When I was 14 years of age I went on holiday to Torquay with my mum and dad. The year was 1974, so I knew I was 14 because I was born in 1960 and could do the simple arithmetic to work out my age. If that wasn’t enough proof of my age, I was trusted by my parents to go to the cinema on my own to watch The Towering Inferno, which I found out recently was released and was in the cinemas in 1974, so I was definitely 14 when I went to Torquay for the first time ever that year.
The following year 1975, we were back in Torquay again, but this time it was different, I was in love (I think). Warrington is a long way from Torquay and I was sat in the back of the car on the journey down, thinking all the time about this girl from school who I was mad on. I was besotted; there wasn’t a waking day when I wasn’t thinking about her. The first evening I was there, I decided to go to the cinema. I went alone early in the evening and watched the Who’s, Rock Opera Tommy. I have no siblings so I had no choice but to go on my own, not only that, I didn’t really like to be seen with my mum and dad on holiday because it just wasn’t cool. I was 15, and a real man now (or so I thought at the time).
After Tommy had finished, I decided to go for a walk round the town. I headed for the Front and the arcades where I thought all the fun was. As usual I was daydreaming about this girl from school not noticing much around me and as I approached this arcade, I stopped dead in my tracks, Holy Mackerel Batman, I thought, (I was a big Batman fan) there she was!!!it was really her, the girl that had occupied my thoughts for months, playing on a fruit machine, I couldn’t believe it at first. I thought I was seeing things, dreaming or hallucinating or something. How could the girl of my dreams be on holiday hundreds of miles away from Warrington just like me! (well I thought Torquay was the other end of the universe then). So I closed my eyes for a few seconds and opened them very slowly, and she was still there.
The next thing I did was walk past hoping she hadn’t spotted me, because I was extremely shy of girls especially the ones I was mad on. I crossed the road in order to keep my distance so she wouldn’t see me and coyly looked into the arcade from a safe distance. To my delight and amazement she was still there playing on the machines with a group of girls.
What was I to do? I wanted desperately to speak to her, but what would I say? Chat up lines came into my head like, did it hurt….when you fell out of heaven?? or Come here often, but alas, this is Gary, far too shy for all that nonsense, and if I did pluck up enough courage I was bound to fumble my words and make a fool of myself. So I just kept walking past, looking into the arcade and tried desperately to decide what to do. My mind was in a confused state of emotion. I began to feel sick, my knees were shaking and my heart pounded like a drum, what a commotion I thought. After about 15 minutes I slowly walked off and headed towards the beach. Thinking; trying to get my head round it all and maybe, just maybe, pluck up enough courage to enter the amusement arcade and speak to her.
Then something happened! I came over all queer, I did something that I rarely do, I made a decision. I decided to go back and speak to her, that’s what I’ll do I thought, after all I’m a real man now, I‘m 15. I headed back to the arcade determined to speak to the girl, after all if I didn’t I would probably go mad or regret it for the rest of my life. So I set off in the direction of the arcade determined to speak to her. I had a plan, I’d walk through the doors of the arcade like John Wayne does when he walks into a saloon in those old Westerns, that will impress her and all sorts of daft ideas like that were going through my mind. When I arrived at the arcade doors, I just walked in like normal, but alas, she was gone. She was nowhere to be seen. I felt a deep sense of relief but also of regret that I didn’t go in at the time and also a huge sense of disappointment.
This incident dominated the rest of my holiday, and questions like, should I have gone into the arcade straight away? what would she have said?, would she have liked me? And a thousand other questions and scenarios raced through my mind for the rest of that week. I kept my eyes peeled for the rest of the holiday in the hope that I might see her again, but alas, I never set eyes on her again until we were back at school a few weeks later. I didn’t mention this amazing coincidence to anyone and certainly not to the girl until 35 years later when I did pluck up enough courage and told her my story she ended quite rightly, in fits of laughter.