An old friend – someone I haven’t, in fact, seen since 1991 – recently posted some ancient snaps to facebook, including some of me.
My first reaction was, predictably, “Oh my god, we were so young. What happened to her?”
Then, “Gosh, those boys were good friends. We certainly had some fun. And I really did love him, my first ever boyfriend.”
[That’s him, sitting next to me on the boat in the photo above, in the sunglasses. His name is Iain.]
“Oh wait, that weekend on the boat on the Broads, wasn’t that the weekend I lost my virginity? Yes, it was. I’m glad we lost our virginity to each other. It was romantic and comic at the same time. And very probably tragic, too, come to think of it.”
We’re still in touch although he now lives in the USA with his American wife and two beautiful children and has edged further towards the political right (which tends to happen to the children of armed forces families). His facebook status updates occasionally make me cringe because of their homophobic or racist undertones.
But still, at 17, he was a kind, gentle and sexy sweetheart. I was lucky.
It was 1990 and I was 17 years old. I had spent 8 years at an all-girl’s boarding school with a serious military bent (all the girls’ parents were in the armed forces, bar one, whose Dad was the local vicar), before attending this school which was mixed, for two years.
I remember being nervous before I started – mostly about what I should wear since the all-girls school had a uniform whereas the mixed college didn’t – and it took a good year before I was at all comfortable talking to the boys. But now, I look back and remember them most clearly.
I wish I were still in touch with Tim. That’s him, below, in the blue shirt and cardi (all the boys wore cardis, it was the cool thing. And they all had that ridiculous floppy fringe and short back and sides). Tim was my favourite, after Iain.
The boys all went skinny dipping off the boat later that night. I have a fond memory of a row of white bums against the rail as they counted down to their jump… And not one of them mentioned the blood on the sheet. Amazing how tactful 17 year old boys can be.
I miss that girl. She was blithe and bonny, way back then. Would I trade all my experiences and hard-won knowledge of myself to go back and try my adult life all over again? Yes. In a fucking heartbeat. And I’d do it all differently.
I know one is not supposed to say that, but I really would.