Poster gal Jean could still make my old ticker skip at 80

MANY old guys like me regarded the late Jean Simmons as the perfect English girl of our youth. Fact is, though, it s more than 60 years since my bedroom wall was decorated with a colour poster of a teenage Jean. Quite how I came by it I don t recall, but

MANY old guys like me regarded the late Jean Simmons as the perfect English girl of our youth.

Fact is, though, it's more than 60 years since my bedroom wall was decorated with a colour poster of a teenage Jean.

Quite how I came by it I don't recall, but I know it was to do with one of her early films, possibly the one which rocketed her to stardom and the world's approving notice.

What the film was called I also have forgotten. Some desert island epic, I believe, because the poster had a decently-saronged Jean laying demurely on seashore sand by azure ripples, with palms in the background.

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All very respectable. Which is doubtless why mum let my pin-up stay pinned up.

Like a lot of things are to us at that age, the poster was probably something of a nine-day wonder to me. After all, once you have a poster what else can you do with it other than put it up?

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I'm pretty sure of not seeing the picture, smitten as I was, but the poster went where me and Jean could look at each other first and last thing.

My looks at her were a trifle guilty when, years later, I came home from national service on 48-hour weekend passes, because by then I had the equally "nice" Doris Day pinned-up in my RAF billet locker.

Jean's poster had to come down in the end, anyway.

On my first seven-day leave I found it had grown a luxuriant moustache and a goatee beard. Only my older brother fitted the crime profile.

He'd done the poster artwork before clearing-off to darkest Essex for a week with his future wife's folks - fortunately for our household's peace if not mine.

After having it for so long I couldn't discard Jean's poster. I tried giving her a concealing yashmak, but it didn't work, so I settled for keeping her, crease free, laying flat on my bedside table, beneath a discreet lace cloth.

My leave was up before brother returned.

I had mum and dad's word, however, that the prickles left in his bed were a success.

My pin-up's mistreatment avenged!

After which, what with service life, then returning to the Recorder, followed by marriage and a home of our own, I forgot all about Jean's poster, left forsaken in my old bedroom.

It came to light again one day a while later when, dropping in on mum, she asked me to shift the bedside table to a more useful kitchen role.

Seeing the forgotten poster after all that time really turned back my personal clock.

Mum and Madam made the most of it, of course.

"Thought the only photo you pinned-up then were of West Ham players," sniffed Madam.

"Couldn't really tell him to take Jean with him when he married you, could I?" laughed mum to Madam.

To which that worthy replied: "He's come on a bit since then. These days he likes 'em all black lingerie."

What use the indignant denials when the pair deliberately talked as if you weren't there?

The poster's disposal was left to mum.

By chance, a good few years later we had the fortune to see my old dreamgirl, in the flesh, on the West End stage.

She was by then middle-aged, and the flesh what might be called handsome, particularly in the Victorian fashions she so attractively wore in that production of A Little Night Music.

I anticipated some post show jibes from Madam about my now well-rounded, one time pin-up, but she had only admiration for her, not to mention maybe a little private envy.

It always dismays if we find an old favourite is as much subject to time's winged passage as ourselves.

We're often absurdly disappointed about it.

Donkey's years ago dad was excited by the start of a weekly dose of old-time music hall on the wireless, featuring some of the original artists of his young days.He soon went off the programme.

"He can't do it any more," said dad sadly, when the really veteran G. H. Elliott came on with, "I used to sigh for the silvery moon".

When I subsequently heard a collector's scratchy 78 of Elliott doing that famous hit, recorded in his heyday, I understood why dad was so choked.

It must be 30 years since we saw my former pin-up in the West End.

Bit I'll be very surprised though if an octogenarian Jean couldn't still skip hearts. I know one she would for sure.

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