When I told my schoolmates I was going out with Mary Brannegan, they smirked and giggled. Some made obscene hand gestures to try and illustrate what I would be getting. However, their giggles turned to raucous laughter when I said I wouldn’t be trying it on with her! Terry – who had the dubious pleasure of being the only person I knew to ever get a second date with Mary – said, ‘Why not? She’ll let you. She’s properly easy!’
Now, I knew about Mary’s reputation; who didn’t? I also knew that most of the lads had one date with her, felt her up, and that was it. I figured she was disappointed with boys with one-track minds and wandering hands. I was going to be different. I was going to be nice and respectful, keep my hands to myself, and I was going to win her over. Therefore, I would have a steady girlfriend who would let me feel her up all I wanted!
I took Mary to the Wimpy. In those days, the Wimpy was a cool place to go. Usually, when my mates had a date with Mary, they took her to the park. When Terry had his second date, he took to the car park behind Mac Fisheries! Taking her to the Wimpy showed that I was different. I took her to the one in Tufnell Park. It was a bit away from where we lived, but I didn’t want to run the risk of my mates interrupting us.
Mary had a Bender Brunch; basically a small burger and a curled sausage with chips. I had a cheeseburger. We talked about school, about her dog, and about the latest Apollo space mission. Then she leaned forwards and whispered, ‘Do you want to finger me?’
I swallowed my mouthful of burger and said, ‘Pardon?’
She repeated the question, louder this time. I decided not point out that my response had nothing to do with the volume of her request, but that it had taken me back a bit. Before I could say anything, however, she shuffled up a bit in the booth we were sitting in.
‘Come and sit round here, and you can finger me while we’re eating!’
I decided to stick to my plan, to be true to my goals.
‘No thanks, you’re okay!’
She froze. Her eyes seemed to lose that sparkle they’d had a few seconds earlier. With a loud groan, she put down her knife and fork with such an impact that everyone looked at us. I couldn’t react quickly enough, and suddenly she was up and walking away, towards the door. Then, in the middle of Tufnell Park Wimpy, she turned and announced, very loudly, ‘So, you don’t want to finger me? What do you mean, you don’t want to finger me? Who do you think you are? There’s plenty of people who’d love to get a chance to finger me. You’re obviously a queer!’
And then she was gone. The other Wimpy customers laughed, openly, at my plight. I paid the bill and left, our two unfinished meals laid on the table like an accusation!
So, I tried something different, and I failed.
Last winter when I started covering part of my plot with hay, a few of the old timers asked what I was doing. I explained that I’d let it all rot down, and then I was going to grow onions in it. They laughed, and a few of them – the ones I couldn’t see, because they know I’d punch them, pensioners or not – probably made obscene gestures.
When I prepared the area for planting by watering the hay with a manure tea, they questioned me as to why I would do something so idiotic. Did I think growing onions was hard? Did I not understand the purpose of soil? Had I been dropped on the head as a child?
I then pushed the onion sets into the semi-composted hay, and after a sprinkling of slug pellets was added, I put another layer of hay on top of them. I then regularly watered the hay to ensure that it kept on decomposing. The other plot holders kept on laughing.
One old boy, an ex-gardener, eventually got quite agitated by it all. He’s the type of gardener that gives advice to everyone about everything, and then thinks you’re rude if you don’t follow his instructions to the letter. He is, basically, a stubborn and arrogant git. He shouted from his plot that my onions would go mouldy, that the slugs would multiply, that the bulbs would be poisoned, and that the devil would stick his fiery trident up my arsehole.
Well, the onions put on a spurt of growth, and one by one the others stopped laughing. I can report that at present, the onions and shallots are doing well, and are streets ahead of those being grown by others in the conventional way. There’s no mould, no slugs, no poisonous disease and no fiery fork up my back-passage.
I tried something different, and this time it worked.
And Mary … where ever you are … sorry, but even today I’d struggle to finger a girl eating a Bender Brunch!