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Saturday, 24 November 2012

#19: Cartwheel Courting & Love's Young Dream

The search for the Holy Gail began back in the suburbs of Leicester, England (my city of birth) in the neighbourhood which housed my third home (on Shenley Road); officially located in the town of Wigston, though just a stone's throw from Oadby.

It was the late 1970’s and I was five years old (a bit of a late starter, I know; beginning a theme) when I took my first, tentative steps into the dating scene with the Bee Gees’ Saturday Night Fever* soundtrack ringing in my ears (*it obviously had quite an effect, as I’ve been a big fan of the group ever since).

The object of my affections was a girl called Kelly, who I met during after-school gymnastics. I say 'met'; I think we literally ‘bumped' into each other, as I attempted one of my first cartwheels and nearly decapitated her in the process.

We were both pupils at St. John Fisher, an Infant/Junior school which was, handily, only a 20-second walk from my family’s front door. Mum, Dad, sister Charlotte (aged 3); and brother Mark (aged 3... months) made up our family team of five.

I went to gymnastics club on Mondays (it might have been Tuesdays or Wednesdays, but as I’m making up the bits I can’t remember, I’m not going to dwell on that). She – Kelly, that is – had it all; looks, personality and a BAGA 2* award (*B.A.G.A. standing for British Amateur Gymnastics Association). She was set to soon be attempting the Holy Grail of junior gymnastics awards; the BAGA 1.

To say Kelly was the object of my affections is a slight Yuri Geller-esque spoon-bending of the truth. I, for some unbeknown and still as yet undiscovered reason, was actually the object of her affections. The bread and butter of our relationship was a daily bout of kiss-chase at break-time (/recess). Her chasing, all puckered up like an angelfish; and me running away, screaming like a seven-year-old girl; my eyeballs bulging in terror.

Undeterred, she would often try to woo me by cartwheeling around the school hall every gym class...

To read the rest of this column, check out BC Johnny's upcoming book: Chilled Almonds.

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