Summer of ’77: Beaches, bars and boogie nights in Ibiza
Extract from Chapter 1 – Leaving England
The ferry edged away. In the early evening light, the clouds cleared, and the sun appeared on the horizon for a moment. Through the descending gloom, I glimpsed the famous white cliffs of Dover as we left the shores of England.
The seas were choppy, and the wind icy as we sailed across the channel. I put on a jumper and buttoned up my denim jacket. Determined to stay on deck, I enjoyed the chill that blew against my face and through my hair. A surge of elation swept over me as I realised my dream was coming true.
Deep in my own thoughts, I did not hear her approach. It took a few seconds to realise someone had spoken.
‘Hi, where are you heading?’ she repeated.
Taller than me and several years older, long blonde hair wrapped around her shoulders, and pale blue eyes glistened.
I averted my gaze for a moment, before replying, ‘Hi, sorry I didn’t notice you there. I’m travelling to Barcelona by coach, and then getting a ferry across to Ibiza.’
‘What are you planning to do there?’
I beamed a smile at her. ‘I’m hoping to work for the season in a place called Es Cana.’
Her eyes looked deep into mine. ‘Is this the first time you’ve worked abroad?’
‘Yes, I’ve just finished at a bank in London. Where are you heading to? Sorry, what’s your name?’
‘Everyone calls me Micky, but my real name is Michelle. I’m off to Barcelona and we’re on the same coach. I saw you earlier, and thought, as you are on your own, you’d appreciate the company. I’m an English teacher returning to the school where I work, after an Easter break at home in Bristol.’
Micky edged closer as if to get protection against the biting wind. ‘And what’s your name?’
‘Most people call me Fred.’
‘Is that a nickname then?’
‘Yes, I got it at school, and it’s stuck ever since. My friends know me as Fred although my real name is Robert.’
Her eyes widened. ‘You seem more like a Fred than a Robert.’
I gave her a wide grin. ‘How long have you worked in Barcelona?’
‘Just under a year. I finished Teacher Training College not long after Franco died in November 1975. Spain always interested me. When I saw an advert in the paper for a teaching position there, I jumped at the chance.’
‘Are you enjoying it?’
‘On the whole, yes. Spain is changing fast after forty years of dictatorship, but people’s attitudes will take longer to change. Life for a woman is still difficult. I’m lucky they look after me while at the school, but things can be awkward outside sometimes.’
‘Do you ever regret doing it?’
‘No, not at all. Travel gives you a new outlook on life. You’ll discover that for yourself this summer. Provided you don’t weaken, and I doubt you will, Fred.’
‘Thanks, Micky. That’s nice of you.’
The loud sound of the ship’s siren broke the atmosphere. The ferry had arrived at the port of Calais.
Micky gave me a peck on the cheek and winked. ‘I’ll see you back on the bus, take care.’
‘Yes, great to meet you.’
What a lovely surprise, I thought, as I smoked a quick roll-up, before returning to the coach.
To learn more about Robert: