It was time to start a new life together, it was time to go to London. I cleared out the apartment and stored all my stuff at Steve and Di's place. They stayed in Cambridge and had rented a nice bungalow with a few spare rooms. The plan was that I would first go to London to look for a room for Barbara. It had to be a room just for Barbara. Not for us both. Barbara was afraid that if her mother would find out that I was living with her, that her mother would not her stay in London. Barbara already had to do a lot of persuading in order to be allowed to live in London. Her mother preferred it if she travelled every day from Histon to London. The university I was accepted already had arranged a place for me to stay in, I could move in when the term started.
I drove on my motorbike on a Saturday at the end of the summer holiday to London and stayed in the apartment were some of our Chinese friends stayed. They had moved to London straight after the exams and found themselves a nice place in the centre of London. They also found a room for Barbara. It was a small furnished room (room 10) at 37 Belsize Avenue. The house was large and all the rooms were rented, the landlady lived in the cellar. It was a nice neighborhood with a large park (Hampstead Heath) nearby. The underground station Belsize Park was about a 5 minutes walk away and it took about half an hour by underground to get to the city centre. The room was on the first floor and wasn't very large, about 4 meters long and 2 meters wide. When you walk through the door, then on the left was a single bed, on the right a cupboard. Behind the bed was a table with chair. Behind the cupboard was a kitchen sink with a cooking plate and the electricity meter. To get electricity you had put a shilling in the meter. Barbara lived three and half years in that room and all that time she didn't change the furniture. She didn't even hang any personal things on the wall. The only thing she did was in 1980 when she bought a rather girly sweet romantic draw poster, which she hang it above her bed. She said that it gave her comfort when she was lonely.
The house wasn't very well kept. One day the toilet of the second came through the ceiling of the toilet on the first floor, a few meters from Barbara's room. If someone had been on it then....... Most surprising was that no one complained. The ceiling and the toilet were fixed and life went on as nothing had happened. I think nobody in that house wanted to risk lose the contract, as the it quite cheap compared with other places so close to the centre.
The following Monday Barbara came with her mother and uncle to check out the room. They agreed and Barbara could move in. As soon as the her mother and uncle had left I went to visit her, parking my bike in front of the house. The following morning the landlady knocked on the door told us that she had noticed that my motorbike hadn't moved since yesterday. She asked if I was aware of the house rules. Of course I said that I wasn't aware. "'Well 'she said 'if you stay again for the night then Barbara will have to leave" Since then, every time when I came to visit Barbara I parked my motorbike further down the road. And of course we didn't follow the house rules. We had great fun in trying to smuggle me into Barbara's room after we been out a night. We tried all sort of methods to get upstairs without being noticed by the landlady. Carrying Barbara, taking the steps by making the same steps at the same time so it sounded like one person was going up, Barbara goes first and then I followed a few minutes later. Al these attempts were accompanied with a lot giggling.
That first week in London we had a great time. College wasn't started yet, although Barbara mother thought it had. We spend every day exploring London. Barbara knew London better than me as she had been often to Chinatown. We especially enjoyed going out near Leicester Square. There was a large disco and a lot of cinema's. Also Crystal Palace and China town were within walking distance. This was for us the first time we been together in a large city for more than a few hours. Staying as long in bed as we wanted, then wondering around the centre of London, going to eat somewhere and then to the disco or cinema. A perfect time that was.
37 Belsize avenue (picture taken by Barfan in june 2010). The house has been renovated now into a guest house. There is nothing left of the original inside. The outside of 30 years ago was exactly the same as on this picture. Amazing really that it is possible to rent a room is the same house as where Barbara lived, having a chance to experience Barbara's daily life in London.
The view Barbara had from her window (foto taken bij Barfan in june 2010), things haven't change much in 30 years.
This is how I remember Barbara's room in Belsize avenue
这是我俩一起开始新的生活，亦是时间去伦敦。我清空了公寓和我所有存储在史蒂夫和迪那边的东西。他们会留在剑桥及已经租了一所有几个备用房间的漂亮的平房。我们的计划是，首先我要到伦敦为芭芭拉去寻找一个单人房间。它必须是一个单人房间，只为芭芭拉，而不适合我们两个人。因为芭芭拉害怕，如果她的妈妈发现，我和她是住在一起，她的母亲将不会让她留在伦敦。芭芭拉已经做了很多说服才能被允许住在伦敦。她母亲的本意是，她每天乘火车由 HISTON 往返伦敦。接受我入读的大学，也已为我安排了留宿的地方，学期开始的时候我便可以入住。
(translated by eblc2006)