"The advantage of 'love at first sight' is that it stops one looking farther. And yet, first love often amounts to no more than a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity. The one thing I have learned in my life is that common sense has not a place in 'first love'; it never had!
First love always occupies a special place in one's heart that is never surrendered to another. The first time I fell in love it changed me forever and no matter how hard I tried, that feeling never went away. I was aged nine years at the time and her name was Winefred Healey. We were both pupils in the same class of 'St.Patrick's Roman Catholic School' in Heckmondwike.
Winefred was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen and the day I asked her to 'Go with me' and she said she would, I was the happiest boy alive. For those of you who are too young to be acquainted with the term, during the early 1950s when a girl agreed to 'go with a boy', the couple never went anywhere; they merely pledged to hang around forever and one day marry each other when they were adults.
Having bagged the best looking girl in the class, I wanted to mark this childhood bethrothal with a special gift. 'What better than a diamond ring' I thought, so the very next time that I visited the home of my friend, Peter Lockwood (now deceased) who lived on Third Avenue, Windybank Estate, I did the dirty deed for the one I loved.
Peter's parents were lovely people with a heart of gold. They only had two children (Peter and his older sister Margaret) and coming from a smaller family with more weekly income than mine, they ate much better. Consequently, I frequently had tea at their house during most week days. On the day in question, I took my opportunity when I saw 21-year-old Margaret's diamond engagement ring on the sideboard and stole it to give to Winefred the following day.
Naturally, Winefred was over the moon, being the only nine year old girl in school wearing a rock as big as Elizabeth Taylor's on her finger. It didn't take the police long however, to put two and two together, and after they came to my house to interview me, I received my first police caution of many to follow.
Apart from one kiss at the Christmas party with the gorgeous Winefred, that was the extent of our joint commitment; but what a kiss! You know, a chap remembers his first love with a special tenderness, and after that he tends to bunch his romantic experiences together. A boy's desire to be a girl's first love is rarely anything but clumsy vanity, yet nothing prevented my heart being broken when Winefred decided to enter a convent and became a nun after leaving school. It seemed that her sacred vow to 'go with me' had been long forgotten and instead she'd chosen to 'go with Christ' as future bride.
As for poor Margaret Lockwood, soon after my theft she broke off her engagement. I never learned if she considered my theft fortuitous or not in the outcome of her future. Mr and Mrs Lockwood on the other hand, gave me a 'second chance' and reinvested their trust in me as their son Peter's best friend. They knew in their wisdom that too often one's first love can often be one's first big mistake. I continued to be a welcomed guest to their home and at their table, though their oldest daughter Margaret no doubt kept her eye on me for a long time thereafter.
About six years ago at a school reunion, I laid eyes upon Winefred again. She had left the sisterhood, married and now lives in Blackpool. When she saw me and we exchanged looks after the passing of some fifty years and more, I sensed a soft smile of regret and for a brief moment, I was nine years old again. Being separated at the time, I pleasantly recalled that before we belonged to anyone else, we were each others. Having loved more than once over the years, I had come to learn that when the lips of your first love touches you, you enjoy the moment, but when you touch another's heart, 'you go with them' to a place they have never been before and they remember it forever." William Forde: February 4th, 2015.