Part Thirty-Seven

Although I usually went dancing on Saturday evenings, it happened that on Friday, June 13th, 1958, for some reason I can’t recall, Len and I decided we’d have a change of venue and decided to grace the Hammersmith Palais with our presence. This Mecca of dancing, which opened in 1919 and closed in 2007, was a very large, plush venue which kept open throughout the London Blitz and was very popular with many of the armed forces as well as civilians.  Band leaders such as Joe Loss, Ken Macintosh, and Phil Tate were three of the musicians who bought their orchestras to the Palais much to the delight of the appreciative dancers.
  Well, now we all know that Friday the 13th is considered by many to be ‘unlucky’ so why we chose that day to go there I don’t know but as it turned out that old adage could not have been any further from the truth. Whether it was fate or destiny, call it what you like, but for me, this was the day when I met the person who was to change my life forever.
 It happened after I had loosened up a little with a few twirls around the floor and as I stood to survey and seeking the next unsuspecting candidate for my next attempt I spotted her, a slim dark-haired pretty girl, standing all alone watching the dancers gliding past. Fortunately for me, the dance was a waltz so without hesitation, I boldly approached her and said ‘May I have this dance please’? She smiled at me and much to my delight said ‘yes’. As we stepped onto the shiny dance floor I warned her of the possible disaster awaiting her by uttering the next line ‘I’m not very good at this’. More delight, and relief, came when she replied that she wasn’t very good either.
  Now that the barriers were broken we glided into the one-two-three, one-two-three waltz steps to the manner born and thankfully without treading on each other's toes or banging into anyone else. She told me that her name was Kathleen and she was an SRN (State Registered Nurse). Having completed her basic Nurses training at Burton on Trent she was now doing Part One of her Midwifery course at the famous and nearby Queen Charlottes Hospital.

  We survived that first dance intact but as neither of us was very good dancers we bided our time awaiting the next waltz to come around although I think we had one or two quick steps and a foxtrot, which was just a shuffle around for us, but if a jive, tango or a samba were announced that was time for us to steal quietly away for a rest and a drink. I remember it was the Phil Tate Orchestra supplying the music that evening so once we’d found a quiet table we rested and had a long talk (or perhaps that should be, we had a long ‘Tate -à-Tate’ making tentative attempts to learn more about each other.

 When the evening came to end I found Len and told him  I wouldn’t be accompanying him in his car back to Greenford He wished me luck and I escorted Kathleen, who by this time I was calling Kathy, which I preferred and to which she didn’t object to, back to the Nurses home at Queen Charlottes Hospital. We said Goodnight but not before finding out when her next off duty day would be and arranging a date accordingly.  With a light heart, I was dancing on air as I quickstepped my way to Shepherds Bush Tube station and caught the train back to Greenford. I went to bed that night a happy man eagerly looking forward to seeing Kathy the following week.

End of Part Thirty-Seven

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