When you were 16, what did you think your life would look like? Does it look like that? Is that a good thing?
I was sixteen fifty years ago. When I write it, I almost get a panic thinking that I am now writing about me so many years ago. My first memory is a record from Neil Sedaka and his hit record Happy birthday Sweet Sixteen. I still know the words and could even sing along.
Going back so many years, I think I did have a sneaking suspicion that I would go somewhere else when older. I was lucky to visit a so-called grammar school in the London City and we had good teachers and a good education. We even wore white socks in brown lace up shoes. No high heels or platform soles. It was the goood old days where you did what you mum told you, and attended your studies. School uniform was green and we wore a tie with a shirt like blouse.
Of course we had other thoughts. My thoughts at that time was perhaps meeting a professional footballer, get married and enjoy the future. By football I mean soccer for the friends over the pond. You know it is different to American football. We don’t wear helmets or protective clothing or run with the ball, We have to kick it. I did qualify for the school hockey team, as it was the nearest sport we had to football. Same formation, but we had sticks and a small wooden ball.
Oh, how innocent and stupid can you be. Every Saturday I would make my way to the Boleyn Ground at Upton Park to watch a match with West Ham United. Bobby Moore was then the captain and the football world was OK. If West Ham were away playing, I would go to Brisbane Road where Leyton Orient played, another football team from the East End of London. My schoolfriend was just as keen on football and we went together. I think she also had dreams of perhaps a footballer once seeing her standing watching a match, with love at first sight. Oh, were we naive in those days.
Anyhow that was not to be. My Saturday evening fun was going to Leicester Square Mecca dance hall with some other girls I knew. Dressed in the newest fashion, wearing our stilettos and perhaps a visit to the hairdressers was made in the afternoon. Of course wearing make up. Eye liner, mascara, the lipstick fashion of the day (was it shocking pink or orange?). I remember our hairstyles were towered on our heads, so called back-combing: and what a tangle it was. We were dressed to kill. Leicester Square was quite international and I think it was the meeting place off all the foreign english students staying in London. I was learning French at the time, and had started evening classes in Italian (my own idea, nothing to do with school), so I found it fun to try out my languages on these foreigners. I think mum was waiting for the day when I would meet a nice english bloke when dancing.
I did not really know then that I would want to travel and work in another country. That came later. I did know that oncre I was older and independent I wanted to live on my own in an appartment or perhaps with a girlfriend. Just go somewhere else, see other places, meet other people and stand on my own two legs.
Anyhow, everything eventually turned out for the best. I had a commecial course at school, typing, shorthand, bookkeeping and all that jazz and after school had my first job in London working for the P & O Shipping company, with the idea of working on the ocean passenger liners as a purserette one day (sort of an office job on a ship – at least I could travel). This was also not to be as the shipping companies with passengers were gradually making way for the aircraft and the job no longer existed. I worked temporary for a while, a different place every week in a different office, earning well and I enjoyed the changes. I then saw a advert in an english newspaper for a secretary in Switzerland. I applied, got the job and arrived on my twentieth birthday in Zürich. The rest took after itself. Meeting Mr. Swiss a couple of years later, having children and working in Switzerland, learning the language. I have a Swiss passport, as well as a British passport. In a way I did achieve what I wanted, but things are never exactly as you think.
And my footballer? Well Mr. Swiss likes to watch a match on the TV and so do I, but you cannot have everything.