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This is a question My first love

I can't remember her name. Rebecca I think. We used to play monkeys in the rhododendron bushes at the edge of the big playground. She was lovely. We were 5.

C'mon, tell us about your first love

(, Thu 20 Oct 2005, 10:31)
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It's another true love story (well it's TRUE at least)
OK, so most people put this at the end, but Apologies for length - here goes:

She was just another girl in another class, but aged 6 I moved classes for being "disruptive". It was then I met the girl who became the woman who has caused me to waste half my life*.

We shall call her X, or perhaps Catherine, as that is her name. If you are reading this and you recognise yourself, well "Hi". Please let me know what you have been doing for the last 5 years...

First day in the new class, there she was. We did everything together. Sat next to each other in class, sometimes; giggling in the corner. Put school chalk down the toilet and drew rude pictures of naughty cats on the walls.

My one ambition at the end of Infant school was to kiss her, and it was fulfilled only on moving to the juniors. My other ambition in life was to be a train driver. Well that had to wait another 14 years and I am now unemployed again so you could say I have done everything so now I can look forward to becoming senile and incontinent before choking to death on an undercooked brussels sprout in the old people's home aged 78. Only 50 years to go, bring it on!

The junior school building was the same as the infants, only the cloakrooms had been converted into two extra classrooms, so our class had a funny half-cupboard, half-corridor kind of room out the back. I would meet Catherine at lunch-times for a secret kiss fuelled by the passion only 7-year-olds can share (just ask Gary Glitter :o) ).

We visited each other's houses (our mothers knew each other from work) and on her 8th Birthday I gave her a card filled with as many kisses (xxx) as an 8-year-old can fit in in his smallest writing.

I had my entire life planned. I would leave school at 16 and join British Rail and have my own branch line a bit like Thomas the Tank Engine. Catherine could work in the buffet car and make tea for the passengers. When the train arrived at the seaside we could go for a picnic on the beach before driving back again. We would save up our wages from the railway and get married, but instead of buying a house we would get an old sleeper carriage and put it on the back of our train and live there.

Anyway back to reality, and aged 9 I was on my own again. A new boy came to the school became my best friend and secretly loved Catherine as well. The two of them never dated or anything but from then on we were only "friends" again.

I would often move across the class to sit at her table and we would still do special school projects together. Story assignments would normally involve her in some way. For example a story about spaceships involved Catherine being kidnapped by a UFO and me flying out to rescue her. (Film rights are for sale if interested BTW.)

Aged 11 we had to move on to Senior School. only 5 years to go before British Rail and our white wedding beckoned. Then she decided to go to an all-girls school.

Major Bummer.

Fast forward to the summer holidays, I am now 15. I saw Catherine most mornings as her route to school passed the end of my road. The fact I used to sneak out of school early and stand at the end of the road just to wave and say "hi" as she sped past is largely irrelevant.

Anyway, two weeks before the end of the holidays, My next door neighbour David and me are out shopping for records. (CDs being a new "fad" at the time). Catherine is in Woolworth's looking for a CD which has sold out. It just so happens that David has two copies because he bought one with his pocket money, and then got one as a present, so agrees to sell the other one to Catherine at a knock-down price.

We agree to go round her house with the CD the next day. Off we go then. Catherine has a huge poster and has invited all her friends to write their phone numbers on the white border round the edge. David's writing is illegible and he smudges the number. Mine is crystal clear, with a little heart over the "i" in my name (i.e. real name not my b3ta username).

Next day the phone rings and I nearly drop it in my tea. I am being invited round to see Catherine. Every day until the end of the holidays I am round there. Bliss? perhaps...

I then start work experience. Still every Monday and Wednesday I am there. One day at my school I see her at the bus stop."Why are you here?" (it's the next town) - "Oh, I am dating (a sad gimp called NIGEL)". For fuck's sake NIGEL? So when Nigel dumps her I phone him up and play the funeral march down the phone on her mum's piano. Cue two years of bullying from his mates when they find out who it was. Every bruise was worth it, for I was defending the honour of my lady love.

The next bit is a bit of a blur, details are lost. But I start college, and find out she is dating some utter gimp on my college course. Apologies to the bloke concerned. I'm sure some people would have called me a "gimp" when I was at college and I'm sure he's a nice bloke really, it's just, at the time, anyone dating her who wasn't me was automatically a "gimp" in my book. Believe me, it's a thick book.

One day comes the tearful phone call that he has dumped her. I stuff my fist in my mouth and mutter something like "I'm sorry to hear that" whilst trying to disguise the fact I am dancing a merry jig around the room shouting "woo-hoo!".

So I go round and do the "never mind, don't cry" bit, but of course the time is not right to jump right in with "let's run away, join British Rail and get married" so I bite my tongue.

Next is Bad News. British Rail is to be privatised. Half the dream is gone. Let's get busy and remind her of my undying love. Of course I have to wait for the right moment...

The "right moment" comes. A couple of stiff drinks carefully "borrowed" from Dad's drinks cabinet and round I go. "Hi, what's up?" I ask "Do you know (insert boys name here) ?", she says, "He's my new boyfriend".

Repeat as above, about 10 times. I have a crack in my broken heart like the Liberty Bell and it's not getting any better.

Then what? I meet new friends, go to different places, and on Catherine's 18th Birthday, I am in my dad's car, in a layby in some tiny village in the middle of nowhere, snogging some bored easy village girl with a made-up name. I feel so guilty for "cheating" and I promise never to do it again. I think this has affected my love life ever since. There are trappist monks who could call me inexperienced...

Later, after the parents threw me out, I got my own flat and on my moving-in day my first visitor is the lovely Catherine. First visit of many, the beginning of true love? Bollocks. She never came round again.

Then I share a bachelor pad with my best mate, after losing the v-plates in the back of my car with his missus. Before you ask it was his idea. Some blokes like that kind of thing apparently. Two weeks later they meet me from work and this innocent 17-year old gets her first spit-roast.

First day in new "bloke" house I drop a moving card to the lovely Catherine. "She's not here" say her Mum, "she's in London at University". Never saw that one coming. BANG!

Best mate and his missus get married, have two kids, get divorced.

Meanwhile I am off in Mum's borrowed car driving to a party to celebrate Aunty somebody's wedding anniversary. Miss the turn off the Motorway, and end up at Catherine's student house. Pop in to say hello. I give her a lift to a dodgy pub in Dagenham where I get introduced to....

wait for it...

her new GIRLFRIEND!

Didn't see that one coming, did I? Having laid awake for about three nights just repeating the words "oh fuck!" over and over again I finally got used to the idea. At least it's not some dodgy bloke. It was easier to cope with in some non-threatening way, the same way that women love gay blokes I suppose. I guess I was some kind of lesbian's fag-hag.

So being dragged round the gay pubs of London I thought "well, why not?" but it was not for me so I went back to being lonely, single and straight.

Some people say there is no such thing as the "right moment". Even if there is then the fast lane of the M1 Northbound just past Luton is probably not it. Just driving in the car, I could bear it no longer I finally burst out a declaration of my undying love.

Her reaction? "I knew all along". Thanks. Unfortunately now I had been a "friend" too long and she didn't want to ruin it. Nice - NOT! Well, the friendship continued, perhaps a little enhanced by the fact I was in love with her and she knew it. Sex was definitely off the menu which made sleepovers at her house frustrating to say the least. Cuddles and kisses were in, but no tongues please.

Walking hand-in-hand whilst shopping was fun, because I could pretend - and most people passing by would think we were married or something. Standing outside the changing rooms in clothes shops with the "other" husbands they must have thought we were "just married" because when their wives came out they said "yes dear, whatever", but I was full of compliments and even smiled whilst I was paying :o)

Then I joined the Railways, or what was left of them, and was pleased to hear I could get free travel, including the service which went within mile of her house... So one day I have a ride with the Driver and go and see her.

I try to forget the new boyfriend she has met at Uni (so much for Lesbian sisterhood then). I meet her in the kitchen in the house next door where she used to do the cleaning for the businessman who lived there. She was dressed in just some old clothes for doing the housework, but to me she was the most beautiful woman in the world, ever. It was as if I was coming home from a hard day's work on the Railway, and here was my lovely wife waiting for me at home.

Never mind, eh?

Eventually I say goodbye on the doorstep, like the goodbye kiss of a husband on his way to work. At that exact moment, the Hatfield Rail crash happened, miles away, and the railways were all messed up for ages, and it was down to that I met Ruth. She was married, but not to me, but that is another story.

That was 5 years and 5 days ago and I have never seen Catherine since. She has never phoned, written, texted, e-mailed, but then neither have I. All I have are memories, and a 6x4 photo of her which I use as a bookmark between pages 86 and 87 of the London A-Z.

If there are any ladies out there, single, aged 20-35, who like railways and don't mind being called "Catherine" in the heat of passion, please get in touch.

xx

* Did I say half my life? At last count it would be three-quarters. Sorry.

Apologies for length... Well, you can't say I didn't warn you! Think yourself lucky you've only got the short version.

Here she is:

Catherine
Click to see her in all her 800x600 pixelly glory

Comments, marriage proposals, recommendations of good shrinks to the e-mail address in my profile, please.
(, Sat 22 Oct 2005, 1:47, closed)

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