(*a little bit fact; a bit more fiction; much exaggerated.*
Friday 15th March 1974 – (aged 15 – towards end of 4th Year)
I think I’m in love!
I don’t mean some forlorn schoolboy crush like for Miss Hunter – no, this is proper breathing onto the palm of my hand for traces of halitosis type of ‘in love.’ And liberal applications of Valderma ointment.
Her name is Pilar. That’s Spanish, by the way. For ‘pillar.’ Though I don’t suppose you’d have to be a language teacher to work that one out. In Catholic tradition it refers to a ‘marble pillar connected with an appearance of the Virgin Mary.’ I know. I looked it up.
Pilar and her family came to Scotland from Chile. They left their homeland when General Pinochet took over the country in a military coup. Things are looking bad over there. People are being murdered in the streets by the army.
It’ll be about six weeks since we first chatted – her first day in school. She’s quiet spoken and pretty shy. In fact, just pretty, full stop. Demure. I got that word from the Jane Austen books we have to read in English. Yeah, ‘demure.’ That’s Pilar. And pretty. Did I say ‘pretty?’
I have no idea why she seems to like me. Maybe because I was one of the first to welcome her? Her English isn’t great so maybe because I’ve borrowed my parent’s BBC ‘Zarabanda’ LP and try to speak her lingo? Maybe it’s because I make her laugh?
I seem able to do these last two at the same time: today I thought I was complimenting her wavy, light brown hair (pelo) but told her I loved her money (pela.) She laughed, in a kindly, sympathetic kind of way.
We’re not ‘going out’ or anything – just hang out at break / lunch. She comes to watch me play football – even just ‘playground football.’ (Being from South America, she’ll know a good football player when she sees one!)
I got pulled up by Miss Fisher for not concentrating in Maths class and looking out the window to the classroom below where Pilar was sat by the window smiling and waving to me. I got such a beamer’ when the teacher realised why my attention was not on my books and then told the class! It was one of those ‘reading-glasses-steam-up’ and ‘shirt-sticks-to-your-back,’ types of brassneck!
Wednesday 10th April 1974 – (still aged 15 – closer to end of 4th Year.)
I’m an idiot! A complete and utter choob!
I’ve been so wrapped up in my athletics and football, I simply didn’t see this coming. Practicing keepie-uppie this evening, I noticed a couple walking slowly and in silence through the woods at the back of my garden. It was Gordon. In his stupid, long, blue, ex-RAF Great Coat type thing! He probably had a poxy Gentle Giant album tucked under his free arm, I didn’t notice. My gaze didn’t stray past his other arm – he was holding hands with …. with ….. Pilar!
How could she be so cruel and heartless? To pack me for Gordon? (OK, technically, as I said, we weren’t ‘going out.’ But even so! I mean – I know I’m not exactly cool and trendy, but he’s a moron!
At least they weren’t laughing at me. Far from it. Gordon just stared straight ahead. Couldn’t look me in the eye. The git!
Pilar though … dearest Pilar. She noticed me alright and keeping her free hand by her side, gave a wee discreet wave. As she passed she turned her head, her luxuriant brown locks swirling over her opposite shoulder like a model in a Harmony Hairspray advert. She smiled sweetly.
Without their usual sparkle, though, her brown eyes belied the happiness of her lips.
She looked sad. I’m sad.
I’m devastated actually – not least because I was within reach of my keepie-uppie personal best of 957 when I dropped the ball.
This is all my own stupid fault, though. You know the expression: ‘You snooze, you lose.’ Well I slept – and I wept.
(Nah, not really. I didn’t actually cry – that would‘ve been a bit pathetic and melodramatic, wouldn’t it? Anyway there’s no chip shop close by.)
Thursday 25th April 1974 – (still aged 15, but it’s been a long two weeks. O’Levels looming.)
Pilar and I have remained friends Why not? She continues to melt my heart. She still seeks me out in the playground. Yet, despite all the positive, almost pleading signs, I’ve still not worked up the courage to ask her ‘out’ out. What the hell is wrong with me?! – That must truly be 8th Dan Black Belt in Stupidity, right there! What an absolute pillock!
You’d think I’d have learned from my first Lesson in Love.
FOOTNOTE #1: Pilar and her family only remained in Scotland for a few months and by summer, she’d moved on again.
FOOTNOTE #2: About thirty years later, while writing for a music magazine, I became friendly with a couple of bands from Chile. I asked them about Pilar. They’d never heard of her. Seems Chile is a pretty big place.
FOOTNOTE #3: Because of Pilar; because of the bands Spiral Vortex and Follkzoid, and because I was playing with the Chile Subbuteo team when I first heard a Rory Gallagher record : for those very three reasons, I feel an affinity and love for the country and fly their flag above the turret on the east wing of the house.*
*This last bit may be slightly made up.
Pilar, ella fue mi primer amor. Viva Chile!