Love: April 2004 Archives
I was two years away from senior school (well, actually three after my lost year) and doing very well at St Innocence's of Skelmersdale. My report had been excellent and I was fairing well for a boy who had been entered into school a year ahead of schedule. I was also excelling at sports. I had been the district champion of back stroke and had come second in the county athletic hurdling competition. Things were looking up. Although I was started to shed my baby looks and the puberty stage Bobby was going to be a scary period. I knew I wasn't the best looking kid back then, but, looking back, I was pretty rough looking. That said, it was noticeable that the charm and the sense of humour were being gently honed.
When I reached year six, I was placed on the brown table with Michael Watts, Jenni-Anne Wilcox and Gretta Copperpot. I wasn't happy at first as my best pal, Rupert Lever was seated on the blue table with people thought to be the cleverest in the class. I was deeply jealous and for weeks didn't talk too any of the children on my table. That was until the meeting of the knees.
This was probably my first sexual experience. I don't mean this was the first time that I fumbled or anything like that, but more that I experienced a feeling that I would come to recognise as I became a man. It was Wednesday afternoon and we had been working on our projects over lunch. I was the only one working on my own in class as I was still harbouring a grudge for being placed on the brown table. W e had just sat down to listen to a BBC broadcast for schools when I felt it. It was the warmth of her leg next to mine. It was amazing: a sensation that I didn't experience again for a good couple of years - not until I was long into senior school anyway. It was like I had just discovered something that would save the world.
The leg touching went on for about ten minutes. And yet years later I can still remember what it felt like. I met Gretta in a supermarket just a couple of years ago and simply had to talk to her. I had heard that she had become a county champion long-distance runner, but hadn't met anyone who was going to steal her heart. I thought that there was no time like the present to have a go. After a couple of minutes trying to trigger her memory of me (the knee touching was obviously something that meant more to me than her), I told her all about what happened that day. She looked slightly uncomfortable, but warmed to me when I told her that I had admired her from afar for many years since and had even followed her running career (I was lying, but then I did lay the knee touching on a bit thick). We arranged to meet in the supermarket cafÈ for a Lattte or a 'soup of the day', but she didn't turn up. I checked that there wasn't two cafes and waited around for about an hour, but she didn't show. I just wanted to say thank you to the second girl I had ever a crush on. One day I'll meet her again.
When I was young and attending school, I was allowed to go to school earlier than many of my contemporaries in the Elm Lane Little'uns Nursery. I wouldn't say that I was naturally more gifted at that age, although it was often commented that I was going to be the Prime Minister one day. An aspiration that I still hold dear and one that I hope to achieve. At three years of age I think it is difficult for people to truly judge a child's ability, but I was proud that I was going to be the youngest in a class of intellectual equals.
In my class that year were some wonderful characters with amazing futures. Who would have known back then that Joanie Finklestein would have had five children by the time that she was 23, been divorced three times (once because of me) and won the lottery. It wasn't a big win, but it was the first £10 win on a 'lucky dip' from the corner shop in Bidston. Frankie Brown was a polite young boy with an obsession for cowboys. Who would have known that he would later go on to become the first gay cowboy stripper gram in Mold, North Wales. Similarly, who would have thought that Sean Tillotson would do five years inside for the attempted abduction of a Russian Dancing Bear, or that Derek Cummings would nearly drown when he was 14 trying to be the first person to write some graffiti in the six metre deep end of the pool at Huyton Leisure Centre. By all accounts he had finished his work and was admiring it as a black brick from the diving school hit him on the head. He still managed to write, "If you can read this your drowning", and to my knowledge it is still there today.
The school, St. Innocence's of Skelmersdale, was not big. In fact it was one of the smallest schools in the county and was ran by a wonderful headmaster who was one of the prides of the local education authority, a Mr Thornton. He was a proud man and proud of the school that he had created, even more proud of his Year One teacher all the way from France. Her name was Miss Fontienne.
Miss Fontienne was amazing. She must have only graduated from college when she started teaching us, but her English was perfect with a fantastic French twist to her pronunciation. The dads loved her. I know my dad did. I certainly know that Uncle Phil (he was not a blood relative, but he and his wife insisted on us calling them Uncle Phil and Aunty Pippa) because a restraining order was served on him. He wasn't that happy, but was proud to be the first man to be issued with one in the North West of England. I was only young, so I didn't lust after her back then. My instinct for a good woman was obviously being sharpened and I could sense that s he was special. Very special. Even now, I find myself feeling uplifted at the very thought of her. I have seen her recently and she still looks amazing. She doesn't teach children anymore, but she studies new age therapies and places warm stones on people for about £70 an hour. Good work if you can find it.
I remember the morning I first tied my laces on my own and my parents pretty much carried me to school on their shoulders. I was feeling fairly satisfied with myself and looked forward to Miss Fontienne reading to us in the morning. I stared into her deep blue eyes for the whole hour of the story. It was something about animals and poor building laws in unpredictable weather conditions. The morning break was due and we were allowed to run off some energy in the yard. Terrence McDonald had been given orange juice that morning and was explosive. He was allowed to run all around the yard screaming for about an hour. Watching him from the classroom, running around the yard on his own, was one of the weirdest things I ever saw up to then. That and Lucy Penman's bits that she showed me and Harry Stephenson before PE in the June of that year.
There was a queue to have your laces tied by Miss Fontienne. I remember thinking, do I go up to her and show her how I tied my laces and watch her face beam with admiration or do I do what Scot Ethanshaw did and undo my shoes (he was cool and had Velcro shoes). I decided to undo my shoes and stand in the queue. It was mostly boys: perhaps even then the boys from Skem all knew what a good woman was. When it was my turn, she beamed, tapped her hand on her pale yellow skirt that covered her toned thigh. I gladly placed my left foot up and she tied my laces with a song that she sang to herself. She tapped her leg again and I popped up my right foot. Her sweet face went from one singing a song in French to one that looked like she had just bitten into a lemon. I looked at my shoe and I could see the mess. Terrence McDonald's dog had had something that unsettled it and I had ran through the unsettlement that morning. My dad had forced to scrape my shoes on the grass verge, but once Scot Ethanshaw started laughing at me I ignored my dads advice and, I guess, got used to the smell.
I saw another side to Miss Fontienne that morning. As she dragged me to Mr Thornton's office, I saw a Gallic temper that would be more familiar on the Six Nations Rugby pitch. She hardly smiled at me for the entire time I was under her stewardship. It wasn't like I didn't understand. I had, after-all, just walked dog muck over her new skirt. She was the first woman I think I had a crush on. Perhaps that was the mould setting experience that has had an affect on every crush and love I have had since. Either way, I will always remember Miss Fontienne.
My mouth was open and the pillow seemed to be glued to my cheek. The slight perfume of some sort of conditioner was unfamiliar and the light seemed strange for what I presumed was late in the morning. I must have slept on my side with my left arm underneath me because my shoulder was aching. I tried to manoeuvre my arm while keeping my eyes clamped shut, but I had lost all the feeling, power and use of it. Peeling my face from the pillow I turned onto my back to free the arm, but I couldn't turn fully. When I opened my eyes to see what was in my way I didn't recognise the bed sheets, the wall-paper, the built-in wardrobes nor the woman who was naked next to me.
I had started the previous night celebrating my first programme on Skem FM. It was a huge success with lots of people phoning in (even though it wasn't a phone in) which I was assured was a good sign: "at least people are listening". I had left the station in a euphoric state and headed straight for "The Plough". When I got there I could see that the regulars were already a couple of drinks ahead of me. Mickey "The Robot" Rutter and Tony "Bogey" Harding called me over to their table for a game of bar room cricket. This game is known to some as 'Tit-cricket', ordinarily a game that I would never have played, and comes with simple rules: a man goes out to bat and his aim is touch a ladies shoulder for a run, a bum for a four and a breast for a six. A slap across the face and you're out. As the only woman in the bar was Charlotte "Lotta" Bull it became obvious that we needed to find another crease to play on.
The Robot, Bogey and me left the bar and headed for the hot-bed of lady lovelies in Skem. 'The Broken Arrow' was the kind of place that attracted the ladies in packs. Whether it was the dim lighting, the open spaces or the discounts on shorts no-one ever knew. Either way, we didn't care. I was one drink from a bad night when Bogey approached our table with a tray of drinks and a score card for the opening games innings. I drew the short straw and started my innings.
The Robot was a man who, during the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties, had become accomplished at the disco dance based on the movement of a robot. It was slightly jerky and rusty now, but back in the fortnight when it was the dance move of all dance moves he was Newton on the Willows answer to a Disco Fred Astaire. Bogey on the other hand couldn't, wouldn't and will never dance. Tony Harding, ever since he was about fifteen years old, had an uncanny likeness to the great actor Humphrey Bogart. From the age of about eighteen he was doing stand-in work on adverts and even starred in a new theatre production called, "The Wax Works Revenge". In the review of the play in the Liverpool Echo, it suggested that Tony did the best impersonation of a wax work trying to act they had ever seen. Needless to say that this didn't stop our Bogey from trying to break into the acting scene in the North West. This evening, on the end of a warm early summers day, he was happily unemployed and glad to be rubber necked by female movie fans who wanted a bit of the old black magic sharing a drink with them. If Bogey's balls had dropped fully, he may have convinced them that he was in some way close to being a man, but he had a very boyish tone to his voice which seemed to amuse most females.
I advanced through the growing throng scoring runs left, right and centre. I spotted a girl I recognised near the lads and thought about going for a six. I was on 33 not out as I approached Shona Boyle. I had drunkenly sucked Shona's two front teeth out of her face some months back. She had lost her teeth when she tried to walk through the wrong side of a patio door. They were replaced by a dentist in St Helens who was straight out of dental school which meant they were fitted loosely. To be honest, I thought I had swallowed my tongue when I retched, and felt some mild relief when I coughed up her two front teeth. Our intimate liaison in the on-board toilet of the National Express Coach ended pretty soon after that. Seeing her again, I felt that I could confidently fetch a six off a deft touch of her breast. I approached from behind and nipped her expansive bosom. She span around like an industrial spinning top, I winked and smiled as she connected her right fist with the underside of my infamous glass jaw. I was 33 all out and left completely unconscious.
Lying in the strange bed with a woman's back facing me, I wondered what had happened after I tried for my first and only six of the game. I leaned up on my right arm and my left arm fell limply behind me. I dropped to my back, pulled my left arm across me and again leaned up on my right arm, my left arm hanging down from my shoulder like a heavy rope. I could feel pins and needles setting in from the bicep down as my bed-mate started to wake. All I could think was that Shona had felt sorry for lifting me off my feet with a hook that Cassius Clay would have been proud of. My bed-mate stirred and opened her eyes. First there was a tired blink, then there was an opening which was followed by a realisation and then a wide eyed look of shock. "Oh shit", my mystery woman exclaimed.
"Where am I?" she asked me semiconsciously. It was just about now that I realised that my tongue was covered in a post-long night fur that should usually be accompanied by a stench of breath. I decided it was best not to talk, so I grunted and shrugged my shoulders. My left arm looked uncomfortable but was slowly coming back to life. "Is this your place?" she asked sarcastically. I fell onto my back and looked the other way before I spoke, "I thought it was your place. Do you think I would have a border around my room that was of sparrows eating worms embedded in what look like rotten berries?" She looked at me. And then shook her head. She looked at me again. Rubbed her eyes and then looked again. She then started to smile. I must say that it was about now that I began to feel good about myself. She seemed happy with our situation, perhaps, I thought, I am a significant notch on her bed-board. I tried to put my hands behind my head, but only my right arm would do as I asked. "How's your arm?" she asked. I was stunned. Was it that obvious? I explained that I must have been lying on it awkwardly. At which point she began to laugh out loud. "You don't remember a thing do you?", she giggled.
We lay there, completely naked next to each other. She giggled for a while and then turned to me and offered me a stick of minty gum. It tasted fresh and allowed me to talk confidently with out worrying about my breath. "What's so funny?" I said as I tested the water about just how intimate we had been the night before. Still on my back I placed my hand on the top of her naked thigh, I searched the inside of her thigh and the light mound of her slim belly. There was no reaction. I remember thinking to my self that we have had a really good night. "It's just that you remember nothing at all", she said. "I remember getting lamped by Shona", I said, "But, to be honest, that's about it." She told me that it would be rude if I couldn't remember her name while I was massaging her belly just above the rude-line. She continued to tell me that she was standing next to Shona when I went for my six. She sneered at the immaturity of it all. Apparently, she and Shona both connected at the same time. "So, did you swing for me as well or did I just fall for you afterwards?" I asked as I dropped my hand below the rude-line. She smiled, poked her finger into my side - which lifted my arm - and then she pulled something from her side and thrust it towards my arm. I felt a sharp shark in my right arm, I saw a flash of light and then a dull pain as I lost all control of my right arm. I lay on my back, both arms completely lifeless and slightly bemused. She threw back the covers to reveal a slightly aroused 'Little Bobby', jumped across me and sat on my stomach. She looked fantastic and had a look of complete and utter mischief in her face.
"My name is Belinda Muckett", she declared seductively, "And last night we enjoyed a most amazing night. Well, if you can't remember, then that's fine by me. After you came round from the knock out, you and me danced all night. Your hands were everywhere - just like now - and I had to teach you a lesson. I zapped you before we went to bed and you lost control of your left arm. So pissed, you looked confused that you couldn't get undressed. It was hilarious."
"Did we - you know?" I asked.
Laughing, "No. Oh, no. I was having so much fun." She looked at my left arm and zapped it again with what I recognised as a cattle prod.
"Blood and nails woman!" I exclaimed in pain, "You could kill me."
"No. You're still here and the battery is going", she whispered into my ear, "I'm afraid I'll have to go now."
"Where are we?" I asked.
"Apparently, this is your mate Robot's ex-wife's house. You robbed the keys from Robot last night."
"You kidding... she's psychotic and she hates me... I am not mad enough to do that", I explained.
"Mad enough to spend a night with a woman who had been zapping you with a cattle prod".
Belinda then stepped off me and I watched her beautiful body collect her clothes from around the room. She explained to me that Robot's ex was on holiday and that she was due back some time later in the week. The mild relief I experienced then was dampened by the fact I couldn't use either of my arms. I struggled to a sitting position and tried to put on my pants using my feet, a gyrating action and the generous pressure of gravity. Just as I managed to rub my pants on, Belinda, now dressed and looking fresh, came across the room and brandished the cattle prod. Laughing she despatched a further charge into both my arms and then removed my pants. Leaving me naked, alone and pretty cold in the middle of the bed. She bid me a fond farewell, blew me a kiss and opened the bedroom window.
The morning wasn't warm and the room cooled even further. I struggled for about an hour just to pull the duvet across me with my feet. I lay in that bed for about seven hours until I had moderate use of my arms. I just about made it into Skem FM for the second show of my debut week (I was given a talking to for late fades on records as my arms were still weak). I never spoke or wrote about this day until now. Although, Belinda spread the word and every time I walked into 'The Broken Arrow" I was greeted by a chorus of 'Moos'. I may have laughed it off, but my arms twinged with the memories.
It's not often that you meet some-one who you have nothing in common with, nothing to connect you both and certainly nothing that you can talk about. However, when I was trapped in a lift in "The Houston Hotel" I was with a young woman who was the opposite of me that it scared me.
They say opposites attract, but I could tell as soon as I pulled the metal grilled door across and pushed my thumb into the 4th floor button that I repulsed her. Perhaps it was my accent (I had been muttering to myself). Perhaps it was my deodorant (I had been dancing like a loon at my cousins wedding). Perhaps it was my inability to stand still (I must have scored for a dozen pints and ridden the valve for seven songs). Perhaps it was the way that I leered at a bit of skirt in the lift (I didn't mean to, but I was hot off Wilson Picket and felt like The Big o'). Perhaps it was the wedding cake smeared across my chops. I don't what it could have been that could have put her off, but it was obvious I wasn't her kind.
As we passed the second floor from the basement dance floor and party I figured she was with the wedding party, but that she played for the other team. I couldn't remember her from the service. I sat with a good seat through the meal and still couldn't figure out who it was. As we glanced the second floor and the light spilled into the lift we were given the sight of young cousin Trevor with his trousers around ankles urinating into the lift. As the lift hurtled past at a pace that Appollo IV would have been proud, he soaked the whole left side of me. Before I could get a harsh word out, I heard him yell, saw a flash from below and then the lift went black and we both stood in darkness.
I am sure that shorting the lift was never Trevor's intention, but he would be reminded years after of his escapade. How the whole hotel lost all it's power for a period long enough for the groom to confuse a bridesmaid for the bride in the dark and for the lights to reveal the shortest marriage in the families history.
As I stood in the darkness I heard a wimper from the corner of the lift. I thought that the only manly thing to do was to reach out and comfort the young lady. Reassure that everything would be OK. Tell her that it would be a matter minutes before we were rescued. I put my hand out in the dark, looking for a shoulder. At first I thought that she had very soft shoulders. Before I had remembered that she was very toned and fit looking I was squealing like a horse with it's knackers in a clip. She had twisted my arm and thrust me against the wall. My nose had slid into the buttons of the 6th floor and down to basement just as her foot went into the back of my knee and I fell quickly to the floor. She grabbed my belt and undid my buckle. I foolishly muttered, "All you had to say was I..." and she turned me onto my belly, wrapped my elbow in the belt and then grabbed my feet. She tied my laces together and then put her knee into the middle of my back. As I buckled backwards into the pain I tried to yell, but found an apple thrust into my mouth.
As the lights in the lift came out, I found myself strangely attracted to the honey. As I looked up from her feet I could her longs legs and wondered why I hadn't done things differently. As she lifted her foot to push my head back to the floor I read the make of her heels, "Sue". I wondered what her name was, and baptised her Sue as I noticed just how dirty the carpet in the lift was. The lift moved to the fourth floor. Sue pulled the doors back and stepped out. She leaned in and pressed the basement button, closed the sliding grill doors behind her. As I started my descent she simply said, "Good night Soldier".
It took weeks to get people to believe that I had been robbed. The smell of Trevor's urine that stained my shirt was good enough to convince some people at the time. Most people simply noted that I had no money to be robbed and had begged for people to buy me drinks all night.
I stopped drinking after that night. Not for long, but long enough to respect the drink. I now only drink when in good company and with rooms with soft walls.