This is my book of anecdotes. This one isn’t in it but it could have been. It’ll be in the next one.
Eve, pregnancy, my mum and no Adam
Back in the sixties it was not quite how young people today might imagine. The prevailing mood was that of post-war drabness, fifties austerity and a very ‘stiff upper lip’ repressed culture. It was grey, drab and stuffed up its own arse.
The sixties rebellion was an attempt by a segment of the youth of the day to chuck all that out. They wanted colour, fun, freedom and liberalism.
Kerouac had pushed the door open. The Beatles and Stones had pushed it further and by the end of the decade Jimi Hendrix, Captain Beefheart, Bob Dylan and Roy Harper had blown it off its hinges with a ton and a half of dynamite.
Eve was a friend of mine from school. She was one of the group of girls I used to hang around with. Eve fell pregnant. I don’t know who the Adam was but pregnancy back then was a big thing. It was a social slur. People still talked of bastards. It carried a big social stigma. There was shame.
This was around 1966. I was about seventeen. Eve was probably sixteen.
Everyone thinks of the sixties as an age of sexual liberation and promiscuity. It was and it wasn’t. Contraception was still hard to get. You couldn’t buy condoms easily. There weren’t any machines or supermarket shelves stocked with varieties. There were no luminous strawberry flavoured ribbed nobblers that played Beatles songs while you made love. There was no internet shopping. There wasn’t even the idea of the internet. You had to go into a chemist and buy them across the counter. When the pill came in you had to go to the doctor and it was possible he would refuse.
That’s not quite the image put about. For young girls it was hard. Risks were taken.
When Eve fell pregnant her parents wanted her to have an abortion. There was pressure being exerted – failing that to put the baby up for adoption. Eve was very depressed.
My mum heard about it and felt that wasn’t right. She went round to see Eve and had a talk with her. I understand the gist of it was that being pregnant wasn’t the end of the world. Thousands of girls were in her position. She did not have to do what she was being pressured to do. She should do what she felt was right. If she wanted the baby then she should have it. She’d cope. If she wanted the abortion then that was OK too.
Eve felt that a weight had been lifted off her.
She decided to have the baby.
My mum started collecting baby clothes and toys. She did what she could.
I was recently talking to my friend Carol. She was extolling the virtues of my mum. She thought she was great – a one off. She told me I should write a book about her.
I suppose, in a way, I am.