The first thing Derek noticed about Maureen was her legs. All the girls wore those new miniskirts in 1965, but when he saw her stood outside Croydon Woolworths smoking an Embassy, he knew she was something else. He walked up and asked her for a light. She blew her smoke in his face and he was in love.
Maureen was 17 and worked in the mattress factory with her sister and best friend. Derek was 18 and worked as a mechanic in his father’s garage. They began dating and were regulars in the back row of the Regal Picture House. Their first date was to see Dr Zhivago and Maureen wore a fur hat like Julie Christie’s. She’d saved for weeks to buy it and it took almost all of her wages once she had paid keep to her mother.
Derek proposed and they got married in June 1968. Maureen wore a mini wedding dress and their first son was born on Valentine’s Day. Keith was on the small side so the family thought he was early, except for Derek’s Aunt Minnie. Mostly she kept her thoughts to herself but could get a bit sniffy after too many sherries.
With the 1970s came free love, the Common Market and twin daughters, Alison and Lara. They had apple cheeks, Maureen’s blue eyes and white blond curls that never darkened, as Derek’s had by the age of five. Maureen stayed at home with the children and Derek worked overtime when he could. They bought a Mini and stayed in a static caravan in Margate for a week every summer. Maureen still had the legs but mostly hid them behind her pinny.
As the children hit their teens, Derek and Maureen hit a rocky patch. She thought the children were old enough for her to get a little job during the day. He thought work was his role and was sure the house would fall to rack and ruin if empty all day. Maureen signed up for a course instead and learnt to touch type. A compromise was struck. Maureen helped in the office of garage two mornings a week and Derek was allowed to sleep in the main bedroom again. Derek’s only stipulation was no short skirts at work. Maureen no longer chose to wear her teenage dress style anyway.
Derek took over the family business and Maureen ran the office full time. She studied part time for a business course and between them they launched a second, then a third garage across the Croydon area. Keith showed no interest in mechanics, preferring accountancy instead. The girls married two brothers, not themselves twins but both similar in looks and temperament. Within a few years Derek and Maureen had five grandchildren. They whole family took a sentimental holiday caravanning in Margate and Maureen won runner up in the Glamorous Grandmother competition.
They saw in the new Millennium in Australia, two of the first people in the whole world to see the dawn rising. Their family grown and settled, Maureen and Derek matured into a more companionable and rewarding relationship. They enjoyed spending time together, kept fit and shared more interests than ever they did when they were young. They celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows.
Maureen wore her original mini wedding dress and Derek admired her legs all over again.
Inspired by “The Enduring Appeal of the US still”