She wasn’t really a Port Vale fan and their boy/girl friendship was, to say the least, short lived – surviving only until he met a girl from Bentilee.
That’s right folks, it’s another memoir from Barry.
The first girl ever to tug my heartstrings was a fellow student at Cellarhead – later renamed Moorside Secondary Modern School. She lived out Dilhorne way. The second girl to successfully tug my heartstrings lived near the junction of Ubberley Road and Dawlish Drive, Bentilee. In between these ‘affairs of my heart’ was a friendship with a girl from our church Youth Fellowship group. For the purposes of this memoir she will be known only as ‘T’.
‘T’ lived in Woolliscroft Road near the junction of Corneville Road in what was not so affectionately known as ‘Tin Town’ which consisted of a number of prefabricated homes built in an area bordered by Bucknall Brook, Ruxley, Malthouse and Corneville Roads.
Between the back gardens of the brick and tiled houses of Corneville Road and the beginning of ‘Tin Town’ was a storm water drain that emptied out into the locally named Duck Pond behind a shop in Corneville Road and across the road from where ‘T’ lived. The drain stretched back, passed under Lillydale Road and widened out onto wasteland behind a public house known as The Queen of Hearts.
I’d just started to work for the Co-Op Dairy in Snyed Green when ‘T’ and yours truly enjoyed a short-lived friendship. Sure, we had known each other for several years. But our togetherness as boy and girlfriend was, as stated, very fleeting indeed. In any case, there was never going to be any other outcome because my social life was constrained by long working hours of 10-hour days, 6 days a week. On top of which we would have to catch buses or use shank’s pony to get around. Then there was the girl from Bentilee.
There was one other reason. ‘T’ said she liked football and followed Port Vale. But I knew in my heart of hearts that it wasn’t true. In fact, she was so unlike the other girls that I had known who had clearly verbalised their respective dislike for football. You know the stuff “Yes, you can go to the football. But don’t expect me to be here when you get back”.
My mates had warned me to be wary of girls who claimed to like football saying “They’re just wenches, what would they know”. Nor would you hear the end of it if you missed a game to date a girl – as I once did. But that’s another story told elsewhere on onevalefan.
It was a fine, but chilly spring Sunday morning that found us leaving the Youth Fellowship and walking from Werrington Road back to ‘Tin Town’. Perhaps meandering would be a better word for it. Yes, meandering and talking about everything and nothing at the same time. Come to think of it, we never did hold hands in public, or steal a sweetheart’s kiss. Still, I did say our courtship was a brief encounter.
When finally reaching the front gate of their house I was about to take my leave when ‘T’ suggested I go in for a cup of tea and a biscuit. Her mum and dad were up at the Red Lion in Ruxley Road and wouldn’t be home ‘till just after midday. Although I accepted the invitation I can remember feeling a little nervous about it all. Still, with a furtive glance over my shoulder to check to see if any neighbours might be looking on, I followed her without much ado.
‘T’ did fill the kettle and put it on the gas ring. But that was it. No matches were produced to light the gas. No explanation offered. Whilst I was wondering what was going on she asked if I would like to see her bedroom. Crikey, my mind must have gone into a spin with thoughts quite unrelated to cups of tea and biscuits.
In my mind’s eye I can still see that scene of me following up those stairs. Each step seemed to take me into a rarefied zone of goodness knows what. A kiss and cuddle? Fingers and thumbs perhaps? What!? With my heartbeat at a racing pace we entered her bedroom – which just happened to be directly above the kitchen where we had been standing a few moments before. It was all so fast and bemusing that time and place had temporarily slipped away from me.
By now ‘T’ had turned to face and walk toward me. Her blouse had been unbuttoned to reveal a lower neckline. Just then she stopped as we both heard the front door open and close. Much to her horror, mine too, her mum and dad had come home earlier than expected. Her beguiling manner had turned to one of shock. For me it was a case of ‘How the heck do I explain to her folks my presence in her bedroom?’
Fear prompts people to behave in the strangest ways – just as it was on that particular occasion. Whilst responding to her mum’s question that she was home and just getting changed ‘T’ was also pointing to the window and telling me to get out fast before her dad found out. There being no other way out of the house yours truly did exactly that – climb out of the window. Then and only then did time and place return to full focus when I suddenly realised it was the bedroom and not the kitchen window I was climbing through. The fall in prospect did nothing for my sense of safety or well-being.
I can still feel my knuckles being vigorously tapped by ‘T’ so as to make me let go and fall. And fall I did – clattering the dustbin and landing slap bang on my backside into a small strawberry patch. But there no chance to recover from the fall, or to worry about physical injury because I was required to make a fast get-away from her dad who was coming through the back door. Like a rabbit I took off down their back garden and over fences to the safety of that storm water drain behind the houses in Corneville Road. From there I splashed and stumbled my way up to the storm water pipe that passed under Lillydale Road and just kept running until I reached Bucknall Brook. By that time I was wet and muddy and absolutely out of breath. But I was no longer being chased.
At that precise point in time I resolved never again to go anywhere near ‘T’s’ house. In fact it was several weeks before I found the courage to go to Youth Fellowship.
What’s that you’re asking? Oh right, did ‘T’ get into trouble with her folks? With a beaming smile she told me her dad had thought some little toe-rag was stealing his strawberries and that had he caught me would have taken the belt to me. She also laughed when she told me that she saw me flee like a scared rabbit and that her dad had ended his chase of me at the rear fence of their back garden.
Several weeks later I met a girl from Bentilee.
See you later…
April 19, 2004