Where I grew up, good-looking women were like tornadoes; you hoped one might arrive to improve the scenery, but they never did. Local men were therefore forced to aim low…a peroxide blonde with a dirty laugh from the local council estate received much the same attention as Giselle strolling around St. Tropez in a day-glo thong.
In these barren times, I was set-up (possibly framed) with a Catholic girl called Mary. “She really likes you,” said her friend who I was more interested in. “Meet her on the bench outside the Women’s Institute at 8pm.”
With few sparks flying between young Mary and I, the relationship was over before it started, but with no number to call I had to turn up in person to break the ‘bad news’. Just as I was about to leave late at 8.15pm, my mother presented me with a meal she had cooked in near-secrecy….I had no choice but to temporarily abort my plans and eat while she sat on the other side of the dining table nodding in approval.
At 8.45pm, I arrived at the rendezvous point expecting to find Mary long gone, but she was still there, sitting hopefully in a conservative blouse and pointy shoes, fiddling with a conspicuously large handbag (big enough to conceal a crucifix and holy water should the need arise). She smiled at me for the first and last time. “Sorry I’m late….but this isn’t working out…….” Three minutes later the date was consigned to history.
“Her parents are strict Catholics. She is only allowed to go out once a month. Last night was it!” explained her friend the next day. “Mary’s very angry. You’ve put her off men completely. She’s talking about becoming a nun and her parents have said they will back her all the way.”
I have been filling convents ever since.