Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Bring On The Girls

By early 1981 I was signed off work at the Civil Service, in a fair degree of pain as the muscles in my back wasted, unable to walk more than 50 metres at a time, and lacking any direction in life. But on the plus side I could drive. It was the single greatest pleasure of my life. I would go for long drives simply because I could. I enjoyed a sense freedom that I could not achieve in any other way.

Aside from the previously mentioned friends, Paul, Jay and Darren, I was also spending time with others; those ineffably mysterious, bewildering and contradictory creatures, girls. From the safety of a quarter of a century, a happy marriage and two children later I look back on what was at times a confusing experience with a wry smile, and in case any are reading this, a definite fondness. Having always gone to co-ed schools girls had always been part of my life, albeit a particularly mystifying part. As far as the girls at school were concerned there may as well have been a perspex wall between me and them, such was their unattainability. Fortunately the church youth group provided at least the theoretical possibility of social contact. My first girlfriend, when I was 13, was a girl from an associated youth group from the other side of the city called Jackie. Jackie was small, blonde and disturbingly curvaceous. We would meet in town and hold hands while wandering around the shops. I bought her a necklace for her 14th birthday. The relationship lasted a little over 5 weeks during which time we grew apart. Had I known the dearth of relationships I was about to enter into I may well have made more of an effort, but truthfully she scared me.

Years later my ability to drive and the fact I had my own car increased the opportunities I had to interact with the female of the species. Unfortunately it coincided with the significant deterioration in the MD which undermined any burgeoning self-confidence I might have felt. The growing obviousness of my disability and the almost palpable sense of desperation I must have exuded limited my potential as boyfriend material and I entered in to a series of 'nearly' relationships.

In amongst all this hormonal mayhem I did strike it lucky, if not romantically, with a couple of girls who have since gone on to become life long friends. During my time off work from the Civil Service I would often meet up for lunch with a girl who had been at both my school and my church. Michelle was a lot of fun to be with during a difficult time while I struggled to find some direction for my life. It was nice to have an attractive friend to just hang out with (as opposed to my not so attractive male friends) and I both appreciated and enjoyed her company. And, on the off chance you are reading this Michelle, it's your turn to write.

(And yes, Jacq, you were the other one.)

Pleasant though spending time with friends was, and despite the uncertainties pertaining to my physical condition in the future, I knew I had to move on. It was time to go back to education. I applied to Southlands College, part of the Roehampton Institute, which at the time had its degrees validated by the University of London and was set along side the common in Wimbledon, to read for a combined studies Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Religious Studies. It was a decision that transformed my life and took me in a whole new direction.