Monday, 11 March 2013

My first kiss

The Boys' Club, Bishop Percy's House, Bridgnorth, Saturday night in early 1970.

It was at the end of the street where I lived and totally beyond my fifteen-year-old imagination.

I remember the night when everything changed in my tiny, grammar-schoolgirl world.  It would have been a Saturday, around eight o'clock and dark.

Dad was against it.  He insisted on driving me and dropping me off  'round the corner'.  He would come to meet me at 10.30. But none of this mattered.

My friends were consumed with disgust that my father had placed restrictions on my freedom, that he had not allowed me to wear my red floral button-through mini dress, chain belt and red socks with lace up the sides.

I didn't care.  Their faces, up close, made-up and screeching with life, made my head buzz and my stomach leap, as they led me, for the very first time, into a room with high roof, hundreds of people and a stage, complete with lights, dry ice and pulsating DJ.

The music was Motown, tinny and with an irresistible beat, 'Baby, Baby. Where did our Love go?'  driving my feet forward along a corridor of eyes, towards the centre, where people were dancing in small groups, smiling and inexpertly predatory in the gloom.

I looked at my friends in a new light.  Out of uniform and out of control.  They were bright and glorious.  They were in charge.  I nestled in amongst them and, feeling my young body tense inside my sensible skirt and polo-neck sweater, I moved with the music, my silky brown hair a curtain when I needed it.

A friend grinned and shouted that she was going outside with Pete.  She pulled me towards the exit and thrust me into the cool night, spotlit by the single yellow light on the wall above.  She took a long drag on her cigarette.

'BoBo fancies you,' she said.

I nodded.

'He wants to go for a walk.'  She did not expect me to reject the idea.

'Who's BoBo?'  I asked, curious but with a terror starting in my bowels.

She couldn't believe I didn't know who BoBo Finch was. I can still see her face, young and scathing, her body fragile and outrageous.  She seemed so wise.

'Pete won't come unless you go with BoBo,' she whined.

I was naive, but I knew that 'go with' did not necessarily mean 'go for a walk'.

'I don't know...' My body shook and my teeth chattered.  All low-level and almost imperceptible.

'It's just a walk!'

I was in danger of alienating my friend.  I looked at the path along the river and hugged myself.

BoBo wore bovver boots, flares and one of those long 'officer's' coats with brass buttons, from the Army and Navy Stores.  His hair was feathered and his looks considered good.  With hardly a word, he took my arm in his and led me down the ramp and along the river.

My friend walked ahead with Pete, laughing, and disappeared into the night.

There was a bench.  It was just a bench.  Somewhere to sit.  I had watched the river before from such benches.  But not like this.  There were cars on the bridge and the face of the clock tower.  My home only two-minute's walk away.

I remember him saying my name.


It was neither a question nor a statement.  It was so much more.

I felt his arm around my shoulders and heard him speak again.

'Loosen up.'

He was gentle.  I told myself.  Nothing to be afraid of.

The kiss, when it came, was warm and overwhelmed me with its wetness.  His mouth tasted of cigarettes. I held out.  It was my first kiss.  I should give it a chance.

I had been selected.  I had been chosen.  By BoBo Finch, no less. It was some kind of honour, the greatness of which I wrestled with.  I should be grateful.  I should loosen up.

I pulled back and jumped up.

'I have to go!'

I can't remember if he said anything.

I ran, stopping only to take off my shoes.  I ran.

At home, my heart exploding in my chest, I fled to the bathroom and washed my mouth out with Dettol, spitting and gasping.

And, in the mirror, was a girl who had been kissed.


  1. Haha. Much more exciting and alarming than my kissing Caroline Dean in Etchingham Road when I was five. I hope you recovered.

    1. You started very young. But I have a feeling it was not the same kind of kiss, although probably just as slimy!

  2. Ahhh. Yes. It was just before my 16th bday and at a church youth group dance for Halloween. He swept me off my feet, literally. He towered over my 5'3 frame as he took my first french kiss. Took, since I didn't know how to give a kiss. I do now. Thank you, Brian Kelley.