Recently another blogger, The Eternal Worrier, wrote a series of 7 posts about people who have influenced him. I am going to take up his challenge and do the same. I'm not sure how it will go, it's just going to have to come together as I write, bare with me?
When I was 12 I had a friend who had a school girl crush on David Soul, alias Starskey, or was it Hutch? You see it never meant anything to me, all this hero worship and swooning over characters with whom I would never meet. I was more realistic in my expectations in life, I mean, how on earth would I ever get to meet a Pop Idol or a TV Star, let alone snog him; because lets face it, that was what we were all thinking about back then? But Helen was not daunted, every wall was covered with centre folds of her current muse. And she was fickle! I couldn't believe the rapidity of the turnover of posters and photographs, no sooner were they blue-tacked up on the wall, then they were ripped from their shrines and frames and replaced with a better and more appealing 'sex god'...
So, you see, my list of 7 people who have influenced me will not be about anyone you know. I have never brushed with the rich and famous (though I did catch a glimpse of Jonny Kingdom
the other week if that counts?) and have never really longed to meet any stars or superstars. They may have influenced me, through popular culture as a whole, but it is my everyday influences that have made me who I am. And every time I meet someone else, the possibilities grow.
...A couple of years on and I found myself in the local park at lunchtime with Paul. I don't remember much about him as a person, I don't think it occurred to me to ask, all I knew was that he made my knees go all wobbly and his dad drove a blue Porche. I remember lying with him on the grass, ridged with anticipation of a first kiss, when he leant over and slipped his hand inside my school shirt. I could have died with embarrassed. Not because of what he was doing, but because I knew, as with all women and girls, that unless you have implants, that the flesh beneath slips sideways and diminishes! Now, I'm not sure anyone had thought of implants back then, but if they had I'm sure I'd have craved some, just to stop the awfulness of the situation happening again. I mean, where had my chest disappeared to right when I needed it?
Anyway, I'm not sure we ever kissed. I think he asked me to the cinema just to be polite, and because he was late we missed the beginning of The Deer Hunter, a film which gave me nightmares and disturbed me for years afterwards.
I have included him here, for two reasons. His best friend became a good friend of mine instead, no kissing was ever involved, just friends. I often walked home with him. I remember his mum showing me her newly decorated dining room one day in 1979. I was stunned, the walls were hung with luxurious wallpaper; navy blue with gold stars, I'd never seen anything like it before. And later, much later in my life I became an interior designer and recreated her dining room for myself in a large executive house. This was the late 80's, all was opulent and extreme, the 16 year old long gone.
Yet the real influence was how he looked. After we both left school I only spotted him once, walking through my home town, alone and aloof. I can remember now how my heart missed a beat, such a wonderful feeling when that happens, so much more powerful when you are just 16. Yet we never spoke again. Then one day I saw someone who looked just like him. I was sitting in the local Wine Bar with my best friend. If I'd not known Paul would I ever have noticed this new man? I don't think so, but because I did notice him it changed my life's path, things were never quite the same again...