Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?
When I was a lad, I remember waiting at a bus stop near my house when my mate’s elder brother happened along. We chatted awkwardly – I was a child of about 13 and he was a mature man of 15. Just before the bus came he pointed out a house across the road and stated, “See that drum there? Well, the bird that lives there; she’s sex on legs. I’m telling you, no one can get close, but whoever does, he’ll be walking bandy for weeks.” Then he winked and the bus arrived. I mean it arrived by chance, not because he winked. He wasn’t Paul Daniels! I mean he wasn’t a magician, not a twat. Like Paul Daniels.
Now, I didn’t know what sex on legs was; I didn’t even know it had legs. Truth told, I didn’t know what sex was either, but I was willing to give it a go. However, sex on legs; that had to be good, didn’t it? I’d never heard Felicity Kendall or Joanna Lumley or Lulu described thus, so I figured that maybe this girl was really something special, something that was elevated beyond normal beauty, a goddess.
I found that my bicycle rides passed her house more and more often, me slowing and craning my neck, but I never saw her – or for that matter anyone – in or around the house. In summer we played football in the park, and on the way I’d often stop for a rest at the bench by the bus stop, but nothing. One day I rested for at least three hours, but I didn’t see any signs of human life, or animal life for that matter.
I’d almost forgotten about Miss Sex-On-Legs, until one fateful day I was late for school and missed the bus. I saw it disappear in the distance as I sprinted up the road. Oh well, I was in for a bollocking when I got there. I sat and waited for the next, my head bowed, when a voice brought me to my senses.
“Has it gone?”
I looked up, and gazing down at me was a gangly girl with thick glasses that distorted her crossed eyes. Her face was spotty, her lips thin and dry. She wasn’t nice. She stood awkwardly, holding a briefcase in one hand and a violin case in the other. I nodded. Although not at school together, our schools were sort of linked. She wore the pale blue of the girl’s Convent Grammar, I the black of the Catholic Grammar for boys. We were both late. I asked her where she lived, and she turned, pointing at…
I couldn’t see the sex on legs bit, but I trusted in my mate’s brother’s experience. I mean, he was 15, he knew about sex and things like that. It was my obvious inexperience that saw a freak; if he said she was it, then she must be it. So it came to pass; I ended up walking out with a cross-eyed violinist. She was weird, gawky and awkward, but I didn’t care. I was waiting, working towards that sex on legs I’d been told about. I was ready to be bandy, if that’s what it took. In fact, I was eagerly awaiting bandiness. I was ready for bandidom.
I spent more and more time with her, and discovered that trying to French kiss a girl with braces wasn’t the best. I didn’t care, bandiness was approaching. A few weeks in, I decided to make my move. I was at my mate’s house, nervous and eager at the same time. I was waiting for my moment to tell him I was about to lose my virginity to Miss Sex-On-Legs, when in walked his brother. He grinned at me and said, “I like your style, young Idiot. That’s a nice move, trying to get to the prize by dating her ugly sister!”
Fast forward thirty odd years. I planted my Jerusalem Artichoke tubers. I waited and waited, then the first one came up. The other 19 were dormant, but the first one filled me with excitement. It grew fast, it grew strong. I nurtured it, watered it and carefully cleared the earth around it. If I was in the garden, I checked on it first, anxiously searching for slugs or any other creatures with bad intent. I loved it, in the way that only a man who loves an artichoke can.
The others started to sprout. They were okay, but I loved my first one best. It got extra water, extra care, and really, had the others withered, I wouldn’t have cared. Then I noticed something.
It’s leaves were different to the others. Very different. In fact, it was spreading whereas they were growing upwards. I bent down, my hand caressing its foilage, then I gave a little tug, a short gentle yank, and it moved. It’s roots were close to the surface, thin and fragile. I had been attending to a bloody weed!
How was I to know? I thought it was an artichoke, but it wasn’t. I’ve never grown anything, so how in the name of Soddom and Gomorrah I am going to be able to tell the good stuff from the bad? This is going to happen time and time again. It’s history repeating itself. I love the wrong ones, always the wrong ones.
As a postscript, I saw that cross-eyed violin player a few years ago. She was still gawky, awkward and cross-eyed. She also had some strange neurosis and smelled of cat wee. It’s nice to know that real life is nothing like the films, eh?