Two young girls go to the cinema and Kenny is off to the dance studio. Retro fiction.
Locksford, Cheshire. 1957.
Lynn caught the bus into town with her friend Kathy. They left the bus terminus and were on their way to see the matinee performance at the local cinema. It was a pre-birthday treat for Lynn from her father for her ninth birthday.
As they neared the cinema, Kenny, a smartly dressed sixteen-year-old youth, noticed the girls, crossed the road and began walking towards them. He wore a smart two-piece suit, white shirt with a blue knitted tie, and winkle-picker shoes. He was smiling as he began closing the gap between them. It also brought a smile to Lynn’s face even though she realised that Kathy was nervous at his obvious interest in them.
“Hello, Lynn,” he said. “And where are you off to?”
“We’re going to the pictures, Kenny. There’s a Norman Wisdom film on. Come with us if you want to.”
“No thanks, Lynn, I’m going to the dance studio. There's an afternoon session on Saturdays and there's a girl that I, sort of like.”
“Oooh, I know you now, Kenny. I didn't know you had a girlfriend.” Lynn said and started to laugh.
“I don't, not yet anyway."
"Do you want some bubbly, Kenny?" Lynn said. "I've got loads."
"Not for me. Don't let your dad see you with that."
"I won't. I have to hide it or he throws it away. Then he tells me off like I'm a child."
"Yeah and you're nearly nine as well."
"I am nine," Lynn said.
"No you're not," Kathy said. "I'm nine; you're not nine till tomorrow."
"Shut up, Kathy."
"No, you shut up."
"Pack it in you two," Kenny said. "Anyway, Lynn, how come your dad doesn’t bring you to the gym anymore?”
“Well, girls don’t do boxing really,” Kathy interrupted.
“This one does.” Kenny said. He took up a boxing stance and leant forward to tap Lynn on her head. Lynn laughed, spat her bubble gum into a tissue and put it in her pocket before putting up her arms and taking three swipes back at him. Kenny swerved the first two, but he let her third punch connect with the side of his face.
Lynn laughed again, but her friend Kathy looked on in surprise, obviously embarrassed by the passers-by taking an interest in them.
“Dad has started to learn my brothers a few moves now, so I have got out of the training now he has them to teach.”
“You could still go to the gym though, if you like the fight training.” Kenny said.
“I don't like it, Kenny, but I was too scared to tell him that. I am so glad the boys are old enough now.”
“She can be a girl at last,” Kathy said.
Kenny took a step back and looked at Lynn. “Yes, it sure is rare to see you in a nice frock, and your hair is getting longer. It won’t be long before you are breaking the boy’s hearts.”
His words embarrassed Lynn a little. “We had better go or we will miss the start of the film. Don't forget my party tomorrow, Kenny? Bring your girlfriend if you want.” They said their goodbyes and went off on their separate ways with the girls noticeably giggling.
When Kenny was out of sight of the girls he rubbed the side of his face. He had not expected a girl so young to hit so hard.
He arrived at the dance studio. The building stood alone and resembled an army barrack hut, but much bigger. He walked in and looked around. It was a large open area with a storeroom and office at the far end. Behind a window, a staff member would play the records and do the announcements into the microphone. Next to that, an alcove was set back off the floor with a hatch where refreshments were sold. Kenny saw his usual dance partner, Penny, dancing with young Tommy to a slow Pat Boone song. He walked over and smiled at Penny and was greeted with a smile in return. “About time,” she said.
He turned his attention to Tommy. “Hey up, Tommy lad. There is a pre-puberty girl over there by the radiator, go and ask her to dance.”
“Go!” Kenny gave a flick of his hand as a sign for Tommy to walk away. As the dejected Tommy walked off, Kenny looked at Penny. “Like ‘em young then, Penny?”
“Yeah, but don’t forget I’m also two years older than you.”
“But five years older than Tommy. Anyway, why are they playing this slow love song?”
“To give us a break from the jiving, I suppose. Anyway, I see you are late again, as usual."
Kenny grinned. "But I’m here now, so when this silly record finishes we can get this show started.”
“Big headed sod. Why can’t you get here in the weeknights? There are a lot of really good dancers here, but in the free session at the end, Tommy is the only decent one in here who can jive nearly as good as you.”
Kenny glanced over to Tommy before looking back at Penny. "What, do you have to lure him with a tube of Smarties?"
Penny laughed at his comment before continuing. "So, will you make an effort in the week then?"
“No, there is not much free time here anyway during the week. And I don't like all that ballroom stuff. Not only that, I go to the gym most nights anyway. I need to keep myself fit.”
“You can get fit dancing with me.”
“It’s a boxing gym. I can’t get that here.”
“I see. Is that why you’ve got a black eye?”
“I haven’t got a black eye.”
“You bloody well have, and it’s getting worse.”
Lynn arrived home from the cinema and her father was sitting in his armchair studying the Radio and TV Times for the evenings viewing. He looked up at her. “How was the film then, princess?”
“Good. It was funny.”
“Is Kathy coming to your birthday party tomorrow?”
“Yes, and her little sister, Jackie.”
“So you have decided that you want to hang up your boxing gloves then?”
“Well! If that’s all right.”
“Of course it is. I understand. You’re at an age now when you want to do girl things.” He didn’t mention the training of her two younger brothers, but Lynn knew that was the reason why he was not trying to persuade her to carry on training. He reached down beside his chair and lifted her gloves. “One last tournament then. What do you say?”
Lynn gave a laugh as she walked over. “I’ll bash you again,” she said. She put the gloves on and her dad laced them up. He got on his knees and they sparred for a while. She hit him with some left hooks and jabs, and every time he retaliated with a gentle slap to her face. But then she threw an unexpected straight right which caught him square on the nose. He rolled over pretending to be hurt.
Lynn stooped down to him in panic. “Dad, I’m sorry. Dad!”
He jumped up and lifted Lynn towards the ceiling like a doll. "Lynn McLean knocks down the undefeated Martyn McLean to become the champion of Locksford."
They laughed and he let her down as they shared a hug before he removed her gloves and tied the laces together. “I’ve put a hook on the shelf. You can hang your gloves with all my trophies.”
She proudly hung the gloves while her dad returned to his chair. She walked over and cuddled up on his lap. “I love you, Dad.”
“I know. And I love you too, princess.”
"Dad, I'm nine tomorrow, can you stop calling me princess?"
"Of course prin... er, Lynn."