Last week the lovely Di, at whose shrine I have been happy to worship these many months, did a TT on various firsts in her life. Well, not being one to let a good idea go by unstolen, I’m doing the same this week. Here are thirteen firsts, not in chronological order.
Thirteen Firsts In My Life
My very first job The very first paid work I ever had in my life was when I worked for an off-licence (British for liquor store) for the 3 days before Christmas when I was sixteen. I had to load boxes with various bottles and in some cases deliver them – mainly to local offices for their Christmas parties. Apart from a few tips I got £5 which was pretty crap wages, even then. On the last day, just after shutting up shop on Christmas Eve, the manager got everyone together and thanked us and passed out beer to us all. I have always disliked the taste of beer but I didn’t want to seem ungrateful so I drank it.
The first time I flew in a plane I’m not sure how old I was, but probably about five or six. We went to an air show somewhere outside of London and there was a small plane offering joyrides so my father bought tickets for the whole family and up we went. I don’t remember what sort of plane it was, or how long we were up. I do remember that I wasn’t frightened but I found the whole experience rather uncomfortable.
My first stay in hospital I only have very dim memories of this. According to my parents, I was admitted to hospital with suspected appendicitis when I was five years old. I was there overnight and discharged the next day when it was found to be a false alarm. I have never been in hospital since.
The first article I wrote that was printed I wrote a short piece, about half a page, for a vintage jazz specialist magazine when I was in my early twenties. In return I received a voucher copy of the edition in question and £10 (about $15 then), but I didn’t care about the money; I was just delighted to be in print.
The first car I ever drove on my own It was a red Datsun 510. Datsun, of course, has since become Nissan. I rented it from Avis and drove round northern British Columbia for a couple of weeks, when I was working there.
My first day at school It was a Kindergarten in Hampstead, and I went when I was four. Mornings only, I think. For some reason the school term had already started when I had my first day, so the other children were already used to it. I was very upset at first at being left there, but nice Miss Gauntlet gave me a jigsaw puzzle to do. It only had one big piece, so I was able to do it pretty quickly, and after that I moved onto something else and joined in the games with the others.
My first ever blog posting It was this on, on 22 July 2006 and as far as I know, apart from my wife and myself, no one has ever read it. The first person to comment at my blog was Mark Caldwell of Too Many Ideas, who sent the very first comment to my first TT last year.
The first time I rescued my wife when she locked herself in a lavatory It was at St Mary’s Church in Banbury, to the north of Oxford, where we went on one of our trips to England to see a performance of The Elijah Passion by the local amateur operatic society. It was surprisingly good, and we enjoyed the evening. In the interval we both made use of the washrooms, and after I had done what I needed to do, my wife followed me. I wandered off and came back a few minutes later to see that the queue had not moved at all and people were muttering that the lady seemed to be taking a very long time. And from the other side of the door I could hear my wife calling that she couldn’t open the door. I don’t know how she had managed to lock herself in, but she had. Anyway, remembering a trick from my old police days I managed to unlock the door from the outside and I released her. Back to our pews, and on with the music. It is a joke between my wife and me how often she gets locked in bathrooms, because she has achieved this several times over the years.
My first girlfriend Well, a gentleman does not bandy a lady’s name of course, so she shall remain anonymous. I was but 14 years old, on my very first few dates which, as far as adolescent nervousness and a few fumbles and kisses went, were very enjoyable.
My first cigarette Smoked furtively in the kitchen, under the stove hood with the extractor fan going full blast, when I was fifteen. After which I did my teeth for about ten minutes and scrubbed my hands like Lady Macbeth, convinced they were stained bright yellow. And I didn’t even enjoy it so I don’t know why, many years later, I became a smoker. I gave up a long, long time ago, I’m happy to say. If anyone out there has not yet had a first cigarette but is contemplating it, take it from me – don’t bother!
The first time I went abroad by myself When I was fourteen I spent 3 weeks working on the farm of some friends of ours in southern France. So my parents saw me off at Heathrow airport and I flew to Paris (50 minutes) where I changed planes and flew another hour or so to Nimes, where our friends met me and I thought to myself what a trendy jet-setter I was!
My first arrests A couple called Alan and Lynn, for stealing trainers (sneakers) from a store in a big mall. I have written about that, and some other arrests, in a previous TT.
The first time I took a driving test I was 17 and I wasn’t really ready for it but my driving instructor put me in for it for the experience. The British driving test was, and still is I should imagine, very hard. More people fail on any given day than pass. I knew I was going to fail after the first few minutes but they make you finish the driving (about half an hour) however bad you are, unless you hit something. Then came the speech about how “…your diving has not come up to the standards required by the Ministry of Transport…” and I got the pink failure form. I took the test a total of three times before I passed. Subsequently I took, and passed, tests in British Columbia, which was much easier, and Florida, which was a total farce – once round the Dept. of Motor Vehicles building parking lot, and if you can do that without hitting a tree, you pass.