My sex life started at a very young age, with some rather peculiar antics, which even I, am not prepared to elaborate on (Girls, you know who you are). By the time I was 8, I was a spent force. A drunken fumble in 1984, aged 15, with my sisters university flat mate, was a mere oasis in a desert of shyness. I left school in 1985, aged 16, a virgin and only having kissed 2 girls in my teenage years. So when the opportunity of a blind date turned up, I was not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
It's a particularly cold winters night in early December of 1985. There has been some early snow and a layer of fog has enveloped the Rossendale valley. The phone rings and I hear my mate Chris Mayer on the other end. The background noise, alerts me to the fact that Chris is in a phone box. I glance at my watch and see that it is 5.30pm. I make a mental note that he must be on the way home from work. His voice seems, sort of muffled and his words are spoken quickly. He informs that he is down to his last 10 pence, hence the rapid conversation.
I am writing this story, 25 years later, so the accuracy of the following conversation has obviously been tainted - but it went something like this.
Chris: Hi Andy
Me: Alright, what you up to?
Chris: I've set up a date for you.
Me: Really, who with?
(my imagination is aroused)
Chris: She's called Denise.
Me: What's she like?
Chris: erghh, not bad. She's a proper goer, I've heard.
Let me take a minute here to share some retrospective thoughts. 1, Why was he giving me an opportunity to lose my virginity, when he was himself a virgin. 2, Why was he giving me an opportunity of anything at all, when he was as desperate for a girlfriend as I was. Unfortunately my 16 year old, sex obsessed mind neglected to conjure up these thoughts at the time.
Me: Really (I'm feeling a stirring in my under carriage).
Chris: Yeah, she's really keen to meet you. I've told her loads about you.
Me: Oh yeah, what did you say?
Chris: I've told her that you have a motorbike.
This is true, for the past 6 months or so, I have been in possession of a Honda MT 50. When I bought it, I was totally taken in by the looks and extremely blase to the performance (it looks like a scramble bike with knobbly tyres). In hindsight I should have got a Yamaha FS1E, which in the words of my mates are like "shit off a shovel". However, my teenage judgement got the better of me and I ended up with a hairdryer on wheels.
Me: Where does she live?
Me: Fucking hell. I knew there had to be a catch.
Bacup, for anybody not familiar with the Rossendale valley, is the arse end of the world. A place where the following incidents have occurred. 1, A guy hand gliding over the town centre, was shot down by kids with air rifles. 2, A group of nuns, who had moved into the area to help out with social problems, had a dustbin on fire thrown through their window. 3, The Rossendale Free Press (local rag)reported on a guy that had been prosecuted on 26 accounts of necrophilia, at a Bacup morgue. 4, Chris and I had been attacked on 2 occasions by gangs of street youths. The second occasion Chris was left in hospital for 3 days. Needless to say, this place is rough and not a place that a 16 year old virgin riding a hair dryer really wants to go for his first blind date.
Chris: She said that you have to meet her at the main Bacup bus stop at 6.30.
Me: Ergh ergh.
By the time I have had time to compose myself, Chris's money has run out. I am left talking to the dialling tone.
Ten minutes later, I head off into a chilly, foggy, dark Rossendale evening, full of trepidation, but longing for some sexual action. As I trundle along, I am struggling to focus. My mind is all consumed with thoughts of a sexual nature. Oh god, please let me at least lose my finger virginity.
The journey between my parents home in Helmshore and Bacup town centre is around 7 miles, which in a car does not seem very far at all. However, on a cold winters night, on my Honda MT 50 hair dryer the journey seems to last forever. I hit the Queens Arms traffic lights in Rawtenstall (the half way point) and notice that the Burnley bus is stopped at the lights in the opposite direction. I know that this is the bus that Chris catches home from work, so I cast a glance through the windows. We notice each other at the same time and I wave to him. As he waves back, a large smile spreads across his face, which stinks of suspicion. I have no time to dwell on this because the lights change to green.
As I arrive at Bacup town centre, I notice a group of girls are hanging around the bus stop. I pull up on the opposite side of the road and consider my course of action. Shit, I was not expecting this. I cast a glance at my watch and see that it has already turned 6.30. Oh no, what am I to do? I contemplate turning around and heading back to Helmshore but am hesitant to do so because I am desperate for some action. What if she really is a goer? I can't let an opportunity like this fall by the wayside.
It's too late, my uncertain behaviour has grabbed the attention of the girls, who are now beckoning me over. I ride my moped over at super slow speed. In my mind I am sort of hoping that I never actually make it. Maybe I'll get hit by a bus on the way over and never have to face the girls. My shyness has totally kicked in now. My mind has won the battle, my libido retreats like a tortoise back into its shell.
I pull up at the bus stop and one of the girls shouts out, "Are you here to see Denise like?". I want to say no, but I hear myself saying "yes". It does not actually matter what I've said because the girls can't hear me. A mixture of nerves and a overall feeling of not wanting to be seen as resulted in me not pulling my helmet visor up. "What's he on about"? I hear one of the girls say. "I don't know ", one of the others interjects, "he's got his helmet on". Through my steamed up visor I can only make out the girls gleaming white stiletto heals. They are all wearing the same tacky shoes. "He must be fucking ugly", another of the girls shouts and they all cackle like witches. "Take your helmet off love, lets get a look at your fisog (face)". I am in the process of carrying out this latest request, when Denise is thrust upon me. I pull off my helmet to be faced by a rabid beast.
"Hey, he's not bad you know", the ringleader calls out, "I wouldn't mind having a dabble with him myself". "You can fuck off he's mine", are Denise's first words and with that she grabs my hand and claims me, as if I were her baggage on an airport carousel. "Come on love, lets go back to mine". She storms off up the hill, still holding my hand and I am forced to wheel my moped with my legs. "Good luck love", I hear one of the girls shout as I we disappear into the distance towards one of the roughest council estates in England.
Her house is fronted by a small garden which is covered in snow. An old battered fence surrounds the garden and there is a gate which is hanging by one hinge. A distinct path has been trodden through the snow to the front door and I elect to push my bike up this path for fear of it being stolen. This is no mean task because there is an incline to the front door. I slip and slide but eventually park it up in front of the front window. The task complete, I am beckoned into the house by Denise, with the promise of a cup of tea.
They say if you want to see what the girl is going to look like then you should see her mother. Her mother is the first thing that I see as I enter the house. It is plain to see where Denise acquired her bad looks. The mum has a face like a robbers dog and body that even Jerry Springer would reject from his show. Worse than that, are the tattoo's which adorn her arms. They are a mixture of very badly done real ones and home made ones which are even worse. The one that catches my attention the most is big, red love heart with an arrow cutting through it. The word mum is written in the middle of the heart. Is this in honour of her own mother? a present from one of the kids or is she self obsessed? My mind is awash with thoughts, caused by a mixture of nerves and genuine curiosity.
Mum: Ooooh our Denise, he looks freezing love. Bring him in and warm him up. (mum laughs at her own sentence).
We are ushered into the living room, where I see that Top of the Pops has just started. I am glad of the distraction. The next 30 mins are amongst the most uncomfortable of my entire existence to this day. The mum wanders into the kitchen and Denise plonks herself on the sofa and immediately wraps her legs around mine.
Denise: Are you gonna kiss me?
Me: Do you want me too? (obviously shitting myself).
Denise: What do you think?
I think that I have made a grave mistake. I think that Chris Mayer is a cunt. I think that I am never going on a blind date again. I think I'd better keep these thoughts to myself.
She gives me no time to articulate my thoughts anyway. I open my mouth to reply and find myself in the middle of an involuntary French kiss. She dives on me like a life guard on a drowning man and we wrestle around on the sofa. I think that she see's my spasms as kinky, she does not realise that I am trying to escape from her. My eyes dart around the living room and I am alarmed to see many, many photo's of kids. Sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, niece's, nephews -you name it, they are there. I'm talking all 4 walls covered in photo's of children.
The mum walks back into the room, 3 cups of tea in her hand and immediately latches onto my focus of attention.
Mum: We love to have kids in this family love. Only our Denise to go now and that'll be my lot until the grand kids start having em. She's already had 2 abortions you know, she's waiting for Mr Right.
Denise, does not seem put off by her mothers re-entry to the living room or indeed her comments. She continues to probe her tongue around my mouth, with little regard for my lack of response or her mothers presence.
Mum: Oh, she likes you alright love. Come on our Denise, let the lad drink his tea.
Denise, eventually releases her clinch and I launch for my cup of tea. Tea in hand, I divert my attention to top of the pops. Denise and her mum continue to watch my every move in a rather uncomfortable fashion. They seem to be giving each other secret messages, thinking that I am not looking. I choose to ignore their behaviour and focus on top of the tops, and that's when they start to have a conversation as though I was not sitting right down next to them.
Mum: Fucking hell Denise, you've done alright there. He's better than the usual scum you bring home.
Denise: Yeah, he's from Helmshore - posh end of the valley.
Mum: Well, you better hang on to him. It's about time we saw some of yours on the wall.
In unison, their eyes flick around the walls in admiration of their family offspring, then come to rest on my cowering body. The mum flashes me a toothless smile and Denise's squeezes my hand. To add insult to injury, Jennifer Rush is on top of the pops bellowing out the Power of Love. Inside my mind I am hatching a plan.
If I pretend I am going to the toilet, I can be out of the front door, on my moped and down the path way before they even notice I am gone. Ok, there are a few flaws in this plan, as I am about to find out but it is worth a crack. Right now I am petrified, in fact I am wondering whether this is enough to put me off sex for life. The pictures of all those kids on the wall are going to be the cause of sweat drenched nightmares for years. Babies, horrible ugly babies, kids, grubby horrible kids, the mums toothless smile and oh god, the reassuring hand squeeze - all to the backdrop of Jennifer Rush (the power of love). That's it, I have to go.
Me: Erm, where's your toilet?
Mum: Denise love, show him where the toilet is (she had never bothered to ask my name).
Denise: Follow me babe, I'll take you up. (the grip on my hand tightens).
Me: No bother, I'll be back in a flash, I'm dying for a pee. (I break free from my shackles and head for the door).
Mum: Up the stairs and 2nd door on the left love.
For the past 5 minutes I have been fumbling through my pockets with my left hand, to try and locate the ignition key for my moped. I have singled it out from the bunch and now hold it firmly between my thumb and fore finger. I leave the living room, closing the door behind me and grab my helmet from the hallway . I lunge at the front door. "Fuck, fuck, fuck", the latch is on. As I fumble with the mechanism, the noise seems deafening. Through the closing titles of Top of the Pops, I hear Denise and her mum musing over what the noise is. I manage to sort the latch out just in time. As I bolt through the door, I see the handle on the living room door turn downwards.
I throw my helmet on, stick the key in the ignition and start the moped with lightning precision. By the time Denise and her mum have reached the front door, I am halfway down the snow filled garden. I hear them shouting obscenities as my bike crashes through the gate. The one hinge gives way and I literally take it with me. I am saved by the knobbly tyres on my MT50 hairdryer, which cut through the snow.
At the bottom of the estate, I cast a look back and am relieved to see that they have not given chase. I finally relax, as I head back to the posh end of the Valley.