I threatened – I think that’s the right word – gradually to give a rundown of my former girlfriends and lovers as I have previously given a rundown of all the cars I owned. I must admit, and said so here, that I felt the exercise is slightly tacky, or even more than just slightly, but what the hell: I get about 20 readers a day, 19 of whom are apparently only interested in seeing a pic of Mandy Rice-Davies (info I have gleaned from the stats page of the blog) and apart from my sister, a good lady in Carolina and a chap who went to my old school (although before I went, or after – I can’t off-hand remember) I know none of you good folk out there who happen upon this blog. So here goes.
My first was WR. She returned to Edinburgh and by chance be hooked up again in those glorious weeks of freedom when I was knocking around after my finals had ended but before graduation and I could simply do as I pleased. She took me to her bed again, and paid me the compliment – a rather left-handed compliment, mind – of telling me I was a better shag than I had been four years earlier. I have no doubt she was right. She had previously trained as a nurse and taken herself off to Australia. She had now returned and eventually took herself off to Canada.
Term started in October and I was now in my second year. I can’t remember where and how I met SH, but I do remember we got it together when we went to a party at a farm where a group of my friends lived. They were all in a band called Fat Grapple (a silly name, though by no means any sillier than other names thought up by bands then and since). SH was young for someone in her first year of university – her birthday was in October – October 16, in fact , so it had either been a question of going just before her 17th birthday or waiting a year. I, as the saying is ‘fell in love’ with SH and – this is the embarrassing bit – more or less followed her around like a puppy dog. She didn’t actually discourage me, but looking back I must have been a pain in the arse. Guys can be like that – the accepted wisdom is that the mature later than girls (if at all I hear some of you women say).
Trying to recall that year now, in order to write this account, I find I can’t really remember that much, simply isolated incidents. But I do remember coming back to start a new term and one of her friends gleefully telling me she had been seeing some other guy. I was devastated, though I now realise it had more to do with feeling rejected – my apparent self-confidence was no more than skin-deep – than any worth she might have had.
We had planned to move into a small cottage together in Tait’s Lane off Hawkhill close to where Hawkhill merges with the Perth Road. I’ve just taken a peek at Google maps and find that cottage has long been pulled down and Tait’s Lane is now looking rather respectable with loads of yuppie houses down the side where our cottage was. Despite the fact that we were no longer ‘going out’, we did move in. She took the upstairs bedroom (it was a small cottage and upstairs there was only the bathroom and the bedroom) and I took one of the bedrooms downstairs. The third bedroom was taken by Arthur MacDonald, who became a good friend but with whom, sadly, I have lost touch.
Arthur was one of the leading lights of Dundee University’s ‘revolutionary’ movement and prominent in a group called International Socialists. Either that one of one called Solidarity, I can’t remember which. The two groups, as is the way of such movements, were at daggers drawn on ideological grounds, although I doubt even they, if pressed, would be able to tell us what those difference were. Arthur was a humourless cunt for about a year, then suddenly rediscovered his sense of humour and after that was very good company. More of Arthur later, perhaps, in a tale which involves another girlfriend, coincidentally another SH, her promiscuous nature – although if would only be fair to add that it turned out she was schizophrenic – and a dose of the clap she passed on to me, having caught it from Arthur. It should tell you something of my affection for him and how much I valued our friendship that I soon forgave him, especially as I have no doubt my schizophrenic girlfriend had made all the running and Arthur was not the kind to turn down a shag (as they call it, I’m told).
I eventually moved out of the cottage after SH – the first one now, not the schizophrenic medical student – began shagging not only a trendy psychology lecturer about town, but also his wife. And as the guy was – and still will be if he’s still alive – a shit of the first order, I shall name him: Martin Skelton-Robinson. Two-faced cunt. By this time I had overcome the worst of my love-pain, but I didn’t want to hang around.
SH went on to live with the drug dealer, one Ian Hunter, now dead, I knocked around with for a few days in that period between the end of finals and graduation. In fact, it was because of him that I hooked up with WR again: Ian and I had gone to Edinburgh – although I can’t remember why and, anyway, we were more acquaintances than friends – and come the evening had nowhere to stay. He was all for dossing down in the park. I wasn’t (never have been) and it occurred to me to get in touch with the only people I then knew in Edinburgh, WR sisters. They told me she had returned from Australia, gave me her phone number, Ian and I went around there and dossed down in her living room – better than the fucking park, you’ll agree – and the following day Ian buggered off somewhere (probably to try to score more drugs as it was all he was interested in) and WR took me to her bed.
While she was living with Ian SH was both dropping a lot of acid and got herself pregnant, carrying on dropping acid during her pregnancy. To this day I’ve wondered how it will have affected her child who, being born around 1972, will now be around 40. SH was quite bright and from Dundee, she went on to do a masters at Lancaster University.
I hooked up with her many years later in the early 1980s when I was back in Scotland visiting my uncle Pat and aunt Lou, who were living south of Dalkeith where my uncle was the bursar at a girl’s boarding school. I had driven into Edinburgh and as in some pub or other near The Scotsman offices where Arthur was now working as a reporter. He like his drink, did Arthur, but eventually had to go back to the office. But he told me SH now lived in Edinburgh. I rang her and went around to her flat. We chatted and had several glasses of whisky (for me on top of however many pints of cider I had drunk in the pub with Arthur) and at the end of the evening I drove home the the 20 miles to my uncle’s house. And that I didn’t kill myself is a miracle: usually when we have had too much we realise we have had to much. But I was so drunk, I decided to see how fast I could drive all the way to Pat’s place. I was touching 80mph on roads not made for more than 40. Some angel just must have been watching over me.
That’s the last I heard of SH. Writing this, I seem to have a dim memory that she was due to get married at the time we had our drink at her flat, but it really is nothing more than a dim memory.