1968: WEEK 12
Monday, 18 March
Miss Gatley told all the people in the play that if we don't know our parts and our cues by the first day of next term we can't be in it. Strong action is necessary.
After school I went round to the Reids to say goodbye, then packed. Case 27lb, overnight bag 7lb - a pound over weight.
Super Yorkshire puddings for dinner. Then we opened Chump's presents for tomorrow. She got the most fab walkie-talkie telephone set and the rest of the evening we spent talking over it. We've put the two phones by our bedside tables and Chump won't stop ringing me up - it's hilarious!
20 past 10 - I'm so excited I'll never get to sleep.
Tuesday, 19 March
Kept on waking up in the night so getting up at quarter to 6 wasn't too much of a strain. Pa and Chump came down half asleep in their night things, it was hilarious leaving in the dark. Mummy gave me white heather to pin on my blazer for luck.
Arriving at Epsom too was pretty hilarious, so dark and deserted, with just a coach and a crowd of girls and their parents. Saw the sun rising on the way to Gatwick. Taking off was a bit frightening, but going over the Alps was simply fantastic. Had breakfast on board: eight sandwiches each, cake and two After Eights. Coming down was foul: I felt my ears were going to burst - I was in agony for 20 minutes.
There was a funny old coach waiting for us outside Venice airport, it even had curtains! All the buildings we saw were terribly shabby with peeling paint on the shutters but somehow looked so lovely in the sun. The river-boat trip down the Canal Grande was marvellous - we felt very gay and shouted out "bon giorno" to everyone on the way. The peace of the place, it's absolutely marvellous. Then the 'Navasa' came into sight - big and white and not particularly beautiful. We handed in our passports and went up to the deck where this matrony matron instructed us on how to put life-jackets on. I'm on a bottom bunk and Lucy's above. We had lunch in the recreation room, which was packed. I didn't eat a thing - I had a splitting headache because of my ears.
But oh gosh what a day!!! We'd hardly set foot on the ship when a gang of Italians careered towards us and started chatting us up!!! I lingered but Sally dragged me off, which was just as well. After that we couldn't go anywhere without being followed. In a way it was marvellous, made you feel like Brigitte Bardot! They were after our Navasa badges actually. Two boys followed us for about quarter of an hour, it was rather fun, I gave one of them my Lyons apple pie. Once one came up to Sally and started kissing her! We thought it was our skirts, but a bit later we discovered it was a fete day so we presumed this accounted for their jollity. But then something happened which made us realise it wasn't so funny after all. We came to this dead end and started to turn back, and then saw this crowd of about ten boys dressed in cloaks and hats, making a terrible row. We started running and they charged after us, but even worse was another group came from the other direction and started charging towards us. So we were trapped in the middle of a little side-street. We got out and were just about to whizz away when I felt a pair of arms squirming around my legs and the next thing I knew I was being carried in the air by this foul boy and he was rushing me down the street. I kicked like mad but he wouldn't let me go - it was horrible. The white frilly pants I got yesterday were showing because my skirt was pulled right up. But at last he put me down and rushed off. Exactly the same happened to Susan; she started crying.
We met Debby and that lot, had fab ices and exchanged experiences. They said the best place to get away from it all was inside St Mark's Cathedral, so that's where we went. It really is beautiful inside, with brightly-coloured mosaics and gold everywhere. We went up onto the 'roof' and looked down at all the sex-starved Italians charging around like ants after the girls far below. Some sailors joined us and started flirting around, so we buzzed off quick saying we could see our "professeurs". Then it got worse, we were surrounded by boys in all directions. We could hardly move for all the pestering males. But finally we escaped, and made our way, somewhat reluctantly, back to the ship.
Unpacked, and changed into corduroys and new jumper. Went down for a 6.30 supper. Looked out of the portholes and there were all those little horrors, waiting outside! Had to queue up for dinners. The boys here aren't worth looking at after the Italians; they're all younger than us anyway. Had a super pork chop and fruit salad, and foul peas and potato. Then had to go to the lecture room where this amusing man told us not to go throwing ourselves off the boat. Then Sally and me decided to go and see where the Dance was; it was on the deck so everything was nice and cool. At 10 the crummy matron came in and took our lights off. I wrote my Diary under the sheets, but she came back to see if we were asleep! I lay there petrified.
Today was one of the longest days I've ever spent. I must say, I did enjoy it.
Wednesday, 20 March
Met on deck where we got into our respective parties. Out on the quay we decided we would accept the offer of boy chaperones, just in case. Rather amazingly, we got the best ones. One wasn't very good but the other three were snazzies, especially one fantastic one called David. However, he turned out to be a self-confident stink-bomb. Even Sally wasn't good enough for him, and in a pretty unpleasant way he called me a nit.
All the time the boys wanted drink, drink, and weren't content till we got to a cafe where they drank two rounds of beer. Only Sally spoke to them. It was pretty boring. We were then taken to a glass factory which was very interesting, but the things they made, all of it, was hideous. I've never seen such chronic stuff in my life. Nobody came up to us with our chaperones! Then we went to the food market which was gorgeous, all the stalls very gay and beautifully set out, but the boys didn't even notice that. The shoes in the shops are incredible, and there are super bags, and suede and leather jackets everywhere which Penny and Sally rave over. Italian boys are fantastically dressed and nearly all of them have long hair.
We went to look at the Doges Palace but not a single person noticed it was beautiful and Penny said she wished she could go home, which I think was pretty unnecessary. All our spirits were dampened somewhat and the boys left. Claire and Sally H came along so we went into the palace with them. There are rooms and rooms of gilded ceilings and paintings, and the doors are really beautiful. We walked across the Bridge of Sighs, all dank and cold - we could just imagine those poor convicts. Met Sally, Penny, Susan and Ruth and we shivered our way to a little cafe where we had some fantastic coffee and discussed, and criticised, everyone we know! Also talked about boys; we all hate David. The others like Fred, who is really called Chris. I'm not so sure. We met the chaperones again, and went into a little place where a girl was making lace. All Fred could say was, "I never knew they made knickers like that!" It was hilarious at the time. Lots of Italians came up and started gloating over us, but Sally and Penny brandished their plastic lunch knives, and they vanished.
I love Venice so. It's the friendliest city I know. It is full of atmosphere, people are everywhere, and there's not a car in sight.
Changed into black ripple skirt, turquoise skimpy top, and boots. One side of my hair has gone foully curly. Had steak and chips and blancmange for dinner - not bad. After dinner, we left Venice, and it was absolutely beautiful. We all crowded the decks as everybody on shore waved goodbye, and 'Rule Britannia' played. The lit-up houses looked like a stage set, pink squares with windows cut out of them. It was so sad: I've fallen in love with Venice.
Thursday, 21 March
Felt slightly sea-sick all morning.
We had private study in the so-called Quiet Room, then muster stations, then a 'lesson', and then games, which was fantastic. We did hockey and it was windy and glorious. The only trouble is, when it's windy Jill and me have to go downstairs and brush our tangled hair all over again.
Had a huge hot lunch, jolly good really. The Asians are all very sweet. In the lecture theatre we were shown slides on Greece with a little talk. Later we had a 6th Form Conference which would have been quite good if we could have heard it; they discussed National Service, hearts, and Roy Jenkins. The only girls there were us lot.
Had supper with Claire, Sally and Penny. Sally and Penny flirted like mad (I don't know how they have the nerve). Then we decided to go to the Elvis Presley film - I've never seen such rubbish in my life. Later Pat and me went on deck with Debby & Co. We leant over the side of the boat where the dance was and looked at the black sea below and the black sky above, with all the stars, and I nearly cried it was so beautiful. I felt the ship was eternal, going on and on through the darkness for ever. Then it was so funny, Ruth, Claire and Jill came along and we decided to meditate! We sat bang in the middle of the dance-floor, crossed our legs, shut our eyes, and meditated. I don't know how we had the nerve, but we did. We got some funny remarks and a few kicks - just shows what a lot of slobs there are on this boat.
Friday, 22 March
It was beautifully hot and I felt happy we were moored in Navarino Bay.
There was a Regatta and we were in the first race. We had two rather good captains. Apparently there are boys who work in cruises before going to University and these two are going to go to Cambridge. They rowed and we helped. The Regatta was terribly exciting - we were second most of the way and then at the end we made a sudden forceful effort and WE CAME FIRST!!!
Sat next to a foul little boy at dinner, he was so crude, he never stopped swearing. Wore my pink crepe dress - everybody raved over it. Then we went along to the 6th Form Club but it's more like a club for the over 40s - we just sang! These three weeds joined Jo, Jill and me, and boringly talked about Reigate Grammar. Back in the dorm we KILLED ourselves talking about them, even after lights were out. The matron with orange hair is so nice I don't know how she puts up with the others.
Saturday, 23 March
Left the ship about 9. Super coach and a super Greek guide. He was called Richard in the morning and Mike in the afternoon! We drove into Athens. The suburbs are so shabby, so is Athens; it's not a bit like London or Paris, and it's the complete opposite of Zurich. From the coach we had our first view of the Acropolis and it honestly took my breath away, old and musty, towering up there above Athens. We drove to the Hill of Muses where you get a marvellous view. It was covered with little stone paths and a mass of white, blue and yellow flowers, so beautiful I didn't want to leave.
Seeing the Parthenon at long last was a bit of an anti-climax and the tourists spoilt it a bit. My favourite temple is the Erechtheum, it's very elegant and the olive tree gives the finishing touch. But before we'd even arrived we had to leave to go to the Changing of the Guard. We found the Greeks were sensible about mini-skirts wherever we went.
Greece must be poor, there's rubble everywhere. Didn't see much of Corinth but did see the oldest temple in Greece; the Romans didn't destroy it because they were afraid of Apollo. The flowers there were incredible too. Lucy and me stood up in the coach on the way back to get a better view of the sea, which was turquoise at the edges.
Back on the ship we saw Greek Folk Dancing - lovely. Went up to the Dance and stood near Jeremy who Jill thinks is the only decent boy on the ship. He is pretty fab. In the 6th Form Club, Jackie went up to the mic and sang! Jeremy was so sweet because he bent down to the loud speaker and crouched there tapping his hand on the floor. He's definitely the meditating type. I wish he'd asked me to dance. The end was the best bit because we all made a train and chugged round the room.
My hair depresses me no end.
Sunday, 24 March
Had breakfast at the same table as the Reigate Grammar weeds.
I was sitting looking at Jours de France with Lucy and Jill, when who should come along and stand next to our table but Jeremy!! We were looking at these corny French cartoons and he moved round and looked over my shoulder. "D'you get this?" I said, and he stayed chatting for the next five minutes. He could translate the French so he's probably doing French 'A' Level; he also said the best jokes are in the Daily Mirror. He picked up the Laker Airlines leaflet and showed us the photo of the Chairman, whose father he says is terribly poor but Laker won't give him any of his money (a typical business man). I showed him that foul bloke at the back of the leaflet and he agreed he looks a highly unpleasant character, "like a 15-year-old getting his first moustache"! He's so terribly nice. When he'd gone Jill said, "I'm so envious, he definitely likes you best."
I felt so happy afterwards, sort of bouncy! Had a fab lunch of chicken with bread sauce and gooseberry crumble. Went to the games room and played ping-pong. J was there with this girl. She's rather sweet and they look pretty devoted. He's a fab anti-conformist person. They haven't got round to holding hands yet. Then had a lecture on Istanbul. Who should sit in the row right in front but the Reigate Grammar collection.
At dinner these foul, crude 14-year-olds sat at our table, they even pulled our hair and when Jill wondered what the pudding was one said "shit". How grim a boys' Secondary Modern must be. Later we all giggled our way to the recreation room where there was a sing-song in full swing. That other nice boy, Patrick, was sitting next to Angela. Then we went to another sing-song, in the 6th Form Club. It was mostly us and Reigate Grammar, and a fab tall boy who never looked at me. The boy at the piano kept on leering at us in a pompous way, and the one who Jill thinks looks like a mongrel kept on giving Jill a cheesy grin. Honestly, we've come to the conclusion that we have never seen so many hideous boys from one school before, not even Glyn.