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Formerly Worktown Words

My First Kiss by Dorothy Snelson

            Think of all those boy meets girl first kisses in the movies, and then think again!

            My first kiss was a disaster. Standard Two at Westhoughton Council School, was today’s equivalent of Year 4. We were just back from lunchtime play and milling around finding our desks, when out of the blue Francis Lee kissed me. I was so outraged I burst into tears. I was in the top group in the class and he was in the bottom. Call it snobbery/ or the class divide, but if I was going to be kissed it should have been by some lad from the top group at least. Mrs. Mainwaring, our teacher, arrived on the scene, Francis had to stand on his desk, and his legs were smartly rattled with a ruler. Teachers did not pussy foot around in those days.

            Francis was in the bottom group, not because he was not clever, he was, but because all he thought about was football. He went on to play at the top level in clubs like Manchester City, Derby and Bolton. He probably ended up earning more than the rest of the class put together, because he had business acumen too.

            In Standard Three, he broke his leg and was in plaster up to his knee. He managed to poke a pencil down the plaster cast to the consternation of Mr. Higginson, our teacher. He made him lie on a gym mat at the front of the class with his leg in the air whilst he attempted to retrieve it. Not perhaps Francis’s finest hour! Memory fails as to what happened next, but I do not think it resulted in a caning, which seemed to be the natural response to any sign of naughtiness in those days.

            We met up again in Standard Four, this time as partners. It was 1953, the year of the Coronation. As part of our celebrations, Standard Four were to perform a maypole dance for our parents on the gala day. Francis was small. I was small. We were paired together as maypole dancing partners. No kisses this time as this was serious stuff. We danced the intricate dance, weaving our ribbons to perfection as my class photo of the occasion attests to.

            After the Council School at eleven we all went on to different schools and that was the end of my brief association with Francis. I followed his career, in football and in business ,and chuckle to wonder if he remembers that stolen kiss when we were sweet eight years old.