Bitter memories of a long-past abortion

My own story – more accurately a story involving two people, but told from my own perspective – begins in an evening in early September 1967, when my girlfriend of a few months meets me off a train at Glasgow Central. She has something she needs to tell me. We cross the street to a pub, the Corn Exchange, where over half-pints of beer I learn that she’s pregnant. How do I react to the news? Am I comforting, cold, or just scared and confused? I have no idea, but a few days later I or we decide that we should be married. We write letters to our parents – hers live in Northern Ireland and mine in Fife. My letter is written in the Mitchell library – all these years later I can still see the desk and the notepaper – but what it says I have again no idea (though I imagine its tone to be chipper, which was my 22-year-old style).

Somehow this plan changes, perhaps because my girlfriend senses that I’m not too keen. Perhaps she isn’t either. A friend of hers who’s had an abortion comes round to the flat with her husband and tells us about the possibilities. Aside from the towels and hot water, we’ll need to have a “good [coal] fire going” so as to dispose of the remains.

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