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My Love Life. Part One. A Tragedy in Many Parts. A Part in Many Tragedies.

I've been a bit blocked recently in terms of updating my own dating blog.  Mainly because:
  1. I'm not currently dating
  2. I've written all the tales that follow my typical story arc*
  3. I can't write about having my heart shattered, because it isn't funny**
* If you haven't read my midlife dating blog before, it's fundamentally full of the various histories of dates I've been on that turned out to be massive disasters, one way or another.  But I try to make them mildly amusing, once I'm over the trauma
**Which is basically point one.  But the rule of three applies.  Plus, I've spent ages writing & deleting all my heartache, bitterness & angst. Time has passed, I'm doing my best to let things go. Anyway, there's no angst room here. This was meant to be a guest post.

Then Alice kindly asked if I'd like to write a guest post on her blog.  And I accepted, because, unbeknownst to her, she'd inadvertently caught me at the sweet spot in the ongoing enthusiasm/despair cycle.  Plus, I was flattered.  Alice is a proper, bona fide, blogging legend.  Me?  I've managed barely a blog post post per month, if you average it out, which is the kindest way of looking at it, given my current torpor. She's been writing and tweeting & being insanely ballsy for a few years.  She's wiser but younger than me.  In fact; entirely theoretically & chronologically; rather than literally or genetically speaking; I could be her dad.  Because I'm older than her.  Just marginally.

So this felt like an opportunity to approach things from a fresh angle.  It made me think. Take a look at why my dating life has been such a landfill explosion these last few years. Go back to the beginning. See if there's any kind of pattern I can interrupt.

My first love was Fenella King. That's her real name. God help me if she reads this and remembers Saturday mornings roller-skating around the local leisure centre sports hall. Mainly to Abba's "I have a Dream." I'm guessing she won't. At school she was bottom set. She could barely read at all.

I could manage ungainly corners & stopping, ideally with the assistance of a wall, but couldn't skate backwards. She could. She also looked fabulous in a skater skirt. That was sexy.  I am not Prince Andrew.  Promise.  At Christmas she gave me a boxed Incredible Hulk Soap on a Rope. I'd got her nothing, obviously, because I was 11. And a bit shit.

I panicked, clambered out of my skates, ran to the corner shop, spent my last 35p on a box of fudge with a postcard of our home town cunningly positioned on top, & ran sweatily back to the remaining 29 minutes of Agnetha & Anna-Frid.  Nobody was fooled.  Emergency fudge is a low blow.

Excitingly, for a week or two, Fenella & I held hands occasionally whilst rolling clockwise across the triple netball court markings of the leisure centre, on our scuffed and rented wheels. Which, incidentally, aged 11, made me "gay" to my friends.  The hand-holding, not the wheels.  Because roller skates.  Even though they were wearing them too.  Go figure.

Regardless of proclivities & peccadilloes, I don't recall Fenella & I ever speaking again. Despite another four years in the same school.  Shame.  I thought she was well lush.  Pre-teens, huh?  They're all kinds of fucked up.

The gradually eroding green thing on a rope lasted at least another 18 months. I was a teenage boy by the time I'd rubbed away the last shred vigorously away against my sparsely emergent pubes.  Sorry, Fenella.  It's mine, & I'll wash it as fast as I like.  Even if it involves the remains of The Hulk's crumbling pelvis clinging desperately to some dirty string.  You should be flattered.  Although I can see why you may not be.  If your husband is a big unit, tell him this is all Alice's fault.

Washing properly wasn't a priority. I have no idea why not, because these days you can't keep me away from a shower.  Back then, I figured if my parents could hear the water running, I was clean.  Which explains why all the early teenage photos of me feature an iridescent sheen emanating from my scalp, already subject to my mum's best efforts at a home haircut. You could have fuelled a medium-sized family car from my hair.  But you wouldn't have wanted me in it.  Not least because my haircut was minging.  As well as unwashed.

To say I wasn't a sporty kid is akin to suggesting that Boris Johnson isn't trustworthy.  I love football, now.  I even play sometimes, with enthusiasm rather than skill.  In those days it was twice-weekly torture.  Endless agony as I waited to find out if it would be me, or myopic, asthmatic, morbidly obese, Ollie, to be picked last.  Standing by while negotiations took place over whether, if a team took me, they could also have at least one decent player from the other side, if not two, to balance the handicap.

There's a whole ream of stuff here that I'd love to write about the appalling standard of PE teaching in the early 1980s.  At least my experience of it, & I went to a lot of schools.  We moved house frequently, though we weren't gypsies, or on the run.  At least as far as I'm aware, though there have been rotating shifts of men watching my caravan for the last few months.

The two PE teachers I remember best were Mr Straw and his sidekick, Mr Levis.  Straw was a short, wiry, perpetually angry Scot who ruled with an iron rod.  His catchphrase was, "Cross Country. Go!"  I actually didn't mind the 3 and a bit mile circuit too much because it didn't involve kicking a ball & watching it sail off in an entirely different direction to the one intended, plus I was guaranteed not to be last.  Unless Fat Ollie had another sick note.  In which case it was between me and Wheelchair Kev, and he was crap at jumping the wall.

Mr Levis was the man that made the school swoon.  Invariably clad in a running vest and tiny shorts (summer), or running vest & Le Coq Sportif trackie bottoms (winter), with his flowing hair and luxuriant moustache he looked like a buff version of one of those guys from the 118 118 advert.  Except that he always seemed to have a fag on the go too; dangling from his lower lip as he paraded the perimeter of the pitch; ensuring that the girls on the netball court had the best angle on his buns at all times; the cone of ash drooping ever longer without dropping; which only added to his air of masculinity.  Or perhaps it was just Old Spice.

My point is that never, ever, at any given moment, were we coached.  We were, at best, supervised.  The hardest kids or the most skilled players got picked as captains, and they picked the teams.  Unless we were doing Cross Country, in which case we'd already be running.  Not once did a teacher explain the offside rule, present the tactical duties of a midfielder or a defender, or do anything but blow a whistle if the muddy fracas became an actual affray.*  I'd probably have been quite interested in sport, if someone being paid for it had ever bothered to try explaining it to me.  Nearly four decades on, I remain quite cross.  You can probably tell.

*This happened quite often, but as I was normally, and nominally, in goal, it rarely involved me.  I liked goal. You didn't have to run around. Plus, there were no nets, & you can waste loads of time retrieving a ball from the stream at one end.

I've digressed a bit.  I'm supposed to be writing about my love life, and I haven't even got to my 'O' Levels yet.  That's not a euphemism, despite school being a place where my tongue repeatedly got me into trouble.  There's stuff to write about how not playing football in the playground led me to become friends with ***SPOILERS*** girls. Stuff about how I gradually became lovable, but unfuckable.  And what happened over the next few decades to spin that on its axis.  Not that I'm recommending either state.

My life skill appears to be to find somebody who loves me unconditionally, but has little to no interest in intimacy, or have doomed relationships in which the sex is mindbending, but the non-naked stuff is uneasy at best. Because I'm all kinds of trouble.  I blame my PE teachers, partially.  What I've realised most of all is that it's going to take more than one post to tell this story.  That Alice has inspired something that may yet become a warts & all disclosure of, as she requested, My Love Life.  And because it's going to be long, rambling, & published in many parts, it's sadly unsuitable as a guest post, so I'll have to write something else for Alice.

Barring Superinjunctions, I'll continue in Part Two, in which I'll probably lose my virginity, after discarding my white terry-towelling pants.  Which were my best available pair...


  1. That gave me vivid flashbacks to my own 1980s terrible PE teachers experiences. I've never held them responsible for the state of my love life but now I may have to reconsider. Excellent stuff, bring on the next parts!


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