sack with legs.

    It's great that you still meet up - I got back in touch with two of my BFs via the miracle of Friends Reunited several years ago, and am so glad I did but we've yet to meet face-to-face. I'm slightly shamefaced to admit that our dirty story writing got a bit further down the line than yours did, as we sent our efforts to Roy North from 'Get it Together'. But he never wrote back...

    Do you think it's fair to say that there's no other period in life when you spend as much time laughing hysterically, as when you're about fifteen and hanging round with your chums?

  4. Thanks, lovely people, yes I do feel lucky to have maintained these particular friendships over so many years - maybe quite a rare thing.

    A - I loved that theme song and it still has a great feel to it. Liza Goddard was in 'Skippy', wasn’t she? Erm, they weren’t serving kangaroo burgers in Macdonald’s that day were they..?

    Hi efb – I find it weird to think you can be in different time zones in one country - mind you, they say that here about areas just a few hundred miles apart (there are places here that are definitely still stuck in the ‘70s… )

    And very reassured to know you had some similar experiences, ISBW! Didn’t Roy North present Basil Brush later on too… maybe he was a bit wholesome for your stories…? Oh yes, I agree about the laughter, there’s no other time in your life quite like that one. Everything seemed to contain innuendo... I recall that for a while we couldn't even hear someone use the phrase "do it" (no matter what the context - could have been about doing the gardening or doing the washing up) without collapsing into fits of giggles. Fondly remembered.

  5. Yes, he became 'Mister Roy'. I think it was his basin haircut and air of general gormlessness (even in the 'Get It Together' days) that made us single him out as lucky recipient of our 'erotic prose'. We'd never have DARED send it to Mick Ronson from Magpie, for example. He might have actually taken us up on it...

  6. Oh, love it, isbw! Never saw 'Get It Together' though - perhaps it was regional? I take it you were a 'Magpie' girl, then - I was far less cool I'm afraid: Blue Peter....

  7. I think Ishouldbeworking means Mick Robertson on Magpie not Mick Ronson !

  8. :)
    I'm all about nostalgia and catch ups with old friends, trying to do a bit of the same soon over here!

    It's great to be able to soon say you've been doing "Sun Dried Sparrows" for two years now! Best wishes for 2012!

  9. Thanks, Anon, Dr MVM and Wilthomer.
    Not quite two years yet! (It'll be one year this coming Feb.) Best wishes for 2012 to you too x

  10. But surely everyone has now seen that old clip of Mick Ronson's early tenure on Magpie, just before David Bowie persuaded him to join the band instead?

    I tell you, it's on YouTube.

  11. I have discovered this post a little late in the day but I must tell you how much I enjoyed it. Congratulations on keeping hold of the same friends for all those years. Your talk of chunky chocolate bars and hanging around in record shops certainly rings a bell. I'll just add that I adore the theme tune to 'Take Three Girls'. It's one of my all time favourite tunes and never fails to conjure up the feel of the era. I'm now zipping over to your 'the first album I bought' post.

    1. Thanks, SB! Yes a great theme song, I have nice memories of it being on when I was a bit too young to really appreciate it but I wanted to grow up to be like them, just from the credits. Very of the time as you say.


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