June brought the annual 'sharra' trip. Organised within the immediate neighbourhood, it promised a family day of fun for everyone. At Rhyl. Although anticipated for weeks, I had by now realised that the seaside at Rhyl was not the seaside pictured in railway posters. One slight ray of hope was the possibility of sitting next to Muriel from number 8. She attended a different school: her father had a car, and she was not allowed to play in the street. The downside was that I instinctively knew she was unlikely to be impressed by the brown cardboard luggage label attached to my jacket, displaying name and address.
The Bunty bus picked everyone up from the community centre at seven in the morning. Each family sat together, mothers fretting that nothing had been forgotten, and watching the behaviour of other people's children. My head was buried in the Wizard, catching up with the Incredible Wilson. One day, I too intended to appear from the mists on the moor and win everything, but I would dress in something a little more trendy than a black one-piece woollen combination.
Forgive me, but Rhyl left no memories at all. On the return journey males congregated at the rear of the bus; low voices, loud laughter; frequent stops were necessary. Children sat with mothers, who all displayed that tired, tight-lipped look of martyrdom. Halfway home the situation was saved when the singsong started. The 1940s were big on singsongs. Every social gathering would eventually morph into a glee club, everyone swaying in unison as they sang together. It was an emotional hand holding which brought everyone together. Only now am I aware of the unaccompanied mothers... The appearance of 'Irene Goodnight Irene' always heralded our arrival home.
The lady organiser made her closing address, hoping that everyone had enjoyed the day, thanking everyone for their generosity towards the driver's cap, and hoping to see some of us at church on Sunday.
And no, Muriel did not go to Rhyl.