My parents were gutted by the divorce and by my disfellowshipping. Once again, dad decided to move where the need is great and get more blessings,(ho-hum, yawn) so this time they were off to Matlock in Derbyshire.
I stayed in Portsmouth and rented a flat in the Southsea area. I wasn’t short of company and was now spending time with Mike and another ex called Larry. I’d also really got into Irish folk music and was often to be found swinging my beer in a bar with some other ex’s who’d been part of the “Portsmouth Dirty Dozen” who had all been excommunicated too. On Sunday nights we'd have a riotous evening at Southsea's Coral Reef Bar singing along with Jon Isherwood, Noel Murphy, John Fitzgerald and sometimes Jasper Carrot.
I was now also in the motor trade! I’d go with Mike to Southampton car auctions, buy an old wreck and tart it up so I could sell it at a profit. I concentrated on British sports cars so I’d always got something flashy to travel around in. I had a number of Sunbeam Alpines, a frog-eye Sprite, MG Midgets and an MGB.
By early 1973 I’d also polished up my wardrobe, grown my hair fashionably long and got some Ray-Ban specs. And a purple suede jacket. The biz! Then, one day, Cindy contacted me totally out of the blue. Snuggy, let's try and be civil to one another, how about just the two of us go out for the evening? Hmmm, I thought, ...well OK, let's meet up in the Barley Mow in Southsea for a drink - oh yes, I've just had my membership through for Club Tiberius Casino, let's go take a look there as well.
So that's what we did. Suitably armed with a five-pound note, I paid my first ever visit to a casino as a member. I quickly learnt how to play roulette and after an hour was around £30 up, which I duly split 50-50 with Cindy. We then made our way to the lounge area. I saw a waitress on the far side, so I wandered over to order coffees and a cigar. Oh my..
The young lady turned round and smiled at me. I was totally dumbstruck. I'd never seen anyone so attractive in all my life. She had an extraordinarily pleasant voice and took my order for coffees and a cigar. A few minutes later she came over to the table where Cindy and I were sat. I put a 25p chip in the little silver bowl on the ladies tray and then caught Cindy looking at me with one eyebrow raised above the other.
Hah, you like her, don't you said Cindy, not unpleasantly. I replied that I did actually think that she was a stunner. Then feeling brave, I said that was the kind of girl that I should have married. Snuggy, said Cindy, she is way, way out of your league! Well yeah...I guess she was.
But she wasn't!
I became a regular visitor to the Casino from then on. Sometimes I'd scrape together a whole pound and play roulette with just 10p chips. By this time the lady was working behind the casino bar, so it was easy to just sit on a bar stool opposite and make small talk while drinking whisky and American Dry. I could make my drink last for hours!
I learned that she’d been a nurse previously and had suffered with glandular fever, so the doc told her to get a job in an outgoing situation so as to help lift the depression associated with the illness. I also found out that she liked folk music and my God, she was a Pompey fan! A soccer fan who was absolutely gorgeous too. WOW!
However, I also discovered that she was only 19 and was painfully aware that casino staff dating clients was an absolute no-no. I didn't even know her name. Also, I was aware that if did ask her out and she refused, there would be no second chance so I had to be content with spending many weeks just sat at that bar talking. I didn’t want to blow it!
But I was putting a devious plan into operation..
I kept on telling her about this amazing folk club in Southsea that put on a really entertaining show on Sunday nights. Again and again I told her about it and how great it was and how she should really pop in there sometime. This went on for some considerable time
And then, one Sunday night.. she turned up at the club exactly as I'd hoped she would!
It was the first time that I’d seen her not wearing the casino outfit. She was wearing old jeans and a baggy top and still looked sensational. Then she offered to buy me a beer. Buy me a beer? Gosh. Girls never did that in 1973, they just looked for the toilets and somewhere to sit while the fellas bought the drinks.
I discovered that her name was Christina and that she had 2 brothers and that she wasn’t living at home. Her two brothers had left the area, so there was no-one to accompany her to football matches. Oh dear.
I bet you can see where I was headed with this information...