It’s a long long time ago, but I can still remember. One of the quirks of fate, I never went into school to get my exam results. So I missed out on the whole tears and hugging thing and haven’t a clue what anyone else got.
My O level results I got when I phoned home from the island of Rhum. My mother had phoned the school to get them and I wrote them with biro on a notice in the phone box because I’d forgotten to take any paper with me.
In my mid to late teens I had several holidays up in the Hebrides, Inner and Outer. Used to go up there with a youth group from across in Yorkshire, from memory, at one point they were called ‘Yorkshire Field Studies.’ I remember sitting in a minibus with bench seats down both sides singing ‘American Pie.’ I suppose it had been a hit either earlier that year or the year before, and the girls knew the words. (Because girls always knew the words of pop songs back then, don’t know whether it’s still true.) But in the course of numerous minibus trips even I learned them, and given time and a decent run at it, I can still remember the words even now.
My A level results were something of an anti-climax. I was busy, had calves to take to Ulverston auction and so my mother phoned in for them.
I confess that I don’t know the words to many other pop songs; a shortage of pretty girls to teach me the words perhaps? But American Pie sort of followed me through life.
A lot of years later, I was invited out on a mate’s stag do around Barrow. Now going out around Barrow is always interesting. In the course of a long evening (during which I was sober because I’d got to drive home) I met up with lasses I’d known at school, friends of my sister, friends of the older two daughters, and all those lasses I’d met working as dental assistants, veterinary nurses, or behind the counter in the bank and what-have-you. My daughter once asked me if I could manage to go into a shop and buy something without flirting with the shop assistants. The simple answer is probably no. The longer and more complicated answer is that I’m not flirting with them. It’s simple old fashioned courtesy and that’s how I was brought up. Anyway, I get on OK with the fairer sex, but then I’m half woman myself, my mother was one. But it’s somewhat amusing to watch the faces of younger, single male friends when a constant stream of ladies of various ages totter across on their heels to say hi. I remain as always courteous and charming as I frantically try to remember names and how I know them, because wherever it was, they weren’t dressed like that!
Still on this stag do, I was leaning against the bar in one of Barrow’s many pubs. As I said, I was driving, so was slowly working my way down my second half pint. The rest of the bunch I was out with were out there dancing or whatever. It was at that point they started playing Madonna’s cover version of American Pie.
OK the crust is a bit hard and the filling blown but in a quiet and probably somewhat maudlin way I started singing along until I was interrupted by a young lady who came across to talk to me. Now I’ve mentioned, in all modesty, that this isn’t all that uncommon. But I just couldn’t place her at all, yet there was a nagging familiarity about her face. So I said “Hi’ and then she started to chat me up. Everyone has to learn at some time I suppose, but I felt a bit like you do when you see the documentary showing a young lioness out on her own for the first time, stalking a particularly evil looking water buffalo. Especially as from your angle you can see the rest of the herd, (sitting round sharpening their horns and swapping tales of lions they’d hunted) and the young lioness obviously cannot.
Anyway I finally worked out why I recognised her, so I just smiled and said to her, “You know lass, not only did I know your mother, I was me who introduced her to your father.”
With that our young lioness smiled vaguely and went off to hunt elsewhere.