That’s one of the beauties of growing up in a coastal village that gathers more that its fair share of tourists: the boys of summer. Girls, eagerly awaiting the fresh talent that will arrive in holiday cottages and bed and breakfasts, head off to summer jobs in cafes and shops beneath extra coats of mascara and lip-gloss. Some blush when they have to serve the object of their desire, others flirt brazenly. Later, they meet up in the amusement arcades, then walk hand-in-hand along the beach.
I never had a fancy for a Boys’ Brigader but I shared the anticipation of romance as the school year died and the six-week holiday beckoned. It is more than half a lifetime ago, but one fortnight-long affair remains vivid. I wore pink eyeshadow and a yellow Frankie Says Relax T-shirt. He cut a deep hole into the arm of a wooden bench with a penknife while he waited for me one evening. For years, I would remember him and smile when I walked by that seat. He wrote me a ‘I really do like you’ note on a postcard and passed it surreptitiously across the counter of the shop where I worked. When he returned home to Kent, we wrote and he would ring each fortnight on a Friday. My mum thought he was “nice”.
But when you’re 15 and mobile phones haven’t been invented, distances are insurmountable and affairs fizzle out; boys at school suddenly start to grow up and become more interesting. Summer loves are packed into memory boxes, to be taken out occasionally and smiled over, like sepia photographs. Wistfully, you wonder where they are now….