Two Stories with a link.
Once upon a teenage time I found my company was desired by boys. Not just your bog standard church hall, pool playing boys, but a group from the Grammar School. Kudos to me, eh? The movers and shakers. Well the fascinatingly aloof thinkers, anyhow.
They came from an all male school and I came from its equal opposite, but still I didn't expect 'having a boyfriend' to involve much more than, well; well I didn't expect that to involve automatic acceptance by a whole gang of them. Thinking back I guess they had come to an age where they still wanted to hang round with their mates, but that having 'a girl' in the gang added a certain credibility.
Johnson and Taylor-Grey are the two names I remember and only because one was said boyfriend du jour (holder of hand, driver of car, payer for stuff - so innocent) and the other had a propensity for leaving graffiti all round the backstreets of Ealing, to do with goats.
A large group of us ended up 'going out' with nowhere specific to go, until it turned out that a very nice lad (with a very nice home) was able to open his doors to us, owing to his parents being out for the night.
It was okay, I guess. No booze (well none after the pints we had downed in the pub whilst trying to arrange where to go) and the boys were having one of those in-depth boring sit arounds that Grammar School boys have - talking A level physics, cars, guitars. Junk stuff, to an empty headed female who had been hoping to bop the night away or at least go off adventuring. I do so hate sitting still and being sensible - groups and crowds are for having fun.
I played train announcer voices on the intercom phone in the hall half the night, and after a couple of hours we all decided to head off in search for more action - our host included.
Like I say, I was far too self involved and new to this to imagine that dating someone should involve a spark of hot physical attraction, that was what 'fancying someone' meant and was still a year or so away and decidedly yukky. Going out with someone just meant belonging with, going back with; being a team of two. I was quite used to my so-called boyfriend getting us to and from a place but disappearing to talk shop and leaving me to it, while we were at our destination.
Our host and I got talking on a cold walk down a long road back towards North Acton, and he was great. About my height, pretty obviously Jewish looking, very obviously thoughtful and funny and witty and considerate. A diamond.
Part of my attractiveness (if I had any) I think, was that his home had at least one prominent photograph of a well known rock star - his older cousin, he said, and he dreaded bringing friends home, was tired of his peers only wanting to hang round with him on the off-chance of making contact with a star. When he'd made this admission, my first reaction had been 'Oh yuck, poor you, that band are such BIG HEADS!" This had obviously cheered him up, but not settled his mind, because he continued, with a sheepish grin, to say that he thought so too, but still most girls he knew thought his 'cousin' was gorgeous. "Yuck" says I, "You're kidding. His nose is like HUGE."
Okay that was cruel, but I said it with a smile on my face and I said it to break the ice. I'd been tipped off to the connection already by a sycophantic member of the gang and was none too pleased with the inference that having possessions or famous relatives could make someone more noteworthy.
I don't remember much of our subsequent talk as, wrapped up against the chill, we bumbled along Madeley Road or Castlebar or some such interminable residential back street, just that he was as easy to talk to as family. We laughed, we agreed, we pointed things out, we just got on so incredibly easily and well, like brothers and sisters get on before they realise its their job to torment each other. If nothing else, I would have gone on to make a very real friend, years or lifelong.
And then we got spotted. Somehow our conversation had become too deep even for the shop-talking bores. Somebody had actually looked up and noticed that we were in animated conversation, enough to feel disgruntled about it. My name was called, and we were beginning to re-merge with the crowd of teenagers, when a couple of them pulled me to one side and asked me 'if I fancied him.'
Fancied! That was the worlds most cringeworthy, sad-girly-with-weak-knees-and-a-tongue-on-the-floor word! I was mortified! Had I actually looked like I wasn't cool? Had I looked like I was pairing off? To cap it all my official 'boyfriend' was a step behind the group, his eyes screwed up in a deep thought sort of way, the kind of way that makes you want to stuff a pipe in the afflicted person's mouth, take a photo and put them forward for a TV show like Country Files or The Angler. I knew this was a mix of manly distance and mortal humiliation at being dumped in front of his gang. It hadn't crossed my mind to dump him; I was just making friends with someone fascinating while he was off being boring.
My answer was instant. I am very good at taking in a lot of peripheral information quickly, thinking on my feet as it were, notwithstanding that if I do that when I also have both feet in my mouth (known to happen,) I only go round in circles. What did I say? I was a teenager in a disapproving spotlight - I lied through my teeth to seem like part of the pack, of course.
"Oh, haha! No way. No he's nice, but I don't fancy him, iew!" I believe I even had to repeat myself, to hammer it home. Oh, hell.
I watched my new soulmate wilt, ever so slightly. I ducked my head and started walking with the main group, but kept peering at him from the corner of my eye as he stuffed his hands in his pockets and tagged along like an outsider. I so wanted to catch his gaze, to apologise however silently, but instead spent what seemed like an age realising what a lovely bloke he was and what a stupid, loud mouthed fishwife I could be and quite how much I just blew it. If the ground had swallowed me up, I really think that on my way to be mangled I would have whispered a little thank you.
He changed me, for sure; after that I was more careful of people's feelings, to the point that when subsequent relationships were over I manipulated things so that I never had to be blunt, or cruel. I had nightmares over that one moment. I never wanted to tread on an ego like that ever again.
Once in a blue moon I remember him and wonder if it would ever be too late to apologise, to tell him he was adorable, at that age, anyway.
Funny, the way little things can get to you.
Blogs by famous people, at least ones who admit who they are, seem generally to be for a specific purpose. Alright, all blogs are self advertising, but when someone knows a bigger business, you expect the declaration of identity to be somehow more organised and purposeful.
I guess what I mean by that is that tagging a famous name to your blog (even if it happens to be your famous name) can be like riding a brand name instead. It is usual, nothing more, for people like that to be offering up the persona rather than the human being behind it, so I was sceptical but eventually very, very pleased to be tipped off to THIS, Pete Townshend's blog of his very promising book.
At the moment most of his commenters appear to be personal friends, so I shall bookmark and follow the (I admit surprisingly) excellent story that is unfolding. Fantasy, philosophy, personal vision of dark things to come; its hard to tell at this point. The premise is certainly solid and believable, which is always a good start to a book, but where it will go..........
I did want to comment. I wanted to bluster in there and tell him to SLAP A CREATIVE COMMONS LICENCE ON IT before it gets stolen. There was one other thing I wanted to say, but I leave you to work that out. It had the words 'pass a message' and 'sorry' in it. Not really first comment material.
That's a nice picture of you Pete, honestly; better than the miserable broody ones the promotions people used to throw about. Immeasurably nicer than the personal one I saw about 25 years ago in a West London apartment. How's your cousin?