Thinking back to those years, I find it hard to believe that girls were not a factor in my life until I was 19-20, and even then they were nothing more than simply other people.
It was not until Pete and I starting going to a few places for totally social reasons that girls took on a rather different perspective.
I can remember our insecurities regarding dating. On one occasion we visited (Pete had a car) a pub on the outskirts of Peterborough and we were both totally absorbed by one young lady. Of course neither of us had the courage to say “Hello” (= the courage to invite possible rejection!) so we just enjoyed our beer and looked in awe. A short time later, a man entered the bar and the greeting with the girl dictated that they were clearly a “couple”. On the drive back into Peterborough, two topics were constantly discussed. One was the fact that our insecurities saved us from obvious rejection, and the other was based around the question “What on earth did she see in him?” From our perspective, we were both better looking than him! Given our simplistic view of the world, our conclusion was that he clearly had money!
During this time, I was given an opportunity to buy an old Model 50 Norton motorcycle which I accepted and loved my “new” bike. For the mechanically inclined, it was a 350cc single cylinder which had such a low rpm range that the local joke was that it “fired every third lamp post”!
Going from a Honda S90 to a Norton Model 50 was an interesting transition exercise and, being manual gear shifting (and as you all know??) the sound of the engine tells you when to change gear and generally how fast you are going. The Honda sounded a bit like a jet engine when at high speed as it peaked around 10,000rpm. The Norton was a relatively slow 3500rpm at high speed.
On one of my initial rides on the Norton (let’s see what this baby can do!), I took her out onto a major road and “opened her up”! I was having a wonderful time and listening to my new bike just chugging along effortlessly when I happened to look down at the speedometer. The Honda would be whining at its maximum speed of 65mph, but this Norton was just chugging along at 85mph!
At a visit to a local youth club, we managed a conversation with a couple of girls which resulted in us both in a basic relationship. My first date (she was 16) involved picking her up on my bike on a Saturday evening with the intention of riding around and dropping in at the Youth Club. The plan was to drop her off at home around 10:00pm however, her father had other ideas. As we were getting ready to leave, her father came out and told me to make sure that she was home by 9:00pm. My immediate response was to challenge the time of 9:00pm to which he replied that he wanted her back by 9:00pm because he didn’t want her getting into any trouble! My mouth being nominally faster than my brain, I explained that if she wanted to get into any trouble, it could be done just as easily on a Sunday afternoon as it could on a Saturday night and that the time really had very little to do with it! That was the end of that date!