Chapter 32 – 1981 to 1982
WARNING – CONTAINS EXPLICIT SEXUAL CONTENT
Written by Simon Mark Smith
First draft edit Ros Finney
Copyright © Simon Mark Smith 2021
Poem to Jules – 2020
You pull back your curtains
Birds fly across your sky
There’s a scent of wet grass where you live now
Worlds apart separate us
But I still hear your laughter
It took me a few months after Jules and I split up to become a bit less raw about what had happened, but even a year later when I came in to contact with her, there was still an emotional charge, at least for me. But generally, the trajectory was towards recovery, so both of us moved on and lived our lives without each other. Even so, it did leave me with some long-term consequences, mainly a reticence in me to meet future girlfriend’s parents. I was always worried they’d put pressure on their daughters to leave me because I was disabled. That fear remains with me today, so maybe it would have come about anyway, but had this first relationship not been impacted by her parents then I may have accepted it wouldn’t always be like that.
* * *
1982 – Recovery After Jules
There’s often a temptation after a relationship ends to seek solace in the arms, or legs, of someone else, even when we know it rarely eases the pain, in fact, often it just accentuates it. So, during the first few weeks of realising things truly had come to an end with Jules I turned back to Lauren. However, whether it was something physiological or just me telling myself not to do it, when we kissed it felt wrong. This was enough to make me not want to get closer emotionally, which was a bit of a pity because she was extremely pretty, we got on well, and she liked me. It didn’t cross my mind at the time, that maybe it was that, maybe liking me, was the kiss of death. Of course, it didn’t take long till she realised I wasn’t investing much in to our relationship, so each time we met up things became a little more dislocated. Meanwhile I was bumping in to Jules at college or in the library where things started to turn a little curt between us. We were going to be crossing each other’s path a lot during the following year so for both of us there needed to be a buffer, and being short with each other became my chosen defence. For all of that, both a year and 40 years later, I still felt a resonance with her.
* * *
I wanted to believe in a narrative of love and romance, people might complain that girls are taught through fairy tales to wait for a Prince Charming to rescue them, but likewise, boys are taught that a fair maiden will bring them true happiness.
1982 was to reveal to me that the reality of who I was didn’t match up to my ideals. The question that still haunts me is, did I corrupt the path to true love because of who I was, or was my vision of true love an idealistic narrative in the first place, well at least for some people?
* * *
Leonard Cohen Live in London
If you’ve never heard Leonard Cohen’s introduction to ‘Ain’t No Cure for Love’ on the ‘Live in London’ album, then I’d recommend you have a listen. If you’d rather experience what he says afresh without the following ‘spoiler’ then please skip to the next section. Otherwise, please read on.
In the introduction, he tells the audience that it’s been a long time since he last performed on stage in London, that it was about 15 years ago when he was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream. The audience laugh. He then discloses that since then he’s tried a lot of medications including Prozac, Ritalin, and Focalin as well as studying deeply in the religions and philosophies of the world. But, cheerfulness kept breaking through. Nevertheless, there’s one thing he says can’t easily be contradicted, there ain’t no cure for love. At that point the band start playing.
* * *
1982 – Seventeen
In 1979, a band called The Regents released a song called ‘Seventeen’. In its first lines, they declared, that being seventeen meant not yet being a woman. In a way, the same went for boys, I could feel this was still an in between age. Throughout my teens I felt I was waiting to live, whereas now in my 50’s there’s a slight sense of waiting to die. When John Lennon sang of life being something that happened while making other plans, he was spot on.
During the early years of the 1980’s there was something in the air that clearly stated things were changing for the good. The music scene was vibrant with style and colour that seeped out on to the streets. Even in Sutton Library, people were talking of androgynous guys they’d meet in clubs in London called Marilyn and Boy George. Even back then, I was conscious that Sutton Library must have been one of the few libraries in the world where both the boys and girls put makeup on to go there.
After the library closed for the night, those who didn’t want to go home would make their way to the Whistle Stop pub which was just across from Sutton’s main railway station. It was a shadowy place, even when it was daylight outside. It often felt like there was a dark sea of people swirling around in there, which was very convenient given many of the customers were under age. This was Sutton’s version of a late teen youth club. Likewise, in Carshalton, nearly all the pubs were frequented by loads of underage drinkers, which meant that for me these became another place to go to, to seek company.
* * *
1982 – Meeting Julia
Once I’d had my seventeenth birthday there was a slight change to my life, it was as if my world slightly enlarged. I would regularly have to take myself up to Roehampton Hospital to get my leg repaired or have fittings for a new one. It was during one of those visits that I got talking to a nurse called Julia who invited me to a party she was having at her place that weekend. A few days later I cycled to Morden Underground station, took my bike on the Tube to Fulham Broadway and then through a cold, rainy Friday night, I followed the route I’d marked out in my A-Z up to Shepherds Bush Green. I met up with Julia in one of the pubs there where she also worked to make ends meet. At 11pm Julia, some of her friends and I went to a Chinese restaurant, had a meal there, then piled in to her place where we all chatted until the sun came up, at which point we went to sleep. There wasn’t even an inkling of a romantic spark between Julia and I but she welcomed me in to her world, and I genuinely appreciated that.
In the world of Wallington, my home town, I was constantly looking for company and even though I was very conscious that I was a bit of a pest, at least in some people’s eyes, that didn’t stop me. I was driven by a desperate loneliness. A year or so later I would move to London which allowed me to partly reinvent myself, or at least cast off some of that feeling of being a bother.
Years later, someone told me that the famous singer George Michael would often come around to her house when he was a teenager because he felt so alone and needed company. Had I known that when I felt the same I might not have felt so bad. In fact, I may have felt I was doing these less than grateful people a favour by ringing their doorbell unexpectedly, after all, you never know, if I was to ever become famous, they’d have looked back and been glad of the imposition.
* * *
The Fear of 1984
After World War 2 ended, the late 1940’s and 1950’s were periods of recovery, where the emphasis was on rebalancing our world. For some, there was an aim to take it back to how things had been before the war, but for others this was an opportunity to build a brave new world. So, by the late 1950’s the pendulum hovered, hung in the air almost motionless for a moment then through the next decade it swung so far in the opposite direction that it became known as the swinging 60’s. Ok that might be a bit too much of a change to what that phrase refers to, but for many people who lived through that time, the 60’s saw more social and cultural change than any other decade during the 20th Century.
As we shall see later, from this era onwards there was no going back, culture wars were declared and from then all the way through the 70’s the battles continued on. By the time we got to the 80’s the direction had become much clearer. There was a general acceptance that solving social issues was of paramount importance. On top of that, this was the decade that saw the onset of bringing technology and computers in to our homes and everyday lives.
However, for all the hope that things were changing for the greater good back then, now, almost 40 years later, there is a sense that something went awry, that some of the things forewarned in Orwell’s book “1984”, now existed. That somehow all those roads we paved with good intentions led us towards a somewhat dangerous world of greater division and fear.
* * *
Therapy Session 1997
Therapist: When they pulled up the tram lines in London, it felt symbolic to me. It was as if the clear guidelines that society followed disappeared too. It was both frightening and freeing at the same time. It was as if we were entering an unknown world.
* * *
School – General studies
After my O level results had come through in the summer of 1981 some of the teachers were just as surprised at how well I’d done as I was. One of them who I particularly liked, Mr Jenkins, said of my success “I guess miracles do happen after all.”
The headmaster, who had always been somewhat aloof, not just to me, but everyone, decided to take a small group of us once a week for General Studies. This could be on any subject, so for instance, one week we might be looking at architectural styles, while another might be focusing on the global North South divide, or it might even be how to approach Cryptic crosswords, which I aptly renamed Kryptonite crosswords, because I would fall to pieces as soon as I came in to contact with them.
One of the lessons he taught us that came in very useful, and stuck in my mind ever since, was about ideologies. What he suggested was that it is the assumptions made within the foundations of most ideologies that once accepted make arguing against it very difficult. Therefore, it’s these initial assumptions that should be most focused on when trying to assess its value. He also pointed out that most systems when put in to practice meet challenges their creators never envisioned, so consequently they fail in many ways, especially as they start trying to “fix” those challenges.
* * *
On the Buses 1982
Between school and home was the bus journey. Unlike other bus journeys, this one not only included other kids from Wilson’s who I wouldn’t normally have interacted with, but also pupils from other schools. Highview was a school situated just a few hundred metres from Wilson’s so there’d be a few co-travellers with us from there. One called Brenda would often sit with me and have a chat on the way home. There were a few times when to a chorus of “ooh” from my school mates she’d give me a snog. Maybe she felt sorry for me, maybe she just liked kissing me, I wasn’t too worried about her motivations, there was never any promise of anything more, it was a ‘this is happening now… enjoy it’ moment.
As the bus journey would got closer to Wallington High street loads of girls from Wallington Girls School would jump on, and there’d often be continuations of abruptly ended conversations from the day before, the giving of Christmas, Birthday and Valentine’s cards as well as the resumption of the occasional feud. Sometimes we’d end up waiting at the bus stop in the high street together, so again there’d be quite a bit of socialising going on there too.
While we connect eras in our lives to certain buildings, it’s easy to forget how often transient settings act as backdrops to our lives too. Buses, trains, tubes, bus stops, platforms, waiting rooms, cars, parks and streets all play their part. These were our ‘between worlds’.
Some of the buses and most of the trains were old stock that still had the feel of the 1940’s, but the buses we took to school were quite modern at the time. You’d get on at the front, show the driver your pass or pay for your journey then get off via the middle doors. But as you got closer to the centre of London it would be far more likely that you’d hop on an old bus via the continuously open area at the back. If it was dark outside, you be bathed in yellow lighting from little bulbs which had a theatre dressing room quality to them, and soon after sitting down, if you could, a bus conductor would sway in front of you, maybe dance a few steps to keep their balance, as they took your money and gave you a ticket from a steampunk-like machine strapped to their torso.
4/5/82 – Tuesday
On the way to school I saw Penny and Hazel, as usual we had a giggle. Well it’s better than admiring dirty windows or looking at one’s reflection.
2/3/82 – Tuesday
On the way home from Roehampton hospital, the bus conductress looked me straight in the eyes, it sent a shiver up my spine. She gave me a lovely smile.
* * *
Lessons in Belief – 1982
In one of our English literature lessons, our teacher told us we were naive because while we had the ability to criticise our government, what difference did it make? We all nodded in agreement. But now, in 2021, my opinion has settled somewhere between his and our naïve ones. It’s true that there are lots of barriers to changing our world, especially the political one, but the world we live in has changed, and continually does so, both dramatically and not so, for better and worse, partly because of our actions, and despite our actions, as well as for a host of other reasons too. While we were naïve back then he may have been somewhat jaded.
Although teachers were not supposed to bring their political or religious beliefs in to the classroom, by the time we hit the 6th form they certainly did. Whether this was because we became more interested in politics and therefore provoked such discussions, or the teachers felt freer to bring up the subjects, it’s hard to know. Either way, politics and religion became far more common topics within our daily lives both in and outside of the classroom.
One day, in another English Literature class, we were studying a section of Virginia Woolf’s book ‘To the Lighthouse’. The bit we focused on was about religion. Virginia Woolf was an atheist and at one point in the text we were looking at, it was inferred that believing in God was something that one should grow out of. This stuck in my mind, not because it was logically argued well but because it made me think that anyone who believed in God was immature, at least academically.
Even though our teacher, Mr Burge, pointed out that logic and faith can’t meet up, and whether it’s true, or not, spiritual belief is probably in our blood, the idea that one had to be naïve to believe in God, swayed me. After the lesson one of my friends, Cameron, and I discussed some of the central issues around belief. Even though I felt I was winning the logical arguments, he told me that he wanted to become a Church of England priest. Now, 4 decades later, I’m still a “think agnostic, feel spiritual” person and he’s a bishop.
After school that day I stopped off at one of my friends who lived on Roundshaw. My friend wasn’t in but her mum invited me in for a cup of tea. At one point, she mentioned God, so, trying to sound clever and mature I said, “Surely, we’ve all grown out of believing in fairy tales such as God”.
My friend’s mum, I’ll call her Paula, looked at me then in a raised voice bellowed “I don’t know what they teach you at that school. How can you talk in such an arrogant way?”
I was a bit shocked, and knew this was not going to bode well in terms of my chances of ever going out with her daughter, who I had fancied for about 8 years. I stuttered “Well, I didn’t mean to be arrogant, it’s just there’s no way there’s an old man in the sky, or a Heaven in the clouds, or Hell beneath the earth, or Adam and Eve starting off humanity. And, and…” I hesitated slightly as I could see these arguments were not helping matters, in fact they were not helping one bit. Her face was red and she was shaking slightly as she glared at me harder than I ever thought was humanly possible “And,” I bravely or stupidly went on, “if there is a God why would he allow such suffering just so he can get us to become perfect again?”
In that moment, my mind went ahead to the wedding I’d always dreamed would be between me and her daughter, and there on the main table Paula did not look happy about our union, in fact she looked like thunder. I came back to reality, and the same thunderous face was still looking at me.
I was rather hoping for a calm counter argument, but instead she asked me in an I’m still really angry with you tone, “If you’re so sure about there not being a God then how do you think the universe got started? And if you’re so sure there’s not a God, then prove it to me, you can’t can you? Just because the Bible stories may not stand up to scientific scrutiny, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a God, does it?”
Trying to calm the situation I conceded. “Well I can’t prove it, that’s the point it’s about belief.”
“Exactly!” she exclaimed. “So, if it’s about belief why are you trying to make it sound like only idiots believe in God? Really, I’m disgusted by what that school’s done to you Simon, I’m really disappointed.”
I hated anyone using the “I’m very disappointed in you” line, mainly because it was easily the best way to get my eyes to well up with tears. Well at least it did so until I became so bad that I was more disappointed in myself than anyone else could ever be. For a moment, I wanted to explain that Virginia Woolf had made me say it, but I didn’t think that would help either. So, I went quiet and left soon after.
About 30 years later I met up with Paula, her husband and their daughter, the love of my early teenage life, for a reunion meal. Near the end of our meeting, I started to tell a joke then interrupted myself with “Maybe I shouldn’t tell this as you might not get it as it’s for people who have had therapy.”
Paula leaned back slightly, nodded then encouraged me with “Go on, try us”.
“OK” I said “Ok. How many psychoanalysts does it take to put a light bulb in?”
“I don’t know” she said
“2” I said “One to put the bulb in and the other one to hold my cock, I mean my mother, I mean the ladder”
They laughed politely and we carried on chatting. As we walked to our cars I looked at the woman who’d been the girl I fancied. She was a lot taller than me and just on that level I realised my teenage ambitions had been too lofty, let alone all the other reasons that I would have never been the one for her. I remotely lowered the roof of my car, but no one was impressed.
A few years after that I sent them all Facebook friend requests which were never accepted, although one of her brothers, who I was always very fond of, as I was of all of them, did. But I knew, ok I believed, that somewhere in all of that was the remnants of that argument and how I’d become quite unlikable in their eyes.
* * *
Girl Friends – 1982
The types of relationships I had with girls and women varied a great deal during this year. Firstly, I stepped away from trying to have intense romantic connections. Yes, it was my choice, ok it wasn’t my first choice, but, ok then, it wasn’t my choice at all. Secondly, I started to develop a few non-romantic friendships and thirdly, I started to get involved in sexual situations with girls/women who I realised either before or after things happened, that I didn’t want to get emotionally involved with in any serious way, whether or not they did.
In the poem I mentioned in the previous chapter, called ‘Words Without a Story’, by Adrian Henri, the narrator describes all the things he’ll do to capture the heart of his beloved, but once they have ‘rolled amongst the galaxies’ he becomes aware of a ‘distant star’, and soon after, rejects her. This was place I found myself too, I was lost in space where yearning for someone, then no longer desiring them once I’d won them over, was new to me. Even though I knew it did not help in terms of gaining a long-term deep and meaningful relationship, nor was it particularly nice for anyone on the other end of it who wanted more. None of that stopped me from getting caught up in the same dynamic for years to come. Was it because there was something wrong with me, or was this the way of the world?
It’s true that there are probably a lot of dynamics going on within the process of falling in lust and then pulling away. And there might be a dark side to them too. So, although I recognise that this is a serious subject I also can’t help but think of the Woody Allen lines about casual sex being a meaningless experience, but as meaningless experiences go, it’s a pretty good one. And you wonder why I ended up in therapy.
* * *
Therapy Session 1996
Simon: I’ve been reading about attachment disorders lately and wonder if that’s what I’ve got.
Therapist: What makes you think that?
Simon: Well, I find it way too easy to fall in love and then if it goes wrong I collapse emotionally.
Therapist: Ah, isn’t that what falling in love is like for most people? I mean, all those great artists who expressed their pain about losing love, does that mean they all had attachment disorders?
Simon: They might have.
Therapist: Or maybe this is a universal experience that might, it’s true, have some extra weight added due to who we are. But even so, I still think most people feel desolated by loss, and making people feel there’s something wrong with them because of that is just, well, it’s just poppycock to me.
* * *
2021 From Paris with Love
I’m listening to Melody Gardot singing her song ‘From Paris with Love’. She sings of Lovers falling in love like they fall out of bed.
* * *
When someone says they’re “interested in” someone, the primary meaning to this phrase is that they are interested in developing a romantic/sexual relationship with them. Consequently, this type of interest involves showing an interest in who they are, what they say, do, think and feel. With Jules, I hung on every word she uttered. But, was I genuinely interested in her? I may have been, but then how could I know given I was so ‘interested in her’ romantically.
Of course, this is probably what most people experience, but once we begin to realise this is going on we can admit to ourselves that a more realistic relationship between us and our lovers may take some time to get to. That the besotted or falling in love stage doesn’t allow us to be our true selves, especially when it comes to knowing what it is about the other person that sincerely interests us. Likewise, when we lose interest in someone, it may not mean that they are no longer interesting, but instead, no matter what they do, we will not be interested, especially if we’ve become interested in someone else.
* * *
July 1981- Photography
I’d been interested in taking photographs, since I was 5 years old. There was something about capturing an instant that seemed very important to me. One of my first cameras was called an instant camera – even though the makers meant something else, I liked the more poetic version of its name. Even now if I meet someone I connect with, albeit very slightly, I find it almost unbearable to not have some way of getting in contact with them again if ever I’d like to do so. It was the same with memories and moments in time, and photography became a way to hold on to them.
As I began to become more involved in art I realised that just like telling a story, it’s the way images are presented that can make them more interesting for other people too. Just as music can somehow touch you in all sorts of ways, the same goes for images, and words. So, everywhere I went I took my new second-hand, bottom of the pile, Chinon CS SLR with me. And to top it off, to the untrained eye, it made me look like a photographer who knew what he was doing.
* * *
Anya Part 1
I had originally considered placing Anya’s story in an earlier chapter as it started in the summer of 1981. However, given it illustrates my divergence from a more romantic path made it far more relevant for this chapter.
The main part of Anya’s story started about 4 months before I met Jules. Looking back on it now, my life changed considerably during this 6-month period. At 16, I could still frequent playgrounds and act in a far more childlike way than I could at 17. It was as if the relationship with Jules was the watershed between feeling wholly disconnected and yearning for a relationship to save me and realising that there were other connections to be made in life that were significant in their own way. Even so, in my new incarnation, there was still plenty of scope to make connections in not so meaningful ways too.
* * *
MEETING ANYA – Tuesday 18th August 1981
Sunil and I had gone to the recreation ground in the Carshalton park. His friends Colin and Paul joined us there. Colin had a perfect Elvis quiff, every time I looked at it I felt a bit of quiff envy. He also had a big Rock n’ Roll Jacket, it wasn’t leather, but he still looked the part. Paul, was very tall, well built, and had bright ginger hair. He seemed a bit of a gentle giant, a little depressed and slightly dislocated, but then none of us seemed to fit together outside of being misfits. We were a gang of slightly too old teenagers hanging around the play-ground who’d normally have had little time for each other, but the empty spaces around us kind of pushed us together. Having my camera with me seemed to set me apart though, it made me feel like a not present observer.
Nearby a couple of girls were sitting on the children’s roundabout chatting while slowly pushing it around with their feet. A small child waited patiently for them to get off, but they weren’t going to, so, after a few minutes he got on anyway and started to push it faster. The girls pushed their shoes to the ground to hinder his efforts while nonchalantly chatting. Sunil knew one of the girls, nodded knowingly at one of them and quietly said.
“See the one with ginger hair, she’s up for it”.
Quiff boy quipped “How do you know? Have you got off with her then?”
“Nah, mate” Sunil laughed, as if he wouldn’t touch her with a barge pole.
“Well how do you know then?” Colin asked again.
Sunil nodded sagely “I hear things”
We could’ve been in an American teenage gangster film if it wasn’t so overcast
“I’ll call them over. You’ll see”
“Hey, Jacqui, come over here!” he shouted.
“Fuck off” she shouted back.
Sunil leapt off his swing “Let’s go and chat to them”.
So, we coolly dismounted from our swings too and ambled across to them.
“You got a fag?” Sunil asked
Jacqui flicked ash from her cigarette. “I don’t smoke”
He smiled. “I don’t either”.
We all climbed on the roundabout and started to push it in the opposite direction. It came to an ominous stop for a moment then started to move.
“Don’t go fast” implored Jacqui
The little kid’s eyes lit up as he barked “Go fast, go fast!”
We all held on tight and put our heads near the middle to make it more bearable while Pete and Sunil pushed it faster while hanging off performing acrobatics. I could feel a slight sense of nausea.
The other girl a bit angrily shouted “Fucking hell, I feel sick, can you stop please?”
As it slowed down she looked at me. She was tall, had long dark hair, was slightly Indian or Middle Eastern looking and voluptuous.
“What’s your name then, Mr photographer?”
I looked up at her
“Simon. What’s yours?”
I took a photograph of her and the others.
“Oi! I didn’t give you my permission” her voice was raised enough for me to be a bit worried.
I paused for a second “I don’t need it, we’re in a public place” (the finer points of law might have pointed out that the land was council owned, but I didn’t want to get in to that.)
Frowning a little she pointed at me “Well it better look good or else I’m gonna sue you”
“How can it not look good?” I replied.
She laughed. “Such a charmer” She said, looking in my eyes. Then she looked at everyone and asked “Do you lot wanna come back to my house, my mum’s not going to be back for a few hours, we can have some toast.”
The little kid shouted ‘Yes”, to which nearly all us in unison said “Not you!”
And so, with the little kid looking at us like a forlorn abandoned pet we made our way to Anya’s.
* * *
1981 – 18th August – ANYA’S PLACE
We all crammed in to Anya’s bedroom, the walls were cluttered with pink and blue tiny flower patterned wallpaper and posters. A few minutes later Jacqui and Anya come in with some mugs of tea, a plate full of white bread toast soaked in butter and a jar of marmite.
Now before we go any further, I just want to point out that if you find the following dialogue a bit naff, it’s not a weakness in my writing skills but is actually accurate to the kind of chats we, as slightly socially dislocated teenagers, who had watched too much of the TV program “Grange Hill”, had in the 1980’s.
Sunil, pursed his lips, and cocked his head up slightly “So, you got a boyfriend Jacqui?”.
“Yeah, I av”
“Wa’s ‘is name then?”
“Why, don’t you believe me?”
“Yeah” he paused “just wondering if I know ‘im”
“Nah, you won’t know him, he’s at college, e’s a man, not a Boyee”
Paul, who had been silent since we arrived, made an “ooh” sound, then went very quiet again.
“I’m a man”, Sunil, irritated paused again, “I’ll prove it if you want”.
Jacqui laughed, “Yeah you’d love to try. I bet”
“Don’t flatter yourself” Sunil said raising one side of his top lip. As he looked a little like Elvis, albeit an Indian one, I had a slight moment of Curled Lip envy.
Anya decided to take things on a different tack.
“I just got a new guitar, can anyone sing?”
“Simon can do a good Elvis” Said Sunil, offering me up for sacrifice.
Colin looked a bit put out (to my delight).
“Oh that’s good, I’ve got an Elvis song in my guitar book”
She pulled out a “Start Playing Guitar” pamphlet then strummed a few chords from “Can’t help Falling in Love”, her playing was stilted and slightly out of tune but I sang a few lines, while at the same time eating toast.
Big Paul started clapping, demanding an encore. “Go on, do some more”.
So, we did.
I grabbed my camera and took a photograph of her playing.
“Wow” Anya looked at me “You’re brilliant, don’t you think so Jax?”
Jacqui politely nodded in a direction not discernible by the naked eye.
Anya stood up and started clearing away the plates and mugs, and along with Jacqui took them downstairs. After they’d been gone a while Sunil turned to Colin “Well what do you think then? I don’t like the look of your one Colin.”
Colin laughed, made a face and back at Sunil said “I don’t like the look of yours”
“No mate” Sunil shook his head “Can’t you tell, Jacqui’s well inta me”
Colin looked incredulously at Sunil, “Yeah right, you’re fuckin well deluded”
“Who’s deluded?” Anya asked having come back in to the room unexpectedly.
“Sunil is, he thinks he’s got a chance with Jacqui” Paul chirped in.
Anya nodded her head from side to side. “Hold on, I’ll find out”
She walked out the room and shouted down to Jacqui who was still in the kitchen. “Has Sunil got a chance of getting off with you Jax?”
Jacqui shouted back laughing “Yeah, I’d give him one, one in a million.”
Sunil smiled optimistically “See, you heard her, she’d give me one”
Shaking her head even more vigorously this time, Anya sighed “Yep, you’re definitely deluded mate”. She then gesticulated for everyone to get up, as it was time to go.
“Anyway, c’mon, my mum’s gonna be back soon so you better all go otherwise she’s gonna have a right ‘ol go.”
As we all got ready, and the others went ahead, Anya asked me for my phone number, which was a bit of a new on me as it had always been me asking for people’s number. “Why don’t you come ‘round and we can do some music together.” She suggested.
“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea” I said smiling. I went home feeling buoyant, it’d been a good day.
* * *
ANYA – Night Out – 1st September 1981
A few weeks later Anya and I met up.
“What do you want to do?” I asked
“Let’s go to the cinema” she said excitedly.
So, we went to the cinema in Sutton, where a film called “Outland” was on. After about 15 minutes Anya leant towards me and quietly whispered. “This is shit, let’s get out of here”.
I nodded in agreement. As we walked out I asked what she fancied doing.
“Let’s go up to London” Her face beamed a big smile.
“And do what?” I asked
“Walk around a bit then come back home” She looked like a prisoner who’d just escaped.
“OK” I said while thinking, “Well, it’s not like I’ve got anything better to do”
We took the bus to Morden Tube station then the Underground up to Leicester Square.
Just as planned, we walked amongst the crowds and the dodgy street vendors. Then after an hour of sitting on benches, walking and talking, we headed home on the underground.
She sat opposite me, told me all about a great new band she’d seen a few times, The Jam (who I didn’t know anything about), and while she talked wildly about them, she put her foot gently between my legs. She was wearing a bright yellow T-shirt and jeans. I didn’t feel any in-love feelings towards her, but she turned me on.
Don’t Listen to Me Fa fa fa fa fashion
I hadn’t listened to The Jam because I was a rocker and that style of music belonged to The Mods who were technically Rockers’ enemies and had been for decades. The 1970’s and 1980’s were especially full of rivalry associated with music. Was it partly because once army conscription ended the pent-up energy and anger of young men had to be redirected somehow, or was it just due to tribal tendencies? Whatever was behind it, the music world was extremely demarcated in to style-related camps, of which you were only supposed to choose one, and from then all others were off limits. Well at least that was the rule for teenagers. Later the rules changed slightly, as you got older you were allowed to like a variety of styles, but there were some that were still off limits. If you listened to them you were very, very uncool.
The world was much more demarcated back then. For Catholics or Protestants to go in to each other’s churches was still a big issue. It was the same in the art world where similar snobberies existed, maybe even more so. In turn they partly related to education which also related to class. If you were working class, ballet, opera and classical music would most likely feel alien as would a conceptual and abstract art. Similarly, listening to music your parents listened to was also a no-no. Music was, and still is, a fashion victim, no matter how great or rubbish it ever was.
In the late 1970’s and 80’s there were a lot of developments in the music world. It was partly driven by technological advances (synthesisers, drum machines, samplers, digital recording and music technology becoming available to more people). But by the mid 1990’s there were very few new significant developments within the music world in terms of style. Other things had a big effect, such as home studios, MP3 files and the Internet. But since the mid 1990’s while there are many fantastic artists I can’t think of any great new musical styles. Can you?
In the early1980’s music was a big part of people’s lives, there were loads of stylistic developments and new sounds. Even I started to allow myself to listen to many other artists apart from Elvis and Dire Straits. Music would continue to fill my life, not just for the sake of filling an empty space but because it was so full of nourishment for the body, mind, heart and soul. Even if music echoed the pain in us it also made it clear that such pain is an important part of our lives and shouldn’t always be avoided. Music was, for many of us, our ‘safe space’ where we could open our hearts to our deepest joys and pain.
* * *
Anya – Shouting Quietly – September 1981
A few days after our night out I spoke to Sunil who told me that Anya wanted to me to be her boyfriend. I knew he wasn’t joking as she’d made it quite clear to me anyway, however, even though she had a fantastic body and was good looking it didn’t feel right to me.
I wondered what it would feel like to her if I was to say I didn’t want to go out with her. I knew what it was like to feel rejected and didn’t want someone else to feel the same way. Even so, I decided that the next time I’d see her that I’d tell her. The only thing about that was, I hadn’t considered she’d be with her friend Jacqui. So, instead I ended up inviting them both in where we had lunch together, after which they went off without me. By this point I was almost in a state of despair, so I phoned her and asked if she’d pop around the next day. She said she would but when the time came, she called to cancel. I squirmed when she said “Don’t worry my love, I’ll see you tomorrow”. Well, she probably didn’t actually say those words, but whatever she did say, that’s what I heard.
Finally, a few days later she invited me around to her place. I went there ready to deliver the ‘bad news’ and just when I got the courage to tell her, she started snogging me, which I found quite a turn on, so thought to myself, ‘Well, there’s no rush is there?’ and didn’t attempt to push her away.
Of course, I kicked myself for not telling her when I got back home. ‘What was I playing at?’ I shouted to myself, very quietly. This was going to be a conversation I would end up repeating many times throughout my life. Still, I vowed I’d definitely tell her next time we met though. What I didn’t count on was that she didn’t get in contact with me for another month. By which point I couldn’t see the harm in meeting up and part of me hoped she might like the idea of meeting occasionally for a snog and not want any more commitment that that. This time though, things were a bit different. Instead of trying to have a kiss she just wanted to chat. Just as I got ready to go, I thought, ‘I won’t bother coming again’, but then she asked if she could borrow my poetry book, saying she’d return it a few days later (which she didn’t). However, a week later she phoned to see if I’d like to go to London with her again, but my leg was very sore so I couldn’t. Another week passed, this time I called her and asked if it was ok to pop around to get my poetry book back. She said yes, but when I got there, there was no answer. As you can imagine I was a little pissed off. I walked back home and called her to find out what was going on. She said she couldn’t have heard the doorbell. I was adamant that next time I saw her I would blank her.
A few days later I was in Carshalton High street, and just as I came out the bank she passed by.
“Hi Anya I said”
“Oh! Hi Simon. Sorry about the other night, I can’t believe I didn’t hear the doorbell. I bet you were annoyed. I am really sorry.”
I smiled “Oh, it’s ok, these things happen. Don’t worry I completely understood”
About a week later I went to her place where I drew a picture of Paul Weller, the lead singer from The Jam. We had a good chat, she gave me my poetry book back and showed me a letter from a friend of hers saying they liked some of my poems. And that was the last time I saw Anya until I decided to get in contact one lonely day 6 months later.
* * *
Anya – March 1982
At the beginning of March I was still yearning to hear from Jules and hoping against all odds that she’d come back to me. In my diary, there were pages of my angst bullshit, self-pity and even more self-delusion than I tell myself nowadays. But for all of that, it didn’t take me long at all to firstly approach Lauren, and then Anya. It wasn’t that I was trying to replace Jules, but instead I was trying to avoid the pain of grieving by creating periods of time where I could forget her. I started to use sexual behaviour as a kind of analgesic, just as someone might do with alcohol or drugs. It was a cocktail of socialising and sexualising. Previously I’d just been a habitual user of the socialising drug, but now I’d moved on to this harder combination.
Halfway through March I met up with Anya, who I probably bored stiff talking about my break up and how upset I was. She was very sympathetic and had her mum’s boyfriend not been in the room next to us, may have consoled me further with her beautiful breasts. But nothing happened.
A week later I called a few people including Anya. She said I could come around but as she was going to be out for a little while would leave a key out for me, so I could let myself in, which I did. But after a few hours she didn’t turn up so I went home feeling a little annoyed. I called her the next day and had a go at her which she didn’t react well to. “I’ve just about had enough of her mucking me about” I thought to myself.
The next time I felt I needed distracting, I didn’t bother calling Anya, instead I went to see Lauren. Things between Lauren and I soured quickly though once we both sensed there was a dislocation. So, after a couple of weeks, I finally recognised I had to be strong and face the situation head on and start to heal. Or, be weak and keep finding solace in the arms of an analgesic situation. So, one Friday evening at the beginning of April I decided not to go to karate and instead visit Anya. Things didn’t go to plan though as she had some friends pop around, so, it ended up as just a social event but as consolations go, I was happy with that. The distraction had been enough to help me get through a difficult evening. Still, for Anya this may have come across as me being interested in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with her, because a week later she invited me around in the day time, when her mum was out.
When I got to her place, Anya greeted me wrapped in a purple towel. “Sorry” she said, I’m not quite ready”
“Oh, ok, sorry about that” I said.
She started walking upstairs, looked over her shoulder and said “It’s ok, you can come upstairs”
So, I obediently followed her to her room. She started drying her hair while talking with me. I couldn’t hear what she was saying properly, so she stopped the hairdryer and walked over to where I was sitting on her bed. She let her wet hair touch my head and face. I looked up at her. She then leant down and kissed me.
“Do you want to see my body?” she whispered.
Trying not to sound too eager I whispered / stammered “Yes” then, trying not to show I was going to gulp, I gulped.
She stood upright then slowly undid her towel.
She had very long legs, and large breasts. She kissed me again then lay down on her bed. I stood up took my T-shirt off then as quickly and un-seductively as possible took off my trousers and my prosthetic foot. I don’t think she was too bothered about any of that though. I lay down next to her, and we started to kiss and touch each other. This was my first fully naked experience with a woman. Even though she was 17, as far as I was concerned she was a woman.
For many of us, there’s a change in our love making as we become more experienced where the focus on what we’re doing changes in to what I would describe as entering a lower conscious dreamy world of connection. It’s hard to describe it, but it is as if we enter the world in which our archetypes live, but instead of being a scary world it feels enrapturing. Well, this was not one of those occasions. I wanted to lose myself in kissing her body, but instead I tried to be a good lover. So, I kissed her between her legs because I was sure that’s what a lot of women would like, even if I wasn’t aware of the finer points of such things. Fortunately, for both of us, she reacted well, telling me how lovely it was and after a while she told me she’d come. She then pulled me up to her so we were face to face. “Do you want to fuck me?” she said wrapping her legs around me. I said yes.
Slowly I pushed my penis towards her vagina. But instead of it going in I felt a painful sensation, so stopped pushing. “I don’t think I can” I said.
“It’s ok, it’s ok” she said. “This is nice, just hold me”
We started to kiss again and I rubbed my penis on her leg.
“Let me hold it” she said.
So, I sat up and she placed her fingers around it and gently pulled downwards on it.
“Ouch” I flinched.
She let go. “What’s wrong?” she said looking at me like she’d done something awful.
I wasn’t sure but suggested that if she didn’t pull my foreskin back it shouldn’t hurt
“Like this?” She said
“Yes, that’s nice” I said, moving towards her to kiss her again.
Within a short while I ejaculated and some on the semen fell right between her legs.
I immediately panicked and as romantically as possible grabbed her pyjamas which were laying on her bed and tried to wipe away the semen.
Within that moment of coming my whole being seemed to change. Firstly, I was worried about even the slightest risk of getting her pregnant, and secondly I didn’t want to be close to her anymore. It was as if someone had pressed a button and my real feelings had been released while those pretend ones, the ones that feigned interest, evaporated into the universe, forever gone. Only, as I would find out in time, they were never gone for long and often I’d come to wonder which set of feelings and thoughts were my true ones. But in this moment, I was introduced to just how split I was when it came to these sexual situations. This wouldn’t be the only type of sexual scenarios I would find myself in, but they were ones I’d find myself in repeatedly throughout my life. There were many other times when I didn’t want to pull away after I’d orgasmed, but as I was to find out later these would most likely be with women who I would want to be with properly, only to find that they weren’t in to me as much as I was in to them. So, maybe subconsciously I’d picked that up so it allowed me to feel connected because I knew it was still part of the pursuer-distancer dynamic which I seemed so attached to. Or, it could be something else, for instance, maybe deep down I really did believe that they were the one, but I would later come to sabotage the situation as I couldn’t deal with such a balanced relationship.
Anyway, this was my introduction to a part of myself I hadn’t previously known existed, and it did not fit neatly with my beliefs about romantic relationships, at all.
* * *
Regret – March/April 1982
For the next week, I felt very worried that I might have impregnated Anya. No matter how unlikely it could be, there was still a microscopic chance, and that played on my mind. ‘From now on I’m going to be damn careful’ I told myself. Ok, it’s easy to laugh now, but at that moment I meant it. I really hadn’t got my head around just how easy it is to go against our principles when lust raises its head.
I wrote in my diary ‘If she’s pregnant I may as well have no legs either as I won’t be going anywhere. I’d be damned on earth.’ I was so worried that for a few days I flagellated myself (metaphorically speaking – I’m not that kinky). I went to the park and thought hard about not only being more careful but putting more important things ahead of sex, which no longer seemed worth the hassle. ‘It’s time to move on.’ I wrote ‘Get that Brown Belt, finish unfinished work, practice painting, and focus on my school work’.
About 2 weeks later I spoke to Anya on the phone. She wasn’t pregnant. I now truly comprehended the significance of the grand celebrations at the end of some of the Star Wars movies, as well as how people felt when they reached for the heavens in films and shouted “Freedom”.
Five days later Anya asked if I wanted to come around. I said yes. We ended up in bed. But this time I made sure I didn’t come anywhere near her vagina. That night though, her mother rang me up. I wasn’t in at the time so mum took the call. Anya’s mother said I wasn’t to see her anymore. Anya had left some incriminating evidence which meant her mother worked out what we were up to, and that I was a bad influence. My mother said “It takes two to tango” and things got left like that. Yet again it was the parents who brought one of my relationships to an end. But this time I was slightly relieved about the situation. It gave me an excuse to get out of a relationship I knew wasn’t good for either of us, without rejecting Anya directly and gave me a bit of kudos, well at least in my deluded mind, and my mum’s who thought it was quite funny.
Still, I felt bad for Anya, so I wrote her a letter and asked one of her friends to pass it on to her. Her friend asked me why I got off with Anya if I wasn’t that interested in her. I replied “I don’t know, I ask myself the same question”. The simple answer was because I’m somewhat of a cunt, but, and well there may be other reasons too, but that’d be a whole other book, and the cunt answer does the job for most people.
* * *
Last Call for Anya
About a month later Anya called me, she told me she loved me and asked if I felt the same. I said I didn’t so she told me to fuck off and slammed the phone down. That was the last time we saw or spoke to each other.
I was scanning some of my old photographs and came across the photos I took of Anya the first time we met, the ones in the recreational ground, and the one of her playing guitar in her room. It didn’t take long to find her on Facebook. She’s got grown up kids of her own now, in fact she has grandkids too. When I first contacted her she wrote “Your name doesn’t ring any bells but it was a long, long time ago. LOL”. I then described what I looked like and she remembered me. She’s still very involved in listening to music but I’m not sure if she’ll ever listen to the songs I didn’t write about her or even remember not to forget me again.
* * *
Anya – Poem April 1982
Here’s a poem I wrote about Anya back then.
In her arms
I may lay using
And in hers
I will dream
The most precious meanings
On black and yellow days
Such as these
* * *
Moving on – Girl Friends (Part 2)
By late April I had recovered from the emotional wreckage of being in my own version of Romeo and Juliet with Jules. Outside of what had gone on with Anya I tended to be mainly interested in girls for friendship. Some people believe that it’s very difficult for men and women to be friends, however if at least one of the two is totally uninterested in the other then that makes the possibility of friendship far greater. Obviously, most of the time the girls I became friends with were the ones who were totally uninterested in the other person (me). But, that often did the trick as far as I was concerned. As long as they didn’t show any interest in me then I wouldn’t get my hopes up, well, not normally. However, if a girl who I thought was attractive would show even the slightest interest in me, then that would be enough for me to become interested in them.
Jackie and Other Girl Friends
In one of the life drawing classes I went to at SCOLA there was a girl called Jackie. She was very polite and considered and pretty. She was also very careful not to show anything but friendliness towards me. One day, after the class finished she invited me to her home where I was welcomed to stay for dinner. At the table was her father who was a university professor, her very friendly mother and her two extremely characterful sisters, plus a few other family friends. This was something that I could only dream of in terms of an image of family life. Of course, I didn’t know what their life was really like, but in terms of an image, it was ideal.
Maybe because Jackie had a boyfriend that made it even easier to see her as a friend only. In terms of building up a pool of “girl friends” who I wasn’t romantically involved with, Jackie was one of the first who I would see quite a bit and have a relaxed relationship with. It wasn’t a big friendship, but there was a sense of being comfortable around each other, and this added a dimension of connection to my life that had been lacking.
When it came to female relationships the graduations between the types that existed in my life started to be become much subtler. Previously, after I hit puberty, there had been girls I was interested in, most of whom were not interested back, pen friends, girls I chatted to on the bus, and, girls I’d known as a child who I thought might be worth chatting up but soon found out that they felt very let down when I did so. So, while a part of me used women for my own sexual gratification, there was also other parts that started to have genuine friendships with them. As these new relationships started to become a larger part of my life I realised the value of having opposite-sex friendships. But, as I was to find out in time, not everyone would be comfortable with this.
* * *
One night I as I went to close the curtains to the front room I noticed the new neighbours across the street in their un-curtained bedroom. I quickly switched the lights off, came back to the window and pulled the curtains almost shut, leaving a gap between them big enough to look through.
The new neighbours seemed to have forgotten they were potentially on stage to the likes of me. I waited, hoping to see the woman getting undressed. Given I must have seen tens of women naked in life already, especially in life-drawing classes, you’d have thought I wouldn’t be interested in seeing another one, especially from such a distance. But I was.
At one point the woman switched off the light, much to my disappointment, but there was still some light coming through their bedroom door from their hallway. As she came out of the darkness I could see her in silhouette. My heart rushed a little even though I wasn’t sure if she was actually naked. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one wondering. At that very moment the boys who lived two doors up from me turned on a very powerful torch from their attic room and pointed it straight at the silhouetted woman’s body.
I’m not sure if she noticed. But I didn’t see her moving in to view again. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the audacity of my watch-tower neighbours, even if it was just their way of welcoming the new neighbours to the neighbourhood.
* * *
Routine Spring / Summer 1982
My life followed an almost regimented routine by 1982. I’d get up late, as usual, chat at the bus stop with Sunil, get the bus to school, talk to loads of people on the bus. At school, there’d be an assembly, then I’d go up to the 6th form centre, have a cup of coffee made with coffee mate milk powder and loads of sugar, then off to a class if I had one, or spend time either studying or chatting if I had a free period. In the mid-morning break, I’d probably help keep order near the tuck shop and demand a few sweets from those who’d bought too many for their own good.
The second half of the morning would follow the pattern of the first, then during the lunch hour there’d be a 30-minute karate training session, usually in the gym storage cupboard. The sessions were often intense which would often include a thousand kicks, or something else that’d test us, and then we’d all go for a quick lunch together. The afternoon would often be a repeat of the morning, bar the tuck shop break but if there weren’t any lessons I’d get out of school early. Then I’d either go home, or to WH Smiths in Wallington to buy a record, or to Sutton Library for a bit of socialising studies, or to SCOLA for an art class. At least twice a week I’d go to karate at either Tweeddale or Westcroft. The latter had a bar, so after the training session I’d join the other trainees there for a drink of range and soda water and a chat.
Outside of this routine, I’d meet up with friends, or stay home where I’d listen to music, watch TV and most likely argue with John. Sometimes an opportunity to break the routine would arise, such as going up to London to see Julia, the nurse I’d met at Roehampton. It was during one of these opportunities that I went from being a boy to becoming a…
* * *
Eileen S – 1982 – 15/5/82
Julia lived in Sinclair Mansions, which was a red brick tenement style building in a quiet road at the back of Shepherds Bush Shopping Centre. Once through the main ominous door I’d have to go up a few flights of stairs to a flat that Julia shared with a few other people. I rang the doorbell and a short while later a stranger opened the door. There was a sudden sound of music, chatting and laughter. A guy with spikey hair stood there, looked me up and down and said “Hi, are you here for the party?”
“Yes,” I said “I’m a friend of Julia’s”
“Oh come in sweetheart” He said while grabbing and pulling me in.
“Julia, Julia” he shouted “You’ve got a visitor”
Julia came over, gave me a cuddle and said “C’mon I’ll get you a drink and introduce you to a few people.”
She poured me a plastic cup of cider, which I made last a few hours, (I hadn’t quite got the knack of wanting to get drunk) and spent the night chatting to everyone I could. This was a whole new world to me, but in a way, I felt more like an observer than a participant.
There was music, but not a lot of dancing, it was more a case of small groups of people standing and chatting together while wriggling to the beat. There was one woman there with blue hair and loads of dark makeup around her eyes. To me she was stunning looking. For this, I could probably blame the film ‘Carry on Screaming’ in which Fenella Fielding played a vamp comic feme-fatale. From the moment, I saw her in it I had a bit of a thing for vamp-looking women… I had my camera with me so took a few photos of the party including one of the blue haired woman, but either I was too scared to talk to her, or she wasn’t having any of it when I did summon the guts to do so.
One of my other enduring memories from the party was chatting to a bloke and his wife then a bit later watching him pass his number surreptitiously to another woman. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for his wife. I was still quite idealistic when it came to relationships even though I was already witnessing my own fall from grace.
The party went on till about 5 am, at which point there were just a few people left. I was supposed to have slept in one of Julia’s flatmates bedrooms but all the occupants’ bedrooms were otherwise engaged, so, I was shown how to set up the sofa bed and left to my own devices.
I started to get the bed sorted out when a woman came out of the bathroom. She was about 34, my height, had long black hair, wore a long “hippie styled” skirt, and a light loose fitting blouse. She looked at me looking at her
“Do you want me to help you with that darling?” She asked
“Erm, ok, I was only shown how to do it a few minutes ago but I’ve forgotten already.”
She laughed “Have you had too much to drink?”
I stood up straight and turned towards her. “No, I don’t really drink”
She came over to the sofa bed instead of helping to unfold it sat down and patted the seat next to her.
“That’s a bit strange, not drinking I mean” she said “What’s your name then?”
“Simon, what’s yours?”
We chatted for a while, then without any warning, she gently slid towards me so her back came to rest at my side. We both went quiet. She pushed her head towards my face. I gently stroked my nose and mouth against the back of her head.
“That’s nice,” she said “Really nice”
She then turned around so she was facing me and slowly brought her mouth to mine. We kissed gently for a while and then the kisses got deeper and more passionate.
Suddenly she stood. “Let’s turn this in to a bed then.”
I stood up too “OK”
So, we pulled out the mattress and threw the bedding over it. Eileen stood up, kicked off her sandals, took off her shirt so she was bare breasted and with her skirt still on lay down. I on the other hand took all my clothes off as quickly as I could. At that point Julia came out of her room to go to the loo. On the way back she looked at me as if to say “What the fuck are you doing with her”, which might mean that she wasn’t as good looking as I remember her to be. But for the purposes of this story, she was striking.
After a few minutes of us kissing and me spiralling my face around her breasts towards her nipples then back out again – something I’d read in a book was supposed to be a good technique – I still hadn’t got to the point, nor would I for a long while, where technique would be less focused on.
I said “Can you take your skirt off, I want to feel your legs?”
This wasn’t the whole truth but I was sure she’d understand what I meant.
“OK”, she said “but I’ve got my period so we’re not going to have sex this time”
“That’s ok” I said while thinking “thanks for mentioning periods”. I had a bit of an issue with periods, partly because mum occasionally left her used sanitary towels in my room because she’d come in to get things from the airing cupboard then forget to take them to the bathroom to be disposed of. Plus, I also had some issues to do with blood that would be talked about in therapy a few years later. But back then, thinking about periods was a bit of a problem for me.
Anyway, it couldn’t have been that much of an issue because I was still up for it. What I hadn’t counted on though was her underwear was made of a rough golden sparkly material which had similar sensual properties to sandpaper. She grabbed my penis and started rubbing it against her golden vulva of death, at which point I began to think this wasn’t quite going to plan, and my penis thought the same.
She stopped grinding my cock and pushed me on to my back. Putting her head near my groin she started speaking as a children’s presenter might start talking to a glove puppet.
“Oh dear, are you feeling a little shy? Do you need a kiss hello?”
Part of me wanted to answer “No, he just doesn’t like having his head reshaped by your sandpaper knickers” But instead what came out was “Yes” and an accompanying realisation that TV presenter voices were actually quite a turn on.
She then put my penis in her mouth, “Finally, I thought, a real blow job, this is going to be fantastic… Here goes”, but then all I could feel were her sharp teeth digging in to me. Within seconds, I lost my erection and realised that my belief that blow jobs were one of the most pleasurable experiences in life, turned out to be a fallacy.
She then guided me on top of her, where she got me to position my hip between her legs.
“Just push there darling, just rock gently there, yes that’s it”
I did as I was told. We kissed and stroked each other, and even though to me as a 17-year-old, she was quite old, she looked beautiful (remember, this is my version, ok?). I began to feel something of a connection with her. That was, until she decided to dig her sharp nails in to my back.
“Ouch!” I yelped, “That hurts”
She paused, looked at me a bit sternly and said “Do you want me to carry on?”
“Yes” I said a bit doubtfully
“Then stop being a baby” she said, as if she was talking to a child, which unfortunately again was a bit of a turn on. “How old are you?” she asked
“Seventeen” I said, slightly hesitantly, wondering if I added “and a half” might help matters.
“Don’t be 17 with me” she said, then repeated it about 5 times, looking slightly disturbed. Which again added a slightly seductive quality to the situation.
Eventually I came, she said she did too.
“I always feel very horny when I’m having my period” She added.
“That’s so nice to hear” I thought.
“Listen” she said, “I’m going to go off now, do you want my number?”
“Yes definitely” I said.
The morning light was coming up. She gave me her phone number, kissed me goodbye and as she let herself out she whispered “I’ll see you again”.
If I was to write a song about this experience, it would be one where at the beginning of the night I was a boy, and by the end of it I was a mouse. I expect for her too, this may have been a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons.
I knew we weren’t ever going to live happily ever after together, or apart, but for a 17-year-old boy/man/mouse, it was a pretty cool experience, even if I did feel a little depressed about it the next day which was probably because I realised that none of this was in the service of me meeting the love of my life.
Nowadays she’d probably be locked up for abuse, but back then it wasn’t seen as such, because it wasn’t.
* * *
Diary entry 17/5/82
I told the blonde girl on the bus, Phil, Cameron and Allen the caretaker about Eileen. Her words were echoing in my head. She was like a witch. I reckon that’s why she turns me on. I phoned her today. I hope I’ll see her soon.
* * *
Moshe and Battiya’s Story Part 1 – 1941 – Riga Train Station
My father was the youngest of five. Bettie was the eldest, she stood with a straight back, would look anyone in the eye when they spoke, and had an inner strength about her. Then there was Rue, acting responsibly was his guiding principle, no doubt a reaction to his father’s failure to do so. He would eventually become a successful businessman and world class long distance desert runner. Battiya was the middle child. She had eyes full of sadness, but still, there was a fortitude in her weakness. After her came her two brothers, Eliezer, the artist, and then my father, Boris. Boris and Battiya were opposites in their approach to life and personalities, but they were very close.
Moshe was from the same hometown as Boris and his siblings. He was one of the few people who’d beaten my father in a fight. Boris was always quick to remind me that they were “just kids then, and anyway, Moshe was older and had cheated by using a stone to bash” him into submission. When it comes to childhood fights it’s hard to forget the ones we lose. Moshe and Battiya had known each other since their early childhood often sitting next to each other in their classes in Rēzekne. As they grew up they lost contact but in their early twenties, in a social club for young Jewish people in Riga, they reconnected and later, fell in love.
By 1941 World War 2 had engulfed much of the world. Riga was just about to become one of the latest flash points between Germany and Russia. The encroaching threat of death posed by the Nazis focused the minds, and hearts, of all those who lay in its path. This wasn’t the best of times to get married, but for Moshe and Battiya, the perilous nature of their existence tilted the balance, so, with just her sister, Bettie, and a couple of friends they made their vows and became husband and wife.
Barely a week after the ceremony the Soviet authorities ordered them to relocate to Siberia. The German army was just days away from occupying the city, and the future was terrifying for all the Jews who remained. Siberia was known an ice filled version of Hell, but to anyone trapped in Riga it was a Godsend.
With just one hour’s notice to get to the station, Moshe and Battiya packed whatever essentials they could. What becomes essential when you’re only allowed to take one small case each? If you had to make that choice right now, what would you choose?
For their wedding, Bettie had given them a set of 3 small matching cases. Grabbing them, Battiya packed warm clothes into one, while Moshe crammed money, valuables, paperwork, and a couple of tools for work into the other. After one last check Moshe picked up his case, then went to pick up Battiya’s.
“No,” she said, “It’s ok, I’ll carry mine,” she picked it up “and anyway, it’s light, see?”
“Yes, I know, you’re a lot stronger than you look” Moshe said smiling.
They hurriedly left their tiny apartment then made their way to the station.
As the last train out of Riga prepared for the journey ahead, they stood side by side in the queue on the platform. Battiya half knelt to double check her case.
“Oh no” she said looking up at Moshe. She opened the case wider so he could see that it was filled with scarves and handkerchiefs. Somehow the cases had got mixed up.
“I thought you’d put the ones we were taking together?” She said.
“I just grabbed the case nearest the door in the bedroom and put it in the hallway”
“No I told you, the one I packed was on the bed!”
“I didn’t see it, I thought you said it was in the bedroom. I just grabbed the one nearest the door”
There was a moment while they were tempted to continue blaming each other, then Battiya looked down at the case and cried.
“Please Moshe, run back and fetch it”
“I can’t. We’ll miss the train and they said there won’t be another after this one”
She looked at him in disbelief. “Of course there’ll be another. We are going to die without our winter clothes. You have to get them.”
Moshe crouched beside her, he wanted to console her but his anger was getting the better of him. “We’ll be ok, it won’t be that cold for months. I’ll make sure we get some winter clothes before then.”
She could hear the reassurance she yearned to hear in the words he said, but she couldn’t feel it in their tone. They both went quiet, looked away from each other and literally bit their lips.
“I can’t believe this” she said
“Don’t worry, I’ll deal with it somehow”
Under her breath Battiya said “Don’t worry he says”
Moshe was just about to approach one of the guards to ask if he had time to get the other case when the same guard pointed at them, “Hey, you two, yes you, quickly, it’s time, get on”. They stood up and walked towards a carriage, the guard barked at them to hurry up. Moshe helped Battiya up the steps first, a man inside reached down to help her, then he passed the cases up. As Moshe grabbed the step rail the man pulled him up too. Slightly out of breath Moshe smiled, put his hand on the man’s shoulder, then thanked him. Moshe looked at Battiya, there was something unnerving about this act of gallantry.
Above the sound of the train preparing to set off came the screeching sound of a plane approaching at speed. Those still queueing on the platform ran for cover. Moshe and Battiya were still in the doorway. They were not paralysed by fear but instead entered a different dimension of time. Everything moved at a tenth of normal speed. Moshe pulled Battiya him and turned her as if they were dancing, he wanted his back to face the platform hoping this might offer her some protection.
A rally of bullets ricocheted nearby as the pilot tried his best to disable the train. A couple of Red Army guards on the platform shot back, while the train driver released as much steam as possible in a futile attempt to create a cover. The pilot flew off into the distance, there was a moment of relief, until he turned around and approached once more.
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Written by Simon Mark Smith
First draft edit Ros Finney
Copyright © Simon Mark Smith 2021
This is the blog version