GOING AWAY We got out of the youth hostel at 7:00 and drove into town. We said goodby there and then, in the car park, not wanting to drag it out, and I drove away. I drove away from my Linda! My thoughts were occupied with the task of getting out of Exeter and onto the A303 main road but as soon as I was clear of the city and settled into the driving the empty space inside began to grow and by the time I reached London I was feeling lonely and unsure.¹
I dropped the car off at the AA, rang Louie² and arranged to meet her at Waterloo Station so I could give her the tent that we had borrowed from one of the regulars at the Red Lion. I went across town on the Underground and lay on the grass in Jubilee Gardens [behind Waterloo Station] for 2 hours. When she turned up, with a friend of hers called Kerry, we had a beer in a nearby pub then they left me to go back to work. I was now alone in London and unsure what to do next.
So, I caught a train out to Reading and rang Sally Blakiston.³ She told me that John was in hospital with a damaged neck (he’d fallen off a horse) but she implored me to come and stay so I hitched a ride from Reading to Swindon and with the sun long gone down I began the four mile walk out to Lydiard Millicent [the village where John, Sally and their 3 children lived]. I got there just after 11 and Sally made me welcome with a cup of tea and a sandwich then produced a camp bed for me to sleep on as the rest of Grove House was full.
After a shower I lay in bed and although the gap left by Linda was still painful, it felt good to once again be among people that I knew cared about me after only 12 hours.
¹This was the first time Linda and I had been apart since we had left home in September 1988. She and her parents were going to Ireland; I was going to try and earn some money carting hay on farms in Wiltshire. Our plan was to rendezvous in Scotland three weeks later.
²Our friend and former workmate from the Red Lion.
³My cousin John’s wife.