There’s a tale I really have to share with everybody. I just hope you’ll be gentle with me.
As a young man, girls were always a bit of a mystery to me. Sure, I had friends who had girlfriends, but it always seemed such a terrible waste of playtime/dinner time walking round the perimeter of the school playground holding hands, using up valuable football playing time.
So, probably due to the fact that I would rather act out my fantasy of being Frank McLintock or Charlie George, or, if I could really stretch it, Liam Brady, girls were just an unnecessary distraction. This, combined with the dreadful fear that my dad would ever discover I had a ‘girlfriend’ leading to unmerciful teasing, meant I kept the fairer sex at arms length.
Soon, though, this particular theory about girls would be challenged. I remember one particular summer when Eggy and I attended the Borehamwood Fair (Eggy was also of a similar belief, but being a deluded Chelsea fan wanted to be Peter Osgood). That night, we watched lots of neanderthal, nay, absolutely pig ugly boys accompany the most beautiful girls on the waltzers and dodgems. A masterpiece of blow dried, flick backed hair, lightly wrapped in cheesecloth shirts tied at the middle and emanating the siren fragrance guaranteed to send teenage boys into raptures; Stowaway (Sleepy Lagoon).
Returning home to watch The Water Margin, my heart felt heavy; I was obviously not attractive to the opposite sex. How I longed for a girl who loved me. And Arsenal FC. And kung fu films.
Life carried on, but still the doubt remained in the back of my mind. Until one Friday, when Elaine told me that Debbie liked me and wanted me to take her out. Debbie, daughter of Doreen, a good friend of my mother. I, of course, did the honorable thing and tried to avoid Debbie. However, Debbie ticked all of the boxes: Flick backed hair, wore Stowaway (Sleepy Lagoon) and looked incredible in a cheesecloth shirt. If there could ever be a bonus, it was that Debbie was not the shy, retiring type. She was quite experienced in the practice of going out with boys and had a reputation that was almost legendary.
Well, this change of luck took me somewhat by surprise. It wasn’t long before our paths crossed (double English on Wednesday afternoon). Elaine walked past my desk and pinched me somewhere girls shouldn’t pinch you and winked.
“Go arn,” she said, nodding in Debbie’s direction, “ask ‘er aart!”
I shuffled down 3 rows to where Debbie sat, her big brown eyes surveying me, a wistful smile on her face.
“Erm,” I stuttered “erm hello Deborah, erm, how a a a are you, how’s yer mum erm…”
“Jer wanna go aart on Friday?” she said.
“With you?” I replied.
“No. Marc Bolan. Of course me, you wally!”
I waited for the laughter to subside.
“Err, yeah. Alright.”
I thought of the first thing that came into my head.
“Would yer like to go to the pictures?”
Debbie smiled. Her big brown eyes looked deep into my wide, terrified ones.
“Yeah. That sounds great.”
And so, the date was made. What follows can only be described as a baptism of fire.
TO BE CONTINUED