I also dedicate my song to my Great nephew, Christian Eggett of Heckmondwike who celebrates his birthday today. Have a smashing day, Christian and be sure to eat plenty of cake. Love from Great Uncle Billy x
My song today is, ‘Til I Kissed You’. This song was written by Don Everly of ‘The Everly Brothers’. It was released as a single in 1959 and peaked at Number 4 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’. Chet Atkins.
I was a romantic 17-year-old teenager when I first heard this record and I considered myself a bit of a catch. If the truth be known and I can stifle my natural humility for a moment, many a young woman between Heckmondwike and Halifax and Batley and Bradford considered me a bit of a catch also!
I was a handsome young man, full of confidence on the dating scene, popular with my male peer group and with a great deal going for me. I loved dancing, almost as much as I loved myself! Where I differed from the rest of my peer group on the dating scene, however, was that ‘I wasn’t in it to win it’! Neither ‘was I in it to get out of it all I could persuade the girls to give me’. No! I was in it ‘for the fun of it’! True that I fell in love with every beautiful young woman I dated, and true they also fell in love with me, but that is where the mutual meeting of minds and the machinations of mice and men ended.
I loved women! I loved dancing! I loved the buzz of living dangerously; I loved living on the edge of passionate romance. I loved the idea of ‘falling in love’ without experiencing the danger of ‘falling out of my bachelor status’. Hence, all my romantic attachments would last no longer than one month before I gently ended them and moved on to pastures new.
In 1959, any young woman who wasn’t married at the age of twenty-one and a mother by the age of twenty-three would have been considered ‘old maid’ material who was destined to live and die alone, apart from her three cats and any sinister spinster friends. Any young man who hadn’t walked the marital aisle by the same age of twenty-one as the young women of the day would have been considered as being someone ‘too wild to settle down’ and ‘too unpredictable to be considered as being cut of suitable husband or parental material’. In both aspects, I would have had to plead ‘Guilty M’lud’.
During the previous century, the working-class Victorians were brought up at a time when their parents were born and brought up in the same village, attended the same school and church, played together as children, started work in the same factory or mill and married someone who’d always been a close neighbour. Their families would remain forever intermingled with the blood of the same forefathers. Born in the same village, they’d be buried in the same graveyard. The Victorian era was an age when even poverty of the working classes required stability in order to feel more settled in one’s surroundings, and the least change one experienced in their daily lives equated with the only sense of personal security a poor family had. This was a time when one rarely died more than a few streets away from where one had lived as a child. This was a time when the farthest one would travel might be to another town on a family day outing, or to the local park to hear the brass band play.
One century later when I was born in 1942, things hadn’t progressed too much for the children of my generation and their families. The farthest we would dream of travelling might be to some county with a seaside resort like Blackpool or Scarborough for a few days annually. Travelling to another country was never within the dreams of the working-class and was only ever achievable to a young man who joined one of the Forces like Army, Navy or Air Force.
What probably made me different to my peers from the beginning of my teenage years was my firm intention to travel abroad and my ability to see my dreams come true. A terrible accident in my young life was to provide me with a start in my manhood that few could ever hope for.
When I was 11-years old, I incurred a life-threatening and life-changing accident when a wagon ran over me and stopped on top of me, after wrapping and twisting my body around its main drive shaft axel. My extensive injuries included a damaged spine which indicated I would never walk again. As it turned out, fate, God and destiny remained with me, and after three years of immobility, I was able to hobble about again. As a result of my childhood accident, I was awarded a substantial sum of compensation that I would receive at the age of twenty-one.
When I eventually attained the age of majority, my dreams to travel to Canada and America became a self-financing possibility. I also had a decent voice and wanted to try my hand as a professional singer instead of remaining a textile worker. I knew that travelling around Canada and some of the United States would be much better as a single man before I settled down to the domesticity of married life. This was why I remained determined to stay clear of all commitment to long-term relationships with young women during my teenage years.
I dreamed the same dream most of my teenage years, and I didn’t want to wake up in West Yorkshire at the age of twenty-two with a wife, one child and another on the way. Neither did I want to enter old age in my rocking chair of senility, having permanent regrets about the things I could have done and never did; the places I could have seen and never saw. I neither wanted nor needed reproachful memories of ‘what could have been’ in a life's experience of 'what never was'.
How could I prevent myself ‘falling in love’ and falling into a long-term commitment and marriage before I was ready to be caught? How could I possibly resist the temptation that Adam was faced with and remain American bound? What kind of young woman might prove to be my Eve; my downfall? Which beauty would be the one capable of offering me the type of fruit I would find irresistible to bite into and the most desirable to taste?
I was still a young man, as streetwise as they came for my age, yet I was still unwise in the machinations of a woman’s mind and the way she thinks. I asked myself, ‘Were the most dangerous young women the ones who gave up everything without the asking, the ones who gave up all for nothing? Or were they the ones who held out, on a promise of better things to come? Or were they the ones who gave up ‘just enough’ to maintain continued male interest, while delivering nothing? These were the questions of womanhood I knew not the answers to.
Far more dangerous to me, however, were my female counterparts; who like myself were independent individuals. Women I liked best were those who refused to be influenced in how best to think, to dress and to conduct oneself for the pleasure of man. These were young women who refused to be slaves to the conventions of the time. These were young women of strong personality who refused to have their lives defined by any man however handsome, sexually attractive, powerful or wealthy he was! I loved these women more than all the rest and they would forever stay my female preference and constant romantic companions in later life. These were women who were more attracted to the man who rated the female brain above that of the female body, and who considered their conversations and personal opinions more appetising than their natural curves.
Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved all the feminine curves that were in the right places, along with the type of legs that went all the way up from earth to heaven, but what really turned me on the most, and what has always turned me on the most, was the chase and never the quarry.
Between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one years of age, I essentially played romantic chess with the young women in my life. In my game of romantic chess, I’d be the King, and they the Queen instead of the more traditional form of pawn young women of the 1950s and 60s became more accustomed to when being picked up and put down with little consideration by the young men in their lives. In my game of romantic chess, there would be no winners or losers. This was a game where the satisfaction for both players would come about with a session of heavy petting before calling ‘Check Mate’!
There was a time when I fooled myself that I would know when the ‘love train’ had knocked me down in the middle of the tracks by the very first kiss between me and a woman I loved. It took me the best part of twenty years to realise that ‘how good a kisser’ a woman was, bore absolutely no relation whatsoever as to ‘how good’ she was in any other part of an ongoing relationship that was capable of taking one’s breath away.
Love and peace Bill xxx