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  • I came home one evening after school. I was 11 years old and my mum ran a restaurant and catering company so I was used to getting in and making my own tea or getting a message that she'd be home soon and we'd eat out.

    I had made myself a cup of tea and was raiding the larder for some nutella or ginger biscuits and suddenly the front door bell rang. When I opened it, a tall, thin, dark haired man stood on the porch and said he had come to see my mum about a job as a chef. So I let him in and made him a cup of tea and chatted to him about what he'd done and how did she meet him.... (in a pub).."oh" I said "she might have forgotten if she was drunk". I laughed but he wasn't amused. I told him not to worry, he'd probably get the job because she needed a chef but she would definitely be late because she's probably forgotten she said she'd meet him.

    We chatted for a while more. I remember he said I was quite old for my age and I decided I liked him because he didn't say it in a condescending way. My upbringing was very Bohemian - we always had people in and out, late night parties, lodgers, artists. So I guess I was pretty independent and sociable for an 11 year old.

    Mum turned up late. She had forgotten and she did hire him. He cooked mostly for the weddings and spent a lot of time in our kitchen at home prepping vol-u-vents and quiches, quite the rage for weddings back in the early 80's! I used to race home from school and help spoon egg mayonnaise, prawns, advocado, fold serviettes, clingfilm and more clingfilm....anything to hang out with Uel.

    He was 18 and had been in the marines but had an accident that retired him out of the forces. I had a super crush on him but at the time I was in love. I used to think about him day and night, dreaming up scenarios of spending time on my own with him, kissing him, getting married! It didn't help that he was single because I thought there might be a chance.. ha ha!

    Mum used to go over to France quite a lot - in those days, it was super cheap to go by ferry to Calais or Bologne and buy cheap wine and cigarettes and some food for weddings and the restaurant from the big hypermarches. We used to have to get up at some un-godly hour of 4am to get to the ferry at Dover and I was always half asleep. I remember a couple of months after Uel arriving we had such a trip and I sat next to him.

    Inside I was on fire but had a very cool outer exterior - he put his arm around me and said I could cuddle up to him but I resisted. I didn't want him thinking I was weak or had a crush on him but I ended up dozing and he put his arm round me anyway so I pretended I was asleep and hadn't noticed. My mum thought I was asleep and took the mickey out of him, saying that I had a crush on him. I remember thinking how furious I was with her until I heard him say he already knew that and he thought it was sweet. I felt silly and disappointed but happy at the same time because he had his arm around me and he'd called me sweet.

    It was a glorious summer but then I won a scholarship to boarding school and all to quickly the time came to leave. I remember being excited about going away but desperate not to leave Uel. He told me he would write. He did. He wrote a long letter to me, so it was there when I arrived and sent a picture of him from when he was in the Marines. All my new friends were dead jealous and of course he was introduced as "Uel, my boyfriend"!

    I did think about him for a couple of months but Christmas came and went and so did my life from home, being replaced with the excitement of new friends and school clubs, hockey and swimming.....and I stopped replying and the letters faded.

    But every now and again I think of him and wonder if he did really like me and if I had been older, perhaps we would have been lovers, soul mates, married.....what does he do now? What life does he have? Is he happy? Is he loved?

    I am.

    And in my heart of hearts I still love Uel. is he.
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