An Extract From The Book: Jimmy Spence 8th Of June 1974 By Kelvin Rush.
Jimmy was off school for the rest of the week. He spent most of the time sleeping, watching telly, and looking through his large collection of football programmes, (especially the Liverpool ones). His mind was also constantly occupied by Julie Richardson. He was well and truly besotted by this girl, and no matter what he did, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.
It was like he’d been taken over by some unknown force that he couldn’t control. His emotions were up and down like a fiddler’s elbow, and he didn’t understand why. In reality, puberty had well and truly set in and there was absolutely nothing Jimmy could do about it. He was laid on his bed early afternoon with his eyes closed thinking about Julie. His imagination had been unshackled once again, and before he knew it, he was playing out endless stories in his head, which only fuelled his confusion.
In one of the stories, he was walking home from school holding Julie’s hand. They stopped off at Jolleys Newsagents, and Jimmy bought her the latest POPSWOP magazine, with teen idol David Cassidy on the front cover. (All the girls loved David Cassidy, and Julie would be no different thought Jimmy.) They sat on the park bench reading the magazine, eating crisps and sharing a bottle of fizzy lemonade, seeing who could belch the loudest. Jimmy then walked Julie home and gave her a gentle kiss on the lips, followed by a lovely warm hug.
In another story, they met at the swimming baths on a Saturday morning. Jimmy was showing off, as he did a backflip dive off the three meter springboard, and landed perfectly in the water. Julie was so impressed she began jumping up and down, clapping like a performing seal, as if Jimmy was some kind of circus act or something. He also showed Julie how to take a long deep breath, before swimming the full length of the pool underwater.
Another story saw Jimmy sensationally conquer The Beast. The Beast was a huge magnificent Sycamore tree, standing at well over 100 feet high. It was the tallest tree in the local woods, and no one on Jimmy’s council estate had ever climbed it right to the top, (although one or two had come close). Shaun Rimington was the closest. He got to within ten feet of the top, but didn’t have the bottle to go any further. The final ten feet was the most scary. You had to scrim up the tree trunk and stand on two V-shaped branches right at the very top, and shout: ‘I Conquered The Beast!’ This was incredibly dangerous as the branches were very thin and swayed aggressively in the wind. No one knew if the branches could take the weight of a human being, and certainly not a fat human being like Shaun Rimington. Everyone called him Rhino due to the size of him. You definitely didn’t want to be anywhere near the tree if Rhino came crashing down. If he landed on top of you, that was it, an instant death.
That made Jimmy’s feat even more incredible. Julie watched in amazement, as he shot up the tree swinging from branch to branch like a chimpanzee. He reached the top in no time at all, and stood on the V-shaped branches, (swaying like a beach towel on a washing line), before looking up to the heavens and screaming out: ‘Jimmy Spence Conquered The Beast!’
Jimmy’s imagination seemed to take on a life of its own, and took him on endless journeys. None of which, it has to be said were real. In fact, he’d made up so many stories in his head about Julie Richardson, he was beginning to believe that she was actually his girlfriend. Considering he’d never even spoken to her until a few days ago, it all seemed to be getting out of hand. Also, he may have kissed her in his imagination, but the reality was, he’d never kissed any girl in real life, never mind Julie Richardson. He didn’t even know how to kiss. Did you do it with your mouth open or closed? And how did you breathe while you were kissing? And what about French kissing? Some of his mates were always going on about that. As far as he was aware, that involved tongues and all of that nonsense, what was all that about?
He had no answers to these questions, which made him even more confused and stressed. He knew there was only one boy that could help him, his mate Stuart Scott (Scotty). Scotty would know all about kissing. Scotty knew everything. Scotty was one of the smartest kids in Jimmy’s class. He always came first in the maths and spelling tests, and he was also good at history and geography.
— Scotty was a handsome boy and seemed to be popular with everyone (especially the girls). His parents were well-off, so he always had the latest footwear, like trendy shoes, trainers and football boots. And he always seemed to have cash on him, (maybe that’s why he was so popular). Scotty was very outgoing with bucket loads of confidence, the total opposite to Jimmy, who was very shy and reserved, (especially around girls).
And most importantly of all, Scotty had something that Jimmy had never had. Scotty had a girlfriend. Her name was Samantha Johnson. Jimmy had seen them kissing on a few occasions in the school yard. They couldn’t keep their hands of each other. Mr Green the arts teacher, caught them canoodling in the classroom one dinnertime. ‘What on earth do you two think you’re doing? Who do you think you are? Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor? We don’t want to see anymore of that, thank you very much. Go on get out!’ he said.
Scottie was the man, and Jimmy needed to see him urgently. He knew Scotty played football at the local park most nights after school, so he would see him there. By late Thursday afternoon, Jimmy’s lump had almost disappeared and he was feeling a lot better. It was now time to go and find Scotty. ‘Mum, is it ok if I go to the park to have a kick around with Scotty please?’ he asked. ‘Oh I don’t know about that Jimmy. I don’t like you going out playing football, when you’ve not been to school.’
‘Please mum, I haven’t been out all week, I could do with some fresh air. I’ll only be an hour.’
‘Go on then, but make sure it is only an hour.’ Jimmy arrived at the park five minutes later, and sure enough there was Scotty, kicking his football against the pavilion wall. Jimmy ran up to him full of beans. ‘Giz a kick Scotty!’ Scotty looked surprised. ‘Hello Jimmy, what are you doing here? How’s your head?’
‘Head’s fine Scotty thanks, the lump’s gone down. You can just about see the mark if you look close enough. Come on let’s go for a kick around on the field.’ They ran onto the field and kicked the ball to each other for a few minutes, before Jimmy picked the ball up and got all serious. ‘I need some advice Scotty,’ he said, as he sat down on the grass. He got Scotty’s immediate attention. ‘Advice Jimmy? What do you mean?’ Jimmy beckoned Scotty over to him.
‘Come and sit down Scotty. I need to ask you something.’ Scotty looked a little concerned, as he sprinted over to Jimmy and sat down next to him, full of intrigue.
‘What is it Jimmy? Has something happened? No one’s died have they?’
‘Oh no, no it’s nothing like that Scotty. It’s much more important than that.’ Scotty got all excited. ‘Much more important than someone dying!? Wow! It must be important then Jimmy! So what is it!?’
‘Well….. to be honest Scotty, it’s a little bit embarrassing. It’s a bit personal, ya know like a boy thing.’ Scotty didn’t have a clue what Jimmy was talking about. ‘A boy thing…..? What exactly are you going on about Jimmy?’ Jimmy wasn’t explaining himself very well. He thought talking to Scotty would be straightforward, but for some reason he couldn’t get the right words out.
‘Oh ya know Scotty….. A boy thing, ya know.’
‘No I don’t know Jimmy. You keep saying boy thing, do you mean like your private parts?’ Jimmy went all sheepish and felt really uncomfortable. Talking to Scotty about his private parts, was the last thing on his mind. ‘No, no, no, no, no Scotty! Forget about private parts! It’s a bit further up the anatomy than that.’ Scotty thought for a few seconds, before clenching his right fist and sticking out his thumb, to resemble a pipe. He began to smoke it Sherlock Holmes style, while raising his head up to the skies and blowing pretend smoke in the air, trying to solve the puzzle.
‘Mmm….. a bit further up the anatomy you say? Mmm….. very interesting Dr Watson.’ He then clicked his fingers in triumph. ‘I’ve got it Jimmy! Has this got something to do with lips? And if so, would those lips be of a girlie kind?’ Jimmy grinned. ‘You’ve got it Sherlock, right on the button.’ But Scotty still didn’t understand. ‘So what about girlie lips Jimmy?’
‘Well the thing is Scotty, you go out with Samantha Johnson, right? And I know you’ve kissed her, cos I’ve seen ya do it in the school yard.’ Scotty got a little irritated. ‘Yeah, so what Jimmy?! It’s not a crime is it?!’
‘Oh no, no Scotty it’s not a crime. It’s just that….. Well ya know….. Ya know…..’
‘Know what Jimmy? Has this got something to do with Samantha? She’s not been seeing that Peter Bruce behind my back has she!? Cos he’s always hanging around her when I’m not there!’
‘Oh no, no, no, no, no Scotty. It’s nothing like that.’ Scotty was pleasantly relieved.
‘Well what is it then Jimmy? Spit it out man.’
‘Well….. It’s the kissing bit Scotty.’
‘Kissing bit? What do you mean Jimmy?’ Jimmy didn’t say a word, as his face literally turned bright red on the spot. The penny finally dropped.
‘Oh yeah….. I get it Jimmy….. I get it now. Would I be right in thinking you haven’t kissed a girl before?’ Jimmy covered his face with both hands, in total embarrassment. ‘No Scotty…..! I haven’t…..! Promise you won’t tell anyone!’ he shouted through his hands. Scotty leaned over and got hold of Jimmy’s wrists, before yanking his hands away from his face. ‘Say that again Jimmy Spence,’ he said, looking Jimmy straight in the eyes. Jimmy turned his head away from Scotty’s stare.
‘I Jimmy Spence, have never kissed a girl before. There I’ve said it.’ Now it was out in the open, Jimmy suddenly felt a lot better. Scotty burst out laughing, as he let go of Jimmy’s wrists and went rolling around on the grass, like he had a feather stuck down his pants. Jimmy wasn’t at all amused. ‘Don’t laugh Scotty! It’s not funny!’ Scotty laughed even louder. He rolled onto his back waving his arms and legs in the air, (like a spider that had just been stung by a wasp). ‘Stop laughing Scotty! This is serious stuff ya know!’ Scotty finally stopped laughing.
‘Sorry for laughing Jimmy, but you must admit it is funny.’
‘I don’t see what’s funny about it Scotty. Lots of kids our age haven’t kissed anyone.’
‘True Jimmy, but how can I help? You can get stuffed if you think you’re practising on me.’
‘Oh no Scotty, it’s nothing like that.’
‘Well what is it then Jimmy? What can I do?’
‘I want you to show me how to do it Scotty.’ Scotty looked baffled.
‘How do you mean Jimmy?’
‘Ya know Scotty….. show me how to kiss.’ Scotty looked even more baffled.
‘And how do you expect me to do that?’
‘Well, ya could show me on the back of your hand. Ya know, pretend ya kissing Samantha.’ Scotty cracked up once again. ‘Oh you are funny Jimmy, kissing the back of my hand is nothing like kissing Samantha. For one thing, my hand doesn’t have any lips to kiss me back with. When you kiss someone, it just happens. You kiss them and they kiss you back.’
‘Oh I see what ya mean Scotty. Yeah that makes sense. And do ya kiss with your mouth open or closed? And what about breathing? and French kissing? That’s all tongues isn’t it?’
‘Yeah, French kissing is great Jimmy, Samantha’s good at that. We normally kiss with our mouths open, or sometimes it’s just a peck on the cheek or lips. With regard to the breathing, you breathe through your nose.’
Jimmy was beginning to feel a little more confident. ‘Will ya show me on the back of your hand Scotty? Go on mate just to give me some idea.’ Scotty buckled under the pressure. ‘Ok then Jimmy, but let’s keep it to ourselves. Right, hold your hand up to your mouth and follow what I do.’ Scotty began to kiss the back of his hand, by opening and closing his mouth rapidly, like a demented goldfish. Jimmy copied. Scotty was impressed. ‘Yeah that’s it Jimmy you’ve got it. Right if it’s a long kiss, you can breathe through your nose like this.’ Scotty began to breathe heavily though his nose. He sounded just like a nuisance caller on the telephone. Once again Jimmy followed suit.
‘Right Jimmy, now for the main event, French kissing.’ Scotty stuck out his tongue and began to lick and kiss the back of his hand. Jimmy copied him lick for lick. They looked like a right pair of farts. Just then, Scruffy (the Golden Retriever belonging to Mrs Bradshaw) appeared. He ran straight up to Jimmy wagging his tail, jumping all over him. ‘Hello Scruffy,’ said Jimmy, giving him a good rub. ‘Where did you come from?’ Scruffy began to lick Jimmy’s face. ‘I’ll tell you what!’ shouted Scotty. ‘Old Scruffy knows how to French kiss, don’t you pal?’ Scruffy then ran back to Mrs Bradshaw, who was a fair distance away. The kissing lesson was now over and Jimmy was smiling confidently.
‘Thanks for that Scotty, I think I’ve got it now.’
‘What’s all this about anyway Jimmy? Why do you want to learn how to kiss? Is there a girl involved?’ Jimmy went all shy once again. ‘I thought as much Jimmy, who is it?’
‘If I tell ya Scotty, ya must promise not to tell anyone.’
‘I promise Jimmy, who is it?’
‘Cross ya heart Scotty.’
‘I cross my heart Jimmy, now who is it?’
‘Well it’s a friend of our Mel’s and I think I love her.’ Yet again Scotty burst out laughing. ‘How can you love her Jimmy? You’ve not even kissed her yet, and I don’t know any eleven-year-old kids in love.’
‘You love Samantha don’t ya Scotty?’
‘I wouldn’t say it was love Jimmy. I like her, but I wouldn’t call it love. Who is this girl anyway?’
‘It’s Julie Richardson Scotty.’ Scotty tried really hard to contain himself, but failed miserably, as he roared with laughter once again. ‘Julie Richardson Jimmy!? Julie Richardson!? She would never go out with you! You’ve got no chance there pal! You’d be better off asking Scruffy out on a date.’ Jimmy was horrified. ‘What do ya mean by that Scotty?’
‘Well, Julie Richardson is the cutest girl in our school, everybody likes her, you know that Jimmy. She can have any boy she wants. So why on earth would she choose you?’ Jimmy’s already fragile confidence was shattered into a million pieces. ‘What’s wrong with me Scotty?’
‘Well, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with you Jimmy, but Julie Richardson? She’s way out of your league.’ Jimmy felt really deflated. Maybe Scotty was right, maybe she was out of his league.
‘Does she know you like her Jimmy?’
‘Well I’ve not said anything Scotty.’
‘Do you want me to ask Samantha to have a word with her?’ Jimmy looked petrified.
‘Oh no, no, don’t do that Scotty! Like you said, she’s way out of my league. Promise you won’t tell anyone Scotty, and certainly not Samantha.’
‘I promise Jimmy. Listen mate I’m sorry for what I said. Of course she’s not out of your league. You’re a good kid Jimmy, she’d be lucky to go out with someone like you.’
‘Do ya mean that Scotty?’
‘Of course I mean it Jimmy.’
‘Thanks Scotty. Listen I’ve got to go, I told mum I’d only be an hour.’
‘Ok Jimmy see you pal. Keep practising the kissing, ready for Julie Richardson.’
‘Will do Scotty. See ya.’
Jimmy walked back home feeling more confused than ever. He wasn’t a confident kid and was vulnerable to any kind of criticism. He was beginning to regret ever telling Scotty. When he got home he went straight upstairs to his bedroom, and sat on the edge of his bed, contemplating all the things Scotty had said to him. Once again his emotions were all over the place, and he felt sad and depressed.
Then his twin sister Mel shouted from the bottom of the stairs. ‘Are you up there Jimmy!?’ Jimmy didn’t answer. ‘Jimmy are you up there!?’ Jimmy still didn’t answer. Mel then screamed at the top of her voice. ‘Jimmy!! I know you’re up there!!’ Jimmy finally responded.
‘What do ya want Mel?’
‘I’ve got something to ask you Jimmy.’
‘Go away Mel, I’m not interested.’
‘Oh I think you’ll be interested in this Jimmy.’
‘I’m not interested Mel! Go away!’
‘Ok then Jimmy, if you’re not interested in Julie Richardson then I’ll go away.’
Jimmy sat on his bed motionless, unable to comprehend what Mel had just said. The mere mention of Julie Richardson sent shock waves right throughout his body, (as if he’d just stuck his wet finger on a live wire). He shot up from his bed and raced to the top of the stairs.
‘Did you say Julie Richardson Mel?’
‘Yes I did Jimmy but I thought you said you weren’t interested?’
‘What about Julie Richardson Mel?’
‘Well, she keeps asking me if you’re ok, after she belted you with the hockey ball. And she wants to know if you’ll meet her.’ Jimmy stood there paralysed and perplexed.
‘Meet her? What do ya mean?’
‘You know, meet her.’
‘What do ya mean, meet her?’
‘Well I don’t know Jimmy! She asked me to ask you, if you’d meet her.’
‘Do ya mean like on a date?’
‘I suppose that’s what she means. Anyway, she wants to know if you’ll meet her at Barkers Park this Saturday morning at ten.’ Jimmy couldn’t take it all in. His little brain couldn’t process all the information quickly enough for him to understand.
‘Barkers Park…..? This Saturday morning…..? At ten…..? What for Mel?’ Mel was losing her patience. ‘Jimmy! I don’t know what for! All she said was ask your Jimmy if he’ll meet me at Barkers Park this Saturday morning at ten. So what shall I tell her? Are you going to meet her or not?’ Jimmy didn’t know what to say. He needed to give this some serious thought.
‘When do ya need to know for Mel?’
‘Well it’s Friday tomorrow Jimmy, so I need to know by tonight.’
‘Let me think about it Mel, I’ll tell ya later.’ Jimmy slowly walked back to his bedroom in a complete daze. He still couldn’t believe it. He laid down on his bed in deep thought. He knew he had to say yes, he couldn’t bottle it now. But what did Julie Richardson have in mind? Why did she want to meet him at Barkers Park? Was it even a date? These were all questions that Jimmy couldn’t answer.
An hour later, Jimmy went downstairs to find Mel. She was on her own in the living room, sprawled out on the settee watching telly. He poked his head around the door.
‘The answer is YES Mel,’ he announced rather proudly. Mel looked uninterested.
‘What are you going on about Jimmy?’
‘Ya know Mel….. meeting Julie at Barkers Park this Saturday morning at ten. The answer is a definite YES.’ Mel didn’t bat an eyelid.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about Jimmy.’ Jimmy was getting a little anxious.
‘Ya said Julie wants to meet me at Barkers Park this Saturday morning at ten. I’m just telling ya the answer is YES.’
A vindictive smirk slowly appeared on Mel’s face, as she went in for the kill. ‘I was only kidding Jimmy. Why on earth would she want to meet a loser like you?’ Jimmy’s heart sank quicker than a house brick dropped into a fish tank. He stood there for a few seconds like a waxwork dummy frozen to the spot, before exploded into a rage.
‘What’s going off Mel!!? Ya getting me all confused!!’
‘Well that doesn’t take a lot does it Jimmy?’ Mel knew she was treading on wafer-thin ice. She was well aware of Jimmy’s temper, as she’d been on the receiving end of it many times before. To quickly defuse the situation she started laughing. ‘I’m only kidding Jimmy. God you’re so easy to wind up. I’ll tell Julie you’ll meet her at Barkers Park this Saturday morning at ten. Now get out! I want to watch telly!’
Jimmy went back to his bedroom an emotional wreck. He was incredibly sensitive, and he took everything anyone said literally. It wasn’t that he couldn’t take a joke, he could, but he found it difficult to work out when someone was joking and when they were being serious. As he laid on his bed to try and make sense of things, all he could think about was Julie Richardson.
An Extract From The Book: Jimmy Spence 8th Of June 1974 By Kelvin Rush.