Meeting at Uxbridge
It was a sunny July morning in 1969. Terry had been at RAF Uxbridge for almost two years. He shared the room at the barrack block with three other airmen, his friend, Mark, who was a member of the station fire service, and two suppliers.
He celebrated his twenty-first birthday the night before and was still feeling a bit under the weather.
He walked into the transport control office to collect the car keys and paperwork. It was only a local run to Stanmore. He would soon be back and then maybe the yard corporal, knowing his condition, may let him have an easy day.
The section sergeant, Sergeant Neale, looked through the square hatch in the wall. "There's a new girl in the WRAF restroom. Take her with you and show her the route to Stanmore."
"That's all I need. Another one straight from the driving school at St Athan I suppose. Why do I always get the LAC sprogs, Sarge?"
"She's no sprog, lad, SACW Dale. She's just been posted in from Madlington."
"Can you put her name on the form six-five-eight then, she can drive."
Terry walked over to the car bay. Bloody WRAF, that's all I need, he thought. He drove the Ford Zephyr out into the yard before walking over to the WRAF restroom and tapping on the window.
Mandy, a tall young WRAF came to the door. She gave him a knowing grin. "And how are you feeling this morning, Terry?"
"Don't ask. Look, if I did anything stupid in the NAAFI last night, then don't tell me about it, okay."
"All right I won't." She gave a laugh before continuing. "Terry, do you always wear polka dot underpants?"
"Oh shit, it's all coming back." He gave a huge grin before changing the subject. "Can you tell the new girl she's got to come to Stanmore with me?" Without waiting for her reply, he walked back to the car and sat against the bonnet. The previous night he had been the life of the party, but he was hiding a broken heart. Susan, from the WRAF band, got engaged to one of the Queen's Colour Squadron gunners. He wished them well, but he was still devastated by the way she led him on, only to drop him as soon as her previous boyfriend showed an interest in her again. She was the second WRAF to use him, to take advantage of his friendly nature, and to cause him to fall madly in love with them. He was adamant it would never happen again.
Jane walked over immaculately dressed in her number one uniform and Terry was pleasantly surprised when he saw her. She looked perfect; a pretty face, nice legs, and curves in all the right places, the only thing missing was a smile. Although he thought she looked smart and desirable, he tried to look unconcerned. He didn't want her thinking she could have any kind of control over him and despite her attractiveness, she was a WRAF. She said, "Hello," out of politeness, not friendliness, and then walked past him and around to the passenger's side.
"You're driving," Terry said and tossed the keys to her. Jane caught them in the same casual manner he was trying to portray.
She got in the passenger's side and slid across the seat. Terry grinned and then followed her in, thinking he may have annoyed her by letting her walk past him and round to the wrong side, as if he did it to get a good look at her.
The confined space inside the car was filled with a mixture of feminine cosmetic fragrances, carefully matched and just strong enough to give an aroma of meticulous cleanliness. Terry looked at Jane's highly polished shoes as they rested on the pedals; the left lace was tied neatly in an exact copy of the right. She had small feet and he imagined the toes inside her shoes with her toenails perfectly manicured and varnished. He looked at the flesh on her calves and thought about how they highlighted the shape of her legs. He imagined her lying down while he gave a deeply relaxing massage to her leg muscles, but suddenly felt flushed as he realised she was looking at him.
"Do you always stare at women's legs?"
"No, I just wondered if you could reach the pedals all right. Is the seat forward enough?"
"The seat's fine." She drove out of the yard and then out through the camp gates.
"Turn right then right again," he said.
"It's okay. I know the way to Stanmore Park thanks."
Jane had driven for a while with Terry watching her every manoeuvre. Despite his earlier thoughts about Susan, he knew he was attracted to Jane and he wanted to start a conversation with her but didn't want to say anything to annoy or irritate her again. He was trying to think of something sensible and relevant to ask her. Something to break the ice and remove the friction he caused between them.
"You're not doing bad," he said. "How long have you been in motor transport?"
"How long have you been in MT?" she replied without a glance at him.
"Just over two years," he said, feeling a little more confident.
"Well I've been in MT for six years, I'm twenty-four years old, I'm not married, and I'm not looking for a husband or even a boyfriend. Is there anything else you would like to know?"
Terry laughed. "No thanks. I don't want my head bitten off again." Must be one of those lesbians, he thought. “You’re a bit older than me then,” he said.
“Oh, and that matters, because?”
“It’s just that you don’t look older than me, that’s all.”
“Thanks for the nice but pathetic chat-up line.” She said.
“Look. I am only trying to make conversation.”
“Well, do me a favour, Terry,” she said. “Don’t bother.”
Terry glanced at her a few times when he could, but not too often, neither wanting to show he was too interested in her, nor provoking any further verbal aggression from her. There was something about the girl, not just his belief she was drop-dead gorgeous, but she seemed as if she had a strong charisma about her, like an aura. Despite the friction, he felt as if she were radiating a kind of loving warmth, a secret desire to be close to someone. He shook his head and looked out through the side window. Must be going off me bonce, he thought.
* * * * *
The weeks passed and the friction between Terry and Jane eased, but he was not sure whether he should ask Jane out on a date. It seemed to him as if all the men in the MT section were trying to flirt with her and trying to impress her. Even Vinny Wilkes smartened himself up and had been in her company a few times. Vinny was an animal. He was a bit of a loner, scruffy, and he ate like a pig. He would go out at night slopping. A term he invented, which meant going over to the NAAFI bar just before closing time and hovering about like a vulture, watching, waiting for people to leave. If there were any drink left in their glasses, then he would go over and drink it. Lager, bitter, cider, Guinness, wines or spirits, he would drink anything.
Despite being attracted to her, he didn't want to seem the same as all the others, all running after the same girl, but he was perhaps sending her the wrong signals and although they became friends, after the initial friction, he gave the impression he had no real interest in her, other than as a friend.
A casualty-evacuation flight was arriving at Northolt and Terry and Jane set off in the ambulances to pick up the patients and take them to an army hospital in London. It was half-past six when they returned to camp and the only person in the section was the night duty driver. They parked the ambulances by the fuel pump and then walked down the road together towards the barrack blocks.
"That was a good run," Jane said. "I like doing those cas'evac's?"
"You can get some pretty serious ones sometimes; blue light jobs, with police escorts and even motorcycle outriders."
"I think it's terrific," she said. "It's like you're doing something really worthwhile."
"You might not think that when you're dragged out of bed to do one in the middle of the night."
"Oh, I don't know."
Terry looked at his watch. "Are you doing anything tonight? Only there's a disco on at the NAAFI and I thought we could go over and have a drink. If you've got nothing on that is. I mean it doesn't matter if you've got something else to do or, well you know."
"I'd love to have a drink with you, Terry. I thought you were never going to ask."
Terry stood watching Jane walking off to the WRAF accommodation block. She turned briefly and gave a wave as if she knew he was watching her. He gave a contented smile and walked off. She's a mate, that's all, I'm meeting her tonight as a mate.