"The one thing that all the young men and women in my day of the early 60's could count on was that life usually comes with a few surprises; a few so memorable that they are undoubtedly worthy of keeping in the back of one's memory drawer, along with a few other items of dirty laundry.
I once recall in my late teens dating a young woman from Cleckheaton briefly. This was about three months before I went off to Canada for a few years, and the very last thing I wanted at the time was for any young woman, or myself for that matter, coming over all serious about each other.
She was the only daughter of a Police Inspector, a fact itself, which proved sufficient to frighten many male suitors off; especially any, who like me, had ever received a police caution. As I went out to meet my date that evening, my mother straightened my tie and warned me at the door, 'Now don't forget what I told you about those Cleckheaton girls, Billy. Once they get their claws into you, they won't let go until they draw blood and get you down the aisle.'
I laughed at mum's warning. For some reason or other, mum had never trusted any girl who hailed from either Heckmondwike or Cleckheaton, especially with the most handsome of her sons. Apart from thinking that no girl was good enough for her eldest son, another part of mum always felt that any girl from Cleckheaton or Heckmondwike who wasn't engaged to be married by their 18th birthday would go to any lengths to walk that aisle before finding themselves 'on the shelf.'
I'd been on three dates with this girl, which, was in itself, a record for this 'Gallivanter', as mum would call me. A gallivanter was a young man who flitted from girl to girl without a second thought. On the night of my third date, I arrived at her house to collect her for a dance at the Town Hall we were going to. When I saw her, she looked stunning, especially in a big flouncy hat she had the confidence to wear, along with the looks and carriage to carry it off. It would seem that her parents had gone out for the evening to a work's dinner.
Initially, my date (whose name totally escapes me), had decided to go out to the dance in knee-high boots which were then the fashion rage, and carry some dancing shoes in her handbag to change into once we arrived at the event. In short, she was a young woman who was always prepared for any eventuality. She yelled out from upstairs and called for my assistance, as I waited downstairs for her. Her new boots were too tight and were pinching her toes, and after she'd tried to change them for footwear more comfortable, she found that they were too tight to get off. She asked me to pull them off for her.
Little was I aware as I tugged at her long boots that graced her long lean legs that she was baiting a Cleckheaton trap that she knew I'd willingly enter. At the very least, she was effectively tugging at my heartstrings and tempting me in a way that no high-blooded testosterone-driven twenty-year-old ever possessed the willpower to resist. One thing led to another and another fine day in my life was rounded off nicely!
Needless to say that we never did manage to make the dance at 'Cleckheaton Town Hall' that Saturday night, but I'd have to confess that it didn't seem to matter to either of us. I wasn't surprised to learn that by the time I'd returned from Canada that the young woman had married a butcher's son from Batley.
I have often wondered what would have happened during that night of love, had I finished up on the wrong side of the law again; especially had her parents returned from their meal out sooner than anticipated? Would her father's sense of instant justice have let me off with another caution or might he have risked the forfeiture of his police pension and instead settled for nothing less than the fatherly retribution of a Cleckheaton castration? I wish I could remember her name. It's about the only thing I ever forgot about that night!" William Forde: December 9th, 2017.