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My 21st

Learner plate

It was the night of my 21st birthday. My parents had wanted me to have a slap up do but that was too bourgeois for me. I decided to take the wife of a chap fighting with the communists in Spain to a Young Conservatives' party. It all went well and afterwards, since it was not far from her home, I walked back with her. I stopped outside and started to chat. She said "This is ridiculous, why don't we go inside." I was naive enough to be a little surprised.

OK. OK. OK. We were very young at just 21 in those days.

Dear reader, (as Elizabeth Barrett Browning would have said) I need not elaborate but afterwards, with all male arrogance, I must have asked her what she thought of my magnificent masculine abilities. I was naturally quite shocked by her "Not much!" Hardly able to grasp the horror of what had just been said I was just able to recover my manhood but at that age all is possible.

I was quite lovingly told of my sins omission and commission and instructed in the way that only a knowing and close friend could do. My errors and omissions were gently discussed and acted upon. Needless to say this instruction took a considerable time. I had much to learn but by the time a third entry port was offered my testosterone was exhausted.

I arrived home just as dawn was hinting it's arrival. The omens were not auspicious. I had forgotten to take a key. My window (side opening) was ajar. There was a metal coal bunker underneath my window on which I balanced an empty metal dustbin but it was still not high enough to reach the window by quite a bit so I found a metal bucket. The pyramid was unstable and still not high enough.

Imagine, dear reader, (Mrs Browning again) dawn just breaking. I climbed my tottering tower, leaped to the window sill, just made it and hung on while the tower collapsed, the din echoing around the hamlet, the seemingly interminable noise of the lid, spinning on the flagstones like a coin coming to rest; then a brief silence. I was still hanging there when my distraught father pushed the window fully open and thrust a 12 bore shotgun inches above my head, yelling "Hands up or I fire!"

It was only a year or two afterwards that we were able to laugh about it but I sincerely hope that my later partners have felt the benefits that accrued from that night.

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Edward Sparkes 1998-2002