Today’s story is from my days as an engineering student in the early 80s, long before social media, email or mobile phones. Our channels of communication were limited to talking face to face, writing letters or making calls from a public call box or using the phone at home, the one with a dial 😉.
As I write this I’m reminded that all the parenting in the world won’t necessarily shield you from your own ill-thought out and potentially dangerous impulses. And I was at the time considered by my mum to be a sensible and level-headed teen, it just goes to show.
Anyway, to my tale, it was the end of my first term at Poly and as an 18-year-old undergraduate I was packed and ready to travel home and had already rung mum at one o’clock to say I was on my way. She would have reasonably expected me home at around four o’clock the same afternoon. Well, I did eventually roll in at 11pm, though today as the mother of a fifteen-year old I cannot quite believe that I put my mum through this as I was effectively missing for six/seven hours.
So, as I was about to leave campus, I happened to meet one of the older male students on my course. He was a year or so ahead of me, so when he asked, ‘where are going?’ I simply replied, ‘home.’ When he suggested that we travel to London together, which was where I needed to go for the first leg of my journey, I wasn’t too fazed. I knew him slightly and was quite flattered. This would have been around one-thirty in the afternoon.
The journey to London was uneventful and when, let’s call him Tony, suggested going for a drink, I was not perturbed it was still early. Making a call to mum passed fleetingly through my head, but that’s all it did, somehow it seemed too much trouble to find a call box and dial some numbers.
We ended up in a wine bar, had a few glasses of wine, a nice chat, a nice time. We also spent some time walking around taking in the sights. As it was getting dark, I realised I was no longer in a part of London that I was as familiar with and beginning to think it was time to make a move for home. Sharing my concern with Tony, he suggested we take a taxi to the station I needed for the next part of my journey.
So, now we are both in the back of a black cab on the way to Victoria, when Tony stretches out an arm and leans in. In an instant, my happy haze clears completely, and I ask to get out of the cab. Realising that I am not interested in his overtures, Tony immediately backs off and insists on taking me to Victoria station where I can get my train home.
Which is what I did, still not thinking to call mum.
Looking back, I was naive and a bit too trusting, but fortunate, that Tony understood and respected my ‘no.’ It could have been a whole different story with somebody else.
As I remember it, mum was remarkably, or at least appeared remarkably calm and composed when I breezed in around 11pm and brushed off her questions with ‘Oh, out with friends.’
I didn’t feel it necessary to fill in the details. Sorry, mum.
I could have been, at the very least stuck in London late at night with no money and no clue as to where I was and had placed myself in a vulnerable position.
The lesson was well learned.
So, there you have it, until next time