One of the recurring themes of my life has been my absolute hopelessness around women that I like.
It wasn’t always that way. Until about the age of 8, any girl I liked liked me too. Then it all went horribly wrong. Particularly the bit where Amanda Wilkinson berated me in front of about half the class for claiming that we were going out together (whatever that means at that age).
Frances was in the year below me at school and I probably wouldn’t have had anything to do with her but for the simple fact that her parents and mine were members of the same drama group. Which meant that when, in 1978 they needed some small girls to dance in their annual pantomime, Frances was one of those they picked and my sister Karen was another.
After the pantomime was over, Karen and I decided to try and write our own pantomime for children, and we invited Frances to join us. Needless to say, the whole thing got no further than the first meeting, but the three of us were in the pantomime next year – which meant I got to see both Frances and Matilda Green (who was actually in my class at school) in bikinis. Shame I was too young to appreciate it.
Did I fancy Frances? Of course I did. Not only was she an attractive girl, she was an attractive girl who would talk to me. Did I do anything about this? Of course I didn’t. Not only did I not have a clue what I should do about it, but by the time we were teenagers Frances was a part of a fearsome group of girls who simultaneously intrigued and terrified me.
Like a miniature Rat Pack with two x-chromosomes, they were Frances, Elizabeth Ward, Nicola Burnell, Kirsten Rogers and sometimes Jane Aldridge. At various times I wanted to date them all – whilst at all times wanting to run from them all.
The power of Facebook recently reconnected Frances and I, for the first time in about a decade (and even then our contact was pretty much limited to a few emails facilitated by Friends Reunited). At one point she commented that I had just said the first nice thing to her in about thirty years. Which is probably true -the only way that my teenage boy brain could cope with the lot of them was to result to insults. I was – and still am – good at insults. And Frances was the only girl in the school who wore an ankle length skirt.
Frances now lives in eastern Australia and has become an Australian citizen. And today was her birthday. So this post is part memories, part birthday wishes, and part apologies for having to put up with me for all of those years.