1972 None of my father’s letters survived from this year.
Settled into university and happy sharing the flat with Sonia and John I felt happy, positive and motivated. My flat became a social focus for several lively and interesting people. Henry continued to visit, as did John and Paddy and several new female friends I met on my course or through others. My world expanded. Yes, I found the course work rather dry but it kept me busy and focused. But one day John went walking on Cadair Idris and didn’t return. This was a great sadness.
One lunchtime just before Easter I was with Krystyna on the top deck of a bus when she spotted her Polish friend Wojtek. She jumped up, pressed the bell and tore off down the stairs with me following. Wojtek was standing outside The Monte Carlo chip shop on Upper Parliament Street with his friend Mike. It was love at first sight. Was it all the superficial stuff…Mike’s Citroen Diane, the hand-made shoes, the brown velvet flares etc …perhaps but I am more inclined to believe that attraction operates at a much deeper level. Mike is deeply narcissistic and I believe that that was my challenge, my life’s lesson to learn.
Mike was going home to London for Easter and I couldn’t wait for him to return to Liverpool. He was returning to complete his third year architecture assessments and exams and had done little work. When he returned it was with the intention of dropping out but I persuaded him to give it a go…I rescued him and spent hours building his architectural model. He scraped through.
Come the end of term Mike and I were a couple and he moved in with me. He didn’t know what to do with his life and I suggested junior teaching. He applied and was accepted.
There was a cloud over my summer though…I had failed the Anglo Saxon exam and had to repeat it at the end of the summer.
At the beginning of the summer holidays we went camping in Scotland with Paddy and Krystyna before driving down to London to stay with Mike’s brother and his family. I got a wonderful job teaching art to two little boys in Chelsea and worked in The Oriental Gentlemen’s Club (to be a member you had to have served East of Suez!). It was mostly silent outside meal times…old men fast asleep in armchairs under copies of the financial times. The rugs were priceless as were the original paintings on the walls. My waitress outfit ( silver-service) had a 1920’s feel to it…mid calf green serge, crisp apron and headband .We were encouraged to glide around with the dishes. George, the head waiter , wore tails and one day as I glided down the dining room , serviette over my arm he whispered in my ear,’Joy, you are a waitress.’ I loved the drama. The kitchen was a steamy mix of anger, shouting and expletives. At the end of the summer Mike, Chris and I went off to Italy for two weeks . This was the holiday that should have rung alarm bells. Mike was manic. We charged around Italy…it whizzed by. We ‘did’ Venice in half a day and Mike was openly aggressive towards my brother. I made excuses.
Back in Liverpool Mike’s hyperactive and aggressive behaviour settled down and he seemed to really enjoy his teacher-training course. The social life centred around the flat was wonderful and I was content to settle into my work (I had passed the Anglo Saxon repeat). I pushed all my anxieties about Mike to the back of my mind and for the first time in my life was enjoying being part of a couple.
That Autumn. Krystyna’s friend Nina who was studying dentistry took me on as a patient. That Autumn also I had my first attack of Trigeminal Neuralgia and it was terrifying. It struck at intervals and I began seeing doctors and specialists. The last of these suggested that it was all psychological. Despite this I was happy… I suppose that we were nesting. Mike spent time down at furniture auction rooms and kept returning with beautiful pieces of furniture he bought cheaply. He had an eye for fine things.