It’s the fortieth anniversary of the first time my love called me an idiot…  

Also of our first date.

Or technically, it would be on the 29th May – but it was Spring Bank Holiday.

We met at Liverpool Uni. We met at Shelley’s teddy bear party. I’d been watching him as I knew Shelley had a terrible crush on him and I couldn’t tell why. “Are you sure?” I asked her later. “He seems, well, a bit arrogant to me.”

I bumped into him a few times in our Hall of Residence dining room. Stole a chip from his plate…which got me into no end of trouble. Collected cooked breakfasts for him, including hard boiled eggs on Sundays… It was habitual for those of us who generally stuck to cereal and toast would fetch plates of cooked breakfast for the gaping maws of the hungrier male students. Some Sundays Ryan would put away seven or eight hard boiled eggs…

Then there was the evening he and another friend, Andy Eastwood, came for coffee in K4 – the rooms I shared with my good friend Andrea. We had more space than most of the other students so we ended up, somehow, having quite a few parties in there.

Andrea and I retreated to the kitchen and as we were making coffee, a coin was produced. Reader, we tossed the coin. I lost.

Back with the coffees and Andrea plonked herself on my bed – next to the gorgeous Andy, of course. And I sat on her bed, with Ryan.

The conversation must have gone better than at the teddy bear party, because at the end of the evening I agreed that I’d go with him to the fair in Sefton Park on the following Monday – after an initial show of reluctance, given that my first Law exam was on the Tuesday.

Monday arrived and we met up in the queue for Hall dinner. It was chicken curry – the least said about that the better. Then we wandered down the road to the park, hand in hand. We wandered around the fair, occasionally bumping in to people we knew. Ryan had a go at winning a teddy for me and failed – something which he has since rectified.

I was a very foolish young woman. Is it too optimistic to think I’m only slightly foolish now? Probably.

I’ve never been fond of fairground rides. I am terrified of heights. I was more terrified of looking like a wuss, so I agreed to go on the ferris wheel.

I don’t recall what else I wore that day – probably jeans and a sweater – but I do remember I was wearing my black wooden clogs. At least worrying about them dropping off and killing someone standing gave me a break from the other, more immediate source of terror. He held my hand, but I don’t think he knew how scared I was.

I didn’t kill anyone with my clogs, which was a good thing.

Then I made my big mistake.

Candy floss. I’d never had candy floss before. I’ve never had it since. After Hall curry, it all proved too much for me.

This is why it’s the fortieth anniversary of the first time Ryan called me an idiot.

I threw up. Not only did I throw up, bounteously returning the curry and the candy floss to the earth where it belonged, I put my hand over my mouth.

So in his defence, he was right. I was an idiot. And he did produce a clean hanky and then disposed of the evidence.

The first date was not, then, a great success. It’s probably not a surprise to hear that the fortieth anniversary of our first kiss is still a few days in the future. Thursday, I think…

The next day, it was my first Law exam. The History of the English Legal System. It’s the only exam I have ever failed… I scraped 44% and a bare pass required 45%.  It wasn’t really Ryan’s fault at all – it might just have had more to do with the number of times the lecturer had to wake me up in Friday morning lectures.

I still have no regrets. It turned out that Andy Eastwood was the arrogant one after all. He later deeply offended me by being surprised at how well I did academically (after I switched to English! Obviously).  I guess he thought I was thick because I was …exuberant….and/or a woman. I reckon I won the coin toss after all.

Ryan’s still here – so yah boo sucks to all those who reckoned we wouldn’t last six months.  Andhe cannot ever claim he didn’t have fair warning.

Yes. That was deliberate. And I’m not sorry.

(Wasn’t he lovely? Still is, truth be told.)

Ann