Encyclopedia Sabrina (Norma Ann Sykes)

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... And was scared stiff at the seaside

Daily Mirror
30 August 1955

by Eric Wainwright

THE girl in question is: Britain's pin-up with the mostest. Her name is Sabrina.
It was a bright summer morning. I rang her up.
"What about nipping down to the seaside for a bathe?" I asked.
"Lovely," said Sabrina, who adores swimming.

It sounds a cheerful way to spend a summer's day, doesn't it? I thought so too until I tried being her escort and had the most frightening day of my life.
We drove to Southsea - Sabrina all sunny-haired with every. 40-23-37 inch, abundantly blossoming from a gay little frock.

And I did feel proud as we walked hand-in-hand along the prom where every head swivelled... and a precocious bug-eyed boy dropped his choc-ice.
First stop was the cool depths of a long bar where a fat man played 'Take My Hand' at a neon-lit organ.

We drank iced drinks and nineteen-year-old Sabrina whose fan-mail averages a proposal a day, dreamed of her ideal man.


"He must be big and strong..." she began, and I flexed my drinking arm.
But too late. The rat race had begun.
Two naval petty officers cruised across shouting, "It's Sabrina." The bar-maid dropped a glass. The organist stopped playing.

And within minutes, I was glowering forgotten in a corner while every man in the place hummed round my girl-for-a-day.
They bought her drinks, asked for dates and autographs, they told her she was wonderful.

The only notice I got was from a bearded character who snarled, "Shift over, chum."
"You must get browned-off with strangers butting in," I said sourly to Sabrina when we left.
"I love it," cooed Sabrina. "They're my public."

Beyond us, the sea shone like cool, blue glass. There was a row of bathing tents but my glamour girl said firmly: "We'll change at an hotel. I must have a proper mirror."
This meant crossing the busy main road to the beach with Sabrina busting out all over in a dazzling white swimsuit.
A startled policeman stopped the traffic, the air tingled with wolf-whistles. Sabrina Date at the Seaside 1955

We found a space on the crowded beach and stretched out.
"This is the life," I murmured, easing closer. Then it happened!
There was a scrunch of feet hurrying across the pebbles, a cry of "Sabrina" and we were hemmed in by a crowd which grew bigger every second.
Soon people in the front, pressed by the swelling crowd behind, began to stumble helplessly across us.

I remembered that at Leeds the fire brigade had to be called to control a Sabrina mob, and at Manchester mounted police had to rescue her from fans/
And I have never been so frightened.
All I could see was a forest of trampling bare legs and gaping faces. Children were crying, deck chairs were flattened, and far away I heard people shout, "What happened?" as they joined the crowd.

A furious voice roared above the clamour, "Someone's trodden in the sandwiches." A tattooed man brandished his fist at us.
"Get off the beach," he yelled. "My kid's frightened and we can't get at the sea."
Get off the beach? Easier said than done. While we struggled to get up, the tattooed man heaped a pile of newspapers at Sabrina's back and set fire to it to help us on our way.

Heads down, we fought back up the beach. But there was more to come.
Hundreds of autograph hunters closed in. For over half an hour Sabrina signed beach hats, rubber balls, wooden spades and choc-ice papers.

Very hard

Cameras clicked and teenagers stroked her arm shouting, "Oo... I've touched her."
Meanwhile I was being shouldered about by people who bawled, "Who does he think he is?"

Sabrina's smile never wavered. But later she said wistfully, "It's always like that. Sometimes I put on a bathing cap but they still recognise me. My last boy friend broke it off because we could never go to a dance or swim without a crowd gathering. It's all very hard for a boy, really."

I nodded dumbly. Recently I have crashed a stock car, dived through a glass window and jumped from an aeroplane. And I'd do it all again rather than face another date with a pin-up.

Page Created: 29 Sept 2012

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