You never forget your first holiday without your parents. Mine was the school PGL trip to the Brecon Beacons; there were many other ‘firsts’ too, some more magical than others. Lucky for you I shall regale you with them…
1. I had my first kiss.
To the raspy strains of Joan Jett; ‘I love Rock n Roll’ in a corner of a vast room at the ‘mansion’ during the last night party, Melvyn made his move. It had been on the cards; much eye-contact, a playful though painful punch on the arm (all cornerstone moves of the 12 year old pre-mating male) and an irresistible offer of a lick on his ‘Sherbet Dib Dab’, yeah I had it coming. Once the light’s were dimmed (i.e. they’d pulled the curtains) he made his move. I recall the internal struggle of whether or not to lick my lips. They could be dry; if only I’d followed up my Spangles with a mouthful of Tizer. Suffice to say in an instant he was upon me like a blue bottle on jam. The messy mouth-on-mouth action of pre-teens intent on using the ‘washing machine’ method of kissing; round and round we went. I should have known from his lisp that it would be a watery affair. It was not pleasant; to endure or I’m sure watch. On the plus side he did manage to dislodge a bit of meat from my back molar so all was not lost.
2. I rode a horse.
Down a rocky stream. Trying not to cry. I’m not exactly an ‘animaly’ person anyway but had still been excited about the idea of riding a pony; I’d even pictured myself ‘cantering’ daintily in a velvet jacket and white silk scarf. I had not been expecting, the rain or the terrain. I mean seriously why take a bunch of novice teenagers with hormonally-induced Tourette’s on horseback down a stream. Even the horses appeared to be whinnying ‘what the fuck?’ Yet still they took a picture of me for the magazine. Perched high upon my giant beast; at least 30 foot off the ground, my white knuckles, tears and snot not entirely saying ‘happy day’s I still did my best to smile. And this was before the ‘descent’. Not the film though this was just as horrific. After the stream, I’d finally relaxed enough to unclench my thighs and my spasm-ing buttocks and enjoy a mini-canter along a flat field. I even smiled at my latent equine abilities and gave my horsey a little pat and word of encouragement. At which point one of the boys, not Melvyn; he too was crying, shot past the regimented line of riders singing ‘Champion the Wonder Horse’. With his helmet bobbing under his chin; which even I knew was not the regulation way to wear it and neither foot in a stirrup he was followed swiftly by a red-faced stable hand. With all of our horses spooked there was a little dance of hysteria where I clung to the neck of my horse praying. Unfortunately there was worse to come as a sharp decline back into the farm appeared on the horizon. With hail upping the ante, forty horses with the whites of their eyes showing, bearing forty petrified riders literally skidded down the bank…I’m not ashamed to say there was a minor continence accident on my part and very probably a few others.
3. I went sailing.
With the wind in my hair and the brightest yellow anorak in the history of time I boarded the boat with much trepidation and excitement. I’m not going to lie within 3.5 minutes I discovered my sea legs had been metaphorically amputated and the green of my face did nothing to enhance the look of my anorak. Whilst clinging to the mast I had time to re-think my plan to work aboard a cruise ship.
4. I learned how to canoe.
It was the only sunny day of the trip so with smiles all round we boarded our little vessels. After the long, boring informative talk we’d received; during which I nodded off, still tired after a night of cackling girls giggling at seemingly fucking everything I was grateful to receive my oar and begin my imagined trip down the Amazon river. All was going well and I was handling the canoe like a pro; however I quickly discovered I was pulling to the right. Slightly behind the others and despite my, by now, frantic paddling I was drifting to the right faster than a tory turtle. I now found myself stuck in six foot reeds and completely hidden from the view of any potential rescuer. Quickly my killer instinct didn’t kick in and I found myself sobbing and shouting ‘help me, for the love of all that is holy help…’ (tiny embellishment there).
With my peers and several teachers speeding past with the wind in their hair and much laughter and tomfoolery, I imagined this might be my demise. Left to die in the reeds in a canoe. I began to accept my fate; much like Rose on that bit of debris that she pushed Jack off in the film Titanic. I mewed ‘help’ then found a whistle in the pocket of the regulation cagoule we’d each been given. Bastards if I’d had my yellow one on fucking NASA could have seen me and radioed for help. Then I saw him. My saviour. The Geography teacher; quite a hottie in retrospect striding towards me on the bank. Thank you God; I whispered. I presumed at this point he’d board a boat and paddle out to get me; yet he kept on walking, nearer and nearer to me. He had a bright white aura around him as he literally walked on water to come and save me. I knew in that time that God was very real and my church going days totally worth it (even though in truth I was only there for a crafty fag after and a sip of the wine), as he arrived at my side and said something I’ll never, ever forget. “Get the hell up Jones, why are you just sitting here? There’s only six inches of water underneath you; and stop bloody crying.” FFS.
The undeniable highlight of my flying solo experience was the bus ride home. Here I ploughed through the rest of my contraband sweets like the pre-diabetic chubster I was. Well that was until Melvyn attempted round 2 of the Zanussi challenge. Suffice to say ending our three-day relationship was the last ‘first’ before Dad arrived in our Cortina…