I was in love for the very first time. No, that’s not true, but perhaps it was the first time with a real live cute pretty ten year old girl with a blond hair and was in the same class as me. And me you may ask? I was scruffy ten year old with mousey coloured hair, with socks falling down around my ankles and not a real lot going for me. My previous loves were, collecting stamps and cigarette packets, owning my own pocket knife which as with all small boys I had already cut myself by accident, admiring the voluptuous Jane in the comic strips in the Daily Mirror and laughing at the Giles cartoon in the Daily Express.
I used to follow her home from school, which was no big deal as she only lived 100 yards from the school gates so I didn’t look like a predator. Her name was May and she was quiet and studious whereas I was quiet but not so studious but made up it for by telling stories. Much like now I suppose.
Looking at May every day was eating a hole in my little heart and I to recourse to seeking advice. Luckily I never asked my brother who would certainly given me bad advice so I went to my mother. More likely she saw that I had that hang dog look and wheedled my problem out of me.
My thought was that I should give May a present as a token of my love. In those days just after the Second World War nobody had any money or any thing of any note. We were so poor that we didn’t even bother to lock our doors. The front door had a Yale lock and the key was on a string that you needed to pull out of the letter box to open it. We could have gone round the back door but that was up a dark passageway through a gate and the dogs next door would hear you and come out to bark for all they were worth. So instead we hauled up the key through the hole in the front door and let ourselves in.
Having got in the next step was the put on the light. It always seemed the way when I got home and the evenings were dark I would put the light on and the electric light would come on for second and the meter would run out and leave you in darkness. For the next five minutes you would have to grope around the house in the dark and hope you could find a one shilling coin to put in the meter. Later we worked out the best idea was to put the shilling on top of the meter itself so when it ran out there would be one ready for you to put in. Shillings were in very short supply as everyone wanted them for their meters. Please do not ask why we didn’t put the shilling in when we had it. I don’t think anyone did. It was best to have it on hand for emergencies, whatever they were.
My mother did find me a trinket to give to May. It was a silver bracelet with Ivy leaves engraved on the outside and was very pretty. Mother didn’t like it, she never wore it. It was merely in her collection of trinkets in one of the drawers in the dressing table. “Why don’t you give her this” she said handing it to me. I was delighted and examined it closely. On the inside the following words were inscribed “Like the Ivy I cling to thee.” I loved it.
The next day after school I raced home and took the present now wrapped up around to May’s house knocked on the door. As luck would have it May answered and I presented her with the gift. She smiled shyly, thanked me for it and shut the door.
Now you are expecting a grand romance of furtive looks across the classroom, holding hands as we walked home from school even though it was only 100 yards, and possibly tender little notes of affection pressed into each others hands as we brushed by each other as we passed; I am sorry to say even though the gift was accepted, I meant absolutely nothing to her. We acknowledged each other, were friends in a distant way for the next seven years but as for love, not one bit of it. But I think she liked the bracelet.