There was nothing to watch on the TV that night, thought Alice. She was feeling bored senseless, the children were settled in bed and Bob was working late as he does so frequently now. She flicked through the channels; she couldn’t even watch her favourite soap as it was going to be shown later due the football match. Maybe I’ll just flick through the local free newspaper, she thought, she hadn’t done this in ages. After checking the job adverts it usually goes straight in to the bin. As she picked up the paper she couldn’t help but notice a slogan on the bottom of the front page ‘Is there someone trying to get in touch with you?’ What kind of sad person takes this seriously she thought, but her curiosity got the better of her and she went to the page quoted.
It was then a particular message caught her eye. It read ‘Remember the Isle of Wight, hot summer in the early 1980’s? You were the Beauty Queen and I was a young muscle man. Please get in touch, Jack P O Box 56, London SW1. What kind of nerd remembers someone from all that time ago, Alice thought. What a sad person, holding a torch for somebody for all that time. Hang on; she remembered she was at the Isle of Wight for some of her family holidays. When she was about 11, just before she could really start to rebel, Mum had forced her into some of those competitions. Alice racked her brains, remembering it was a hot summer when she won that contest, it couldn’t be she thought, too much of a coincidence. It played on her mind while she flicked through the TV channels, she knew it would gnaw away at her so she raced upstairs and retrieved her little box of memories. It was a beautifully decorated box she had made and kept in it photographs, old letters and postcards from friends. She smiled fondly at the small collection of sea shells and even held one against her ear. She delved deeply to the bottom of the box and here some letters from friends she had made at the holiday camp that year. It was strange reading all those old letters and all her old memories and feelings that had been firmly locked away came bubbling to the surface. Then she saw it, she didn’t notice it straight away, but there it was still in good tact, the sash she had to wear, ‘Princess Holiday Camp ~ Isle of Wight’. She could still remember the surprise she felt when they announced her name. She was sure the dark haired girl, with lots of make up on would win it. She couldn’t remember what the prize was, but it suddenly dawned on her that she had to take part in the carnival float with none other than, oh no, she thought, it was ‘Muscle Man’. She then saw the photograph, which had been wrapped up in the sash with some of things. It was Alice pictured with ‘Muscle Man’. She giggled with embarrassment, remembering that awful hairstyle she had, it was the fashion then and she did want to look like one of the Banamara singers at the time. She looked more closely at Jack, and recalled how handsome he was and wondered if he was still as good looking. All the memories came flooding back, he was 14 at the time and she felt really great winning the competition and sitting with an older handsome boy, all her school friends were jealous when she recounted the story. She couldn’t believe with all these years that had passed by, she could recall the same feelings she had at that time.
Well what do I do now, Mr Muscle she thought? Why does he want to get in touch, was it simply that he came across the photo and wondered what I will be doing now, it must be, what other possible reason could there be? It’s not as if he’s held a torch for me after all these years.
It wasn’t long before Alice had written a letter, a very brief one in fact. She never enjoyed writing letters, she never knew what to put, she’d much rather bake a cake or make a dress, so she made it short and to the point. She was glad it was this way; she wasn’t particularly IT savvy either. Yes writing a letter is much more nostalgic she conceded.
It was a few days before she received a reply, it seemed she wasn’t the only one who was bored enough to read those pages either. Jack had received 20 replies and he wanted her to write back and confirm the name of the now famous celebrity who had compered the contests. Well that’s ridiculous, she couldn’t for the life of her remember who on earth it was. She went back to her little box of memories and rifled through to see if she could find any clues but she couldn’t. She was well and truly miffed and she started to feel a bit irritated by Jack’s letter, surely he must have remembered her name. With that thought she sent him a very abrupt reply. She enclosed a recent photograph of herself, plus a copy of the original photo of them and told him that if he can’t even remember her name then it wasn’t unreasonable for her to have forgotten the celebrity that worked at the holiday camp that year. She knew that anybody could tell from both pictures that it was definitely her.
Alice felt guilty after posting the letter, she knew she was upset because she was lonely and had rather vainly anticipated the thought that Jack may have held a torch for her after all these years. Life had become very dull, she felt like a dreary housewife and mother with all the excitement gone. The thought that someone fancied her after all these years had given her a lift but now she was hurt that he couldn’t be bothered to even remember her name.
A week had passed by and Alice had heard nothing, she had started to think about that summer a lot, memories of it were coming back, it was a particularly hot summer and she remembered all the hopes that she had for the future. She wanted to work in television production and never got beyond being a secretary at the local paint factory. She realised that she had forgotten all about Jack and her only competition win. She knew she should be flattered that she had won a beauty competition and decided it was best to keep memories back in the past. If nothing else she should take this as a jolt to do more things for herself, Alice had buried herself in suburbia.
Alice was packing away her memory box when the doorbell rang. She wondered who it could be; most of her friends where and the school then a latte run. She opened the door and couldn’t believe her eyes. She knew it was him, after all these years, it was definitely him, Jack, the muscle man.
“Hello Alice” he said with a big smile.
“Hello Jack, you have not changed at all”, she said hardly concealing her excitement.
“I should hope I have, otherwise that sash would be tight” he joked. He was as confident as ever. “Look it is lovely to see you again Alice, I didn’t mean to offend you but I had to make sure it was the right girl. Once I saw the photo I knew that it was you. I just happened to be passing and I thought I’d better call by. The thing is I’m researching a television programme about holiday camps and their entertainment and I wondered if you would like to take part in it” Jack explained. “I know this sounds daft but I hope you’ll do it, it’s just as I was there it seems relevant to include it” he continued.
With that Alice started to laugh, well the mystery was finally solved, she wasn’t the only one being vain and this was the closest she would ever get to her childhood ambition.