He may not remember it, but Shaun Wilson provided a lifeline for me in early December 1977, just a week or two before the term finished. We were larking around in the library, when he noticed that a girl had just sat down on the far side of the room. The unusually-named Saxon Brown had caught my eye several times. We had smiled at each other. Shaun highlighted a big opportunity that lay in the moment, revealing that she had recently split from a long-standing relationship
Over I trotted and sat down next to her. A bristling sound arose from the others at the table but her face said welcome. Butterflies in my stomach but there was no point in prevaricating. The prize was enough to make the risk of disappointment worthwhile. Did she fancy a drink one evening soon? Her assent made my spirits leap.
A strange incident had enmeshed me a few weeks earlier. Going out one Wednesday evening for a swift pint or two, a mate and I had found ourselves in the company of two girls. I was uninterested, but he sparked up with one, leaving me chatting to an Australian woman with a limp and an ability to talk. She insisted on a coffee back in Harborne and regaled me with details of the headaches she suffered as a result of a brain operation as a kid, leaving her with a metal plate in her head.
By 2 a.m, she asked if she could share my bed, rather than take a taxi. I didn’t fancy her in the slightest, but it was cold, and snuggling up to another body was no bad thing. Sex was offered but I couldn’t see the point, without some kind of attraction. My mates reacted with astonishment when I told this, but I could only be myself. A myth nonetheless sprang up that I had bedded a mentally handicapped Australian cripple, which I denied strenuously, while adding that she was also blind and deaf.
In a similar vein, I had asked out a Lancashire lass named Lynn at the end of one of the Northern Soul events. We had a few drinks several days later and I walked her to the bus stop. She asked me back for a coffee, explaining that her flat was empty. Quick micro-calculations. We didn’t have much in common, and no sparks were flying. Didn’t fancy her, but her signals suggested she wanted a relationship, and was probably prepared to offer herself to start if off. I declined. I wanted quality.
Was ever a boy so ready to fall? I wanted a pretty woman all to myself, with no games or complications, and a fulfilling sex life. I wanted it so much it hurt physically, inside. I suppose I must have wished hard enough.
Saxon was a tease on the first date. When I told her about the ABH incident in Cambridge, she got up with her coat and feigned an end to the evening. The world turned black until she started laughing. This just confirmed my feeling that she would accept me lock, stock and barrel, and gave me the confidence to play slowly, always my style. First of all, home for Christmas, and a temporary postman’s job.