Apart from the horrendous Sandra Spence episode, by the time I reached the age of 13 I had been really lucky regarding girls. By which I mean that I had managed to avoid all contact with them. Well, as much as it is possible to avoid all contact. Girls can be quite determined when they want to be. But suffice to say I had done all right with my avoidance strategies. Of course at the time I didn't realise that I was using avoidance tactics. As far as I was concerned I was just behaving the way boys are supposed to behave. Naturally it couldn't last forever. Avoiding the inevitable -what a strange phrase- was bound to end eventually, and Jeanette Thompson was determined to be the cause of it.
Life had changed dramatically for me in 1959/60, what with moving to Scotland from London. From City to rural life. With all the upheaval the worse part for me was starting at a new school. Being the new boy in a small village school I attracted a lot of attention. Unfortunately a lot of it from girls.
At 13 I had begun to notice that girls were different. I wanted to be more aware of them but couldn't really figure out why. If only someone had taken the time to explain to me that girls were human beings, and not the frighteningly different species I had come to think they were. Then perhaps I would not have turned into a blushing, tongue tied, stuttering wreck, whenever I was confronted with one.
Jeanette Thompson was a year younger than me. She had taken to waiting for me as I made my way home from school. One day, without warning, she tried to kiss me, and asked me to be her boyfriend. The blatant hussy! That was, without doubt, the worse day of my life. I hate to admit it but I ran away when this traumatic incident occurred, and I didn't stop running until I got home.
The fact that I had behaved like an abject coward, did not however deter her from pursuing me. If anything it increased her determination. Going home time became an almost unbearable ordeal. Something had to be done. I devised a plan.
It was easy really. All I did was to go to Gavin's house after school. His mum made lovely cakes so it was no hardship. From Gavin's I would simply take a detour across the fields, thus avoiding Jeanette. I say simply, in fact it wasn't that simple. It involved climbing several barbed wire fences, crossing a stream and some swampy marshland, and trespassing on the railway line. As well as adding another couple of miles to my journey. It was worth it though.
Eventually another new boy started at the school and the predatory Jeanette wasted no time in transferring her affections to him. What a relief that was! Thank you Ralph. Hopefully you were able to devise a plan of escape too, and did not suffer too much.
Pass forward a few months, and who is that waiting at the side of the road? Why it is me! What am I doing? Actually I am waiting for a girl. Her name is Katherine Marshal. She is very pretty. I am hoping she will notice me. If I can pluck up the courage I will ask her to be my girlfriend. It's a funny thing puberty.
You may be wondering about the Sandra Spence episode which I mentioned at the start of this post. Well she was the girl who sent me a Valentine card, when I was ten. I have never recovered from that!