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  • I wish I remembered more.

    I was drinking with my friends, Geoff, Paul, Nigel, maybe others in the Seahorse. Strong pints of Gale's ale, four, five...six?

    Two young women were sitting next to us. Were we interesting? Not to my adult eyes decades later, but conversations began, drinks were shared.

    One of the women shyly sat herself next to me. The other, not so shyly, next to Paul.

    Astonishingly, with no premeditation, a plan was hatched.

    "Let's go down to the Isle of Wight tomorrow!"

    Then home, the usual wobbly trek up East Shalford Lane and onto Tilehouse Road, and flopping down onto bed.
  • Did the phone ring on Sunday morning?

    Did someone drive by to take us to Guildford station?

    Did we meet on the platform?

    All I can remember is that by mid-morning we were on the express train to Portsmouth, myself, Paul and the two women, Jane and Frieda.

    Was there anyone else with us? Nigel perhaps, Geoff maybe. All I had eyes for, though, was Jane. Sitting next to me on the train and snuggling ever so closer.
  • The Isle of Wight ferry had, as is common to ferries in those parts, a bar and as soon as the moorings were let go, all of us had drinks in hand.

    Feeling somewhat hung over from the night before, I was tentatively sipping my pint, but, amazingly, Jane took a pint of lager and tipped the whole thing down in about three gulps.

    Gulps were what I felt, when, fifteen minutes later, she engaged my virgin lips in what turned out to be an hour long kiss, with occasional interruptions for air and trips to the toilet.

    Too much, too soon, and by the afternoon Jane was practically asleep, I was bemused and thrilled and wondering what to do next.

    Frieda and Paul?

    They disappeared together somewhere on the island and did not reappear until the ferry was due to return to the mainland.

    The clearest memory I have of that day is sitting by the side of the road, Ryde probably, musing about what to do with a drunken girl who, to my continuing bafflement, seemed deeply, even if alcoholically, interested in me.

    "Will you marry me?", she slurred.

    Did she really say that?

    Yes, I think she did.
  • Somehow, we got back to Guildford. Trains are good to drunks.

    Jane, she went on to be my first girlfriend. We never married. Frieda and Paul were together for a while too.

    It was only very much later that I found out that Frieda's surname was Hughes.

    Later still, just what that meant.
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