Reminiscing sure brings back some odd episodes. I was talking to some visitors about the war years, harking back to childhood before moving on to when I started work. For some strange reason I recalled a certain incident when I was a mere 14 years of age.
In those days trams were the main means of travel. I loved them. I liked the way we could board at the terminus and change the seat backs in order to face the front. Several of us would run up the centre aisle of an empty tram, flipping the seats as we ran to see who could flip the most. No-one complained, I reckon we were saving the conductor a job. These days I wouldn’t be able to move one let alone flip it over.
Going upstairs was like walking up to heaven as we climbed the semi-spiral staircase. It paid to get up there early in order to get a seat in the ‘cage’ at the end. It was in the open air and you can imagine what the Health and Safety people would say now about a load of squalling kids playing up at either end of a tramcar. I don’t recall anyone ever falling out.
In this section the seat curved round the back of the tram and we’d all squash in together, squealing and giggling as girls’ legs touched boys’ bare knees on our way past. The boys did it on purpose, sitting on the end so that we’d have to push past … and we didn’t mind at all.
But all good things come to an end. By the time we left school we were ready to act like little ladies who worked … almost.
The lower part of the tram had rows of seats that faced the front (again with moveable backs) but at the end of the vehicle there were long benches that held about four or five passengers. The benches faced each other so the girls had to be very careful to adjust their skirts over their knees. Parents would lecture their daughters about that.
A group of us started work at the same time, all of us catching the tram that would take us to our office. We always sat on one of the long benches so that we could be together. After a few weeks we noticed the same man, a rather large, middle aged individual in a light brown raincoat. He boarded the tram at the terminus, same as us, and sat on the opposite bench. Nothing untoward in that! We were usually too busy chatting and giggling to notice him, that is until one morning when he smiled at us and winked his eye.
We giggled a bit more, as girls do, with a bit of nudging and whispering that he was winking at a certain member of our party.
But one day, the rather large man opened his mac and exposed himself. No-one else could see because we were the only ones facing him. He held open his mac and fondled his manhood right there in front of us.
We looked … and tittered … and said not a word until he left the tram, at which point we dissolved with laughter.
We looked out for him the next day but he didn’t turn up. I wonder why.
It wasn’t long after that buses replaced the trams but whenever I hear mention of the old trams I recall the incident of the flasher. Happy days…. Ooops what am I saying?
Men would be men in those days.
Many years later a flasher sat next to me in the cinema. The friend I was with had changed places, moving from my left to my right. Unbeknown to me she had moved to get away from him, and he moved up to sit beside me.
Under the pretext of retrieving a box of matches he’d dropped or let slip onto the floor, he reached down … and I bent over to see what was up. Well, what was up wasn’t down… it was sitting upright on his lap. I nudged my pal (I’m reliving it now) and said ‘he’s got his whatsit out’ to which she replied ‘kick him like I did’.
Bad enough, but we youngsters treated it all as a joke. We didn’t tell our parents, we just laughed at all the silly men. Not so now. Things got worse, didn’t they?