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Wednesday, 9 February 2011


For some reason my first kiss popped into my head today.

It wasn't like first kisses in the movies which happen at the Prom, or on the bleachers bathed in golden twilight. I didn't have a crush on the boy. He didn't pass me notes in class or carry my books home.

He was German and was on holiday in the little seaside town I grew up in. I think I was 13, maybe 14. We had gone to the beach, my friends and I, because someone said there were German lads staying in the Church of Scotland holiday home. This would not have been my idea. I wasn't interested in boys. (I wasn't interested in girls either). I had a proper crush on Paul Newman after watching "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and it was pretty hard to compete with that, to be honest.

I found my friends' endless discussion of boys mind numbingly tedious. I thought it was phoney and idiotic. I just didn't get it. I always wanted to say "No, he's not looking at you. Now can we go for chips?" But I didn't because I was a coward and I knew that the path of truth would lead to long lunch hours on my own at the social suicide end of the tennis courts.

Anyway, it was just as well I wasn't interested in boys because they weren't much interested in me. I had long brown hair in plaits, wore vests, played the violin and looked about 11. Let's put it this way, I was no Julie Wallace. (She became an air hostess.)

So it was all the more perplexing when we arrived at the beach and found the German boys and one of them was interested in me. I can't remember how this became apparent but it did. I don't' remember his name. I know I didn't fancy him and was frankly terrified because he was 15 or 16 and was wearing clogs.

After my friends got over their astonishment, they quickly made it their business to steamroller my increasingly desperate objections and force me at hissing point into a walk along the cliff top path with clog boy.

We walked along in silence. I don't remember how good his English was, but my German, gleaned from my brother's "Battle" comics, consisted mainly of "Raus!" and "Schnell!" which my nascent sense of diplomacy told me was probably best avoided.

We stopped at the end of the path. Panic and embarrassment swelled in my vest clad chest as I sensed that the time was nigh. I remember closing my eyes and thinking "Okay. Let's get this over with." I think I stopped just shy of holding my nose.

And then he kissed me. Who knows what it was like really? In my memory it has become a classic teenage teeth grinding nightmare, like pressing your lips against the boring machine that dug the Channel Tunnel. I do remember that he smoked and that the taste of stale, tarry cigarettes was overwhelming.

A few minutes later it was over. I said goodbye and ran home, the taste of ashes in my mouth.


  1. Speaking of first kisses and holidays, you remind me of mine... I was on a school trip, a wonderful trip - a cruise around the Mediterranean!
    Although some of us were only 15, our accompanying teachers had, in their wisdom, decided to give us all senior passes, which meant that we had a lot of freedom to roam about by ourselves. We had stopped in Naples and my friend Sheila and I had taken the boat over to Capri. We were sitting iat a table outside a cafe, delighted with ourselves, when two dashing Italians (late teens? early 20s?) came and joined us, asking in their best English if we would like them to show us around.
    Being country kids who had never had to worry about Life, this sounded dandy. After much wandering - and actually, lots of fun! - we ended up at the top of the island looking at the view. My older and more sophisticated friend thought this was the place to dive into a madly passionate kissing session, leaving me and the other guy shuffling our shoes. We looked at them and realized that we were going to be there for awhile, and so he kissed me. Rather sweetly and gently, and I remember thinking that if I had to have my first kiss, there surely could not be a better way to have it!
    (All further passion was interrupted when we heard the ferry signalling it would be leaving the island! Went scrambling madly down, just managing to catch it, waving goodbye to our "boyfriends")

  2. Clog boy obviously couldn't resist the temptation of a kiss from your luscious lips, Shelagh!

    My first kiss (snog) – although I used to claim that I'd previously kissed a girl who lived on my road, who I had indeed kissed, but I don't recall us having snogged in bed that day – happened on one Valentine's Day when I was either eleven or twelve, behind our form room, which was a sort of mobile, at school. She was a girl about whom my best mate and I were absolutely nuts, and although he'd previously "got lucky" with her, I'd always been shunned. I sent her a Valentine's card this day, and miraculously a whole bunch of girls in our form were egging her on to accept me. So she did, and we kissed, twice. According to one girl I was grunting away like a madman, but I'm sure I wasn't.

  3. First kisses are nearly always awfull. Mine was a slow motion face bump involving a dark skinned amazon named Yvonne who lusted after me when she saw me play the lead in Oliver at secondary school. I remember her turning up at my house clutching a large Cruella DeVille fake ruby ring from woolies. One of those over sized plastic baubles that doubles as a poison dispenser. I digress. The actual kiss was a closed-lip affair and I vaguely remember the smell of Tunes on her breath as we leant into each others faces, as well as the scent of coconut oil in her tight permed hair. The brief affair fizzled out when I failed to get the lead in Annie Get Your Gun. Cowboy (3) doesn't quite cut it in the adulation hit parade. Hey ho.

  4. I wish clogs would make a come back. There's nothing like a shoe that doubles as a weapon. I know a stiletto does too, but can't do heels anymore. My first kiss was wet, sloppy & disappointing as the boy was quite a slapper, so I thought he would know what he was doing. I was a late bloomer (almost 16) so I needed to get it over with you see.


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